The Megalodon shark mockumentary that opened Shark Week 2013 was much derided. Viewers took to Facebook and Twitter to express their outrage over Discovery Channel's decision to dupe people in the name of ratings. "Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives" follows a team of "scientists", who search for a giant, 60-foot shark they believe is responsible for a spate of killings off the coast of South Africa.
The only problem is, the Megalodon shark is believed to be long-extinct, having vanished off the face of the earth more than a million years ago, leaving barely a trace of its existence.
At the end of the two-hour-long mockumentary, a disclaimer said, "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 briefly flashed disclaimer does not specify how much of the program was "dramatized", though most believe the entire thing was a fabrication. Viewers have attacked the poor acting of the suspiciously good-looking "scientists," the bad GCI and the idea that anyone would be seriously searching for the Megalodon shark.
Amid such vehement criticism, the Discovery Channel has defended its decision to air the Megalodon Shark program.
"With a whole week of Shark Week programming ahead of us, we wanted to explore the possibilities of Megalodon," Michael Sorensen, executive producer of Shark Week, told FOX411 in a statement. "It's one of the most debated shark discussions of all time, can Megalodon exist today? It's Ultimate Shark Week fantasy. The stories have been out there for years and with 95% of the ocean unexplored, who really knows?"
But many are accusing Discovery Channel of jumping the shark by airing the Megalodon shark mockumentary. By opening Shark Week 2013 with the fantasy program, the network is seen to have moved away from the original conservatism message of Shark Week. Some are even questioning whether anything the network airs can be trusted.
On the flip side, the premiere of "Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives" was the most watched episode in Shark Week's 26-year history, bringing in 4.8 million total viewers, according to a Discovery Channel press release. "Megaldon" was also the most social show across broadcast and cable on Sunday. It was responsible for nearly one million Tweets on the day of the premiere, and generated 3.4 million total interactions on Facebook.
Shark Week 2013 runs from August 4th to 9th.
Do you think the Discovery Channel should have aired a mockumentary on the Megalodon shark? Let us know in the comments.