TV
Posted By Andrew

Shark Week: Night one


There are many forms of entertainment that people indulge in during the summer months. Be it trips to the beach or other vacation spots, outside activities, sporting events, blockbuster movies etc. I am a man of simple pleasures. My favorite thing to do in the summer is watch Shark Week on discovery channel. I have both loved and been fascinated by sharks since I was very young. Jaws is one of the first movies that I remember renting as a kid.(Along with A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th) but even before I discovered the film, there was a library book that I bought at a fund raiser. It was simply titled sharks, and was a very simple narrative for children about sharks. I had this book before I was even able to read and I was always fascinated by the illustrations of the fish, and to this day I can remember each page quite vividly.

Like Jaws, and my library book, Shark Week has been a staple in my life for as long as I can remember. And there were many times throughout my life that I went without cable and still found ways to watch Shark week every year. It has always been a very popular and highly rated week of television. For one week people with even a mild interest could watch a few specials and learn about the wonderful creatures. Shark week was conceived as a way to teach people and help them understand the very misunderstood animal. Shark research and the science behind it is only a few decades old. It is safe to assume that many of the things that we have learned over the last 30 years about the shark can be attributed in some way to Discovery Channels Shark Week.

So now that Brainbusteronline has taken off and we are searching for all venues of media to cover it is only fitting that I take the time and review each new documentary special on Shark Week. Over the last few years Shark Week has breached to new heights (see what I did there?). Its mainstream appeal has skyrocketed and because of that the marketing has taken a sad turn in my opinion. With all of the silly shark films on Syfy and other parodies in media Shark Weeks commercials have indulgent to stupidity. This year’s main commercial was of Rob Lowe in a lifeguard uniform surfing on the back of great white sharks and throwing chum into the air. There is a plethora of whites who breach the water and eat the chum while Rob Lowe says something in a low sexy tone of voice.

Based on the marketing I can surmise two things. The first being that Shark Week has downgraded to the lowest common denominator, appealing to hipsters. And secondly, the Great White Shark is the only shark they seem to care about (as per usual since Air jaws). Despite these annoying ad campaigns as a lover of sharks I still waited in anticipation and literally would put my excitement level at the same height comparisons as I wait for the birth of my son. I love Shark Week that much. Our first special was the latest installment to Air Jaws.

AIR JAWS: FIN OF FURY:

There is a bit of back story to this show. Several years ago discovery aired a special called Air Jaws. It was the first expedition to catch great whites off of the coast of Africa breaching the waters in Shark Alley/Seal Island. It was groundbreaking research and they were also lucky enough to film something even rarer. While filming they came across a dead whale carcass that had become the site of a great white feeding frenzy. After the large whale was devoured the fish became, almost intoxicated and moved almost drunkenly. While they continued to act in weird ways one of the male fish became aroused and they were actual able to film the act of mating. This is something never before seen by researchers, or likely any human to be exact. So every year since these guys have come back with new specials about the white sharks breaching water and every year they basically just come up with new and exciting ways to film the sharks as the leap out of the water for a meal. In this special, Jeff and Sean, take on a daunting task of searching for a shark known as Colossus. Colossus is giant white shark with a deformed dorsal fin that they had captured on film years ago. If they are able to find him and photograph him again, he would be the first shark ever caught on camera twice. While this would be an incredible task by its own merit, the research team is also aiming to be the first to discover the habits of white sharks while they are beneath the surface and near the ocean floor.

To do this they have built a new style of shark cage. (As stated, each year these guys come up with new ways to film the animals.) This cage is called the Wasp. It is a small light weight and meant to sink to the ocean floor. While down there the man inside can lift it and walk across the ocean bed, it kind of set me in mind of a Flintstones car. The top of the cage is a hatch and can be opened up for proper filming with a camera and shut and locked when sharks get too close. The concept works wonderfully as designed. They travel to several hotspots for white sharks from Africa to New Zealand and each and every time they are able to capture striking images of the sharks and as usual discover something not yet known. Most white sharks are loners who do not migrate or hunt with other whites. However in New Zealand the team found a group of whites who launched coordinated assaults on the Wasp cage and worked together as like an underwater swat team. This type of pack behavior has never been seen or documented before.

