Shark Week Becomes Shark Summer on Discovery

Oriana Schwindt
Discovery Channel

Shark Week

Discovery Channel has caved to Big Shark and turned venerable programming stunt Shark Week into a much, much longer affair.

Last year's paean to the toothy, cartilaginous ocean-dwellers began on August 9 with the usual collection of (human) jaw-dropping shark acrobatics and new insights to shark behavior. Things get a little confusing this year: Shark Week proper will commence on July 5 and include new editions of classics like Air Jaws, plus a special featuring 10-year-old shark rights crusader Sean Lesniak, who was responsible for a 2014 Massachusetts law banning the sale or possession of shark fins. But Discovery will also premiere some Shark Week shows during a yet-to-be-determined weekend in August, ostensibly turning summer 2015 into the "Summer of the Shark."

The channel caught some heat last year for running "documentaries" that some viewers saw as antithetical to the network's mission to provide informative, scientifically accurate programming—in particular, Megalodon: The New Evidence, which purported to contain "evidence" for the existence of a species of shark that's long been proven to have gone extinct 2.6 million years ago. (Sibling network Animal Planet drew similar audience ire for its pseudoscientific Mermaids: The Body Found, a "documentary" that contained mostly CGI and sailors' tales.)

New Discovery president Rich Ross, who took the reins in January, assured critics at the winter Television Critics Association press tour that no more Megalodons would surface on his watch: "I don’t think it’s actually right for Discovery Channel, and it’s something that I think has, in some ways, run its course," he said. So viewers will instead have to make do with two months of real footage of non-extinct sharks.

TV Insider, for one, welcomes our new Shark Overlords.

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