It appears that where “Shark Week” left off in 2013, embroiled in the controversy of airing a fake documentary about the prehistoric Megalodon shark as if it existed today, is where it picked up this year, offering “Shark Week” fans another fake documentary about a gigantic shark that might exist off the coast of South Africa. The star of the fake documentary wasn’t as big (30-35 feet, as opposed to 67 feet), but it was a fitting sequel to “Megalodon.” Not only did it get the same reaction from fans of Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week” that find the fake show factually misleading and detrimental to the network’s credibility, it also got the same reaction from viewers.
As Gawker heatedly pointed out Aug. 11, the 27th version of “Shark Week” offered up “Shark of Darkness: Wrath of Submarine,” a “bulls**t mockumentary production, something the Blair Witch would have scraped off her shoe.” The media blog dispirited critiqued: “They [Discovery Channel] aren’t even trying anymore.”
Cast in the same mold as 2013’s fake ode to a monster prehistoric shark that still patrols the world’s oceans, “Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives,” “Shark of Darkness” followed fake news stories with fake science with “dramatizations” of events that never happened. In fact, The Inquistr catalogued the fakeries set into and around the show, including a fake scientist, Mel Thurmond, from a fake institute, the South African Institute for Marine Research. And then there was the totally phony newspaper report on a capsized ship tipped over and terrorized by a “killer shark,” which turned out to be a true story about a real boat that capsized due to heavy swells in Hout Bay.
Besides, as many annoyed fans and reviewers continue to point out, Submarine, the giant Great White shark starring in this year’s travesty, is at least 30 feet long. Great white sharks are rarely reach 20 feet in length, so…
Some fans took to Twitter to voice their annoyance at Discovery Channel and their growing penchant for producing and showing fake documentaries (mockumentaries) when they could be showing actual documentaries that are just as fascinating (if not as shocking or titillating). The Columbus Dispatch collected a few that dripped with ire, including one from @sharkgrl, who tweeted, “I had to convince 5 people in my office this morning that #SubmarineShark was fake. This is not ok”
But just like last year, true science and research fans seem to be outvoted by those watching the sensationalist fake documentaries, because, again, ratings are up for Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week.” “Shark of Darkness: The Wrath of Submarine” topped the cable ratings, according to TV By The Numbers (reporting from Nielsen TV Ratings), with nearly 4 million people tuning in. In fact, as CNN reported, ratings for “Shark Week” are the highest in Discovery Channel’s history.
Unfortunately for fans of the actual science documentaries about sharks, ratings drive ad sales and those fake documentaries are going to keep coming. In fact, there’s a sequel to Megalodon (“Megalodon — The Extended Cut”) scheduled for “Shark Week” 2014, as well as one on an elusive voodoo shark (Voodoo Shark”) and a mythical giant hammerhead called “Old Hitler” (“Monster Hammerhead”).