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Writing Credits:

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.

Rated NR

Widescreen 1.78:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 346 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 7/14/2009

• Three Bonus Episodes


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Shark Week: The Great Bites Collection [Blu-Ray] (2009)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 12, 2009)

Almost 35 years after Jaws made swimmers think twice before they entered the ocean, the public fascination with sharks persists. Every year, “Shark Week” on the Discovery Channel consistently boasts their best ratings. We get a look at a selection of those shows in a package called Shark Week: The Great Bites Collection.

Bites includes six episodes:

Surviving Sharks (42:02): “For ‘Survivorman’ Les Stroud, staying alive against the odd is nothing new, but this time he show us how to survive a swimmer’s worst fear.”

On the surface, this episode wants to teach us how to make it out make it out alive if we’re in the water with a shark. And it does that to a decent degree; we learn some techniques that could help in case you find yourself in the vicinity of these toothy beasts.

In truth, however, “Surviving” really exists so we can see a lot of cool shark footage. It succeeds in that quest, especially when it focuses on great whites. The bits with the reef and tiger sharks are good, but the great whites remain the most fascinating of the species, and the shots of them on the attack are pretty awesome. “Surviving” mixes educational material with interesting sea footage to keep us involved.

How Not to Become Shark Bait (40:55): “Join a group of amateur shark enthusiasts as they dive into the warm waters of the Caribbean to find out just how easy it is to end up on the menu.”

Didn’t we just cover the same subject in “Surviving”? “Bait” does seem like déjà vu at times, as it often looks at the same kinds of sharks found in “Surviving”; we again look at tiger and reef sharks, though the show avoids the great whites. It does so because it takes a different perspective on how to make it through shark attacks: the folks here deliberately provoke bites.

Actually, only one of them actively participates, as his two cohorts just sit around and watch the action. “Bait” does a lot to demonstrate how tough it is to be attacked by a shark; we see that sharks don’t just swarm without really good cause. That means we get an interesting show that lets us see a side of sharks we don’t normally learn.

Mysteries of the Shark Coast (1:26:02): “Northeastern Australia boasts the world’s largest concentration of sharks… but that appears to be changing. A team of top scientists seeks an answer to why these magnificent predators are disappearing.”

After two shows that focus on the dangers posed by sharks, “Coast” focuses more on dangers that affect sharks – sort of. “Coast” becomes the most scientifically oriented episode to date, but that doesn’t mean it provides a ream of data about sharks.

Indeed, the show focuses on the efforts to study sharks to the exclusion of much else. Yes, we do learn a bit about the “secret lives of sharks”, but we learn a lot more about the attempts to research the creatures. That makes “Coast” less informative and enthralling than I’d like. I think the program could run half as long and be just as useful.

MythBusters: Shark Special 2 (1:34:08): “Jamie, Adam and the MythBusters team return to the water to take a bite out of some of the better-known shark myths.”

After the dull shark search of “Coast”, we get more bite in “MythBusters”. This program looks at common perceptions of sharks and determines how many are true. These include topics related to attracting sharks and repelling sharks. “MythBusters” adopts a cartoony tone to tell its tale, which seems good and bad. While it prevents the show from becoming too dry, it also makes it more difficult to take the buffoonish hosts seriously. Still, the program looks at some interesting concepts and manages to entertain while it informs.

Day of the Shark (42:13): “Everywhere in the world, whenever swimmers get into the ocean, they enter the domain of sharks. Learn what happens when unsuspecting victims break a few simple shark rules.”

While the prior programs looked at experiments conducted to see how sharks behave, this one takes on anecdotal material. Real shark attack victims tell their tales of blood and mayhem. I like that side of things, though the format gets a bit stale before long. We see clumsily “re-enacted” sequences that don’t work very well, so the actual shark footage tends to be lackluster. Still, it’s good to hear from survivors of attacks instead of just seeing the more contrived material.

Dirty Jobs: Greenland Shark Quest (41:13): “To find what may be the world’s most mysterious shark, Mike Rowe joins a team of scientists to go ice fishing in Canada’s frigid far north.”

