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TV Reviews : 'Shark Week '92' Long on Home Movies

July 11, 1992|DAVID SCHEIDERER

Just when you thought it was safe to channel surf across the cable box comes the Discovery Channel's "Shark Week '92," an eight-day festival of shark-related documentaries. The first installment is "The Man Who Loves Sharks" (Sunday at 5 and 10 p.m.).

Stan Waterman, one of the world's leading underwater photographers, is the subject of the program, which might be better titled "The Man Who Photographs Sharks and Loves His Family."

It's not that Waterman is not fit for a TV biography--he is--but, at two hours, the program includes too many home movies and too many fawning words from his friend and the show's host, author Peter Benchley.

At one point, Benchley says of Waterman: "He is the last Cavalier, a man who lives in many ways in the 18th Century. A sense of honor, duty, responsibility and fair play--all of which are thought by people to be obsolete at the moment--all come into play in his daily life."

Well, that's nice, but much more interesting is how Waterman got to be an underwater photographer. Born into a comfortable New England family, Waterman studied Shakespeare under Robert Frost at Dartmouth. He attended graduate school at Columbia before dropping out to become a gentleman blueberry farmer in Maine. But, when Waterman read about Jacques Cousteau's invention of the Aqua-lung, his life changed.

The notion of an Aqua-lung fired his imagination, and he soon became an expert diver and underwater photographer. His success has brought him many lecture circuit appearances and TV specials to underwater photography on such films as "Blue Water, White Death" and "The Deep."

While "The Man Who Loves Sharks" spends too much time with Waterman's home movies and the activities of his grown children, it's easy to envy Waterman, 67, and his globe-trotting existence. And, it is a pleasure to spend time with a man who says of his vocation and avocation: "Your moments slow down; you have time to look and think. You become very aware of your own life processes as you hear your breathing. . . . It is not a silent world, but far more silent than when you are in the company of other humans."

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