#009–What the hell happened to my Shark Week on Discovery Channel?

(Boy, I love Sherman’s Lagoon–hee hee)

I spent Christmas weekend remembering we had a Blu-Ray player in the house, and I could finally watch the Blu-Ray disc of  Jaws with hours and hours of extras (I’m definitely a “making of” documentary nerd). That was several days of fun, and two viewings of the flick before I put it away til (probably) summer.

Jaws has been my favorite film since I was 4 or 5, and it jump-started my fascination with the oceans and ocean life. So when we got Discovery Channel, and learned about Shark Week, I was practically giddy. Sundays before the start also showed a few episodes from previous years and really got me hyped. It became my Super Bowl, my ultimate geek out to enjoy at home with my shark mug and plushy sharks around me while I put on the t.v. and enjoyed the air conditioning and sharks.

No, seriously–I’ve lost count of the number of plushy realistic and cartoonish sharks I have.

That same year, I discovered documentaries on iTunes and played catch-up, downloading over a dozen great episodes from the Discovery files and keeping them to watch when I felt deprived of a great learning experience in the off-season (and needed something educational in my noggin that wasn’t about World War II for once).

It seemed each year gradually improved, what with changes in camera technology and increased understanding of shark behavior, all the way through the 2012 season. I ended up buying the iTunes season pass to automatically download the 2012 season as the episodes came out and enjoyed the hell out of most of them. I was happy because on nights I worked, I could come home and the episodes were waiting right there for me to watch. I admit I didn’t bother with the “Shark After Dark” shows–shark geek I may be, but listening to loud-mouthed, self-indulgent nerd-gasms about sharks for an hour or two is a bit too much for me. It was cheaper to do the season pass than buying them piece-meal (I just deleted the ones I didn’t care for), and worth every penny.

Then came 2013. And I wish I had a refund for the season pass on THAT one. Gah!

When did Discovery Channel just throw up its hands, say “screw it,” and jump the shark themselves by giving tons of garbage as entertainment? The biggest culprit is that damned awful Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives, produced with cameras, plaster, hype, and bullshit. Discovery Channel, over the past decade, has just let good educational presentation go the way of the dinosaurs (or megalodon–equally appropriate). But it was a slap in the face with that 2013 season, and I found myself partway through wondering why the hell the company was pushing this crap.

And to top it off, there was a “disclaimer,’ about the story’s authenticity…if you can call a silent, vaguely worded title over the footage, easily missed by those not paying attention, as a disclaimer. It felt like a cross between a “gotcha” and a “screw you” by the corporation. Assholes.

megalodon-disclaimerjpg-05b4d1f34885df07

From “Megalodon…” Nice to know you get a very-muddled version of the truth after wasting 2 hours…grr…I could’ve re-read Steve Alten’s Meg and enjoyed that instead.

I won’t spend too much time on that disappointing season in this post. Besides, Wil Wheaton said most everything I’d want to in his own post from that night.

Go ahead and read, I’ll wait…

When the title Voodoo Shark popped up on the screen, I knew my love affair was over. Even though come 2015 they started drifting back to MUCH better programming, with more science, the show titles probably kept other people like me away with such titles as Alien Sharks and Great White Serial Killer. Hell, I can’t tell you with much certainty because the hype wore me out and some of the sucky shows and better shows mixed together.

Seriously, sharks are scary and fascinating enough you don’t need to super-hype ’em…then again, we’re the “click-bait” society with an attention span so short it’s SQUIRREL! (or maybe “SEAL!” in this case).

Deep down I know it’s a bit ridiculous, in the glow of ten-thousand really crappy “reality shows” coming through the boob tube, to focus so much on this one event. But Shark Week ended the summer right. It played at the peak of the heat (at least down here in Texas) and made you want to watch because you were in the air conditioning at last and probably not too keen on becoming bacon at the beach any more.

I’d drifted away from Discovery Channel when they jumped on the “reality” t.v. bandwagon and never looked back. But Shark Week always brought me back for at least that week. I was glad to be actually learning something again, because I’m all for that. And I’m not the only one…hell, when I need a quick smile, both versions of the uber-catchy “Boom-De-Yada” song would get me going right. It sucks because this seems like the last time Discovery Channel was great.

The “reality” t.v. rant can wait for another post…back to Shark Week.

So, what the hell happened to my Shark Week?

I just found this infographic, and I have to admit, I honestly think the 2013 production meeting went something like this:

shark001-800x600

Credit for this goes to RickMac at Deepseanews.com

Part of me thinks that this is an act of desperation, that because the week was called “Shark Week” that they needed to have all new and a trillion shows to go with. They easily doubled the amount of new shark programs from 2013 on. Now, I was totally okay with there only being 2 new programs a night, not 3 or 4. Because to make the amount, they obviously had to throw in bullshit. That meant by Friday I was tired of Shark Week. I’d spent more time channel surfing than watching because I was tired of hanging around hoping for a good episode of programming.

Shark Week was better when it was more subtle, just a couple hours each night and then a rehash on the weekend for those who missed it, and that’s it. Not a damn talk show afterward every night after 3 or 4 episodes of lousy and good programs.

Shark Week was over-saturated with bullshit programming, and it’s clear Discovery Channel went with quantity over quality (check out “How Capitalism Made Shark Week Suck” for more…I think they hit it). I’m sure National Geographic Channel’s alternative to Shark Week got a big boost in 2013.

Though I’ve watched a lot of movies and some t.v., it’s usually while I’m doing other things and I don’t have full focus on the screen. Shark Week was probably the one time of year (unless I was sick) when I would plop down with my drink and snacks and really watch and immerse myself in t.v.

Yeah, likely gonna be a while before I try that. I’ll wait for reviews and reruns from now on.

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