As summer nears its mid-point, TV clearly needs a boost.
There are big holes in the schedules and in our days. What can fill the void? Well … sharks — ots and lots of them, in bursts:
– Sunday (July 19): “Sharkfest” starts on the National Geographic Channel, opening at 8 p.m. with Kori Garza (shown here) hoping to re-unite with a mega-shark. It continue there for three weeks, with 17 new shows and endless reruns.
– Aug. 9: NatGeo Wild takes over, with two weeks of reruns … and Discovery begins its Shark Week.
It was Discovery that started this, in 1988. National Geographic only jumped in nine years ago, but is now going for the lead in sheer quantity.
That comes when viewers need something new. Virus shutdowns left many late-spring or summer shows in limbo (“Bachelorette,” “Bachelor in Paradise,” “Pose,” “Fargo,” “American Ninha Warrior,” “So You Think You Can Dance”) or delayed to fall (“Amazing Race,” “NeXt,” “Filthy Rich”).
It’s a big void … with lots of sharks to fill it. Here’s a sampling of five shows we’ve seen, plus the scheduled airdates (subject to change) of their National Geographic debuts. Those times are the same for ET and PT; for NatGeo Wild, however, the PT times are three hours earlier.
GENTLE PLEASURE: “World’s Biggest Tiger Shark?”
Sharks don’t seem so nasty when Kori Garza is around. She taps them on the snout and swims on.
Garza grew up in St. Louis, 700 miles from the sea, but was always interested in sharks. After getting a marine biology degree in Hawaii, she’s spent the past decade in French Polynesia.
There, shark-hunting has been banned since 2006. For two million square miles, sharks frolic.
Garza (who can stay underwater four minutes without oxygen) recently came across what may be the biggest tiger shark – 16-18 feet long, with extreme girth. In this amiable hour, she tries to re-find it … and learns things about shark behavior.
(Debuts 8 p.m. July 19; first Wild showing is 9 p.m. Aug. 11)
NOT GENTLE, NOT PLEASANT: “Shark vs. Surfer”
More than half of all shark attacks, this hour says, involve surfers or others on boards.
The board looks too much like prey. The odds get worse if it’s late in the day or there are seals nearby.
That information is entwined with brutal specifics about surfers killed or maimed. The stories – sometimes told by the survivors – are involving; still, don’t show this to the kids or their grandparents.
– Debuts 8 p.m. Aug. 2; first Wild showing is 9 p.m. Aug. 13.
FIERY WORLD: “Sharkcano.”
Yes, the title sounds like something from the “Sharknado” people. Still, we’re told, it’s a real thing.
Sharks do gravitate to volcanic islands, a researcher says. That may be because the erosion creates murky water – ideal hunting grounds for sharks.
He goes to Reunion, an island formed by a volcano. Swimming is banned, but some people go ahead anyway. In the past decade, 11 have been killed and 13 others lost a limb.
– Debuts 10 p.m. July 21; first Wild showing is 7 p.m. Aug. 12.
ALL-STAR SHOW: “Most Wanted Sharks.”
Some shows simply combine lots of separate bits, some of which have been sh before.
That’s the case here, with sharks that have become popular on the internet. They range from the leapers to the giants off Mexico’s Guadalupe Island, given such names as Bullet, Lucy and Zapata.
–Debuts 10 p.m. July 23; first Wild showing is 7 p.m. Aug. 11.
ALL-STAR II: “What the Shark?”
Here’s another loose collection, this time with crisply written narration, delivered by actor Robert Davi.
One of the best of the “Sharkfest” hours, it views strange sharks. A tiny one masters camouflage, waiting to devour fish in shallow water; others have snouts like hammers or swords..
– Debuts 10 p.m. July 29; first Wild showing is 10 p.m. Aug. 20.