Shark Week 2017 (and Everything Else) Preview

When I began what turned out to be an unexpected 8-month break from working on The Shark Film Office site last October (due to grievous bodily injury), I had already been damaged severely by a shark film which I had, at the time, been planning to review next on the site. The film was called Shark Exorcist, and with all seriousness, that straight-to-video piece of sheer dreck – after three viewings attempting to make sense of the damnable thing – broke my brain. Really, my brain was broken after the first two viewings to the effect that I stared blankly at an empty document on my computer’s screen for about two weeks before I watched it the nearly fatal third time. Then my brainpan cracked to such a degree that I then and now truly blame my hip injury in late October at Disneyland (on the Matterhorn, no less) on the fact that I had forgotten how to operate my body in a normal fashion following three misbegotten viewings of Shark Exorcist.

[Of course, I could also blame it on the fact that I have attained the golden and rarified status of “fat toad,” and that status alone has thrown many of my normal bodily functions completely out of whack. In the time since the injury, I have found out that I have osteoporosis, edema on my lower legs and in my feet, and am now pre-diabetic. This, in addition to the extreme pain and skin burning from the bursitis that I engaged following my hip injury. For the uninitiated to my ranting on the subject on my other blogs, I am better now hip-wise, having gone through a bursa injection and four months of physical therapy. And now I am turning myself into a gym mouse (I could never be a fully pledged rat, sorry), drink protein shakes in the a.m., and attempt to limit myself to 1800 calories a day. Hopefully, there will be a turnaround on all of this.]

You may have noticed, and I have mentioned before, that going through so many films about or with sharks often leaves one breathless with the uselessness of it all. There are not very many good films expressly about sharks or with sharks as the primary characters (usually villains), and so sometimes it seems that each time I watch a new shark film that I am merely a vast wasteland of films perhaps not quite as bad as Shark Exorcist, but certainly not much better. In order to give myself a break from the likes of Sharkenstein, Dam Sharks!, and a flurry of ceaselessly twirling Sharknadoes (which, without apologies, should be the proper plural spelling, if such a word truly existed) of the genre from time to time, I have had to expand the breadth of the site to include not just theatrical documentaries but also televised ones.

So here are, deep into July, and for nearly 30 years now, the late summer has been the province of the annual Shark Week broadcast on Discovery Channel. I have had my battles, mostly internalized but also some online, with Shark Week over the years, especially when the programming becomes too gratuitous – such as the constant profiling of great whites and other so-called “man-eaters” as “serial killers” and “monsters” – or when Discovery forgets that it was founded in science and decides to emulate Syfy, such as with their awful fake documentaries about Megalodon a handful of years ago. (At least their new president has pledged to never do so again… sure…) But, more often than not, they do at the very least OK and sometimes surprisingly dandy by the sharp-toothed gang, even if they sell advertising by dousing the entire thing with a thick layer of natural human fear.

Shark Week 2017 Schedule (click to enlarge)

Last year’s batch of episodes, which I wrote about in length at the time (see the archive to the left), had some of the highest highs of the entire Shark Week series; a particular fave of mine was Nuclear Sharks, which wasn't anywhere near as ridiculous as the title but it was a fascinating dive, both figuratively and literally, into the dark side of human history. I was quite impressed overall with the variety of subjects, though it is quite apparent that after almost 30 years of this, it has to be getting pretty hard to come up with new ideas, or even halfway good ones. Is having Michael Phelps “fake race” a great white this year a good idea? I think no one involved is really thinking they are selling that he could actually win a real one, and I don’t have a problem with Phelps, possibly the greatest swimmer of forever, being someone that might draw new viewers to check out shark docs. Especially if those viewers leave the show all “woke” about saving sharks, which is a big thing for me.

While I know they are not even close to the ratings grabbers that endless hours of pure great white entertainment are, I most often prefer the hours during Shark Week where other shark species are given at least a small focus. This year, I am most excited about a special built around the sawfish. Yes, sawfishes are actually rays (though they often called carpenter sharks), I always welcome rays to Shark Week, and do wish they were included a bit more often. I am also pleased to see that Eli Roth is back – I think for the third straight year – as host of Shark After Dark, the late night recap show that often features comedians and Roth pals playing trivia games and generally talking shark. You may or may not like Roth’s films – for the record, I run hot and cold on them, though I recognize both his talent and love for the horror genre – but I think he is actually a pretty good host, and it was clear from the last couple of years that his involvement goes beyond mere hosting duties and that he is also personally invested in saving sharks.

I don’t want to dig too deeply into this year's Shark Week at this time, mainly because the fun begins tonight and I don’t want to burn myself out before I even get to the full first post. I plan to put up at least three posts throughout the course of Shark Week – each one recapping two or three days of the week, which Discovery has, in its wisdom, usually turned into eight days. This is mostly because everyone knows that Saturday nights are murder on ratings, so Discovery has the week go from one Sunday to the next Sunday.

This is where I am to be found certifiably nuts... I am also planning to cover Nat Geo Wild’s alternative Shark Week programming – called SharkFest – and yes, they have indeed secured the services of Phelps’ former Olympic teammate Ryan Lochte to spoof the Phelps stuff on Discovery. (Typical of a production that not just accepts but also prides itself in its #2 status, there are only four new SharkFest episodes this year. As a result, I have not yet decided if I will review all of SharkFest in a single post or two.)

