Great White North: Canada (Finally) Offers Us More Teeth

It’s Shark Week! And this time, they’re taking a bite out of Canada.

Directed by PJ Naworynski, Great White North takes the viewer to the coast of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia as a multi-generational family of fisherman set sail in search of a massive colony of Great White Sharks. With research on their minds, the team attempts to understand the mysterious explosion of sharks in Canadian waters. Led by world-renowned shark expert Dr. Chris Harvey-Clark

and cinematographer Andy Casagrande, they get up close and personal with what may be one of the largest migrations in the world.

In Great White North, Naworynski and his team have created a show that emphasizes the fun of shark studying as opposed to the research. After almost 30 years of ‘Shark Week’, Discovery Channel understands what it means to keep the audience glued to the screen. Intense music, zooming cameras and graphics designed to make things clear give this the snap visuals of reality television. As such, while North does explore issues like migration patterns and the art of tracking, the show very clearly understands the assignment. 

To use a quote from Jurassic World, they know that the audience wants ‘more teeth’.

As a result, the greatest emphasis here is on the footage itself. In doing so, North keeps itself entertaining visually, even as the facts and figures are being shared with voiceovers. We watch as massive sharks come near to their underwater cages or under their boats. With fresh bait in the water, we watch as they bare their teeth up close. These are real people getting in the path of these potential killers… and we can’t turn away. 

Admittedly though, Great White North never demonizes these underwater beasts. While we understand the risks, this is not a show meant to make you ‘afraid to go back in the water’. Instead, we understand that their new habitat is something worth exploring, not fearing. In fact, North even carries a sense of awe amidst its terrifying edge. 

Perhaps the best example of this comes near the end of the episode. Faced with a massive shark circling their boat, one of those onboard exclaims, “I feel so small!” While this is obviously in response to the massive size of the beast itself, one can’t help but hear a sense of humility within it as well. In a world of immense size, coming so close to nature inevitably leads to the feeling that we’re powerless against the natural world. Humans believe themselves to be the top of the food chain, but are we really? Standing next to a Great White absolutel serves as a reminder of how ‘small’ we are by comparison. And Great White North wants the viewer to feel the same.

Great White North is available on Discovery and Discovery+ on July 10th, 2024. 

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