Above is the too-fast-to-read disclaimer that flashed onscreen during the final moments of Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives, the two-hour mockumentary that opened the Discovery Channel's 26th Shark Week last night. The full text reads:
None of the institutions or agencies that appear in the film are affiliated with it in any way, nor have approved its contents. Though certain events and characters in this film have been dramatized, sightings of "Submarine" continue to this day. Megalodon was a real shark. Legends of giant sharks persist all over the world. There is still debate about what they might be.
The Discovery Channel didn't catfish people — it megalodoned them.
Way before this disclaimer ran, I knew Megalodon was bogus. It opened with supposed found footage of a bunch of people whose boat was downed when something took a giant bite out of it. These people's final moments alive wouldn't normally be so freely shared on television. This supposedly happened April 5, 2013, off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa, where the biggest news the next day was a man using helium balloons to fly from the island prison where Nelson Mandela was kept to Cape Town. If a giant, possibly prehistoric shark possibly took a bite out of a boat, killing four, our shark-obsessed media would have let us know then. (Also, four months is a hell of a quick turnaround for a two-hour doc.)
Also, all of talking-head interviews seemed acted, not candid.
Also, there was a really bad CGI whale whose tail was bit off by "Submarine" — the giant shark being hunted here that may or may not be a living dinosaur.
Also, the goal of these characters was to find a living dinosaur.
Granted, there have been of animals thought to be extinct only to pop up — they're called lazarus taxon. That is one thing that Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives taught me, despite its all fake everything. Learning about this through Megalodon is kind of like learning about the difference between buters and valets from Downton Abbey. Fiction teaches!
In fact, showing up for Shark Week (up till now a series of earnest documentaries) only to get two hours of a fake dinosaur hunt is kind of like showing up for history class and being taught Downton Abbey as if it all actually happened.
Megalodon did take advantage of its fictive nature in a few hilariously over-the-top scenes, like the one below of chumming via cannon or as one dinosaur-hunter calls it, "power chumming." The result is a chum slick spanning five miles — the largest ever created! That's a lot of bloody crap, thus thematically apt.