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September 18, 2013

The Couch Potato: ‘Shark Tank’ is back and savvy viewers should take the bait

NEW CASTLE — If there is one thing that never made sense to the old Couch Potato, it’s this: What the heck is the obsession with “Shark Week?” 

Most people don’t realize this, but “Shark Week” has been going on for 25 years on the Discovery Channel, which means I’ve been alive for every “Shark Week,” but doesn’t mean I’ve ever watched a single second of it.

I just don’t understand what the big deal is about seeing sharks, especially for a whole week. I mean, sharks are interesting and scary, but only if you’re in the water.

I will admit one thing about sharks, they are way more interesting when tornadoes are flinging them into major metropolitan cities (see: “Sharknado”). But beyond that, they are pretty boring after a few minutes.

So when ABC unveiled its version of “Shark Week” this week, one might think that the Couch Potato would be pretty ticked. After all, one week of sharks is MORE than enough.

But this “Shark Week” was completely different. And the Couch Potato loved it.

ABC’s “Shark Week” consisted of five (one per weeknight) of the best “Shark Tank” episodes over the first four seasons. The season five premiere airs at 9 p.m. Friday.

I’ve caught “Shark Tank” here and there over the past few years and always enjoyed the premise of the show. Entrepreneurs and inventors present their ideas to five billionaire/millionaire investors (Sharks), looking for their money, help and connections to grow their product or business.

Oftentimes, the ideas presented are ingenious, like a motion powered battery that you can carry with you at all times to charge your phone whenever you’d like. Other times, the ideas are simplistic, like homemade peanut butter with delicious additives. In both cases, the people presenting the ideas need help to get their business started or running better.

That is where the Sharks come in to play. After hearing the pitch and gathering more information through questioning (which is often hilarious because the presenters usually stumble over themselves when the lights get bright), the Sharks decide if they will invest in the product. All Sharks invest their own money and take the risks associated with such investments. 

In most cases, at least one Shark will show interest in a product or idea. It usually depends on the product, which may or may not match up with the Shark’s area of expertise.

Mark Cuban, who is a native of Mount Lebanon, tends to take the most risks on ideas and inventors. Kevin O’Leary, ironically called Mr. Wonderful because of his tough offers and negotiations, generally takes the least amount of risk and is usually hesitant to invest. Fashion guru Daymond John often invests with clothing entrepreneurs, while the “Queen of QVC” Lori Greiner likes to help the gadget people. Self-made millionaires Robert Herjavec (software) and Barbara Corcoran (real estate) round out the Sharks who participate in the show.

Mrs. Couch Potato flipped on “Shark Tank” this Monday and we ended up watching all five episodes this week. I went around telling everyone I knew that they needed to watch “Shark Tank” because as it stands right now, this is my new favorite show on television.

The mixture of tension, comedy and truly riveting negotiations make this show a must-see. The Sharks are tough, honest, caring and the back and forth they have with the presenters is always entertaining. 

So as we watched this week and a good offer was finally made from the one of the Sharks, I found myself yelling “Take it!” at the screen so that they did not lose the money if a Shark changed their mind. Any show that can get me to yell at my television screen must be doing something right.

So I’ll definitely be watching the new season of “Shark Tank” starting this week and I can guarantee it will be way more riveting than anything Discovery will roll out during “Shark Week” next summer.

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