This is why I watch Shark Week. Tonight was like “Sea Hunt” meets “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau” meets, well, Classic “Shark Week”.
If you can’t tell, I really enjoyed tonight’s episodes. It helps that we’re back to a Shark Week classic show – Air Jaws, which was back in fine form, and what is rapidly becoming a new fave – Sharkwrecked, which takes the now familiar and friendly Paul De Gelder, a former Australian Navy diver who was badly injured in a negative shark interaction, and places him ain a series of dangerous environments to see how people might have reacted to those situations.
De Gelder is now one of the world’s most visible shark conservationists, showing that you even people who might (rightly or wrongly) have a negative perception of sharks understand how magnificent these fish are.
Sharkwrecked: Crash Landing
(out of 5 shark fins)
I mentioned Paul De Gelder at the start, and this is one of two shows he was in tonight, and here, he’s joined by former British SAS Commando James Glancy, and like last year, where they survived an insane 46 hours in open water with Oceanic Whitetip sharks (once, the most common predator on Earth over 100 lbs, now barely holding on in sanctuaries in the Bahamas and the Red Sea), this year they’re going to try to replicate that feat. In 2018, they blew up a boat in the Bahamas; this year, they jumped out of a plane over the shark sanctuary of Palau in the Micronesian Pacific to simulate what might have happened to pilots shot down in World War 2.
While there are scientists involved, this more of a classic “Man vs. Nature”, one of the great 7 literary forms of conflict, type of show. And while some shark scientists might, over all, not groove with this, I didn’t see anything exploitative or get an “ooh, murdery sharks!” vibe from it. If anything, the sea was far more dangerous – and in one instance in a very “You have died of dysentery sort of way”. This was an adventure show, and that’s OK. Not every show this week has to cram science down your throat.
Which is not to say we don’t learn stuff! But the science isn’t the draw here.
Laws of Jaws: Dangerous Waters
(out of 5 shark fins)
This one was also controversial the last time it aired, with shark scientists (I think rightfully) dragging it because it focuses on shark bite incidents that are extremely rare… but if we’re being honest, the most time the public will hear about sharks is when the media blasts them into our living rooms after they try to sensationalize shark incidents.
I think they learned a lesson, and through the course of this hour, in multiple warnings, they talk about how rare shark bite incidents really are. And in every incident, and stated very explicitly… HUMANS are the cause of these negative interactions – whether it’s simulating prey, stimulating a shark’s senses, or just general human jackassery (FOMO meets YOLO meets Selfie culture).
It’s a show that satiates are natural “if it bleeds it leads” interests, without painting the sharks as the villains, and we get some very interesting footage of sharks, especially the tigers, which are always photogenic. Seriously… if you could make a more perfect shark, you’d make a fortune. But you can’t, so stop trying CRSPR people.
Air Jaws Strikes Back
(out of 5 shark fins)
OK, I’m a little biased because the show starts off with a visit to a place I visited earlier this year – Mossell Bay, South Africa, and Air Jaws can be one of my favorite shows in any given Shark Week (Air Jaws: Nightstalkers remains one of my top shows I’ve seen on Discovery).
And this iteration is right up there with the best. We have everything: scientific discovery, insane cinematography, lucky seals, competent scientists and engineers, leaping sharks, gear failure, non-white male shark scientists….
There’s not too much I can say about the content of the show that separates it from other Air Jaws hours without giving away a major “plot” point of the show – other than it flips the script on previous years.
If you haven’t seen this one, it’s available on Discovery Go. Download it and watch it (or all the shows from Night 3) now!
SPECIAL THANKS ARE IN ORDER:
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