Just when you thought it was safe to turn on the TV again, Discovery Channel's Shark Week is back.
From July 29 through August 4, there will be seven days of dorsal fins. Seven nights of great whites. More razor sharp teeth than you can shake a severed limb at.
Believe it or not, this is the 20th anniversary of Shark Week, proof that I'm not the only one fascinated by these prehistoric leftovers that would like to make leftovers out of us. I call it the "Things That Can Eat You" syndrome. For some reason, some of us just can't get enough of movies or documentaries about creatures that like to turn people into their mid-afternoon snack.
The week kicked off Sunday night with Ocean of Fear: The Worst Shark Attack Ever, a documentary and reenactment of the USS Indianapolis disaster in 1945. The ship was sunk by a Japanese sub, leaving hundreds of men in the water for days, enduring nearly constant shark attacks.
The story was made famous in the movie Jaws. Robert Shaw's character Quint is a fictional survivor of the Indy, and tells a chilling rendition of the attacks. Ironically, Shaw's co-star Richard Dreyfuss narrates Ocean of Fear.
More than just a retelling of the Indianapolis ordeal, Ocean of Fear is also an "investigation" of sorts, into whether the sharks that attacked the Indy crew behaved in a more bloodthirsty manner than usual. The answer: no. The sharks acted exactly as experts would expect given hundreds of men were in the water, many bleeding or burned. Filmmakers also
found that dehydration and drinking sea water led to as many, if not more, fatalities than the shark attacks themselves.
Shark Week continues Monday night with Deadly Stripes: Tiger Sharks. While perhaps not as famous as the Great White, the Tiger shark has just as much a penchant for munching on people, especially surfers in Hawaii.
Some of the week's other highlights include Top 5 Eaten Alive, true stories of shark attack survivors; Perfect Predators, a closer look at what makes sharks such successful killing machines; and Shark Rebellion, the story of a city in Brazil that is "under siege" from sharks. Even Discovery Channel's MythBusters is getting in on the act, finding out if certain shark repellants really work. And at some point during the week, you can almost certainly catch a repeat of Air Jaws, the now famous show that documents huge Great Whites breaching out of the water in South Africa.
So once again, I find myself riveted by the Discovery Channel for a week, to learn as much as I can about these awesome predators. The truth is you and I are much more likely to be killed by a piece of farm equipment, by drowning in the bathtub, or from a bee sting than by being eaten by a shark. The fact is Shark Week is as close as most of us will ever come to a toothy denizen from the deep.
So for now, I'll just sit back and watch and hope my fish Fauntleroy doesn't get any ideas!
Ethan Morris: "Not always right, but never in doubt." Go ahead and write me.