Last week was Monster Week on Animal Planet. This weekend is Monster Weekend on Discovery Channel. (The two channels are affiliated under the Discovery Network). I came across a series of stories today that relate to these Discovery Channel/Animal Planet offerings. I decided to put them all together. From the past offerings of a dubious nature, extremes of audience reaction show that these nature-based (formerly science-based) channels need to decide whom they are going to serve. From the overall behavior, they have chosen to cater to the basest audience and not the educated one. Why? Money. They like advertising money. Therefore, we need some new science channels, these ones ain’t cutting it anymore.
Last week’s Monster Week on AP featured a fictional monster movie. Why not? They have already fictionalized documentaries like Megalodon and Mermaids. Why not go full speed ahead with fiction based on real creatures features in their (nonfiction?) show River Monsters. It got decent ratings. So I guess that means look for more of this.
Blood, sweat and tears paid off for Animal Planet’s first-ever creature feature, BLOOD LAKE: ATTACK OF THE KILLER LAMPREYS, which pulled in 1.2M P2+ viewers in its premiere MONSTER WEEK telecast on Sunday, May 25, from 9-11 PM ET/PT.
The film, starring Shannen Doherty, Christopher Lloyd and Jason Brooks, tells the terrifying story about a small Michigan town that’s overrun by lampreys – blood-sucking, eel-like fish – that grow to epic proportions and infiltrate the water systems.
The project, spearheaded by the Vice Pres of Development Andy Berg netting them a #6 ranking in this timeslot among cable networks. Included in their press release, they are blatant about their goals.
“Animal Planet waded through new territory by combining the b-film genre with something truly monstrous,” says Rick Holzman, EVP of Programming and Scheduling at Animal Planet. “We took a real creature featured on RIVER MONSTERS and made it exponentially more frightening and exciting for our viewers.”
I guess the positive in this is that there was no mistaking it was not a documentary. I actually would not begrudge them a bit for that if it wasn’t for their past and continued blurring of the lines between fact and fiction.
For example, a special on wolves was set to air on Monster Week. From their facebook page: Animal Planet – Timeline Photos.
Tune in to the #MonsterWeek special: Man-Eating Super Wolves TONIGHT at 8PM ET!
Razor sharp teeth, killer instincts, and senses so precise they hear your beating heart, and your fear. They’re on the hunt, and now with numbers growing out of control, they’re threatening humans like never before.
While over 30K people “liked” this post, the comments section was full of very angry posters who rightly questioned the hyperbole and outright LIES in this program description. Animal Planet was called out for their nonsense.
Animal Planet removed a segment titled “Man-Eating Super Wolves” from its Monster Week line up this week after over 80,000 Defenders of Wildlife members and other activists contacted the station demanding the episode be immediately removed from the air.
The shameful and distorted anti-wolf episode was aired one time on Wednesday, May 21.
The rest of the repeat airings were removed.
The President Defenders of Wildlife stated:
“There are real-world consequences to airing a fictitious portrayal of wolves based on sensationalism instead of on science. Demonizing wolves does serious harm to these imperiled animals and erodes public support for their continued recovery.”
Indeed! He remarked that the outcry was welcomed and useful. Seems like Animal Planet is rather illiterate when it comes to science since wolves aren’t attacking anyone and they are being reintroduced to the wild, certainly not with out of control numbers. Animal Planet maybe, but not on THIS planet!
So, to put icing on the cake, you can check out Monster Weekend on Discovery Channel this weekend. Two nights of programming features searches for legendary cryptids in Alaska and Bayou country. Bets on what they find? 100% speculation. Their key show for the weekend is “Russian Yeti: The Killer Lives”. We’ve covered this atrocity here: Discovery wild speculation channel presents… Killed by Yeti | Doubtful News.
As we describe, this is neither a new idea nor a good one. It does not fit with what we know. At all. To postulate an unknown to explain an unknown is fallacious and misleading. It’s good press for the idea of a monstrous cryptid even though no evidence for such as been found even after DNA sampling.
Fiction? Nonfiction? No one can tell anymore and Discovery Network seems not to care a whit. They only want ratings. I hate when a good thing goes down the toilet. Scientists, cryptozoologists, science enthusiasts and educators are all pretty much disgusted. Don’t show this stuff in your classroom or to your kids. Nature deserves way more respect. So do viewers.