Shark Week ’94 Great White Down Under

Narrator: Guy Blackmore.

Narrator: Guy Blackmore.

Discovery dives into its 11-night “Shark Week” with Aussie filmmakers Andrew and Liz Wight and two scientists jumping into “Jaws” territory to find out more about the great whites during their less strenuous moments. The docu has its points, but the truth is, unless man’s baiting them or unless they’re feeding, sharks are a listless lot.

This film, made in 1993 but making its U.S. debut here, records the production crew devising distractions: that familiar metal cage which the sleek brutes can nuzzle (an ensconced crew member reaches out cozily to pet him); balloons the fish can devour, and a newfangled, one-man propelled cage that can trail after the creatures. (There’s a revealing shot through a shark’s mouth that reaches down into the gullet.)

Most intriguing — and worrisome — is a tough, near-invisible plastic tube Liz Wight stands in on the ocean bottom while an enormous great white lazes around, paying her no attention.

Facts noted during the film: Great whites have never been seen mating, their mouths have sensors to detect electrical activity, and their electrosensory system detects heartbeats of prey.

And it’s not true that they eat whole sheep and kitchen sinks — they’re more selective.

Opening hour of Discovery’s annual, popular shark hoopla looks and sounds familiar, a few of the sequences peter out, the Aussie dialogue isn’t always clear, and the camerawork, despite a couple of thrilling moments when the fish lunge, is indifferent at best. But hey, sharks are back in showbiz.

Shark Week '94 Great White Down Under

(Sun. (31), 9-10 p.m., Discovery)

Production: Filmed in South Australia by Oxford Film Prods. and Beyond Prods. Executive producers, Michael Caulfield, Mikael Borglund; producers, Andrew and Liz Wight; director, Liz Wight; writers, Caulfield, Liz Wight.

Crew: Camera, Malcolm Ludgate; underwater camera, Ron Allum, Andrew Wight, Liz Wight; editor, Bill Aiers; sound , Julian Ellingworth; music, Twilight Prods.

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