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Shark Week: The Great Bites Collection(TV) (2008)
Where in the world can you find the strangest and most deadly sharks? Why do sharks sometimes prey on humans? When are you most likely to be attacked? And what can you do to avoid becoming shark food? If you're hungry for answers, join the experts and some of Discovery Channel's bravest hosts as they go swimming with the ocean's most feared predator to answer all your biting questions.
For more about Shark Week: The Great Bites Collection and the Shark Week: The Great Bites Collection Blu-ray release, see Shark Week: The Great Bites Collection Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on July 9, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Shark Week: The Great Bites Collection Blu-ray Review
There's no better time to swim with the sharks.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, July 9, 2009
It's 1989, I'm on a family vacation at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and three emotional disasters befall me. First, enormous sharks are being spotted offshore and reported on the nightly news. Second, I watch Jaws on VHS for the first time, and my seven-year-old brain reels in horror. Third, our hotel television picks up The Discovery Channel and, you guessed it, this week is Shark Week. There are few things more traumatic to a child than seeing gaping flesh wounds spew gallons of blood, and few creatures more frightening than the shark, that restless vampire of the deep. Needless to say, my days at the beach were spent at the water's foamy edge, building sand castles and collecting shells while my dad and uncles boogie boarded. It took me years to get over my shark-o-phobia, but by the time I was twelve, Shark Week was a summer staple, and I ate up the gory underwater footage with a wild-eyed, pre-teen glee. The Discovery Channel's annual ode to the ocean's greatest predator is now in its 21st year, and I still have a guilty-pleasure obsession with the svelte eating machines, though my interests have veered slightly from the blood-in-the-water shark attack shows to the episodes concerned more with conservation and protection. I was pleased, then, to review this latest Blu-ray release of Shark Week, which compiles six HD programs that examine various facets of the shark's threatening—and threatened—existence.
Surviving Sharks (42:02)
"Survivorman" Les Stroud doles out some oceanic empiricism, devising a few tests to see how to avoid getting gobbled up whole by sharks. The first test questions whether reef sharks are more active during the day or at night, and Stroud creates two enormous, frozen chum-sicles—yum!— to prove his hypothesis that anytime is feed time. A great white takes the bait in a similar experiment, and we're given an impressive slow-motion shot of the beast as it exercises its gaping clap-trap. In a later segment, Jeremiah Sullivan, inventor of the chain mail "Neptunic" shark mesh, discusses some of the new materials and technologies that are being used to keep divers safe. The funniest bit has Stroud tossing Bionic Bob—a pimped out CPR dummy—into tiger shark-infested waters to see if it's best to swim or stay still to avoid a shark attack.
How Not to Become Shark Bait (40:55)
Three normal guys—well, an escape artist, an adventurer, and a scientist—do all the things that experts tell you not to do in order to purposefully get bitten by a shark. It sounds like a foolhardy premise, but they've got shark guru Jeremiah Sullivan there to keep them (relatively) safe. They test four common conceptions about shark attacks by putting Houdini wannabe Jonathan Goodman out in the water as a human guinea pig, with nothing to protect him but a shark suit. While the show isn't scientific per se—they put Goodman in a clown costume to test whether sharks like high contrast colors—but it is fairly entertaining and offers a few laughs. The final consensus seems to be that it's remarkably hard to get bitten by a shark. You have to be in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and doing all the wrong things to even get the sharks interested in you.
Mysteries of the Shark Coast (1:26:02)
Following a team of conservationists or, um, "shark detectives" as they're unfortunately referred to here, this program investigates the troubling disappearance of sharks from Australia's Great Barrier Reef wildlife preserve. We get to see the triumphs and tribulations—mostly tribulations, really—of real life marine biologists at work, tagging and tracking tiger sharks and sea turtles to figure out exactly where these elusive creatures are going. Turtle lovers beware, however, as there are some gruesome shots of sharks feeding on nature's defenseless little tugboats. Turtles aren't the only victims, however, as one researcher gets hilariously bopped in the head by his own pole while trying to tag a shark, and ends up unconscious in the bottom of the boat. He's okay though—phew—and the researches do amass some impressive data that will hopefully persuade the Australian government to widen the boundaries of protected areas.
Mythbusters: Shark Special 2 (1:34:08)
I'm a diehard, unrepentant Mythbusters geek who's been following Adam and Jamie's mechanized exploits from day one. Seriously, if high school shop class had been anything like their show, I might've ended up an engineer instead of typing out film reviews. In this, their second shark-related episode, the Mythbusters manhandle some great white lies (and a few truths) about the kings of the deep. Could you gouge out a shark's eye to save yourself from an attack? Do magnets or chilies repel sharks? Are you at greater risk when swimming with a dog? Between playing dead for reef sharks and building a barking and urinating canine robot that can actually doggy paddle, this episode is one of the highlights of the disc.
