Yesterday I caught up on the Shark Week feature, “Shark of Darkness: The Wrath of Submarine” as I was traveling during the premiere. The show began re-airing at 5 PM. At 6:45 PM I realize I have seldom known two hours to pass so slowly.
When I had the idea to blog throughout Shark Week, it wasn’t without a modicum of trepidation. There’s been a trend in recent years, in my opinion, toward the cheap and sensational when it comes to this high-ratings week of dedicated shark programming. I didn’t think it could get worse than last year’s dismal “Megalodon” docudrama.
I was so very wrong.
From the outset, this B-movie, fear-mongering fiction-disguised-as-documentary set out to play on every fear and myth that exists about sharks, down to–and this is a direct quote– their “insatiable taste for human blood”.
Seriously, Shark Week?
Unlike “Megalodon”, which at least focused on a long-extinct ancestral species of shark, the villain of this tawdry tale is a white shark, a species still trying to make a public-image comeback from 1975’s “Jaws”.
I don’t care enough to parse through the details of this two hour farce. Full disclosure, I started to tune it out after a while. What bothers me is the irresponsibility of this kind of programming.
What bothers me is the fact that the Discovery Channel wastes their considerable budget, resources, talents, and precious viewer attention on this kind of nonsense instead of showing us some real science.
Show me some actual footage of real, gorgeous sharks. Show me some of the dedicated scientists in the field, who I am privileged to learn more about this week through great organizations like the AWSC, Shark4Kids, and Beneath the Waves.
New discoveries are happening daily. This is exciting, forward-moving, sexy science. And I believe that kind of programming can get high ratings.
Nothing the Discovery Channel can manufacture using unknown actors and a studio set could possibly rival some of the footage that was revealed last night when we ventured out with Dr. Greg Skomal and the Remus SharkCam. That’s what I want to see. And judging by the huge backlash towards the premiere, I am not alone.
So get your act together, Shark Week. I’ll be tuning in, along with millions of other viewers, hoping for something better tonight. Don’t let us down.
In the meantime, weigh in here: What do you think of this kind of programming airing during Shark Week?