Dragons versus Sharks: The ultimate business showdown

It’s easy to pick American television programs out of a lineup, but only when given a good comparison can we see how truly terrible it is.

I’m sure everyone is familiar with that one British comedy skit, “The Gift Shop Sketch” on YouTube about how Europeans view American television (y’know, the one about a man getting a gift for his aunt). It’s good, very spot on, though a little outdated IMO, but that could be because I watch everything online now, and commercials are non-existent.

We Canadians are probably all used to American television since our own broadcasting is limited to the daily news, <em>Hockey Night in Canada</em>, and <em>Corner Gas</em>. Most Canadian channels are just derivatives of channels from the U.S. Hell, if you have satellite, you get the American channels, so the Canadian ones become irrelevant.&nbsp; Anyway, my point is that we are very, very familiar with U.S. television tropes AND JESUS CHRIST THEY ARE ANNOYING AS SHIT.

Thankfully I no longer watch <em>FOX </em>shows that have those ridiculous previews/re-caps between commercial breaks &mdash; so that&rsquo;s not really the issue here. The issue is the BULLSHIT cliffhangers between commercials THAT ARE FOOLING NO ONE. This phenomenon is super prominent in the ABC reality show <em>Shark Tank</em>.

Now, I like <em>Shark Tank</em>. Specifically, I like Kevin O&rsquo;Leary and Robert Herjavec, two Canadians who used to be on the CBC&rsquo;s <em>Dragon&rsquo;s Den</em>. I like Robert because he&rsquo;s fun and bubbly, but can get serious when necessary. I like Kevin because he&rsquo;s a hard-ass ball-buster who tells it like it is, and it&rsquo;s <em>awesome</em>. The others are forgettable and, frankly, not that impressive, save for Mark Cuban (who has a net worth of $2.6 billion BTW).

I like <em>Dragon&rsquo;s Den,</em> too. I like it a lot more. I like all the Dragons because they have distinct personalities and are much more fun and goofy compared to the Sharks. I like Jim Treliving because he is like, the most Canadian guy <em>ever</em>. I like Arlene Dickinson because she&rsquo;s a strong, independent woman who don&rsquo;t need no man (and is a self-made millionaire). And I like how I actually know the products featured on <em>Dragon&rsquo;s Den</em> (Awake Chocolate, for example).

The main difference between <em>Shark Tank</em> and <em>Dragon&rsquo;s Den</em> is the amount of bullshit. <em>Shark Tank</em> takes its sweet-ass time introducing the Sharks, whereas <em>Dragon&rsquo;s Den</em> just uses the intro song to title the Dragons&rsquo; respective fields. <em>Shark Tank</em> loves tragic background stories and making the entrepreneurs as sympathetic as possible. <em>Dragon&rsquo;s Den</em> only does follow-ups a couple seasons later, after deals have been made. <em>DD</em> is much more efficient in its pitches; all pitches are kept within commercial breaks. <em>ST</em> loves to break up pitches between commercials to create some sort of tension. No wonder Europeans hate American programs: they are the <em>Dragon Ball Z</em> of television. A lot of flash, no substance.

For anyone who has not watched a <em>DBZ</em> episode lately, a single episode could probably wrap up in 15 minutes if they cut out the ridiculous amount of holding shots (by which I mean the camera rests on something for <em>far too long</em>). That is American television personified: a lot of holding on the same thing for no reason. I guess producers think every viewer is a goddamn idiot if the basic plot has to be reiterated after a three-minute break.

Another thing that makes <em>Shark Tank</em> insufferable is how scripted it is. It&rsquo;s obvious that a lot of reality television is scripted, but <em>Shark Tank</em> is just cringe-worthy in how badly it promotes T-Mobile. There&rsquo;s a good video of this on YouTube somewhere. Since <em>Dragon&rsquo;s Den</em> is on <em>CBC</em>, there are no scripted scenes, and only slight promotional shots in the opening and in bumpers.

Between the two of them, <em>Shark Tank</em> has style and <em>Dragon&rsquo;s Den</em> has substance. Honestly, now that Kevin O&rsquo;Leary has left <em>Dragon&rsquo;s Den</em>, it is not as entertaining because O&rsquo;Leary had great chemistry with the other Dragons. He sort of has the same chemistry with other Sharks on <em>Shark Tank</em>, but not as goofy and loveable. It&rsquo;s kinda boring.

I&rsquo;ll continue to watch <em>Shark Tank</em> since it&rsquo;s a decent program, but <em>Dragon&rsquo;s Den</em> will always be superior.


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