Weird Science: Darwin, ‘Monsters’ and Sharks, Oh My!

This really is something of a renaissance for science/nature-type programming, and not just because Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week” is coming up in early August — always timed to scare the living shit out of us right before we start thinking about going into the ocean.

Largedarwin Before then, BBC America will air the fascinating “Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life,” a June 21 documentary from Sir David Attenborough; and Animal Planet offers “Monsters Inside Me,” a pretty great title for an otherwise-nondescript July series about parasites. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll admire CGI imagery of disgusting microbes, and you’ll see a guy who has bloated feet and viscous fluid dripping out of his pores. Good times!

Discovery’s “Shark Week” is by this point struggling to come up with fresh ways to serve fin soup, but the centerpiece appears to be the documentary “Blood in the Water,” about a series of 1916 attacks off the New Jersey shore that provided inspiration for “Jaws.” Whenever the topic is sharks, here’s a tip: Anything that references “Jaws” has a big leg up (with apologies to that poor guy in the pond) in my book.

Still, the real standout here is the 83-year-old Attenborough’s stately Darwin special, which — drawing upon the filmmaker’s earlier wildlife productions — meticulously documents how Darwin conceived his theory of evolution to commemorate the bicentennial of Darwin’s birth and 150th anniversary since he published “On the Origin of the Species.”

Watch it with some Intelligent Design devotee that you love. Then try to get them to read a book other than the Bible.

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