Bridget Reed Morawski ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff
American beach goers have been fascinated with sharks long before the Jaws series introduced them to the perception that they are bloodthirsty, man-eating weird-looking fish. Courtesy of the Discovery Channel, every year we flock to the safety of our couches to honor their power and presence with a week long marathon honoring the most badass of the briny beasts.
Originally aired in July of 1988, Shark Week has reached global popularity, with over thirty million views from 72 countries to boast about. The first night of Shark Week this year alone (Sunday, 8/04) earned the Discovery Channel a whopping 4.8 million views with its mockumentary Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives.
While it’s incredibly tempting to sit on your couch every night – loudly cheering on sharks to the aggravation of your neighbors – and watch episode after episode of brand new programming based on the cartilaginous critters, here’s your guide as to what to watch, what to DVR, and what to skip completely.
Shark After Dark – hosted by comedian Josh Wolf
Surprisingly entertaining for a late-night show hosted on an educational network, Shark After Dark brings on the men and women from that night’s programming to make bad shark puns and discuss their work and experience in the deep blue. Depending on who you ask, one downside to the program is that they rely heavily at times on social media input. You can expect constant questions from Twitter users popping up both along the bottom of the screen as well as fodder to carry the program along. The entire cast is entertaining and self-mocking, making references to their roles in the immensely popular Shark Week drinking game and their more obvious character traits that were highlighted during other Shark Week programming.
Definitely a must watch, but only if you viewed the prior Shark Week specials that night. Otherwise, the viewer is left rather confused as the entire premise of Shark After Dark revolves around making references to the past two hours of Discovery Channel programming.
Runs every night at 11/10c during Shark Week.
Alien Sharks of the Deep
On the trail of the more unique sharks of the deepest watery trenches, Alien Sharks of the Deep delves into the oddities of the ocean to introduce the public to such rarities as the goblin shark, the Megamouth shark, and others as a team of Japanese/American scientists hunt the critters down. Seemingly similar to Top 10 Sharkdown, I’m making Alien Sharks of the Deep a must-watch live. Unlike Top 10 Sharkdown, Alien Sharks of the Deep doesn’t seem to follow a countdown formula in its presentation of the wacky water dwellers, making it personally a much more desirable program to catch.
Runs Thursday (8/8) at 10/9c
Great White Gauntlet
If you’re looking for Australian accents, shark cages, and a vicarious adrenaline rush, you’ve come to the right place. Great White Gauntlet takes you through the lucrative and risky business of abalone (an expensive, yummy sea snail) fishing in one of the most dangerous shark feeding grounds in the world. Sounds like a Dirty Job from Hell, if one of the circles of Hell was full of Great White Sharks.
Runs Friday (8/9) at 8/7c.
Top 10 Sharkdown
Top 10 Sharkdown fingers ten shark species that have some sort of strange trait; promotions for the program include references to the cookie cutter shark, whose jaw leaves cookie cutter-esque bite marks in its prey. Certainly a must see live for those that like the weird, wild, and ugly of the animal kingdom, but it follows an incredibly familiar television program formula we have all seen a thousand times over. Don’t rush to your TV for this type of programming, since it’s sure to replay over and over again until next Shark Week – but make sure to catch it at some point.
Runs Wednesday (8/7) at 9/8c
This just looks like the culmination of every other program’s thoughts on shark attacks and global shark populations; as shark’s habitats and food supplies are threatened and dwindling, sharks will begin to venture closer to the shoreline, and inevitably attack humans. While an interesting and important idea, many of Shark Week’s shows already touch on the subject – for instance, the marine biologists in Monday evening’s program Return of Jaws repeatedly commented on the increasing proximity of the Great White Shark’s breeding and feeding grounds. Certainly frightening, it’s a message being touted across the Shark Week broadcasts. You don’t need to watch this episode to understand much of it off the bat.
Runs Thursday (8/8) at 9/8c