I never believed in conspiracy theories until I watched this documentary. I mean, what other explanation could there be for it to have been aired on Animal Planet? My theory is that they were doing an experiment to see how gullible the TV-viewing masses really are. But that’s not the point of this post. The point is to talk about why it was one giant embarrassment.
So, let’s start with the viewers, shall we? Obviously, I watched it. Maybe not my best decision, but hey… We all make mistakes. When the documentary was being pushed to the public, it was made to seem so legitimate. You watched the commercials and thought, “Wow, that could be so interesting!” I’m here to tell you, that was not the case.
If you think about anything you’ve watched recently, you’ll probably come to the realization that although your shows (or movies or documentaries) are not all the same, they share some traits. I know that I”m accustomed to at least some semblance of quality graphics. And that was the first thing that stuck out to me when I watched “Mermaids”. Although, that’s not the entire truth. What struck me within a minute of watching was the notion that maybe the show was trying too hard to seem realistic. They were trying so hard that they passed over the line that was “realistic” into the realm of “unbelievable”. (And I don’t mean unbelievable in a good way, either.)
I mean, right from the beginning we hear someone talking in an almost reluctant tone of voice, explaining his belief in widely accepted theories – anything from landing on the moon to the assassination of JFK. And while you’re listening to the (as you later find out) scientist, there is footage that is supposed to show a camera man trying to get in close to a closed-off area that is swarming with police and federal officers. The whole point of this sequence is to convince the viewers that what they are watching – what my family and me were watching – was legitimate. And then, just to make sure you knew that this was a real thing, the documentary fades to black and has the sentence “The scientists in this film are speaking for the first time on camera” show up in all-caps, white lettering, with the purpose of drawing your attention.
Now, the entire time you’re watching the show, there’re clips being shown about the supposed “evidence” that was captured on some lonely beach in Washington state. You’re drawn in because they only show you the video up until just before the mermaid comes into view. It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book – the “less is more” effect. I mean, it worked for Jaws, right? Why wouldn’t it work for Animal Planet and their mermaid documentary?
So, the “evidence”. Overall, the documentary did a great job of sucking me in. I mean, you honestly can’t stop watching because you want it all to be real. I expected it to be, if only because it was on a channel I believed to be based in scientific fact.
It’s pretty much accepted that all good lies contain a grain of truth. This was no different for “Mermaids”. The “bloop” sound that is mentioned throughout the documentary is a real phenomenon, although it was finally explained in 2010 (see this article for more details).
So, did Animal Planet’s documentary sink or swim? Sink. Unfortunately, the sub-par graphics and lack of convincing footage completely threw me off and, in the end, I felt like I wasted two hours of my life. (The first thing my sister said to me after the film ended was, “There went two hours of my life I’ll never get back.”) If that’s your first reaction to something, I think we can all agree that it was definitely unworthy.
But, if you’re ever looking to watch something ridiculous, I would definitely check this out. I laughed (because it was bad), I cried (because it was bad)… If you have an extra 80 minutes and nothing better to do, sit back and relax because I linked the documentary on the post via youtube and – personally – I think you should watch it. For the plot, of course.