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Hein’s TV Picks: Has Shark Week Jumped the Shark?

PLUS: Light & Magic, The Most Dangerous Man on the Internet, and more.
  • The Jackass guys are back in Discovery's 34th Shark Week. Photo: Discovery
    The Jackass guys are back in Discovery's 34th Shark Week. Photo: Discovery

    Jon Hein knows TV. In the late 1990s, he coined the phrase "Jump the Shark" when he founded the site of the same name. Since then, he's written about television everywhere from The New York Times to TV Guide. In his column for Primetimer, he shares his thoughts on what's new and good on TV and the shows on his radar for the coming week.

    I have a soft spot for anything involving sharks on TV, and this is their week to shine. Welcome to Shark Week 2022.

    Sharks make headlines. There are always stories about them getting a little too close to the beach or making a snack of a surfer's body part. The terror of Jaws in the mid-70's continues to prevent people like me from swimming too far into the ocean. This isn't a new thing.

    The staying power of Shark Week is truly something to behold. This is no fly-by-night idea. Shark Week has been happening now for decades, and the numbers (and advertising dollars) don't lie. There's plenty of bite left out there to watch.

    As for the programming, well that's a different story. What started as an informational week has turned into a schlockfest. Some documentaries still air, but Sharknado success and other mythical matchups have sensationalized Shark Week into something even bigger than that predator who destroyed the Orca.

    The Discovery Channel delivers plenty of chum each year to devour.

    This year Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will serve as Shark Week’s first-ever Master of Ceremonies, introducing each night’s programming, including these four titanic matchups:
    Jaws vs Kraken
    Pigs vs Shark
    Great White vs Mako
    Jaws vs The Blob

    Pop culture tie-ins like:
    Air Jaws: Top Guns
    Jackass Shark Week 2.0
    Stranger Sharks
    Impractical Jokers Shark Week Spectacular
    Mechashark Love Down Under
    Tiger Queen
    Sharks in Paradise
    Tracy Morgan Presents: Sharks! With Tracy Morgan

    And some truly irresistible over-the-top titles:
    Great White Serial Kill: Fatal Christmas
    Raging Bulls
    Island of Walking Sharks
    Monster Mako Under The Rig
    Shark Women: Ghosted By Great Whites

    Discovery makes no apologies for Shark Week, and they shouldn't. Jacques Cousteau proved that there's an insatiable appetite for these mysterious creatures of the ocean.

    I'm often asked during this time of the year if Shark Week has jumped the shark (they were never going to top Sharknado). But people keep going back to the beach knowing those fins could be circling. As long as viewers tune in, there will be opportunities to strap on the water skis and take a leap of faith.

    Here's what else is worth watching this week…

    PREMIERES

    Light & Magic (Disney+)
    Wednesday, July 27th

    Those amazing effects in feature films must come from somewhere. Since the days of Star Wars (the original, not the lame prequels), the force behind some of our favorite future worlds has been Industrial Light & Magic.

    I always knew the name and that George Lucas had something to do with it, but what exactly is ILM? Filmmaker Lawrence Kasdan explores the special effects studio in this six-part documentary series.

    The Most Hated Man On The Internet (Netflix)
    Wednesday, July 27th

    This three-part series will get you mad. The subject is Hunter Moore, the self-described king of revenge porn in the early 2010's. He built a cult-like following by uploading people’s private nude photos to his website and refusing to take them down. Watch trialer.

    These are the stories of women who unsuccessfully battled to get their images removed as the "professional life ruiner" refused. One mother starts a successful crusade that eventually leads to the demise of Hunter and his site.

    FOREIGN AFFAIRS

    Santa Evita (Hulu)
    Tuesday, July 26th
    A seven-part miniseries on what happened to Eva Peron after she died in 1952. Don't cry for her embalmed body. Watch trailer.

    THIS WEEK'S STIHTGT!
    (Shows That I Hope To Get To!)

    The Resort (Peacock) - A couple takes an anniversary trip to Mexico and gets involved in a decade’s old mystery. Thursday.

    Paper Girls (Amazon) - Four newspaper delivery girls in 1988 get caught up in a time-traveler war in this comic book adaptation. Friday.

    Surface (Apple TV+) - A woman is told her memory loss is from a suicide attempt, but as she rebuilds her life she questions if what she was told is true. Friday.

    Uncoupled (Netflix) - Neil Patrick Harris' husband of 17 years leaves him and throws his perfect life into chaos in this new Darren Star (Sex and the City, Emily in Paris) comedy. Friday.

    City On A Hill (Showtime) - It's the third season of this gritty Kevin Bacon led Boston police drama. Sunday at 10pm.

    GREATEST HITS
    (Really Good Shows You May Have Missed)

    This Week's Pick: Weeds (Showtime) - Before Walter White, there was Nancy Botwin. Nancy's husband dies from a heart attack, and to keep her family afloat she decides to deal some marijuana. Mary Louise Parker is masterful as a suburban mom who puts a crazy spin on the American dream. You'll never get the "Little Boxes" opening theme out of your head.

    Previous Picks:
    Hannibal (Hulu)
    Mr. Show (HBO Max, Hulu)
    Downton Abbey (Peacock)
    Banshee (HBO Max)
    Police Squad! (Prime Video)
    Party Down (Starz)
    Dexter (Showtime)
    Alias (Hulu/Disney+)
    The Great (Hulu)
    Atypical (Netflix)
    Sherlock (PBS)
    Magic City (Peacock)
    Imposters (Netflix)
    Episodes (Showtime/Hulu)
    For All Mankind (Apple TV+)
    Abbott Elementary (ABC)
    Damages (Hulu)
    Luther (HBO Max)
    Downton Abbey (Netflix)
    Justified (Hulu)
    The Good Wife (Paramount+)
    Freaks & Geeks (Hulu)
    Patriot (Prime Video Prime Video)
    Battlestar Galactica (Peacock)
    The Split (Prime Video)
    Bordertown (Netflix)
    Halt and Catch Fire (AMC+)

    ---

    If you love or hate my picks, I'd love to hear from you.

    Get vaccinated. Get a booster (or two). Stay healthy and safe!

    Jon Hein is the creator of "Jump the Shark" and author of three books. Follow him @jonhein on Twitter.

    TOPICS: Shark Week, Dwayne Johnson, Discovery