As Animal Planet winds down its always enjoyable Monster Week, the legend of the mermaid continues to thrive. Last year’s entertaining docudrama, Mermaids: The Body Found, led to an interesting discussion about our aquatic origins and whether the mystical ocean creature was real. Fact and fiction blurred into an invigorating narrative, and it didn’t matter so much what the audience believed. Animal Planet had decided to offer some hypotheses, and it was up to us to accept or reject.
This year’s Monster Week debuted a follow-up docudrama called Mermaids: The New Evidence. Picking up where the first special ended, the one-hour program investigated the fallout of the mermaid “evidence” and presented new footage of these creatures of the sea.
The entire television program felt real. The world “LIVE” appeared in the upper-left corner, offering us a news-like atmosphere. Jon Frankel, the well-respected correspondent from HBO’s Real Sports, served as host for the evening. The revelations, if one can believe them to be true, were numerous and life-changing.
The New Evidence featured a new interview with the “reclusive” scientist who first “discovered” the mermaids last year. Apparently, he has been living a quiet life studying manatees in Florida. Since he made his bold assertions, a lot of “footage” has appeared on the Internet that seems to prove his theories have some weight.
Krivat Yam, a coastal city in Israel, allegedly offered $1 million to anyone who could produce evidence of a mermaid. Two Americans captured compelling footage of a seal-like creature on a rock. The “mayor” of this city was not convinced enough that the video displayed a real mermaid, so the $1 million was not awarded.
Other videos included a scary nighttime scene that shows a mermaid jumping out of the water like a surfacing shark. Evidence of P.T. Barnum’s supposed mermaid display at one of his early circuses was also presented, and a webbed hand that flashed before a submerged vessel in the ocean definitely looked like one of the mystical monsters.
Of course, calling Mermaids: The New Evidence real is like calling professional wrestling real. There’s a semblance of truth behind the assumptions, but the theatrics are intended for pure entertainment value. An unknowing audience member probably feels duped, but honestly, it’s time for TV viewers to take a breath, offer a smile and simply enjoy the possibilities. Both of these mermaid programs have fun playing with our expectations, knowing exactly what type of footage would entice us in this YouTube generation. I applaud the producers’ cleverness, much like I would have applauded Orson Welles’ radio program about aliens in New Jersey.
Is it real? Is it fake? These are interesting questions, but they completely miss the point of the specials. Mermaids: The New Evidence is entertaining, engaging and convincing. I’m not sure if mermaids were/are real, but I want to believe. The special taps into that childlike wonder we all used to have, when the world of the mystical realm wasn’t too far away. As our society has grown up and we require everyone to be so mature, we forget the ability to let loose and ponder the possibilities.
Are mermaids real? Yeah, why not. There’s no harm in believing. No one gets hurt. Are these Animal Planet docudramas real? Probably not, but it’s fun to think they are true.
Mermaids: The New Evidence follows in the same footsteps as The Body Found. The TV special presents a compelling narrative that is both enthralling and edge-of-your-seat exciting. Count me among the converted. I don’t want to grow up just yet.
By John Soltes / Publisher / [email protected]
Click here for new “footage” of mermaids.