Monday, August 5, 2013

Shark Jumping: Advanced Division

One of my favorite moments of a recent big romance writers’ convention was hearing an author passionately declaim: “But, sweetheart, I never promised you a ménage!”

This was in reference to a reviewer complaining of the lack, despite there being no mention of such a scene anywhere in the material promoting the story. It made me laugh (the author said it in good fun), but I also think it’s an excellent example of the expectations that a reader (or TV viewer) brings to the table, and how the fun can be shaken out of things when the subject matter takes a left-hand turn.

I remember once picking up what I thought (from the cover and back blurb) was a small-town contemporary romance, only to discover that it was a small-town contemporary romance with lots of paranormal elements. Now, I don’t have anything against paranormal romance (far from it!), but I was in the mood for warm fuzzies, not demons, so I set the book aside. Later, when I picked it up again, knowing what to expect, I enjoyed it just fine.

Or, going back a bit, there was the time I decided to go see a movie by myself. I was having an unusually bad week among a whole bunch of them, and wanted a pick-me-up. So, based on the previews and theater posters, which were heavy on the pink and rom-com tropes, I went to see My Best Friend’s Wedding. Which, for the record, is heavy on the angst and chest beating, and doesn’t have the HEA I was looking for. Was it a good movie? Maybe. But it sure wasn’t what I needed that day.

So what, you might ask, does this have to do with shark jumping? Well, there’s the infamous episode of Happy Days, in which the Fonz actually does (or tries to?) jump his motorcycle water ski jump (thanks to frykitty for the correction!) over a shark tank, and in the process rather than reviving the franchise, spawns the term “jumping the shark” in reference to the moment when something that was once great begins (or accelerates) its decline. (It’s thanks to Arizona that I know this little tidbit, as I had always thought it was strictly a metaphor. I had no idea someone actually had jumped a shark until he clued me in.)

And then there’s last night … and Discovery Channel’s Megalodon. Blech.

Arizona adores Shark Week. He was also dinosaur-crazy as a kid, and would’ve made an awesome paleontologist. I’m more of a whales-and-dolphins person, but I love a well-done documentary. So we were looking forward to Shark Week 2013 kicking off with a two-hour documentary on shark fossils.

Only it wasn’t. It was a scripted, awkward mockumentary that tried to “prove” that Megalodons still exist today, and it didn’t have nearly enough disclaimers for my taste.

Why, you might ask, would a lover of Sharknado and MegaPirhana object to this? For the simple reason that those other schlock-fests are on the SyFy channel and don’t pretend to be something they’re not. And they’re not used to kick off a week of documentaries. (And, yes, some of those documentaries are rather lacking in scientific rigor, but that's a subject for another day...)

Maybe I was tired, maybe I was hormonal, maybe I just wasn’t in the mood, but I got really annoyed with Discovery Channel for breaking it’s (implicit) promise to me, just as My Best Friend’s Wedding had failed to be a chick flick, and that book I was talking about turned out to be a stealth paranormal. Will I watch the rest of Shark Week? Yes, though mostly because Arizona will want to. But I’ll definitely be doing a MST3000 on the reenactments and calling “bull” on the questionable science more than I usually do.

How about you? Shark Week or no Shark Week? Have you suffered from an entertainment bait-and-switch lately? How did you recover?


  1. Gonna be a big ol' nerd on ya, and correct the Fonzie story:
    He was water skiing.

    We've been renting a condo in our new home state until our house is ready, and thus have a television for the first time in many years. Imagine my disappointment when I found out that there was another History Channel, with what looked like interesting documentaries...until the aliens are mentioned. Oh, H2, you are so sad.

    I feel ya.

    1. You're awesome! Nerds are always welcome here, especially when I was thinking 'I should really fact-check this ... nah, I'm close enough.' LOL! Thanks for the correction ;)

      Ahhh, yes, the "Aliens are among us...." guy. I think he'd be fun to meet at a party. Not so much in my documentaries, tho!

      Sending you good 'new house' vibes. May the headaches be few and the schedule adhered to!

  2. I too watched Megalodon, and was SO DISAPPOINTED by the idiotic ending! Come on! It was like those ghost hunter shows where the people say, "What was that?" and run around when we the audience hear nothing. Ridiculous. That being said, I'll tune in to Shark Week again. Nothing like a little carnage to make me happy.

    1. Ha! Or the Bigfoot hunters ... "There's a Squatch in these woods. Did you hear that?"

      Well, no. No, I didn't hear it. But thanks for playing.

      But, yeah, we'll totally keep watching. (Homer voice: Mmmmmm ... carnage ...)

  3. I have never watched shark week. I don't really understand the hype, but I am more of a dolphin/whale person myself haha.

    A few years ago my mom and I went to see Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. I love Greek mythology and was excited about the movie...but mom and I spent the entire time calling bullshit and pretty much comparing the movie to torture. I saw the preview for a new Percy movie and it looked good, but I will never see it because the first one scarred me for life haha.

    As for books...for a class I had to read A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings. Now, I love paranormal. I love angels. And what I expected to come from that story was not anything that I actually read. Seriously, I bawled. The whole thing made me question all of humanity. I hated people for a while after reading that story haha

    1. *knuckle tap* for cetaceans. Bummer on the Percy Jackson movie! I was watching the previews of the new one and can't for the life of me remember if I saw the first one. Which probably isn't a good sign on the memorable-movie front.

      Oh, no, on hating humanity! I accidentally did that to Arizona when we were first getting to know each other, by renting the Book of Eli (I think that was the name of the movie, anyway). For a big, protective guy, it turns out he's got a low threshold for post-apocalyptic stuff (largely because he's pretty sure the end is nigh and its his job to keep me safe). It took him a week to stop twitching.

    2. Oh yeah, I have seen the Book of Eli! I thought it was incredibly moving, but I know people who freaked out because of it. I guess it depends on what parts of the movie you focus on.

  4. When I sat down to watch Aaron Eckhart and Catherine Zeta Jones in "No Reservations," I expected a rom-com about chefs. Not.

    Anyway, IMO, no offense, but the best story I ever heard of thwarted expectations comes from a co-worker of MacGuyver's. Co-worker's mom and dad took the grandkids to see "the new Cars movie," except they all ended up in The Fast & the Furious instead.

    1. LOLOL! That's a good one! Vroom-vroom, indeed!

      I remember being quite put out as a child when I was taken to see a Pink Panther movie and it was about some guy named Clouseau.

      And YES on 'No Reservations.' Not cute and fluffy at all, which is how the previews made it look.

    2. Re: the Pink Panther - YEAH! :( Dang it! I'd forgotten about that. I now remember wondering when the Pink Panther would show up to Bugs Bunny that goofy Clouseau guy, who desperately needed some kind of help.

    3. Hm ... (author brain starts working) ...

  5. Hear you on the Pink Panther. Never understood why dad loved them because I was promised a cartoon panther and PP was not delivered!

    Watching shark week right now because it's the least bad thing on and my DVR offerings are not exciting. They're making steel megalodon teeth for a mega shark robot. Uh, yeah, I can't see that going wrong at all... In fact, there was a Bones episode about someone falling onto robotic dinosaur jaws. Hopefully they'll put the default EMO position to "open".