Alibi V.27 No.33 • Aug 16-22, 2018 

Idiot Box

Once Bitten

The Last Sharknado on Syfy

All good things must come to an end. All bad things too. And so, after six years of “mockbuster” foolishness, we must bid a fond (or not so fond, as the case may be) farewell to Syfy’s infamous Sharknado franchise. The sixth and final film, The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time, hits the airwaves this Sunday, Aug. 19.

Back in 2013 Syfy decided to team up with low-budget, direct-to-DVD movie studio The Asylum. Founded in 1997 The Asylum specialized in cheapo knockoffs of Hollywood hits. By hiring washed-up TV actors (Lorenzo Lamas! David Chokachi! Carmen Electra!) and employing the cheapest CGI effects money could buy, Transformers became Transmorphers, The Day the Earth Stood Still became The Day the Earth Stopped, Jurassic World became Triassic World, Pacific Rim became Atlantic Rim. You get the idea.

Syfy and Asylum decided to parody Discovery Channel’s long-running “Shark Week” promotion (a basic cable staple since 1988), airing the preposterous disaster mash-up Sharknado. Directed by Anthony C. Ferrante (Headless Horseman) and written by Thunder Levin (Mutant Vampire Zombies From the ’Hood), the film told the story of a freak cyclone that scooped up man-eating sharks and dropped them on Los Angeles. Fighting off this swirling disaster were beach bar-owning surfer Fin Shepard (“Beverly Hills 90210” C-lister Ian Ziering) and his ex-wife, April (Hollywood flameout Tara Reid). In the end the humans won. (By blowing up the cyclone with a bomb.) Both self-mockingly “bad” and quite literally bad, the film was nonetheless a ratings bonanza.

Four increasingly silly sequels followed. (Sharknado 2: The Second One was the series MVP, luring 3.87 million viewers in 2014.) Among the developments: a sharknado hit New York, David Hasselhoff showed up as Fin’s astronaut dad, sharks landed on the moon, April died and came back as a cyborg and Tara Reid wrote a book (the least realistic thing in the whole series). Among the winking cameos surrounding the sharky shenanigans: Downtown Julie Brown, Bo Derek, Mark McGrath, Cheryl Tiegs, David Faustino, Gilbert Gottfried, Steve Guttenberg, Donna Mills, Wayne Newton, Gena Lee Nolin, Dr. Drew Pinsky, Kathy Lee Gifford, Al Roker, Paul Shaffer, Carrot Top, Adrian Zmed and Mark Cuban. By the time 2017’s Sharknado 5: Global Swarming rolled around, the low-budget series had degenerated into repetition (the sharknado is in London now! in Rome! in Cairo!) and drop-ins from a lot of very wrinkled “stars” (Charo, Samantha Fox, