Syfy may be a newcomer to the summer shark scene with the surprise hit movie “Sharknado,” but Discovery Channel should nevertheless be grateful to the NBC-owned cable channel for raising the profile of sharks just before the onset of Discovery’s annual Shark Week.
Shark Week begins its 26th annual run Sunday night (Aug. 4) on Discovery with a week of shark shows. Kicking off the week Sunday night: “Air Jaws: Countdown to Shark Week 2013” (8/7c) and “Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives” (9/8c).
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Then, at 11/10c — following the season finale of “Naked and Afraid” at 10/9c (a non-shark show hoping to capitalize on a shark-frenzy lead-in audience) — Discovery inaugurates its first-ever nightly Shark Week talk show, “Shark After Dark Live.”
Hosted by comedian Josh Wolf, this new shark-related talk show will air live for one hour every evening of Shark Week (through Friday, Aug. 9). Discovery says the show will have celebrity guests talking about sharks, and clips from Shark weeks past and present. It’s part of the current vogue for talk shows created specifically to start a conversation about the shows that precede them — most notably, “Talking Dead,” which follows “The Walking Dead” on AMC; “Talking Bad,” which follows AMC’s “Breaking Bad”; and “Watch What Happens Live” on Bravo, which talks mostly about Bravo’s reality shows.
Shark Week almost always draws an audience for Discovery, but this summer the table’s been set (so to speak) by “Sharknado,” the ridiculous, implausible and, for some reason, hugely popular made-for-TV movie that premiered on Syfy a few weeks ago and is now selling out movie theaters for midnight showings across the country and spawning a sequel to air next summer.
“Sharknado” — starring Ian Ziering and Tara Reid — is about a killer tornado that swept man-eating sharks out of the ocean and onto the streets of Los Angeles, where they attacked mankind.
This can’t happen in the real world (at least, we’re pretty sure of this), but one of Discovery’s Shark Week shows does have a similarly creative title, “Sharkpocalypse” (Thursday at 9/8c), which reports on the growing number of confrontations between sharks and humans taking place just off the world’s beaches. Of course, these confrontations usually don’t go well for the humans.
Discovery Channel acknowledges that “Sharknado” has created a mini-frenzy for sharks this summer. “Shark Week is the destination everyone knows,” Discovery’s senior director of development, Michael Sorensen, told the New York Daily News. “We’re happy when we see any other shark programming, because it reminds people that Shark Week is coming up. For us, all shark chatter is good chatter.”
But despite the similarities between certain titles, don’t expect “Sharknado” to turn up on Discovery any time soon. “It’s kind of cheesy,” Sorensen is quoted as saying about the Syfy movie. “It would be a little off-brand for us.”