Shark Weak: Discovery Channel sinks to new lows while feeding us the fishiest of fare


I LOVED Shark Week. It was fascinating. A entire week of real footage of real sharks eating real prey and real scientists studying them and their unreal behavior. Sharks, sharks and more sharks all day, every day for a whole freakin’ week on Discovery Channel. It was a really fun time to get my geek on.

Then Shark Week started tanking. Discovery began offering fish feces instead of shark documentaries. The low point was the 2013 “mockumentary,” Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives. The blasted show enticed me and my wife—and 4.8 million other suckers—into watching the search for the “submarine,” a 35-60 feet long prehistoric mega shark.

Less believable than Jaws 3-D

We watched with bated breath as “researchers” pursued the extinct monster they say could be responsible for the loss of a charter fishing boat and all hands off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa.

To be fair, “Certain events and characters in this film have been dramatized” appeared at the beginning and end of Megalodon. We missed the beginning. This tidbit of information appeared again two hours later and way after a tease of Blair Witch Project-like “discovered” footage of a mysterious and colossal sea creature ravaging the vessel. Also, a disclaimer like this typically indicates that the material is based on actual events, not on fanboy fantasy.

With actors posing as “shark experts,” Discovery led us nincompoops on a taut, white-knuckle ride to a “I-can’t-believe-I-fell-for-this” destination of duh. To be fair, I’ll take a bit of blame—we wanted to believe that Megalodon lives. Which is what the shark oil salesmen at Discovery banked on. Literally.

Too much people people, not enough sharky sharky

I should’ve seen it coming. Since 2000 or so, I saw signs that Shark Week began chumming for chumps. When they ran out of shark footage, they began relying on manipulative editing and music and supposed shark people freaking out every time a shark bumped into a boat or shark cage.

In typical reality TV style, Discovery now features fishermen and adventurers as shark “experts.” And they spend more time showing footage of the people researching/studying/exploiting sharks than they do of the freakin’ fish.

I don’t know about you, but I’m fascinated by sharks, not manufactured drama of a shark “documentary” crew. Watch any Shark Week show and in a matter of minutes a so-called shark expert will let out a manipulative, “BLEEP…that BLEEPING shark is BLEEPING huge. Le’s get the BLEEP outta here.”

No, Discovery Channel—YOU get the BLEEP outta here. I’ll tune in again when you stop being a reality TV/ratings weasel and get back to your roots—discovery of our big, beautiful planet. And its sharks. And while you’re at it, stop making the jobs of real shark experts even more difficult.


Oops, Discovery did it again

Michael Phelps races a shark. Really, Discovery? Turns out he raced a computer-generated shark. And Shark Week fans are up in arms over this? What can you expect from a channel that brought you Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives? So after a 2015 heartfelt apology and pledge to be “focused more on science and research this time around” Discovery gives us a Phelps/Jaws race that wasn’t.

Sadly, Discovery Channel is not about discovery and real science anymore. It’s about ratings and ad money. Shark Week was fun while it kept it real. Now it’s just a bucket of stinky chum for hungry, indiscriminate viewers who, Discovery apparently believes, will swallow anything that’s flung at them.