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Here at ScienceBlogs, we’re generally fans of the Discovery Channel. MythBusters is great. Man vs. Wild is thrilling. Planet Earth is, of course, one of the most sublime ways to spend an hour—or if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on the boxed DVD collection, eleven hours. Straight.

But we just can’t get behind Shark Week. Here’s the thing: Shark Week has been airing annually since 1987. Every summer for over twenty years, people have gathered to their television sets to learn about how to defeat a Great White if attacked (punch it in the nose), and how long sharks have been around for (300 million years, before even the dinosaurs).

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But why give sharks all the glory? Sure, they’re impressive—but are they that much more impressive than a giant squid, say, or the much-feared Portuguese Man o’ War, or the recently discovered see-through barreleye fish? Where are the weeks devoted to these?

And what about land-dwelling creatures? Ought we to ignore the star-nosed mole simply because it hasn’t been the subject of its own blockbuster? If it’s the danger factor we’re looking for, how about the hippotamus, which is responsible for more human fatalities in Africa than lions, tigers, or elephants?

What would you like to see on The Discovery Channel in place of Shark Week? Leave your suggestion as a comment and who knows – maybe you’ll be seeing promotional posters for Three-Toed Sloth Week soon.

Comments

  1. #1 oscar zoalaster
    August 3, 2009

    Elephant Week

    Grass Week (this would include rice, corn, bamboo, wheat, oats, barley, and other vital plants – why let animals hog the spotlight?)

    Pig Week

    Rat Week

    Dogs!

    Bears! (hosted by Stephan Colbert)

    Forests!

    And so on….

  2. #2 Shark Diver/Shark Divers
    August 10, 2009

    As the 2009 Shark Week season winds to a close two issues are becoming self evident. This years Shark Week viewer numbers are up, and this years programming has been panned by nearly everyone.

    Discovery has delivered a programming disaster. The first, and hopefully only, in the 23 year brand history of Shark Week.

    As executives from Discovery Networks sit back to assess this years programming a conversation of “brand damage management” should be on table.

    As FOX News discovered a long time ago – brand credibility demands more than a tag line.

    The folks at Discovery made a dark calculation for ratings and in the process produced a season of mindless man made Shark Porn that despite assurances from a group of hand chosen “programming apologists” has been outed worldwide as nothing more than a ratings grab.

    A ratings grab with a serious downside to the shark conservation movement and the ongoing perception of sharks. A species currently suffering one of the highest rates of destruction of any species on the planet – estimated at close to 90 million animals a year.

    This mornings Ad Age quotes (click link):

    “Sadly, this year Shark Week finally got caught up in its own hype. Forget the mammoth ad blitz that preceded it — of course the network should call attention to its flagship property — or the dotty “Sharkbook” stab at social networking. For reasons I don’t quite understand, Discovery has chosen to inject artificial drama and personality into the rare genre of programming that demands neither.”

    “Great White Appetite” is exhibit A for what’s gone wrong with Shark Week. Instead of dryly delivered shark-alogues from individuals inevitably identified as “migratory experts,” “Appetite” presents viewers with himbo vacuousness in the form of host Charles Ingram. A former force recon marine, Ingram seems to have gleaned most of his knowledge about ocean predators from “Shark Tale” and thus comes across as a burlier, slightly less delusional Brian Fellows. His commentary ranges in depth and tone from “Whoo! Did you see that? That was insane!” to “Oh, man, what a rush. That was crazy, dude!” The last thing a smart-minded documentary series needs is a “Jackass” injection.

    Ouch.

    Discovery CAN come back. Shark Week is not a lost brand, just a misaligned brand, hijacked by lowest common denominator thinking and spiralling formulaic programming. Discovery must swing back to smart, edgy, programming, the kind of shows that once kept viewers educated and thrilled.

    This original style of programming built the Shark Week brand and created loyal followers.

    The devolution to this years level of programming was a clear misstep. Strong internal leadership, and a new slate of programming “idea makers” can and will save Shark Week from an ongoing and inglorious end.

    Cheers,
    Patric Douglas CEO
    http://www.sharkdiver.com
    http://www.sharkdivers.com
    http://www.sharkdivers.blogspot.com
    http://www.guadalupefund.org
    http://www.islandofthegreatwhiteshark.com
    415.235.9410

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