Bumping The Shark

Last week was Shark Week, Discovery’s incredulously popular annual event consisting of 7 days of continuous shark-themed programming, sandwiched neatly inbetween the network’s other 358 days of continuous shark-themed programming. Now in its 27th year, the ripple effect of Shark Week across TV is staggering, with a shoal of cable networks attempting to take a bite out of Discovery’s ratings with concurrent themed programming alternatives created under the fin of Shark Week. While some satirise the inflated phenomenon of Shark Week, others are brazenly capitalising on its currency. Here’s some of the counter-attacks, and a few suggestions for next year:

Jaws Week:

Steven Seagal movie marathon and quality TV gamut-running network AMC showed a Jaws movie every night, a prospect that got increasingly less attractive as the week went on. The appeal of the original movie passes me by, even though I think Spielberg is a great cinematic illusionist (in that he’s tricked people into thinking he’s a good director), but it and its no-frills sequel are both perfectly serviceable potboilers. Jaws 3-D would be a condescend-a-minute romp through the annals of hilariously dated visual gimmicks were it not now the desired look for all of Hollywood’s blockbusters. Jaws: The Revenge is a movie so contrived that even the info button on my cable box couldn’t help but have a pop at its hopeless storyline.

The ghost of Roger Ebert haunts my info button!

The ghost of Roger Ebert haunts my info button!

Snark Week:

Quantitative data-led camp reality and comedy network WEtv spent a week filleting its programming – I’ll stop the sea puns eventualgae – for the snarkiest (‘bitchiest’ in old and perfectly legal tender) cuts to assemble a ‘snark-a-thon’. Re-runs of Roseanne and Will and Grace were predictable but apparently the sunglass-deflected verbal garbage spewed by douchetective Horatio Kane in cold opens of CSI: Miami has been reclaimed as snark. Making use of its rolling reality repertory, the network launched (seemingly in a word document with an unstandardized font) David Tutera’s CELEBrations where the celebrity event planner plans events…for celebrities. Snark is obviously also reality-speak for ‘palindrome’. All this was accompanied by an onscreen ‘snark-o-meter’ because you know how reality TV fans love their maths.

Shart Week:

Comedy Central, a network dedicated to the lifetime incarceration of Jon Stewart, took a break from its correctional duties last week to show some shit, or at least more shit than usual. In one of the more anarchic responses to Shark Week, the network drained its sewer system (also known as Comedy Central before noon) to find the most scatological episodes of its many and clearly-not-that-varied programmes. Not only did they manage to find enough programming to last 7 days from noon to midnight, there were entire episodes on the subject, like South Park’s ‘Mr Hanky, the Christmas Poo’. A great way to dump on Discovery, I maintain that if this isn’t a sign there’s too many men on a network, nothing is.

Jumping the Shart

Jumping the Shart

Sharknado Week:

Probably the closest rival to Shark Week since it primarily airs fictional programming about sharks with no basis in science whatsoever; spelling-free telefantasy network Sy-Fy premiered Sharknado: The Second One, the sequel to its bottom-feeding 2013 original TV movie, and filled out the airwaves with movies of similar or worse quality about sharks and one other thing. It could also have been dubbed ‘Son of Shark Week’ as it’s hard to imagine this monstrosity (and that’s the closest you’ll get to a compliment from me) existing without 25 years of dumb stuff being said about sharks softening up the American public for these pixel-thin piss-takes. As spoof-proof television, it’ll give your sarcasm glands a much-needed rest after a day of Shark Week ‘documentaries’.

Shark Week Alternatives 2015:

TV Land should launch Jump-The-Shark Week where the network only shows re-runs of episodes broadcast after it became impossible to take a show seriously. This would include all the post-lottery win episodes of Roseanne and any Dallas after 1986 starring the ghost of Bobby Ewing. FX can do Stark Week where primetime consists of airings of the Iron Man movies – actually the FX execs can just let nature take its course on this one. The Food Network could run Chard Week featuring all the best appearances of the vegetable in the mystery box on Chopped, including the time someone drizzled it with a gummiworm-infused vinaigrette. The Biography Channel should host Narc Week in which all the interviews with blacked-out faces and altered voices of cops who’ve squealed on the Mafia are edited together and begin to resemble one endless Peter Frampton concert in the dark.

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