In 1981, Universal Studios entered the planning phases on what was then called the Universal Broadcast Network. Like every other attempt at a “fourth network” before FOX emerged as a serious competitor and ubiquitous cable changed television, it was a very ambitious near-miss. One of its flagship shows would have been the intense hourlong drama Jaws: The Series, based on the blockbuster film. The following were the episodes pitched to the studio for the initial season, all conceived over a lively three-day weekend by future industry giants Donald P. Bellisario and Steven E. de Souza.
“Pilot” aka “The Grapes of Wrath”
Bodies of large sea life seemingly torn apart are found off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard during an annual wine festival by the crew of a small fishing boat. Fearing a panic at an important time, the corrupt Sheriff Dallas Hawk has his deputy Lefty “silence” the fishermen…permanently. Former police chief, now private investigator Martin Brody of nearby Amity Island happens to be in town for the festival, a tradition he shared with his late wife Ellen, and catches wind of something “fishy.” Recruiting his old friend, Rich Cartwright, marine biologist and trained magician [is there a reason we’re still not using Hooper? – Steve] as well as his streetwise partner “Big” Mac Hunter, Brody follows a trail of bloody streets and dirty money all the way to Sheriff Hawk, who had the fishermen taken out to keep the public from learning that their beloved beach is being stalked by a ravenous shark. He fails to find key evidence linking Hawk to the crime definitively before it is destroyed in an amusement park fire, succeeding only in drawing the attention of the devious sheriff…and also that of alluring lifeguard Tiffany San Sebastian. Brody pledges to stay in Martha’s Vineyard until he gets to the bottom of this case, even in the face of a deadly shark…or a Hawk.
“The Wine-Dark Sea”
During a sandcastle-building contest at the wine festival, a surfboard washes ashore…with no surfer. The massive bite in the side of the board panics the crowd amid growing rumors of the shark plaguing the beach. The sinister Deputy Lefty attempts to calm the citizens, but Tiffany brashly confronts him with evidence she has seen that the threat is real, and a stampede away from the shore wreaks havoc on the pie-eating contest. Cartwright takes Brody and Mac out on his boat at night to hunt for the shark, but are waylaid by a boat piloted by Colombian cocaine smugglers. Mac attempts to bond with his estranged son.
The wine festival’s perennial hit Singles Luau is abruptly canceled without explanation. The real reason: Sheriff Hawk’s loyal goons have found the remains of the shark’s first human victim further down the beach. Beautiful but eccentric medical examiner Becky Summer is unable to identify the body despite its distinctive tattoos, which she finds suspicious even before she is pressured into not recording the incident as a shark attack. She calls on Brody to do some legwork, and he remembers having seen the victim’s tattoos on one of the Colombians. An associate of the drug runners is in custody, but is taken by FBI Special Agent Rocco Prince before Brody can talk to him. Cartwright tries to juggle a date with Dr. Summer and his budding ventriloquist career, with unexpected results.
Cartwright is contacted by Agent Rocco when the captured drug dealer starts talking about a “devil shark.” Brody shares with the agent his suspicions about Sheriff Hawk, whom Rocco identifies from a photo as the Chicago gangster kingpin Ricky Delgado, long thought dead, hiding in plain sight. Unable to locate Hawk, who has been tipped off to his discovery by the eavesdropping Lefty, Rocco and Brody confront the Colombians on the sea. In a freak accident, a dozen kilos of cocaine are spilled into the water when the marauding shark nearly capsizes both boats. Driven into a bloodthirsty frenzy by enough cocaine to kill twenty humans, the shark savagely devours most of the drug dealers…but not Sheriff Hawk, who was hiding on their boat, and narrowly escapes by helicopter, swearing revenge on Brody and the others. Mac and Tiffany mentor a blind teenager who finds an astonishing talent for surfing.