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Discoverys Sharks Still Have Bite

After all these years of Discovery Channel's "Shark Week," we still seem to have an endless fascination with sharks.

Shark Week hooked us again, this time reeling us in with 3-D as the bait. And with specials like Sharks 3-D, Giant Sharks and Jurassic Shark, the thinking at Discovery is that size does matter, even though host and narrator Nigel Marven says barely 5 percent of sharks are gigantic.

Sharks 3-D blends actual footage of various sharks with a computer-animated recreation of the prehistoric megalodon. Only its huge teeth have been found (sharks' cartilage skeletons disintegrate over time). But from those, scientists figure that the deep-sea denizen reached 50 feet in length-the equivalent of two school buses or "seven or eight" tyrannosaurus rex dinosaurs, the narrator points out.

Luckily, the hour transcends the 3-D gimmick and proves interesting on its own.

The 3-D special effects are definitely striking, but the only segment that approaches the in-your-face 3-D shows offered at Walt Disney World or Universal Studios depicts a megalodon attacking a baby whale, and that's shown twice.

Giant Sharks focuses on whale sharks, basking sharks, Greenland sleeper sharks and, of course, great whites. Whale sharks-the closest to megalodon in size-can be anywhere from 25 to 45 feet long, but today's 15-ton "gentle giants" are not flesh eaters, Marven says.

This hour seems padded at times, and it takes about a half-hour before we get to the two-ton great white, billed early on as "the world's biggest predatory fish." In the interim, the producers detour to cover an Australian cyclone and to record Marven's failure to find a great white off Australia, followed by his eventual success near South Africa.

Marven-whose commentary is occasionally rendered unintelligible by his diving mouthpiece and his Aussie accent-even swam with some great whites, admitting later that he couldn't get that ominous Jaws movie theme out of his head.

Now the question is: How will Discovery top its 3-D, bigger-is-better gimmickry next year?

Sharks 3-D will bow Aug. 13 at 9 p.m., followed at 10 p.m. by Giant Sharks. Discovery's Shark Week runs Aug. 13 through 20.