Discovery Channel launched Shark Week on Sunday with a special “Megalodon: The Monster Shark That Lives.” The premise is a fishing boat was sunk in South Africa earlier this year, and evidence points to Megalodon, a shark that’s been extinct for millions of years. Unfortunately, it’s a totally fictional mockumentary just like the two Mermaids specials they showed last year. Events that never happened, lots of CGI video presented as real, actors playing scientists, and just enough real footage to give it a gloss of believability. Apparently people are in an uproar over it; even Wil Wheaton is demanding an apology from them.
I watched it last night, and if you’ve seen the “Mermaids” specials its fairly obvious this is the same kind of entertaining garbage, but there’s nearly nothing to indicate that its fiction. A few disclaimers that flash by so fast that you can only read them if you pause, that say events have been “recreated” or “dramatized”. So yeah, screw Discovery Channel for showing this crap. Off to Nat Geo to watch their second string shark specials.
Madame Pepperwinkle lives for Shark Week, and as soon as we saw the too-good-looking scientist with his obviously scripted lines, she despaired. Let us all hope Discovery learns the errors of its way before it loses all its credibility, and becomes another History channel.
Shark Week lost its luster for me some time in 2005. It was a nice little treat to come home to after sweating your ass off in the mid-August heat, to plop down on a couch and nap on and off to a virtual fish tank full of sharks. It certainly doesn’t deserve the exuberant cult-like following that it currently enjoys.
We had the misfortune of watching Megalodon on Sunday night. It was almost immediately clear to me that it was too well-filmed, and too well-scripted, to be an actual documentary.
At the very end, they ran a set of disclaimers on the bottom of the screen (each of which might have been on screen for a second…no way you could read them if you didn’t use a DVR to freeze-frame them) which acknowledged, in a weasel-words sort of way, that the film did not portray actual events, but built on theories.
I’m sure that there are a lot of credulous people out there who thought it was an actual documentary, which is really sad, and deceptive on the part of Discovery.
(I’ll also note that the “live” talk show they’re running every evening this week is incredibly lame.)
To the detriment of both channels. I find it sad but interesting (in a vague sort of “entropy of stupidity” way) that scope creep has affected the original intent of these channels to such a damaging degree. The original promise of the plethora of cable channels was that you could have specialty channels that would concentrate programming on a narrow band of interests (e.g. natural science-based pop-educational shows, or solid speculative fiction), but it seems very few channels are not straying from their original premise these days (when was the last time TLC did anything related to learning?).
That’s a great observation Ed. Seems like the Internet went on and became all the niches that cable was supposed to become.
I wonder if it has to do with the economic models or if it just was lucky timing on the part of the web.
Megalodonado, the gripping story of the sharknado that revealed the existence of the previously thought extinct Megalodon when a freak hurricane with multiple tornados began flinging prehistoric sharks the size of city buses at an unsuspecting populace.
SyFy network, please PM or email me for information on where to send my royalties.
I find it very interesting that the Science Channel shows better science fiction than the Scyfy channel - marathons of Dollhouse, Firefly and Fringe - all GOOD science fiction - and the science programming is generally watchable.