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TV Review: Shark Week – Surviving Sharks

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Les Stroud is a Canadian survival expert best known as “Survivorman” on the television series he hosts. He gets dropped off by his team in the world’s most inhospitable places to survive and meet up with his team at a prearranged point in a week.

This time on the Discovery Channel’s special Shark Week episode “Surviving Sharks”, we meet up with Les floating on a one-man life raft in the middle of a feeding frenzy of reef sharks in the Bahamas. After explaining to us that he wants to test some theories about how to survive if you find yourself in shark waters, to prove how serious he is, he deflates the raft with his knife and starts thrashing about as the air escapes through the hole. I was hoping to see how that worked out but the outcome was never shown. Since Les hosted the rest of the show, I can only assume that he managed to come out of that okay.

Tests included using frozen “chumsicles” to determine if sharks preferred feeding in the day or at night, whether current shark armor can protect a diver (spoiler: not against great whites), whether it is safer to stay in a group or swim on your own, as well as whether using electrical impulses works to repel sharks, but to me the most interesting experiment was in playing dead. Les tested this with a motorized mannequin he called “Bionic Bob” with a couple of 14-foot tiger sharks. The results were interesting but the footage was amazing when one of the tigers decides to check out the cameramen.

I am a huge fan of Les and the Survivorman show and was looking forward to seeing what he was going to do for Shark Week this year. Unfortunately, I was disappointed with this episode for a couple of reasons. First, Les seems to have lost any sense of humor. Everything is stated with melodramatic overtones. It’s the exact polar opposite of the Mythbusters episode I reviewed previously where everything tries too hard to be humorous. Second, the music is way too straining to build the tension. I do not need the music from Psycho to tell me that these sharks are dangerous.

On a whole, this show was interesting and I learned some things about the sharks that I didn’t know previously. I just wish Les would have lightened up a little.

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About Russ Evenhuis

I'm a writer with a mid-life crisis. I'm into sports of all kind, a Seattle fan to my bones. A retired rugby player, now I punish myself with triathlons when I'm not hanging out with the family, drinking Guinness and playing PlayStation.
  • steve

    I completely agree. The footage was outstanding but the music was over the top. Also, they’re really sensationalizing shark feeding habits and exaggerating the danger these animals pose to humans. It’s the sharks who have much to fear from us, not the other way around. Reef sharks especially are not aggressive toward humans.