A great white shark breaches the water's surface as seen on "Air… (Chris Fallows / Discovery…)
Shark Week 2012 is here, a razor-toothed antidote for the nation's TV viewers who are disappointed that it will be two more years before they can watch U.S. athletes going for the gold again.
What's Shark Week, you ask? Where have you been? That's when the Discovery Channel turns over a week's worth of prime-time programming to those monsters of the deep, and it ranks as cable's longest-running programming event.
This year's Shark Week takes on an added dimension as the toothy predators have been dominating the news of late -- whether it's a shark chomping on a teenager's paddleboard in Catalina; stalking a kayaker; biting a man (in two instances off Cape Cod, Mass.); or leaping up alongside a back porch in South Carolina and giving one woman what was likely the scare of her life.
PHOTOS: Shark Week's 25th anniversary
No doubt about it, the year has seen sharks get way too close for comfort.
So, with Sunday night's closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics capping a 17-day television extravaganza, Americans hooked on a nightly dose of TV excitement have the shark option.
Discovery Channel kicked off the 25th anniversary of Shark Week just as the Olympics were coming to a close Sunday night.
Ostensibly, Discovery's Shark Week helps us better understand -- and perhaps even appreciate -- the fearsome creatures that existed long before and long after dinosaurs walked the earth.
Indeed, shark appreciation is important for conservation efforts. Environmentalists, for example, are seeking protection for great white sharks off California. They fear there could be fewer than 100 breeding females traversing those waters. Their loss could jeopardize the ocean's fragile ecosystem.
But when it comes right down to it, most of us tune in to Shark Week to be scared silly -- even though we have a better chance of getting hit in the head with a falling coconut than being bitten (much less eaten alive) by a shark. Perhaps we simply cannot get enough of Air Jaws. If you don't know what the term "Air Jaws" means, then Google it. Mere words cannot do it justice.
Among the programming options this week on Discovery: "Shark Fight," featuring stories of shark attack victims who lived to talk about it; "How 'Jaws' Changed the World"; "Adrift: 47 Days With Sharks," about the harrowing tale of two servicemen surviving shark-infested waters; and "MythBusters' Jawsome Shark Special," featuring "MythBusters" hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman breaking down the top 25 shark myths of all time.
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