Animal Planet's "Mermaids: The Body Found" is complete BS, a full helping of salty poppycock dressed up as science. And I actually mean that in the most complimentary way.
Using CGI and reenactments, the two-hour production — premiering May 27, capping off a themed "Monster Week," complete with beasts like "Finding Bigfoot" — goes overboard trying to peddle an "aquatic ape" theory, suggesting an offshoot of early primates moved into the ocean and became something pretty close to mermaids. Except kind of scary, not the kind Disney turns into movies and theme park rides.
Convincing? Not in the slightest, especially the conspiracy theory about the secretive Navy cover-up.
Nevertheless, as constructed by production company Darlow Smithson it's so artfully done in terms of conventions of the genre — and appears to take itself so seriously, down to the so-called "experts" and anonymous interview with a shrouded Deep-Sea Throat – it's hard not to be entertained.
In that regard, give Animal Planet credit for creatively expanding a brand that, inevitably, can't be puppies and horses all the time. (By that measure, it's a whole lot less objectionable than what History has done.)
Granted, I wince at the idea anybody might be taken in by this silliness, missing the disclaimer in the press release about this being "science fiction based on some real events and scientific theory." Further blurring the line between nonfiction and drama is always troubling, if increasingly commonplace.
But the charade only works if it seems remotely plausible, and while I sat down with zero expectations, I couldn't help watching the whole thing, and grudgingly admiring it.
Can't wait for the channel's next special on unicorns. Or maybe flying monkeys.