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.
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