Fresh off Sharknado week, it's time to sink our teeth into Shark Week.
That's right, lovers of all things finned and fearsome, the Discovery Channel's annual feeding frenzy for shark lovers is here again, with plenty of new programming, but that's not all that's happening on TV this week. We've also got a season finale on The Wil Wheaton Project, a terrifying eclipse on The Strain, a search for supplies on Falling Skies and more. Plus, we take a look at the ratings battles of shows like Defiance, The Quest and The Last Ship.
Check out the week in TV below. What's on your watchlist?
Highlights of the Week
Shark Week (DISC) Monday-Saturday, Prime time
One-week event! - While we tend to lean more toward science fiction than pure science around these parts, we pay attention when the science gets really awesome, and the Discovery Channel's annual Shark Week never fails to bring the awesome. This week, the fierce marathon of jaws and fins, science and speculation returns to the network, bringing with it a whole new round of documentaries, a nightly talk show and a few things that might not exactly qualify as actual science, but might still be fun. The event's gotten a good bit of flak from the science community and viewers alike in recent years for devoting hours of the event to fictionalized accounts of sea monsters instead of educational programming devoted to actual sharks (come on, Discovery, leave the crazy shark stuff to Syfy), but our anticipation hasn't dimmed yet. Things kick off tonight at 8 p.m. with a hunt for the largest great white sharks on Earth (Jaws Strikes Back), and the programming continues throughout the week with looks at sharks that live in the darkest parts of the ocean (Alien Sharks: Return to the Abyss, Tuesday), a search for the elusive birthplaces of great white sharks (Spawn of Jaws 2: The Birthing, Wednesday), and an exploration of the increasing shark attacks in Hawaii (Sharkageddon, Thursday), among many other programs. Take a look at the complete Shark Week lineup, plus special features including shark cams, at Discovery's website HERE, and check out a preview of the week below.
Defiance (Syfy) Thursday, 8 p.m. - "Painted From Memory"
Last year, Defiance was unveiled by Syfy amid a great deal of fanfare, much of it emphasizing the tie-in videogame that would allow players to become part of the world, but some of it also stressing that this was Syfy returning to a grittier kind of genre series. Indeed, the world of Defiance is one of the richer science fiction worlds you can see on the network right now, and the success of its first season may have been a driving force in getting Syfy to push for more hard genre programming, which we'll see the (hopefully ripe) fruits of in forthcoming series like 12 Monkeys and Ascension. So how's the second season faring? Well, while we certainly can't call it a flop, the show is feeling some diminishing returns after the success of season one. Last year's premiere episode was watched by nearly 3 million viewers in Live+Same Day, and the show's Live+Same viewer numbers for its first season never dipped below 1.6 million. Last season, five of the show's 12 episodes topped 2 million viewers, but this season only one episode so far -- the season-two premiere -- has done that, and just barely. Season two also set a new series low for Live+Same Day viewers with 1.43 million, and since the premiere no episode has managed to get that number past 1.65 million. Is that bad news? Well, it is in the sense that these numbers are lower than season one, but it's not necessarily an indication that the show is doomed. Defiance continues to put up solid numbers in key demographics for Syfy, and even though viewership has dropped, it hasn't really dropped that much. Some shows grow from season to season, some shows slump, and some shows eventually level off. All three such conditions can still spell renewal. And hey, we're not even talking about DVR numbers here. Depending on how many people continue to tune in after the same day, and depending on how many people are checking out past episodes via Amazon Prime, Defiance could close out its second year with quite a healthy audience indeed. This week, Doc Yewll fights to keep her secret hidden, and earth-shattering events create a backlash Defiance must face. Check out a preview below.
The Quest (ABC) Thursday, 8 p.m. - "Save the Queen"
Though you often hear lots of complaining online about the state of reality television, unscripted programming is far from dead. Shows like The Voice and Dancing With the Stars routinely pull in big numbers for their networks, and veterans of the genre like Survivor just keep kicking. So, with that in mind, The Quest seemed to be coming onto the TV scene on pretty firm ground. When you factor in that the show was also riding a wave of positive buzz that included its placement on several major-media "Must Watch" lists the week of its premiere, it seemed the "fantasy reality" series could prove to be something big. Sadly for The Quest, that doesn't look to be the case. The show premiered two weeks ago against a lineup made up entirely of reruns and still only came in third in its timeslot, with fewer than 3 million viewers and a key demo score of 0.7. A rerun of The Big Bang Theory won the slot with more than twice The Quest's demo score. In its second week, the series again finished third in its timeslot behind reruns and dropped both in total viewers and in its demo score. There's always the chance that DVR and streaming could save the show, or that it could see an uptick as word of mouth from the people who are watching spreads, but so far things look a bit bleak for The Quest. Maybe fantasy fans didn't like it because the scenario was predictable. Maybe reality fans didn't like it because of the fantasy elements. Maybe it's just been crowded out by other shows. Whatever the case, unless something changes, The Quest could be over soon.