Another interesting discovery was that the sharks all seemed more aggressive on near the sea floor. Each and every shark tried to knock the cage over, bite at it or thrash it. Not much was concluded as to why. The research wasn’t quite there. As they went on these dives the researchers hadn’t had any luck finding the giant white shark known as Colossus and they head back to South Africa to finish their research while the sharks were still feeding in the area. Shark season as it is called was soon to be over, as they migrate to and from Shark Alley at specific times in a year. Due to the sharks precise timing they knew that time was almost up. Most of the sharks had already left leaving only a few to be seen overhead by chopper and as luck would have it they see one that fits the size of Colossus. Was this their shark? There was only one way to find out. Lure him in with chum, and try and get him to breach the water.

The water was chummed and the decoy was set, it was a waiting game and as the shark came out of the water they knew that they had made history. It was Colossus, known for his very recognizable fin. They celebrated their accomplishment and the special ended. Overall I enjoy these guys and their work immensely. It’s no surprise that they chose to open Shark Week with them because each Air Jaws special exemplifies the true meaning of Shark Week. It started the week off on a very positive note. Which is something that I cannot say about our second special of the night, in fact it is the complete opposite.

SHARK OF DARKNESS:

Shark of Darkness was a FICTIONAL account (I repeat Fictional) of a 35 foot great white shark that has been terrorizing the coasts of Africa for the past 30 years. It began with a boat filled with whale watchers sinking and capsizing. The tourists who were all filming the event also captured the terror of the 35 foot shark eating most of the tourists, and toying with them before making them his meal. Even if I were reviewing this not as a Shark Week special, but as a feature length faux documentary I would grade it poorly. I knew immediately with the camera work and HORRIBLE acting that this was a complete work of fiction. Some people were shocked when they finally realized it was false, but last year Discovery produced something quite similar about researchers looking for the long extinct Megalodon.

So this is the second year that discovery has wasted two hours of air time on a bogus make believe fictional story. Making matters even worse this BS had false science and other evidence presented as facts and worse of all this was about a man eating killer shark. Shark week was created to educate people so that we understood that sharks aren’t mindless killing machines. They aren’t stomachs that swim, and most importantly humans aren’t a sought after food source for the sharks. This bogus documentary destroyed that image with the notion that a shark has attacked, killed and eaten humans for thirty years.

This thing was insulting to me both as a shark conservationist and as a fan of the programs featured on Shark Week. Despite being a completely false ratings grab program it was also shot terribly, was poorly acted and had bad effects. If this is the future of Shark Week I can say that after 26 years I may have to bow out and no longer watch. I just hope that the negative fan reactions (same as they had last year with the megalodon nonsense) is enough to assure us that it won’t happen again.

SHARK AFTER DARK:

Last year Discovery jumped on the talk show bandwagon and it has returned once more. Considering that these shows always goo great in the ratings I can’t imagine it going anywhere and will be a staple in the future of Shark Week line ups. Which I am definitely ok with if that is the case. We have a host who tries to be Chris Hardwicky enough to keep us entertained which can be annoying but there are a number of sketches in the hour long program, and interviews with both shark researchers and celebrity guests. Tonight the stars of lets be cops and Sin City Director Robert Rodriguez were on the show. It’s a loose format that is more lighthearted than anything, but if you’re like me and you watch as many shark week specials that run in a day (They rerun shows from the past up until the new primetime specials air) than you have had a long day of serious business, so unwinding with a talk show is refreshing. I liked Talking Bad, and still enjoy Talking Dead as well. And I like Shark after Dark. It’s just the right amount of silly with a little serious thrown in. Which of course may get old depending on how they fill their timeslot for the rest of the week, but as for night one it was a perfectly entertaining show. I may just have been super jaded and aggravated by the god awful Shark of Darkness show that aired just before Shark After Dark so perhaps my opinion will change as soon as tomorrow night. I just hope that all of the new primetime specials that air are as entertaining as Air jaws: Fins of Fury and this evenings Shark After Dark. Overall I would give Shark Weeks opening night a 5/10. It started very strong, but then gave us two hours of fake faux documentary and an uninspired late night talk show clone, that definitely has it merits and laughs, but loses me on how unoriginal and in vogue it is just to have as part of your program.


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