Well, people, what an incredibly long drop it's been since the electrifying National Geographic TV specials of my youth, whose mere opening theme notes would raise the hair on my neck.
It seems almost like the scenario of a post-apocalyptic surrealist satire, unimaginable just a few years back: National Geographic Channel has been bought out by Fox, is "joint-venturing" with the disgraceful and disgraced Rupert Murdoch, and creating programming to push Bill O'Reilly's books. And, well -- National Geographic Channel will be killing endangered species for entertainment.
They've just announced the new unscripted show: Wicked Tuna.
Awesome, eh? Already, we have: a smiling face and a dead, rather small, bluefin tuna.
Here, in 2012, I find the premise revolting. Despicable.
And therefore, it's bound to be a crowd pleaser as National Geographic Channel aims to lead in Cable's race to the bottom.
The thrilling tagging of giant fish as scientists track their migrations across oceans might have provided the show's rationale, but that's clearly too intellectual (though all the other elements of cable success are there: adventure, personal drama (the tagging involves grad students), seasickness, profanity).
Things the National Geographic Channel had to ignore: Atlantic bluefin, a focus of bitter international conservation fights for over two decades now, have been described as "collapsed" in the titles of two peer-reviewed science journal publications (here and here); a bluefin tuna population that once lived in the South Atlantic was wiped out in the 1960s; and Atlantic bluefin tuna are listed "endangered" by IUCN.
Maybe the thinking is, "This show will support the endangered listing by helping maintain and expand the this tuna's international endangered status."
(Also, gotta love that the only way the Nat Geo channel could do two hours on Abraham Lincoln is to base it on the book that lists Bill O'Reilly as its author. No other source matter on Lincoln exists, apparently.)
What a load of shame.
I can envision next season's press release: On "National Geographic's Surf and Turf," Bill O'Reilly goes shark-finning with Rosie O'Donnell; and the political banter is to kill for! Then, on the all-new "Gorillas in the Mint" -- a thrilling "high-stakes" hunt for great apes with celebrity chefs. "They taste great to some people, and we've got to respect that," the venerated network says, "and with their growing scarcity, the price is real good now." "Supply and demand," quipped O'Reilly, adding, "Free enterprise isn't free. It comes at a cost."