During the summer, many New Yorkers try to spend as much time outdoors as possible, whether that involves booze-fueled rooftop barbecues, baseball games at Yankees Stadium, obnoxiously overcrowded concerts in Central Park or McCarren Park Pool, or—depending on one’s level of Metropolitan snobbery—day trips to the Hamptons, Coney Island, or the Jersey Shore. But there’s one week every summer when it’s perfectly acceptable, if not encouraged, to laze out on the couch every night with your eyes glued to the TV and your remote programmed to the Discovery Channel. That week is Shark Week. It began last night with a special episode of Mythbusters, the first of six new Shark Week premiers, which will answer an array of burning questions about our (sort-of terrifying) finned friends of the deep. (Surely at one point or another you’ve wondered, “Do dogs attract sharks?” “Does chili powder repel sharks???”)
Shark Week, which has become increasingly hype-worthy over the past few years, began in 1987 and has accumulated some 100 hours of programming over its more than two-decade run on primetime. “It’s a summertime ritual,” Discovery president John Ford recently told USA Today. “People are endlessly fascinated by sharks. There’s a lot of variety, they’re fascinating creatures and also they scare us.” Indeed, seeing close-up footage of some guy getting his leg nearly ripped off, as was shown on one classic Shark Week special, makes watching Jaws seem like a trip to the petting zoo.
If you missed Sunday’s premiere, you can catch up tonight at 9 with Surviving Sharks, in which Survivorman Les Stroud travels to the Bahamas and South Africa to test out some shark attack survival strategies. At 10, stayed tuned for Day of the Shark to find out whether your chances of getting eaten alive are more likely under sun or moon. On Tuesday at 9 p.m., Dirty Jobs travels to Greenland to assist arctic shark scientists with their research, followed by the self-explanatory How Not to Become Shark Bait at 10. And on Thursday at 9 p.m., Mysteries of the Shark Coast investigates why sharks are disappearing from the waters of northeastern Australia. Throughout the week the Discovery Channel will be airing plenty of shark-related shows from past years, so you’ll have until Saturday to get your fix. But if sharks aren’t your thing…
At 9 p.m., HBO follows a Louisiana Army recruiter and four of the young men and women he is able to enlist despite the increasing unpopularity of the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Meanwhile, tonights’s new episode of Intervention (9 p.m., A&E) is a real doozy:
Also, Samantha Brown goes to China to prepare you for your Olympic travel plans (Travel Channel, 8 p.m.) and prehistoric monsters are revealed at 9 p.m. on the History Channel.
Get serious tonight with PBS: On Wide Angle at 9, hear the stories of three Ugandan children who escaped from a rebel military group that kidnaps young boys and girls, forcing them to become soldiers and sex slaves. And at 10, P.O.V. chronicles local Japanese politics.
The wave of Beijing Olympics tie-ins continues tonight with Made in China: The People’s Republic of Profits, a CNBC report on China’s ongoing adaptation to capitalism (9 p.m.). But really, Wednesdays are for Project Runway. Sandra Bernhard guest-judges tonight’s competition, in which the designers look for inspiration amid New York’s sights and sounds.
At 9 p.m., National Geographic Channel gives viewers a behind the scenes look at Beijing’s National Aquatic Center, Kathy Griffin does a publicity stunt to boost her comedy CD (Bravo, 10 p.m.), and you relive your childhood with The Neverending Story on Ion at 8 p.m.
If you are among the unfortunate people who haven’t seen every single episode of the best-TV-show ever, David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, DO NOT turn on IFC at 8:30 p.m. to watch the series’ prequel, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. It will totally ruin the mystery for you! You need to watch the show first. Fortunately, the complete series box set has been out for almost a year now, so add that goodness to your Netflix queue. In the meantime, see what David Lynch had to say about Twin Peaks when the Observer caught up with him back in May.
Follow Joe Pompeo via RSS.