Shark Week: The Great Bites Collection (TV) (Blu-ray) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Image Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Anthony Arrigo (18th August 2009).
The Show

Who among us can honestly say that they aren’t immeasurably fascinated by sharks and the power that they possess? All of us can admit that, whether we act upon it or not, there is a fear inherent in just entering the ocean knowing that it is the domain of the shark. Though attacks on people are extremely rare, the thought is constant as we swim or play among the waves. Although, I’m sure we have Steven Spielberg’s seminal shark picture, “Jaws” (1975), to thank for that more than anything else. Statistically speaking, you have a better chance of being killed by a kitchen appliance or stung to death by bees than you do being attacked by a shark. Even if you are attacked only 1 in 3 produces a fatal result, as mildly comforting a statistic as I can imagine.

Anyone who has been obsessively watching the Discovery Channel’s infamous “Shark Week” (1988-Present), which is now in its 22nd (!) season after having debuted way back in 1988, knows that sharks don’t have an appetite for humans. More often than not, when one of these toothy terrors takes a bite out of your ass it’s because he assumes you’re one of his favorite meals: a fat, blubber-rich seal or sea lion. The problem is sharks don’t have hands, so the only way they can determine whether or not you are a potential meal is to bite you. An exploratory bite for a shark can mean the loss of any one of your useful appendages and, on occasion, your life.

The Discovery Channel has been doing its part to dispel the myths about sharks, what they eat, why they attack and how to avoid ending up on their menu. That’s the gist of what “Shark Week” is all about. Here, in this Blu-ray collection, they have included some of the specials that aired during 2008’s season, along with some bonus episodes. The effort is a mixed bag, but there is some good material in here for fans of finned beasts to make this a worthy addition to any collection.

The following episodes are included:

“Surviving Sharks” runs for 42 minutes and 2 seconds. An extremely annoying host, Les “Survivorman” Stroud, tempts fate by experimenting with different scenarios to determine how a person could best survive a shark attack. To his credit, and to spoil the ending, he doesn’t get eaten, so I suppose some of these methods are effective after all.

“How Not to Become Shark Bait” runs for 40 minutes and 55 seconds. This is a similar segment to the last one, although this time instead of an expert we have three amateur shark enthusiasts braving the seas to learn which methods are most successful in preventing an attack.

“Mysteries of the Shark Coast” runs for 1 hour 26 minutes and 2 seconds. The waters off of Australia are home to more sharks - and species of shark – than any other in the world. Yet, the population levels have been dwindling in recent years. A team of shark experts set out to determine why this is occurring and perhaps shed some light on the still-unknown lives and migration patterns of sharks.

“Mythbusters: Shark Special 2” runs for 1 hour 34 minutes and 6 seconds. The "Mythbusters" team set out to test how well some methods of attracting and repelling sharks work, including whether or not sharks like to eat dogs, will hitting a shark in the snout cause it to swim away and do bright lights welcome an attack. I’ve never been a big fan of this show, and since most of the results found here are going to be purely subjective, I found it to be a mostly vapid viewing.

“Day of the Shark” runs for 42 minutes and 13 seconds. Now here’s the good stuff. Call me sadistic, but I’m sure this is the episode many of you will be likely to re-watch. Survivors share their stories of encounters with sharks, many of which involve the feared Great White. There are some very graphic photos included here showing just how damaging a single bite from a large fish can be to the human body. Scary stuff, indeed.

“Dirty Jobs: Greenland Shark Quest” runs for 41 minutes and 11 seconds. The always-affable Mike Rowe hosts this special that takes place up near the Arctic Circle, where a team of scientists is trying to find and capture the elusive Greenland shark. It’s an interesting special to be sure, as this is a shark that is rarely seen and there is little known about it.

Overall, though the specials are certainly chock-full of information, gorgeous photography and incredible sea life footage, the only one that really did much for me was “Day of the Shark”. Maybe that could be because I’ve always been known to get glued to my television screen when anything about shark attacks is featured, but the other specials don’t hold much in the way of replay value. Most shark fans, me included, want to see footage of Great White Sharks and there isn’t nearly enough present in this set to keep me interested. However, the abundance of information was welcomed and I certainly feel more confident about my shark-fact quotient than before.

Video

“Shark Week: The Great Bites Collection” is presented with a 1080i AVC MPEG-4 encoded 1.78:1 transfer that looks very good, though the image is far from perfect. The interlaced picture is on-par with how most viewers may have seen the program on Discovery’s HD cable channel, where the image is broadcast in 1080i. Colors look good, the image is sharp and the lush underwater vegetation and sea life looks extremely picturesque. There are some compression issues with darker scenes and some underwater movement, but overall this is an acceptable image for the content included.

Audio

The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound track mixed at 48kHz/16-bit is loud, clean and clear. There is virtually no musical accompaniment, so don’t expect a lot of life to come roaring out of this track. Rear surrounds are used to round out the channels with the same dialogue and sounds as the fronts, so basically they’re just filler.
Optional subtitles are included in English for the hearing impaired.

Extras

Included as supplements are 3 more shark-centric TV specials and bonus episodes that aired on Discovery as part of “Shark Week”. They are presented in 480i with Dolby Stereo sound.

“Shark Attack Files IV: Summer of the Shark” TV special runs for 50 minutes and 1 second. This is another piece that interweaves survivor interviews with re-enacted shark attack footage. Again, stories like this are the reason why I’m occasionally convinced a Great White will pop up in my friend’s pool when we go swimming, so expect to be inundated with lots of gory details about these harrowing encounters.

“Dirty Jobs: Jobs That Bite” bonus episode runs for 1 hour and 21 minutes. Mike Rowe, ever the headstrong participant, dices up some chum in South Africa before diving into the water, albeit with a cage, to come face-to-teeth with a Great White Shark. He then assists with an autopsy on a tiger shark in an effort to learn more about the shark often called “the ocean’s trashcan”.

“Dirty Jobs: Jobs That Bite…Harder” bonus episode runs for 41 minutes and 54 seconds. Mike works alongside teams who oversee designing fiberglass shark models and those who make shark-proof diving suits. Also included in the episode are some bloopers from the taping.

Packaging

The Blu-ray disc comes in a standard amaray case housed within a shiny, sharp-looking slipcover.

Overall

Though the episodes themselves may be a little on the weak side, this is the most comprehensive package available for shark enthusiasts on Blu-ray. The “Day of the Shark” segment alone is worth a few viewings; the rest are good to brush up on some brain work.

The Show: B- Video: B- Audio: C Extras: C+ Overall: B-

 


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