Last night kicked off the 26th annual Shark Week and while I was certainly not alone in my excitement, we do tend to treat it a bit more like a holiday in my house than we probably should.
9p rolled around and Discovered started their first show “Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives” which came with a disclaimer about how the footage we were about to see was actual (used instead of real for obvious reasons) footage. In the first couple minutes something seemed very different about this show and after a Google search for the missing charter boat, a Google search for Colin Drake, the marine biologist who didn’t exist, and then a successful Google search for Mike Bhana who is an actual underwater photographer/director of nearly 16 real films and who should be embarrassed to have taken part in this - Discovery had gone full mockumentary.
To be fair, I LOVED “Sharknado.” I loved it because they owned what they were and did not pretend to be something they were not. That is not what Discovery did last night.
Discovery Channel’s “why” as used in their copyright verbiage is as follows: Copyright © 2013 Discovery Communications, LLC. The World’s #1 Nonfiction Media Company. So, what you cannot do is run disclaimers about real footage in and out of commercial breaks during a mockumentary and expect to keep your clout as a source for learning about the world around us. You especially cannot do this when you sat in a boardroom watch the Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield attempting to come up with programming for the 26th year of your annual Shark Week.
Matt Benson in my office asked what could they do that is new? How bout this, also found on Discovery’s site about a new species of prehistoric shark that looked like the devil? Or perhaps put the crew of the Ocearch on the menu for the week, they are doing some amazing work with White Sharks and the footage from Shark Wranglers is certainly stunning. They have been working off the coast of Cape Cod and by the looks of it have not been picked up for a second season of the show.
Whatever you do as a network violating what your customer has looked forward to for 25 years is certainly not the right thing to do. Perhaps tonight will be better, but it is doubtful I will come back to find out.
If you want to have some fun today watch as Discovery either tends to the mess on facebook or twitter - or doesn’t. Either way the wrong type of chum is in the water and the Internet sharks are very hungry after last night.