Discovery Channel // 2008 // 346 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Victor Valdivia (Retired) // July 24th, 2009
Discovery's landmark special event series.
Talk about truth in advertising. Shark Week: The Great Bites Collection is concerned almost exclusively with shark bites. These are almost all shows taken from Discovery's Shark Week marathon, emphasizing stories about sharks versus humans, rather than just scientific shows about sharks. There are probably plenty of those on earlier Shark Week releases, so that's not a grievous mistake, but it does make these shows start to get a little repetitive after a while. Still, this is a generally entertaining and informative set.
Here are the shows compiled on two discs:
* Surviving Sharks
Survivorman host Les Stroud examines different techniques and methods to ward off or survive a shark attack.
* How Not to Become Shark Bait
Three average guys travel to the Bahamas to fulfill a lifelong dream of being bitten by a shark.
* Mysteries of the Shark Coast
Scientists embark on a complex and risky mission to understand the behavior of sharks near Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
* Mythbusters: Shark Special 2
The Mythbusters gang examine various shark-related myths.
* Day of the Shark
Survivors of shark attacks tell their stories and describe how they escaped.
* Dirty Jobs: "Greenland Shark Quest"
Dirty Jobs host Mike Rowe travels with a group of marine biologists to the Arctic Circle to track down the most mysterious shark of all.
The best shows are the ones that attempt to explain scientific facts about sharks. The Mythbusters and Survivorman episodes, for instance, don't just prove or disprove certain shark attack stories, they actually demonstrate why they are true. In Mythbusters, for instance, the show explains why swimmers who stay still and play dead are more likely to survive shark attacks than those who paddle about in a panic by explaining that a shark's senses are more attuned to feeling vibrations than anything else. Similarly, the Survivorman show explains how it's better to stay together as a group rather than fan out in the water by explaining that while sharks can be aggressive, they're also smart enough to not attack anything that may be bigger than they are. The Dirty Jobs episode is a welcome respite from all the shark-attack shows -- though looking for sharks in the frozen Arctic ocean isn't really a "dirty job" per se, it is extremely grueling work and Rowe demonstrates just how hard it is to really do it well. The episode on the Great Barrier Reef is a little overlong (90 minutes) but it's the most scientific of the episodes here. There's no mention whatsoever of shark attacks, just scientists discovering new facts about sharks as they demonstrate how difficult it is to do shark research.
The clunkers are the ones that forgo science and go overboard with cheap theatrics and reality TV conventions. The How Not to Become Shark Bait episode is the worst. What, exactly, is the point of this show? The three average guys are all cocky jerks devoid of wit or personality and the information presented here is hopelessly dumbed-down and repeated, in a much more entertaining and informative way, in the other shows presented on this set. The show on shark attack survivors is supposedly educational but really comes off as a bit exploitative. There's actually very little shark-related content on this show, and what little there is rehashes yet again the shark attack prevention moments from the other shows. Discovery should have replaced these with other, better shows.
The set also comes with no less than three extra shows. There are two more episodes of Dirty Jobs: "Dirty Jobs That Bite" and "Dirty Jobs That Bite Harder." These are worthy companions that add more information on sharks presented in a typically witty and thoughtful manner. The squeamish should be warned, though, that these episodes are much more in line with other Dirty Jobs episodes-the scenes where Rowe is cutting up buckets of chum and dissecting a shark cadaver are not the sort of thing you want to watch while eating. The other extra episode, on the other hand, is forgettable. Shark Attack Files IV: Summer of the Shark is a retelling of the summer of 2001, when the media went crazy reporting on shark attacks even though that summer there were many fewer attacks than the year before. It's a dated program that basically identical to the other shark attack show on the set and is not that important in retrospect.
Technically, the set is stellar. The anamorphic 1.78:1 transfer and Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround mix both look and sound quite nice, although the surrounds are not used nearly as much as you would expect. The extra episodes, though, are in full screen, so take note. Overall, though, this is a very good compilation despite a couple of weak episodes, and fans of Shark Week should have no problem getting it.
Not guilty, but very dangerous.
Review content copyright © 2009 Victor Valdivia; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Discovery Channel
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 346 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Bonus Episodes