This time last year Discovery Communications announced a new show it was lining up for its Animal Planet channel called Mermaids: The Body Found.
“In the early 1990s, the United States Navy began a series of covert sonar tests that were linked to mass die-offs of whales washing up on beaches around the world. These beachings were well-publicized, but startling amateur video and photographic evidence – much of it never released until now – suggests that whales were not the only creatures affected by the Navy’s sonar,” the company said in a press release.
“In 1997,” it continued, “scientists monitoring underwater microphones recorded a mysterious sound deep in the Pacific Ocean. What made that sound, dubbed ‘The Bloop,’ has remained one of the greatest mysteries of the oceans, until now….”
Last week, at its latest annual programming event in New York, Discovery offered an update on the show, which is due to debut soon in the US as part of a “jam-packed, monster-fest week”.
The programme is described as “the crescendo of the epic week with a two-hour CGI investigation into the probability of mermaids swimming throughout our waters. It explores a scientific theory that supports the existence of mermaids, and the film imagines how they really appear, how they evolved and the role they play beneath the water’s surface.”
In other words, Discovery hasn’t discovered mermaids, rather it has spent several years and a considerable amount of money on special effects – a preview clip from which can be seen by clicking on the image above – putting together a film described variously as a drama-documentary or a mockumentary.
While there’s nothing wrong with this, at least one TV critic who saw a preview tape ahead of the show’s premiere in Australia last year, described it as a “new low in supposedly educational television”, arguing that the programme was guilty of “bad science” and “misrepresents evolution”.
“Discovery is happy to create the impression that such things [mermaids] could be real – or at least that it’s up to sceptics to prove that they aren’t,” he wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Anyway, depending on where you are in the world and on Animal Planet’s international scheduling, you should be able to watch Mermaids: The Body Found soon so that you can make up your own mind.