TV review: “Shark Tank Live” is a fun experience that doesn’t really need repeating

Tonight, the 14th (!) season of ABCit is shark tank started by trying something he had never tried before. While last season’s premieres featured celebrity guest sharks or the six main sharks together, this time around they’ve taken a page from Bill O’Reilly and done it live – and with all six sharks a once again. So how did it go? Well, that was…interesting.

First of all, I should note that I am quite tall shark tank fan, having watched new episodes of the series with some regularity for years while often catching reruns on CNBC. Truth be told, I’ve also purchased more than a couple of products featured on the show in the past. For my part, I have always been interested in how shark tank is produced. That’s why I had major questions when the live format was announced for this premiere episode. After all, the producers famously explained how the pitches we see aired are heavily edited, with some presentations even lasting over an hour. So unless we only get one launch during this whole program, I thought they should make some changes.

Indeed, this live episode had fewer products featured overall, with only three presentations over the course of the hour-long show. Still, I have to suspect the Sharks were more prepared for the businesses they would see than they normally had the time constraints. Admittedly, I have no proof of this – but hey, this is reality TV, folks.

One aspect of the live show that I didn’t expect was the accompanying audience. I guess it’s a good thing to have for energy reasons and I like how each shark was presented to roaring applause, but the crowd also managed to get in the way at times. While chants of “Take the deal!” or, edited by Mr. Wonderful’s, “roy-al-ty” were humorous, applause breaks during presentations must have distracted those presenting their businesses. At least they weren’t as bad as the pair of text polls the Sharks ran ads with. Which number should I text to redownload my Crazy Frog ringtone?

Another part of the episode that felt bad in the live format was the dynamic between the Sharks. It was pretty clear from the start that they felt rushed, which led to them all wanting to jump in at the same time. This led to a lot of cross talk and seemingly overwhelmed entrepreneurs. Then again, this could very well be what it’s been in the Tank all the time and just edited – only a handful of people know for sure.

Despite all my remarks and complaints, I want to share something I appreciated and thank announcer Phil Crowley. After all this time, we finally got to see the man behind the voice! As silly as it sounds, it was one of my favorite surprises from the show.

Despite what it may seem, I did not dislike this episode of shark tank. In some ways, it was fun to see behind the curtain a bit and see the show set in a different arena. However, what I take away from the whole event is that the Tank is simply not suitable for this form. Maybe another try or two could allow them to make adjustments and improve the result, but I’d be fine if they left that experience behind.

The good news is that, as far as we can tell, this was indeed a unique case. Looking ahead to the rest of Season 14, the Tank will welcome new Guest sharks such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Tony Xu. Of course, we will also discover many new products, some of which will surely end up in my apartment (additional note: the pizza pack featured in tonight’s episode is already a likely purchase for me). So while this live version of shark tank maybe waded around a bit, there’s no reason to believe there’s actually blood in the water. Instead, Season 14 looks more promising than ever…now that it will return to its normal format.

shark tank airs Friday nights on ABC.

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