Most would agree that Bite Club is a somewhat misleading name. If you thought it sounded like a competitive cooking reality show, you would be right: there is one ‘Bite Club’ on Food Network which aired its second season in July 2019. We are here to talk about the other ‘Bite Club’ – the one involving sharks and serial killers. Keep reading for more details.
Crime fiction has always been one of the most sought-after genres in every medium of entertainment – TV, radio, the internet, or good old books ( incidentally it has been the top-selling category of books in the UK for a decade now).
Naturally, something with this scale of broad appeal has led to a saturated niche. Even excluding true crimes and the blight of cop procedurals, non-formulaic crime thrillers come out by the dozens every month.
Some of them mark a spark of excellence, but the rest unfortunately typically stick to mediocrity as their paradigm.
Nine Network’s ‘Bite Club’ is an example of the horrid end of this spectrum – a crime thriller that manages to get almost everything wrong despite a decently talented production team.
Bite Club Cast: Who is in it?
‘Bite Club’, a show that attempts to blend a shark thriller with a serial killer hunt, was curiously timed promptly after Jon Turtletaub’s ‘The Meg’ (premiered August 10, 2018 – just five days before ‘Bite Club’ went on air).
‘Bite Club’ uses a similar bait on its hook – the show has some impressive star power with Todd Lasance in the lead role.
The rest of the cast, while they do not all measure up to Todd’s stardom, are all veteran actors. Against Todd Lasance’s Dan is detective Zoe Rawlings, played by Ash Ricardo.
Most of the cast are expected to return for season 2 if it gets a go-ahead from the network.
Bite Club Plot: What is it about?
As the press notes and trailers seemed to suggest, Bite Club was supposed to be an overarching plot-driven crime thriller.
But whether this was an intentional misdirection or not, the show in execution has about all the issues a cop procedural does.
Its protagonists are detectives with choppy and jarringly strange character writing (a criticism applicable in general to John Ridley and Sarah Smith’s work in the show), and the opening episode only tries to blend it with the horror cliches of a typical shark film.
How the writers intended to merge the looming threat of sharks and the mystery of a serial killer who hunts shark-attack survivors is itself a mystery.
It has been indicated, time and again, that the ‘shark’ is a curious metaphor for the serial killer itself, but the writing does not really do much to hold up its end of the bargain.
To discuss the plot premise in brief, the debut episode features detectives Dan and Zoe, who happen to be surfing enthusiasts, who suffer the trauma of a shark attack.
The depiction of it is as cliched as it gets, as the protagonists plan to brave ‘just one more wave’, the tide rises, the camera moves astride the foamy sea, and the blue water turns red after a CGI spiral representing the shark.
Dan loses a leg, and the show jumps forward three years in time. The death of a woman – apparently by sharks – gets to the headline, but the police eventually smell murder ties on land.
Zoe and Dan (now paranoid about sharks) are put on the case – and this opens some interesting Moby Dick-esque opportunities for character progression, which is sadly squandered by unimpressive writing.
The abysmally written dialogues at least for the first half of the eight-episode season at times turn the show into a farce, and the directorial oversights do not help much.
The colour palette and stylistics of the show also do not compliment the type of atmosphere the writers attempt to invoke.
Fortunately, these issues are somewhat alleviated as Wayne Blair steps in as the director halfway into the show – but not enough to redeem it.
The second half of the show does seem to fall into place much better with improved writing, however, so the writers may be on to something here if they get another chance at it with a season 2.
Bite Club: The Critical Review
Earlier this month, the same week a big dumb shark movie called The Meg opened in Australian cinemas, another shark-themed production debuted on our television screens: Channel Nine’s fishy crime thriller Bite Club.
It’s hard to know which is more idiotic: the story of an ancient “megalodon” the size of a bus that chases Jason Statham and his deep-sea diving pals, or the story of two detectives tracking down a serial killer in Sydney while attempting to overcome dialogue so bad it feels like a form of assault.
Before hitting play on Bite Club (an eight-part series, with episode three broadcast this week) I consulted the program’s official synopsis, which reads: “After surviving a shark attack two detectives join forces to hunt the ultimate predator, the serial killer who is also hunting them.”
I read that description multiple times. Did it really imply – as it certainly seemed to me – that the shark was the serial killer? The press notes seemed to corroborate this, with its pledge to reveal “a very different type of killer”.
Have sea creatures in this world learned to walk on land? Do they study our movements? Do they hide in the shadows? Do they sneak into our homes at night?
Will this series be a companion piece of sorts to the much-maligned 1995 direct-to-video movie Theodore Rex (in which Whoopi Goldberg partners up with an anthropomorphized Tyrannosaurus Rex to solve crimes) but a thriller rather than a comedy, with the ancient creature a villain rather than a sidekick?
The crazy thing about the first episode of Bite Club (this review encompasses episodes one to six) is that it finds ways to suggest the answer is yes: that a shark is somehow the culprit.
The opening scene takes place in the water with surfer lovers Dan (Todd Lasance) and Zoe (Ash Ricardo) discussing the riding of “one more wave.”
Then, thwack! A shark – in the form of a blurry whirl of CGI – attacks them. The camera bobs below the surface as the water turns blood red. Both emerge alive but Dan is missing one foot.
After a quick squiz at his stubby, bloody, munched-on leg, the story jumps ahead three years (possibly allowing time for a very intelligent shark to quickly learn how to walk, talk and binge-watch all eight seasons of Dexter).
We learn that the pair have separated and Dan thinks of Zoe – just like the shark, perhaps – as the one that got away. Oh, and they are both (very good-looking) detectives.
The corpse of a murdered woman has recently turned up on the beach. A policeman at the crime scene declares that “sharks got to her” but it “isn’t clear what actually killed her”.
Ah, the plot thickens. Sharks might have had some hand (fin?) in it, but weren’t necessarily the actual or only killers.
If the acting is bad the script is worse, screenwriters Sarah Smith and John Ridley rolling out soap opera drama thinly disguised as police procedural (“full disclosure: I know you’re sleeping with her!”) and a simplistic trail of clues.
I hold out hope that the murderer will have gills, a snout, and fins.
If the final episode reveals a shark serial killer, perhaps squawking all sorts of shark-like sounds when it realizes the jig is up (subtitles: “I would have got away with it if it wasn’t for you meddling kids”) all sins will be forgiven.
The dialogue actually improves a little as the series progresses, and the drama becomes ever so slightly more plausible.
This actually had a reverse effect, making the show less rather than more entertaining. Bite Club enters a death spiral: the better it gets the worse it gets. And it gets very, very bad.
Bite Club Season 2 Release Date: premiere
Bite Club season 1 premiered on August 15, 2018. Other than the middling-to-negative critical reception, the show’s viewership was not satisfactory either.
For about the entirety of the show, it dipped below the 500,000 viewers mark, and the finale managed to pick it back up over the threshold.
Whether or not this is good enough performance – given the decent production value – is up to the producers and Nine Network.
So far, the show has not been cancelled, so chances are not off the table. If they do greenlight Bite Club season 2, we would expect it to release somewhere in Q3 2020.
That said, this is only speculation, and the show has not officially been renewed, leaving a release date TBD.
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