Shark Week 2012 Preview

It’s getting to be that time of year again.  Shark Week, the seven-day Super Bowl for shark nerds and casual viewers alike, is celebrating its 25th year this summer.  This year it runs a little later than usual (probably to avoid conflicting with that little thing called the Olympics) which means it coincides with the second half of the ASIH/AES meeting.  Since several AES members have actually made appearances on Shark Week, I can only imagine there will be some sort of quasi-organized viewing going on.  Here’s what this year’s promo looks like:

It’s very professionally-done, and though it plays up the fear factor a bit I don’t see anything too offensive here (unlike in 2009, where the promos actually just showed people being eaten).  Last year marked an improvement over some of the other recent “shark porn”-heavy seasons, but was not without its flaws.  How does this year’s lineup look?

Without actually having seen any of this year’s specials yet, it looks like Discovery went in a very positive direction this year, focusing more on science and shark fandom than attacks.  In fact, it looks like there’s only one episode on actual attacks, and focuses on a highly unusual historical situation.  Here are my quick, three-sentence-or-less takes:

Air Jaws Apocalypse:  If Discovery was running out of attack shows after the last few seasons, Air Jaws may be the next tradition to run out of steam.  That said, leaping sharks has yet to get old, and this one looks like it takes an interesting look at white shark vs. other shark interactions, which has the potential to be very cool.

Shark Week’s Impossible Shots:  Many of this year’s offerings are retrospectives on the past 25 years of Shark Week, which is totally okay with me.  Shark Week is three years younger than I am, and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen it almost every year, so it should be a nice trip down memory lane.  Especially for some of those half-remembered years in the 80s and early 90s.

Sharkzilla:  Members of the Mythbusters team build a mechanical Carcharocles megalodon.  There probably won’t be much to learn from this one, but the idea is awesome.

Mythbusters’ Jawsome Shark Special:  The Mythbusters have made a few appearances on Shark Week, and usually provide a fun watch.  This looks like more recap from years past, but watching Adam Savage get brutalized by a mechanical great white (dammit, no video up anywhere!) makes me wish someone would install a mechanical great white in a bar somewhere.

How Jaws Changed the World:  Here’s one for the fans.  I’ve always argued that Jaws should be appreciated for the great movie it is, despite the ecological damage later done to large sharks because of it.  This special looks like it’s proving my point, that Jaws not only inspired the killing of sharks, but also inspired every shark researcher since then.

Adrift: 47 Days At Sea with Sharks:  Shark Week has covered WWII shipwrecks and the sharks that menaced the survivors before, but this particular story combines that with the isolation of the events that inspired Open Water.  If this is this year’s attack show, I suppose I’ll take it.

Shark Fight:  Perhaps none of this year’s offerings illustrate the pro-shark shift more than this episode.  In a totally different kind of attack show, “Shark Fight” follows attack survivors who then turned around and began championing shark conservation.  This is exactly how something as big as Shark Week should be engaging viewers about sharks.

Great White Highway:  More science on white sharks, this time tracking their migrations in the Pacific Ocean.  This population of great whites has been very well-covered on TV, but this special promises to show an inside look at researcher Barbara Block’s operations, which should be cool.

Shark Week’s Best Bites:  More 25th anniversary nostalgia.  As stated before, I’m looking forward to seeing some of that old-school footage again.

Overall a solid lineup and much improved.  It would be surprising to see any of these go especially negative.  So far so good, Discovery.