Day of the Shark (42:13)
This is the disc's obligatory shark attack exploitation episode, and though it's not incredibly graphic, there are a handful of gory, pre-surgery wound images. It's called Day of the Shark because it gives re-enactments of six shark attacks that happened during various times of the day, from early morning to late at night. Most of the victims survived out of sheer luck—a tooth just missed the femoral artery, a doctor happened to be present, dolphins formed a protective ring around the surfer—but one Peace Corps volunteer in Tonga died from blood loss on the way to the hospital, giving the segment its only moment of real gravity. Each section is shot in typical re-enactment style, intercut with interviews from the actual survivors. Surprisingly, but also a little expectedly too, none of the victims hold any animosity toward their toothy aggressors. If a shark killed one of my friends, I'm pretty sure I'd go all Steve Zissou with a stick of dynamite on its prehistoric ass. I kid, I kid.
Dirty Jobs: Greenland Shark Quest (41:13)
Providing a break from all of Shark Week's tropical scenery, this episode of Dirty Jobs finds host Mike Rowe deep within the arctic circle in search of the mysterious Greenland shark, a species that scientists estimate can live for up to 400 years. Mike and his crew, with the aid of some local Inuit guides and two shark researchers, snowmobile across 20 miles of frozen sea and open up a hole to do some good, old fashioned ice fishing. There's not much dirty about the first half of the show, as Mike spends most of the time shivering in the blinding expanse of blowing snow, and then making one guide slice bait in the cold while he goes to defrost in the cabin. When the team finally hauls up their quarry—a bedraggled old dame of a shark—they decide to kill it in the name of science and perform an autopsy. Sea Shepherd, I fear, would not approve. They have good intentions, however—we're not simply watching all the blood and guts for fun—and the researchers extract valuable tissue samples that will help them better understand the species and its relationship to the arctic ecosystem.
Shark Week: The Great Bites Collection Blu-ray, Video Quality
Better than the DVD and the original HD broadcasts, Shark Week nevertheless suffers some minor issues from having six hours of 1080i, AVC-encoded material crammed onto one BD-50. The bandwidth can't handle all the traffic, and while it's not distracting by any means, there are some instances of noticeable macroblocking. Digital noise and other artifacts seem confined to darker dives, though, and while edge enhancement is present at times, there's nothing cringe inducing. Fans of Shark Week likely know what they're in for—HD footage (with some SD archival stuff) from a variety of programs and source materials, some better than others. Mythbusters, for instance, looks a good deal cleaner than Dirty Jobs. Planet Earth this ain't, but that's okay. Colors are reproduced realistically—the deep ocean blues look particularly great—and the only tonal mishaps I noticed were some white balance issues during Mysteries of the Shark Coast, when the crew was shooting inside their ship with incandescent lighting, but had natural sunlight flooding into the cabin as well. For what it is, Shark Week is sharp and sufficient, though it's never going to be HD demo material.
Shark Week: The Great Bites Collection Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Jacques Cousteau's The Silent World is no misnomer, as there's very little going on audio- wise beneath the cresting whitecaps of Shark Week's oceans. There are some bubbles and bass-heavy swooshes added in post, of course, but the underwater footage does little to pump sound out of the disc's DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround track. Fortunately, the on-land and ship segments give the mix some breathing room. Like the video quality, the audio varies from source to source and some of the programs are more dynamic than others. These are TV mixes through and through, though, so don't expect bombastic, cinematic splendor from the sound. Rear channels are used for music and some ambience—the lapping of waves, bubbly gurgles, etc.—but the presentation is largely front-heavy. All of the programs rely heavily on narration, and voices are pleasingly articulated and clear, though wind and waves can occasionally muffle the on-location chatter. While Shark Week doesn't have the biggest sound, it's acceptable for TV work, and I was never distracted by any overt audio slip-ups.
Shark Week: The Great Bites Collection Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
This year's Shark Week release includes three bonus episodes. Unfortunately, they're all presented in full-frame standard definition, with MPEG-2 encodes.
Shark Attack Files IV: Summer of the Shark (50:01)
Examining a few of the attacks that took place during 2001's "Summer of the Shark," this episode ponders who was in the biggest frenzy—the sharks or the media.
Dirty Jobs: Jobs that Bite (1:21:00)
Host Mike Rowe devotes this episode to the men and women who earn a living dealing with sharks. Rowe cage dives with great whites and tags them off South Africa, performs a tiger shark autopsy, and tests shark repellent in the Caribbean.
Dirty Jobs: Jobs that Bite Harder (41:44)
Mike Rowe fishes for dirty shark jobs once again, and hauls up gigs making molds at a south Florida taxidermy company and testing an anti-shark suit in the Bahamas.
Shark Week: The Great Bites Collection Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Shark Week has always had a somewhat tenuous message—mixing educational, let's-take- care-of-our-oceans programming with downright, get-the-hell-out-of-the-water shark-sploitation— but I love it all the same. While the only outright scientific episode in this edition is Mysteries of the Shark Coast, all of the segments are entertaining, occasionally enlightening, and provide lots of impressive underwater footage. While this Blu-ray release isn't objectively spectacular in the AV department, Shark Week fans will have few complaints. And with a well-suited summer release, Shark Week is just in time to terrify your kids—or the kid in you. Recommended.
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Shark Week: The Great Bites Collection Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Blu-ray Release of Shark Week Announced - April 23, 2009
The Discovery Channel in conjunction with Image Entertainment have announced that they will bring 'Shark Week: The Greatest Bites Collection' to Blu-ray on July 14th, day-and-date with the DVD release. Video will be presented in high definition, accompanied by ...
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