This was a reat night of Shark Week, with a fair amount of education for the viewer, great visuals, and some non-usual sharks for Shark Week (like cold water sharks and hammerheads). Why the hell did we have to wait until Friday to get here? We have diverse sharks – everywhere from the sub-Arctic ocean to the tropics of the Phillipines and Bahamas. We’ve got some diverse scientists, citizen scientists, legends explained, science made, other than the “I Was Prey” nonsense that Discovery keeps trying to funnel down our throats, not exploitative. Not a celebrity to be seen. Again, WHY – WHY DO WE HAVE TO WAIT FOR THIS!?!?! Why do we have to wait to see Bahamian scientists in the Bahamas? I will never understand the calculus that Discovery uses in programming the week. I get it – drop a big celebrity on Night 1, and get people interested. But shows like “Ninja Sharks 2” and “Monster Sharks of Andros Island” shouldn’t be relegated to Friday night graveyard status while “Jackass Shark Week” gets top billing. I know this is supposed to entertainment, but TONIGHT *WAS* entertainment AND educational. I THROW THINGS NOW.
Ninja Sharks 2: Mutants Rising (5/5)
Just a really great show – one of the best of the week. Diverse sharks – from open ocean pelagics like makos and blues, to the thresher (one of my favorites) to a trip to the Graveyard of the Atlantic where we see some hard science with NOAA researchers studying sand tigers who’ve made the shipwrecks of their home to salmon sharks, the fastest shark of the sub-Arctic ocean. Great video, great visuals, the music fits the mood (exciting without being exploitative). It shows how non-scientists and scientists work together. Every Shark Week show could be like this if Discovery wanted it – you don’t need exploitation of human tragedy, you don’t need crap science… Maybe we DON’T need 45 hours a week. Maybe we don’t need genre celebrity shows (maybe genre regional shows – there are sharks everywhere in the United States – maybe find the hook for every state – I could even come up with hooks for the Mountain and Plains states – Extinct Sharks of the Western Interior Seaway maybe? I was absolutely thrilled on this one from start to finish. A must watch! Also, Dr. Craig O’Connell redeems himself from that Jackass abortion from Night 1.
Monster Sharks of Andros Island ( 5/5 )
As I mentioned last year in my review of last year’s “Sharks of Ghost Island“, while the Bermuda Triangle is not as mysterious as people think it is, there is value in legend. And on this episode of of Shark Week, they’re tackling another one of my favorite Atlantic legend, the terrifying Lusca, a half-shark, half-octopus monster that lives in the Blue Holes of the Bahamas. The Blue Holes are these sinkholes and cenotes in the limestone and coral of the Bahamian island chain where currents and tides create an effect of “breathing”, which locals thought the Lusca was – and the Lusca, being so massive, could suck up boats and people. Hammerheads like this area, and hammerheads can get BIG, so of course, they would imprint upon these sea monster legends. So the scientists have used local stories of the Lusca to drive their decisions about where to look for hammerheads… And it’s great. Diverse scientists – finally – the research team adds local Bahamiam scientists who AREN’T WHITE for the show, and goddamn, WHY IS THIS ON A FRIDAY? This should have been a Sunday show. It’s just great. Another Friday must see.
Mystery of the Black Demon Shark (4.5/5)
So there were two Forrest Galante shows tonight. One of them was good, if a bit of a tease, the Discovery+ show Extinct or Alive: Jaws of Alaska. I’m watching this one second, so you’ll need to temper everything I said in that review with this one… There’s absolutely a show here. The Revillagigedo Archipelago of Mexico is a marine protected area and a Mission Blue Hope Spot home to many, many shark species and charismatic marine megafauna like whales, mantas, and dolphins. You could send four camera crews there and get four unique specials about everything from pelagic sharks to the unique lives of one of my favorite sharks, the reef whitetips, to a story about mantas, to the interactions they have with everything else. Instead, we’re getting a story of a mythical shark that they’re absolutely winking at and saying it’s megalodon… So, 5 demerits to House Gallante. It’s not terrible, it’s just that it’s saying there’s a mystery where no mystery is. It’s fish tales, nothing more. I have no doubt that the fishermen have seen a black-back, big dorsalled marine predator that has attacked whales – orcas. Orcas can look like sharks, especially if you WANT them to look like sharks. The visuals on this show are great – they obviously did not skimp on the production – it’s just… come on. Megalodon? In 2021. We’ve been here. But it redeems itself in the end. Big time. It loses 1/2 fin for the sketchy premise, but seriously, one of the best of the week.
I Was Prey 2: Terrors from the Deep (.5/5)
Nope. If you’ve read my reviews before, you know how I feel about this series. .5 was previously the lowest possible score before Jackass Shark Week lowered the bar. Watch it if you’re a completist, but just no. Stop doing this Discovery. Only thing good about this is it was buried at 11PM on a Friday.
Extinct or Alive: Jaws of Alaska ( 3 / 5 )
This was the “Infinity War” of shark documentaries, in that it was ALL setup for (presumably) next year’s Extinct or Alive: Jaws of Alaska 2 – Endgame. The premise is this – seals and seal lions are getting eaten up, in a way that hasn’t been seen before (and I don’t know if that’s true, but the show presents that as fact) and Forrest Galante (who has a bit of a negative reputation with some people in the shark science and general conservation) goes to the frigid waters of Alaska to find out what might be doing, if two known species of shark in those waters have the ability to take down seals – the Pacific sleeper shark or the salmon shark. I know sleepers, like their cousins, the Greenland shark are scavengers and would totally eat dead and dying marine mammals, but probably don’t have the endocrine system to achieve the necessary speed to take one down, and salmon sharks, eat, well, salmon (Jeremy Wade in an episode of “River Monsters” kind of already showed on Discovery salmon sharks don’t want mammals, be they seal or man). So, it’s kind of just a big setup to see whether or not great whites have moved into Alaskan waters. I feel like this is going to be disappointing, because even with climate change heating up the Pacific, it’s not terribly likely (I think the farthest great whites have made it is the Northern Washington state coastline). But the show itself is a nice introduction to these two sharks, and Galante keeps the theatrics to a minimum (although they are there). A good show, but not something that people will likely watch again once they’ve seen it.