Viewers are upset with Discovery Channel (DStv 121) after the channel's stunt kick-off to Shark Week in which American swimmer Michael Phelps was billed to race against a shark in Phelps vs Shark: Great Gold vs Great White turned out to be a CGI shark.
For the first time ever, Discovery's (in)famous "Shark Week" with all kinds of shark programming is happening in South Africa and around the world, in the same week as in America - but seems to have proverbially "jumped the shark" - a TV show term for when something good on TV goes bad.
A few years ago in December 2014, Discovery Channel hyped up the special Eaten Alive in which a man would be "eaten and regurgitated" by a massive snake. But not only did it not really happen, it caused a backlash from viewers who felt duped.
Discovery afterwards said it would move away from that type of programming.
For the latest Shark Week, Phelps vs Shark: Great Gold vs Great White was shown in America on Sunday and in South Africa last night at 22:00 - and viewers were not happy when Phelps vs Shark turned out to not be a real shark.
In the hour-long TV event, Michael Phelps ended up swimming not again any type of live sharks, but against a CGI creation that was made after recording how fast real types of sharks can swim and then having Phelps swim, adding in a CGI shark in post-production.
"Clearly, we can’t put Michael in one lane and a white shark on the far lane. We’re gonna have to do a simulation," said ecologist Tristan Gutteridge, one of the scientists in the episode.
It also didn't help -spoiler alert! - that Phelps lost.
The computer simulated Great White shark finished 100 metres in 36.1 seconds while Phelps with the aid of a "monofin" that kept his legs together, took 38.1 seconds. As a consolation prize he did however win against a reef shark by 0.2 seconds.
smh Michael Phelps isn't actually racing a shark. He's just racing a simulation of a shark. Biggest scam of 2017— Marcus ¬ (@M_Frosti) July 24, 2017
When you find out that Michael Phelps isn't actually racing an actual shark pic.twitter.com/6KwHGaWXc9— t (@tatummowery) July 24, 2017
Turns out “Michael Phelps races a shark” was really just “Michael Phelps swims alone and then compares his time to a shark’s time.”— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) July 24, 2017
So you mean to tell me Michael Phelps didn't even race a real shark? It was just a simulation. I'm mad. More like Shark WEAK! pic.twitter.com/gwIGTe7Y9p— Frank Costa (@feistyfrank) July 24, 2017
i’m disappointed because i thought Phelps was racing an actual shark :/ #SharkWeek— olivia hager (@oliviahager) July 24, 2017
The rest of the week's Shark Week programming on Discovery Channel is as follows:
Shark-Croc Showdown, Tuesday 25 July, 22:00
Dr. Mark Meekan and conservationist Paul de Gelder go on an expedition to one the sharkiest places in the world - a remote wilderness called the Cobourg Peninsula in the Northern Territory of Australia.
Meekan is there to count sharks and species as part of Vulcan’s Global FinPrint project – Paul de Gelder’s going because he heard that sharks and crocodiles fight over sea turtles out there. What happens when 14-foot crocs move into shark infested waters?
African Shark Safari, Wednesday, 26 July, 22:00
Madagascar is not known as a location for great white sharks. According to the shark sanctuary here, both great whites and tigers are "extinct" in Madagascan waters.
So why has a great white shark, tagged in South Africa, traveled 1500 miles up the African coast to Madagascar? Craig O'Connell and the team make the long journey to the remote island to investigate and see if Madagascar is the next big great white shark hotspot.
Great Hammerhead Invasion, Thursday, 27 July, 22:00
Early November, giant hammerheads arrive off Bimini, in the Bahamas. But why?
Leading shark scientist Tristan Guttridge tags and follows these normally solitary sharks to find out. Many of the sharks appear to be pregnant females, as an ultrasound of a female hammerhead shows. Guttridge believes they spend winter in Bimini to feed their growing young – and then move on to the Florida coast to prey on migrating blacktips.
Great White Shark Serial Killer Lives, Friday, 28 July, 22:00
Every two years in October – in 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014 – a secluded beach on the central California coast has been the scene of great white shark attacks.
Is it the same shark returning again and again? And will the attacks continue in October 2016? Dr. Michael Domeier believes the Surf Beach attacks may be more than a tragic coincidence. With the help of shark experts Ralph Collier and Cal Lutheran, and using satellite tags and DNA technology, he wants to out the killer once and for all.
Alien Sharks: Stranger Fins, Saturday, 29 July, 22:00
Dr. Craig O'Connell goes to the Bass Strait for sawsharks, while Victoria Elena Vasquez and Dr. David Ebert go into deep water in Tokyo Bay to find the star of the show, the goblin shark. They find both sawsharks and goblins - and many more, including ghost sharks, frilled sharks, and the amazing luminescent lantern shark.
Shark School with Michael Phelps, Sunday, 30 July, 22:00
Michael Phelps joins Doc Gruber and Tristan Guttridge of the Bimini Shark Lab to get a crash course on everything "shark" related.
Together, they will dispel the myths and common misconceptions, while Michael gets schooled on how to safely dive with sharks – including how to stay calm when a hammerhead swims two feet above his face.
MultiChoice and Discovery Networks International are also adding additional Shark Week content on DStv Catch Up with Shark Week premieres, Sharks and the City: Los Angeles, Return to the Isle of Jaws, Lair of the Sawfish and Shark Swarm that's exclusively available on DStv Catch Up only.