The Discovery Channel rightfully got a lot of scorn for their television “special” Eaten Alive, which stoked unnecessary fears about anacondas, and never delivered on its ghoulish promise. In the wake of that “watch a guy get sort of crushed by a giant snake” fiasco, Discovery got a new direction: Less bullshit, more discovery.
Entertainment Weekly reports out of the Television Critics Association’s semi-annual press tour that new Discovery president Rich Ross fielded questions about the channel’s Eaten Alive and Shark Week’s Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives, a horror movie presented like a legit documentary. Ross would have been our hero if he’d done a big showy speech along the lines of, “We made some mistakes. But hey, you suckers tuned in! Still, the time for this brand of exploitative psuedo-science trash has come and gone, and we’re moving on to trying to do actually educational programming. I mean, hell, we ARE called the Discovery Channel, after all.”
Instead, Ross was far more diplomatic/less dynamic, saying “I don’t think you’ll be sitting with me here next year asking me a question about something I put on—whether a series or a special—where that’s the dilemma. They’ve done very well, many of them, but it’s not something that’s right for us … if something [has been previously ordered], it’s probably still coming. But I’m telling you where I am and how I feel moving forward.”
And “I don’t believe you’ll see a person being eaten by a snake during my time here.”
And finally, “[We want to be] a number one TV brand that’s for the whole family and not just for the men in the family.”
There you have it. It’s not about the negative press. It’s not about the ethical question of willfully misrepresenting content to your audience. It’s about Discovery wanting to appeal to more people. It’s about money. All the same, an Eaten Alive sequel is unlikely, which is something to be grateful for.