OK. I’ve simmered down.
Tonight’s schedule seems less likely to enrage me. Shark Week has hurt me before (see literally any review of a previous year’s night of Shark Week), but I always come back, a moth to a flame, or like Aquaman’s dad to the pier at sunrise, expecting something different. Tonight seems to be pretty Great White heavy, but as Shark Week started off Nothin’ but Reef Sharks (which was the name of my short-lived Off-Broadway revue) – I’m down for a little Great White breachin’, seal-eatin’, Laminidae action. And among the presenters tonight is none other than Sgt. TJ Hooker actor and TEK WAR author, William Shatner!!!
So yeah, I think I’m ready to watch Shark Week again, and OH GODDAMIT I FORGOT I HAVE TWO EPISODES OF SHARK ACADEMY TO WATCH.
I can’t drink like I did last night. It might literally kill me (I had 2 tiki drinks equivalent of 12 shots of liquor and a Pineapple beer). I’m going to have to do this one sober.
Air Jaws: Going for Gold (3.5/5)
I’ve been reviewing Shark Week for 5 years and in those 5 years, there have been some pretty AMAZING! (to quote Chris Fallows) Air Jaws episodes – my favorite being “Air Jaws: Night Stalkers”, but there’s never been a bad one, and this one keeps the streak alive. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it was pretty good. You’ve got the usual Air Jaws team (Chris Fallows’ steady camera hand, Allison Towner’s confident planning, Enrico Gennari’s exuberance, Dickie Chivell’s numbskullery – he doesn’t get a chance to kill himself in this episode!), and it’s narrated by Battlebots’ Chris Rose (I’m sure he did some sports bullshit at one point, but I know him as Kenny Florian’s goofball co-anchor). It being an Olympic year, they went with a competition them about which Great White can jump the highest, longest and fastest. It’s a good framing device, and the footage is pretty thrilling – to the point I was invested in the shark competition. It’s not groundbreaking, but it keeps the franchise going. At this point, I kind of wonder what can we learn from Mossel Bay without just recording breaches. There’s other sharks in those waters (from the alien sixgill shark to the cute-as-a-bug pyjama shark). Let’s loop them in!
Jaws Awakens: Phred Vs. Slash (3/5)
OK, at first I didn’t get where they were going with this one. I vaguely recall the previous specials that feature Phred and Slash, two Great White Sharks in New Zealand, and I vaguely remember they created an “in-Universe” version off the town of Oban, New Zealand where the local yokels had some sort of Amity Island/Crabapple Cove vibe going on as a framing device. So, I got a little annoyed with the “This shark was injured by a fisherman, and it’s out for revenge” vibe – which is what they were doing, but decidedly tounge-in-cheek. I’m going to knock off half a fin for the fact that it’s starts off as a little too subtle. The show is fine – I’m not entirely sure what they’re doing – trying to prove which shark, the scripted and perpetually pissed off Slash, or the scriptedly likeable Phred (think Godzilla vs. Kong) is the dominant shark, which I’m not sure that’s how it works. There is a pecking order that sharks will establish around a food source (like a decaying whale or cage bait), but it more or less breaks up after the food source is gone, but Shark Week gonna Shark Week. The sharks are impressive though, NGL.
One thing that annoys me about these specials set in South Africa or New Zealand – we never actually see indigenous people interacting with the same animals that their ancestors did long before colonialization. These would be interesting stories to tell. We meet a Māori fisherman on this special, but he’s there for backstory. I’d like to hear more about sharks from the perspective outside the Western camera eye. What’s it gonna take, Discovery?
I feel like I’m being to harsh on this one. Maybe I’m taking out my residual agression on the Jackass show.
Expedition Unknown: Shark Trek (4.5/5)
How the hell is William Shatner 90 years old? Seriously. He’s not the strapping heartthrob that he once was (pictured here with a Chevy Mako), but he also doesn’t look like his 90 goddamn years old. I liked this special right from the beginning, not because I expected it to break any new science ground or make new discoveries, but that it couldn’t be anything but a fun popcorn adventure featuring Bill Shatner playing Bill Shatner as Bill Shatner and sharks.
I don’t need anything else – this is the anti-Jackass special. It’s a celebrity driven, but not traumatizing.
I did learn something about Captain Kirk – he’s a SCUBA diver! At 90! That gives me SO much hope for my future. I’ve always worried at some point I would reach what divers call “End of Dive”, when you become too infirm to continue diving. And there’s SO MANY TREK JOKES in this episode. This might be a re-watch for me when I can enjoy it outside of the prism of having to do these reviews, just to enjoy the full Shatner. Just a lot of a fun.
I’ll be covering the Discovery+ part of Shark Week in a separate review (look for part 2) – it’s a lot of Shark Week they’re giving us this year, but if all you’ve got is Cable/Satellite, it’s a night of Shark Week that’s worth your time.