Listen Shark Week – I’m just a man. A man who likes sharks. And as much as I want to say that I can absorb as much punishment as you can dish out, I’m beginning to think we’ve found my limit. This year, between my Discovery Channel satellite feed and the Discovery+ app, they’re offering FORTY-FIVE HOURS of content this year. Not everything is going to be a banger – it can’t all be The Beatles’ Revolver or Green Day’s Dookie, where every song is a chart topper (and yeah, those are my examples – DEAL WITH IT). Discovery+ definitely seems to be the “Welllllllll… it’s definitely content. Let’s put it somewhere”. And I get that not every show or minute is going to be directed at my very specific demographic, so I’m going to try be gentle-ish on the shows I review (except Shark Academy, which I will treat with the same critical eyes I do to the non-paid content).
Shark Rumble (2.5/5)
I have no animus to this show, it’s just not for me. It features WWE Wrestler Drew McIntyre, who seems like a nice enough guy, going to the Georgia Aquarium to take part in their Shark Cage dive program to get over his fear of sharks. It’s 21 minutes and basically background noise for me. I perked up when I saw that the Georgia Aquarium has a tiger shark on exhibition, and their shark cage rig is pretty cool. But otherwise, unless you’re a Shark Week fan, a Wrestling fan, or on the youngish side, this is pretty skippable unless you’re a Shark Week completist.
One of the things I have to remind themselves is that for some people, it might literally be their first time watching Shark Week. Not everything has to be for me, someone who’s been watching the shows for years. If Discovery is casting a wide enough net for people to start loving sharks, then sure. It’s benign. So definitely couch this review with that nugget.
Stranger Sharks (2.5/5)
Again, no animus. Just not for me. As I’m not a fan of Stranger Things, I have no idea who the celebrity du jour is (other than he’s on the Stranger Things cast), but that’s my problem, not his. He seems enthusiastic enough for sharks and I’m here for it. There was a pretty cool visual of the abandoned lighthouse at Great Issac Cay, and about 10 minutes of classic Bermuda Triangle Forteana (and is one of the few things left on my dive bucket list), and some interesting plans for a submarine study of deepwater sharks… but the deepwater sharks never show up and the dive scenes are something we’ve already seen (A LOT) of this Shark Week. Some of the science is wrong, and they try to play things up that aren’t play-uppable (like an appearance of a nurse shark, the Magicarp of the Bahamas). If it hadn’t been for Great Issac Cay, probably would have given this a 2, not for anything terrible like the Jackass show, just that it’s not particularly necessary.
Shark Academy, Episodes 2 & 3 (2.5/5)
So, this is actually an average score between the two episodes. Episode 2 was actually pretty interesting – it started with the mechanics of freediving which *can* be a very useful skill among shark scientists, *IF* you’re in the field, and need to get a tag into a skittish, free swimming shark, but that’s like 1% of actual field work, and not every scientist needs to do that. Watching the students try to hold their breath underwater – that got me, because yeah, it’s not easy. I had to do a swim underwater with no gear across the width of a Olympic swimming pool for my divemaster cert, and yeah – ain’t gonna lie took me three tries. Watching Brad fail (Brad is officially the Apollo of this thing – you can Google that reference or just ask me if we ever meet in person) is worth it (sorry Brad, everytime I see you, all I can think of is the music lyric “Every beer I’ve ever drunk/is on a shelf above my bed”), and then watching the team try to wrestle a bull shark into submission is a lot of fun. It’s just that some of the people in this show are just… awful. Like the shark enthusiast who shows up, ready to manhandle a bull shark without gloves. One of the first things shark lovers know is that shark skin is as rough or rougher than sandpaper – but you’re doing to put your unprotected hands on a bull shark in full lather and expect to not get the top layers of skin removed instantly? WHAT THE FUCK IS YOUR PROBLEM, RYAN?!?!?! Where did they find these people? Off-Brand Sea World? Small John Silver’s? The short end of the kiddie pool? And then… then it goes completely off the rails.
“As a shark scientist, you need to be ready for anything. So we’re going to pretend we’re stranding you on an island.”
NO. NO SHARK SCIENTIST WHO ISN’T CLINICALLY INSANE WILL MAKE YOU DO THIS. If the boat goes down, you’re either A. screwed or B. going to be rescued by the local country’s Coast Guard pretty quickly. A or B. There is no C. This is not the movies and you’re not Ryan Gosling or ScarJo.
My girlfriend likes this show, at least more than everything else Shark Week has thrown at us (although she hasn’t see the Shatner one), so there’s that.
Round 3 tonight. Let’s do this!