And, naturally, this all leads straight to Sharknado Week over on Syfy Channel starting next Sunday, July 30, with a full week of new stupid, cheesy shark film premieres… Two of them even star Tara Reid!!! (The exclamation points are fully tongue in cheek; let's just say I am not much of a fan.) I will eventually publish separate reviews for all six of the new premiere films for Sharknado Week, including Sharknado 5: Global Swarming. It does dismay me a little bit that many people on social media seem to confuse Sharknado Week with Shark Week, and that is probably for two very good reasons. The first is that the weeks are (purposefully) jammed together by their respective studios so that the second plays off the popularity of the first. The second... is that people are idiots. Instead of differentiating between the science and truthfulness that should define the first week, where they should gather a very real picture of sharks in our world, they instead focus solely on the fictional (and extremely science-fictional) side of movie sharks. Sure, most people would just claim this is all good clean fun, but when the real sharks in our world are misinterpreted after filtering through the slowly decaying group intellect of the masses and come out looking only like tornado-dwelling monsters, then it makes fighting the good fight to save the real sharks in our world even harder. When people put up tweets like "It's Shark Week today... why do I have to wait until August 5th for Sharknado 5?," you should be able to understand why I spend most visits to social media sites with my head shaking in bewilderment.

What this all means is that, for the next three weeks at least on The Shark Film Office, it will seem to be a constant feeding frenzy here. Before I go, I should mention that I kicked off my own Shark Week on Saturday instead, by finally tackling a theatrical viewing of the great white-centric 47 Meters Down. You know, the one with the two dopey sisters who apparently break every scuba diving rule possible in the course of 89 minutes?  I knew the chances were more than good that 47 Meters Down wasn’t itself, uh… good, and so I decided to also finally see Baby Driver first, which was as magnificent as I hoped. Then came 47 Meters Down and… well, I think that I will save that for my review, probably sometime after all this Shark Week/SharkFest/Sharknado Week stuff has died down.

In the meantime, whatever you do, don’t watch Shark Exorcist. Never. N-E-VER. Seriously, it will break your brain…


This is how the next couple weeks of shark programming line up for shark fans. I am only including premiere programming; each night features other shark programming but reruns from previous years are not listed here:

SUNDAY, July 23, 2017
SHARK WEEK (Discovery Channel; check local listings)
Great White Shark Serial Killer Lives (7 p.m. ET/PT)
Phelps Vs Shark: Great Gold Vs Great White (8 p.m. ET/PT)
Shark-Croc Showdown (9:10 p.m. ET/PT)
Devil Sharks (10:10 p.m. ET/PT)
Shark After Dark (11:10 p.m. ET/PT)

SHARKFEST (Nat Geo Wild; check local listings)
Shark vs. Predator (8 p.m. ET)

MONDAY, July 24, 2017
SHARK WEEK (Discovery Channel; check local listings)
Shark Vortex (8 p.m. ET/PT)
Return to the Isle of Jaws (9 p.m. ET/PT)
Alien Sharks: Stranger Fins (10 p.m. ET/PT)
Shark After Dark (11 p.m. ET/PT)

SHARKFEST (Nat Geo Wild; check local listings)
Tiger Shark Terror (8 p.m. ET)

TUESDAY, July 25, 2017
SHARK WEEK (Discovery Channel; check local listings)
Sharks and the City: L.A. (9 p.m. ET/PT)
Sharks and the City: New York (10 p.m. ET/PT)
Shark After Dark (11 p.m. ET/PT)

SHARKFEST (Nat Geo Wild; check local listings)
Shark Swarm (8 p.m. ET)

WEDNESDAY, July 26, 2017
SHARK WEEK (Discovery Channel; check local listings)
The Lost Cage (9 p.m. ET/PT)
The Great Hammerhead Invasion (10 p.m. ET/PT)
Shark After Dark (11 p.m. ET/PT)

SHARKFEST (Nat Geo Wild; check local listings)
World’s Deadliest: Shark Frenzy! (8 p.m. ET)

THURSDAY, July 27, 2017
SHARK WEEK (Discovery Channel; check local listings)
Shark Exile (9 p.m. ET/PT)
Shark Swarm (10 p.m. ET/PT)
Shark After Dark (11 p.m. ET/PT)

SHARKFEST (Nat Geo Wild; check local listings)
No new shows

FRIDAY, July 28, 2017
SHARK WEEK (Discovery Channel; check local listings)
African Shark Safari (9 p.m. ET/PT)
Lair of the Sawfish (10 p.m. ET/PT)

SHARKFEST (Nat Geo Wild; check local listings)
No new shows

SATURDAY, July 29, 2017
SHARK WEEK (Discovery Channel; check local listings)
Sharkmania (9 p.m. ET/PT) clip show featuring bits from this year’s new Shark Week episodes

SHARKFEST (Nat Geo Wild; check local listings)
No new shows

SUNDAY, July 30, 2017
SHARK WEEK (Discovery Channel; check local listings)
Shark School with Michael Phelps (8 p.m. ET/PT)

SHARKNADO WEEK (Syfy Channel; check local listings)
5-Headed Shark Attack (8 p.m. ET/PT)

MONDAY, July 31, 2017
SHARKNADO WEEK (Syfy Channel; check local listings)
Mississippi River Sharks (8 p.m. ET)

WEDNESDAY, August 2, 2017
SHARKNADO WEEK (Syfy Channel; check local listings)
Trailer Park Shark (8 p.m. ET)

THURSDAY, August 3, 2017
SHARKNADO WEEK (Syfy Channel; check local listings)
Toxic Shark (8 p.m. ET)

SATURDAY, August 5, 2017
SHARKNADO WEEK (Syfy Channel; check local listings)
Empire of the Sharks (8 p.m. ET)

SUNDAY, August 6, 2017
SHARKNADO WEEK (Syfy Channel; check local listings)
Sharknado 5: Global Swarming (8 p.m. ET)

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