The Blu-ray ends with a look at an unusual shark, and it takes us to a very different environment. Unfortunately, this doesn’t result in fascinating TV. Like “Shark Coast”, “Quest” focuses more on the processes involved than the sharks themselves. Given the blandness of the icy setting, we rarely see much of interest; how long can we stare at an ice-fishing hole and remain involved? Eventually the show pays off with footage of the rare shark, but it’s an erratic journey.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B

Shark Week: The Great Bites Collection appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. With a variety of shows on display, picture quality was a bit of a mixed bag, but the visuals usually looked quite good.

For the most part, sharpness worked well. A few shots could seem a bit soft, but those instances occurred infrequently. Instead, the episodes usually boasted surprisingly solid clarity and definition. Few issues with jagged edges occurred, and I noticed no shimmering or edge enhancement. Source flaws were absent as well.

Colors were positive. Obviously sea-based settings dominated, and those came across with the ocean blue warmth we’d expect. Blacks were dark and firm, while shadows looked pretty positive. Shooting conditions occasionally led to some murky low-light shots, but those were inevitable and not as much of a distraction as I expected. Overall, the shows looked very nice.

As was the case with the visuals, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio of Shark Week also seemed a bit inconsistent but good. The main variations came from the soundfields of the various episodes. Some – like “Surviving Sharks” – offered limited auditory information. Music dominated that episode and presented decent stereo material, but effects played a somewhat minor role. While those elements cropped up throughout the show, they didn’t show much spread. The sea audio remained focused on the front speakers and didn’t add much to the experience.

Other episodes – like “How Not to Become Shark Bait” – had more to them. Once again, music showed nice breadth across the speakers and even used the back channels in a fairly satisfying manner. The show also provided more compelling use of the side and rear speakers to open up the watery settings. The soundscape didn’t equal what you’d get from a feature film, of course, but the material managed to engulf us pretty well.

Audio quality was more consistent than the soundfields, though that side of things had some ups and downs as well. Overall, the episodes with the more involving soundfields provided the higher quality audio as well. More lackluster shows like “Surviving” offered decent reproduction of speech, music and effects, but they were a bit tame. Those episodes had good clarity but nothing exceptional.

Programs with more active soundscapes also came with higher quality sound. For instance, “Bait” boasted very nice bass response, and the music provided better punch and range. Across the board, all the episodes sounded just fine, but some were better than others.

Three Bonus Episodes appear here, all of which are presented in a 1.33:1 ratio. These include:

Shark Attack Files IV: Summer of the Shark (50:01): “Travel the globe to witness tales of actual shark attacks and the victims who survived – and some who didn’t.”

I remember the 2001 news about all the shark attacks well – it was big stuff until 9/11 displaced it. “Files” gives us a pretty good look at the summer’s events and puts the attacks in perspective. Shows with so many reenactments can be iffy, but this one works pretty well.

Dirty Jobs: Jobs That Bite (1:21:00): “In South Africa’s deadly waters, Mike Rowe takes a job cutting chum for shark bait and then jumps in to see if any great whites are interested in a snack.”

I wasn’t wild about the “Dirty Jobs” that appeared in the main part of the disc, and I can’t say the format works a ton better for me here. However, “Bite” at least gives us more actual shark footage and we’re not stuck staring at a hole in the ice forever. We learn decent facts about sharks, so even with a lot of unappealing shots of chum and shark bits, it’s reasonably engaging.

Dirty Jobs: Jobs That Bite Harder (41:44): “Mike Rowe helps create replica sharks, builds a shark-proof suit and then jumps into the water to test the suit on real live sharks in the Bahamas.”

More sharks and more Mike Rowe come to us here. Should I expect anything different – for good or for ill – here? Not really. Inevitably, this one reminds me a lot of “Bite”, so it comes with the same pros and cons.

Folks love “Shark Week” on the Discovery Channel, and the public fascination with the toothy beasts seems unlikely to abate anytime soon. Shark Week: The Great Bites Collection provides many hours of shark-related material that should fascinate the fans. I think the shows are up and down, but they do teach us a lot about sharks and they generally provide nice entertainment. The Blu-ray offers surprisingly good picture and audio, and it throws in a few useful bonus episodes as well. This is a good release for shark buffs.

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