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You’re Gonna Need a Bigger DVR to Record the Rest of ‘Shark Week’ and ‘Shark Fest’
June 30, 2016  | By David Hinckley

If you got held up in traffic, don’t worry. There’s still plenty of shark action left this week on your television set.

The week leading up to the Fourth of July has become television’s go-to week for programming on sharks, and this year, once again, both Nat Geo Wild and Discovery are devoting their weeknight prime-time schedule to film and chat about the apex predator of the world’s oceans.

In a way it all goes back to Jaws, the 1975 movie in which a great white shark appeared to be stalking humans, turning a nice quiet summer resort town into a tasty buffet.

That catapulted sharks in general, and great whites in particular, into one of our most interesting animal groups: creatures that most of us will never see and almost none of us will ever encounter, but whose very name still scares us to death.

Both Discovery’s "Shark Week" and Nat Geo Wild’s "Sharkfest" draw on that fascination and, at the same time, work very hard to deconstruct our myths about sharks.

They repeatedly argue against the notion that sharks are mindless, useless killing machines that should be hunted down and eradicated. In fact, they note, sharks are pretty smart. They’re also a critical part of an ocean ecosystem we are only beginning to understand and appreciate.

Viewers who want cheap and silly shark thrills will have to wait until July 31, when Syfy unveils Sharknado: The 4th Awakens. As the title suggests, the Sharknado movie series is continuing whether we want it or not.

Meanwhile, Nat Geo Wild’s "Sharkfest" continues Thursday with The Whale That Ate Jaws at 8 p.m. ET, Sharkatraz at 9 p.m. ET and Shark Attack Experiment at 10 p.m. ET.

The highlight there is Sharkatraz (left), which splashes into the real story of the waters surrounding San Francisco’s infamous Alcatraz prison. It has always been said that one reason Alcatraz was escape-proof is that even if someone could survive the cold waters and harsh currents, those waters are swarming with hungry sharks looking for snack food.

The truth, it turns out, is somewhat different.

On Friday night, Nat Geo Wild wraps up the week with Mega Hammerhead at 8 p.m. ET, Ragged Tooth Sharks at 9 p.m. ET and Red Sea Jaws at 10 p.m. ET.

Mega Hammerhead and Ragged Tooth Shark present the kind of terrifying sights that we want to see precisely because we don’t want to see them. Nature can be so much scarier than mere special effects.

Discovery’s “Shark Week” continues Thursday with Nuclear Sharks at 9 p.m. ET and Jungle Shark at 10 p.m. ET.

The nuclear sharks, it turns out, are reef sharks that have gradually returned to Bikini, the Pacific atoll wiped out by a nuclear weapons test. No, they aren’t mutations with three heads that glow in the dark, but they’re interesting anyhow. So are the jungle sharks, which turn out to be bull sharks that migrate up Central American rivers by avoiding hungry crocodiles.

Thursday also has this year’s last edition of Shark After Dark at 11 p.m. ET. That’s the live talk show hosted by Eli Roth (right).

On Friday, Discovery serves up Shark Bait at 9 p.m. ET and Blue Serengeti at 10 p.m. ET. The shark bait is New England seals, which have been trying for hundreds of years to avoid being eaten by sharks. Seals are much cuter than sharks, of course, and that’s part of what makes this documentary so interesting.

Discovery keeps it going into the weekend, with a greatest-hits compilation called Sharksanity 3 on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET. That’s a compilation of the most impactful sharks scenes from all the week’s programming.

Then Sunday it wraps up at 9 p.m. ET with The Killing Games, a kind of preview of where the shark world may be going. In this case, it’s ashore. In Australia, it seems, sharks have figured out how to swim right up onto a beach to snatch a tasty seal.

That’s our Jaws.

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