The Real History of Science Fiction (BBC America) Saturday, 10 p.m. - "Time"
Miniseries finale! - We haven't heard from this BBC America original since May, when the third episode aired. Since then, the network's been using its weekend prime-time slots for scripted programming, but now we finally get to see the closing episode of this four-hour look into science fiction storytelling in literature, television and film. This week, just in time for your Doctor Who preparations, it's all about time, and you can bet the Doctor will be making an appearance alongside many other fellow time travelers from throughout the genre. This may well be the last we see of The Real History of Science Fiction, and though it wasn't always a very in-depth series, it did manage to pull in quite a few sci-fi titans to discuss the concepts at hand, and just seeing that much star power in one place made it worth our while.
The Last Ship (TNT) Sunday, 9 p.m. - "Trials"
A few weeks ago, after its fourth episode aired, The Last Ship was picked up for a second season on TNT, so let's take a look at why. It's not hard to see why the network wants another year of the Michael Bay-produced alternate history drama in which much of the world's been ravaged by a deadly virus: It's lived up to its blockbuster pedigree. Its series premiere pulled in more than 5 million viewers in Live + Same Day, making it the biggest cable premiere of 2014 (it now shares that honor with FX's The Strain), and the hits just kept coming. Though its demo score hasn't been high enough to keep it on par with fellow Sunday hits like The Strain and True Blood, it's still strong, and it's keeping The Last Ship afloat as one of that night's top shows. As far as total viewers go, the series has still not dipped below 4 million viewers for a single, which is pretty impressive on a Sunday night already packed with genre programming, and it's consistently ranked as one of the top 25 cable shows of the week. This summer, TNT has frequently held the disticintion of being the most-watched cable network week-to-week, and its new hit The Last Ship is a big reason why. So we'll see it again next year. This week, Rachel and Chandler seek volunteers for human trials of the vaccine. Check out a preview below.
Monday, August 11
Under the Dome (CBS) 10 p.m. - "Going Home"
Hope to find Sam, Barbie descends deeper into the mysterious tunnel.
Teen Wolf (MTV) 10 p.m. - "Time of Death"
Malia confronts her past, while Scott works on a dangerous plan to draw out the Benefactor.
Gravity Falls (Disney XD) 9 p.m. - "The Golf War"
Mabel challenges Pacifica to a miniature golf-off, and things get out of hand.
Tuesday, August 12
The Wil Wheaton Project (Syfy) 10 p.m. - "For Wil's Eyes Only"
Season finale! - This week, Wil's talking Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and its box-office battle with Guardians of the Galaxy.
Face Off (Syfy) 9 p.m. - "Twisted Trees"
The artists must created their own twisted tree characters as part of a Superhero Foundation challenge.
Wednesday, August 13
Extant (CBS) 10 p.m. - "Nightmares"
Molly discovers footage revealing the real reason she was chosen for a solo mission, and Ethan experiences an unforeseen advancement.
Thursday, August 14
Teen Titans Go! (TOON) 6 p.m. - "Salty Codgers"
Raven is delighted after the other Titans are magically turned into old people.
Adventure Time (TOON) 7 p.m. - "Joshua & Margaret Investigations"
Finn and Jake's parents search the woods for an unearthly menace.
Friday, August 15
Legend of Korra (Nick.com, streaming begins at Noon) - "The Ultimatum"
Hoping to make Korra come to them willingly, the Red Lotus schemes to use Mako and Bolin as leverage.
Saturday, August 16
Outlander (Starz) 9 p.m. - "Castle Leoch"
After learning of her medical skills, the clan elects to keep Claire as a prisoner.
Sunday, August 17
True Blood (HBO) 9 p.m. - "Love is to Die"
Sookie retreats, Eric ponders a dilemma, Jason restrains himself, Sam must make a choice.
The Leftovers (HBO) 10 p.m. - "Cairo"
Meg loses control, while Kevin fears he's losing his grip on reality.
The Strain (FX) 10 p.m. - "Occultation"
Setrakian realizes the danger of the upcoming eclipse, while Eph faces arrest.
Falling Skies (TNT) 10 p.m. - "Til Death Do Us Part"
Tom takes a team to follow the Volm to a supply cash. Maggie and Ben get closer.
Witches of East End (Lifetime) 9 p.m. - "When a Mandragora Loves a Woman"
Joanna and Alex have to put aside their past and search for the Mandragora.
The Lottery (Lifetime) 10 p.m. - "Crystal City"
The President announces the Lottery finalists, and Vanessa makes a discovery about the kidnapping.
Manhattan (WGN) 10 p.m. - "Last Reasoning of Kings"
Frank is haunted by his past. A high-profile guest shakes things up.
What's on your watch list this week? Let us know in the comments, or on Twitter at @blastr!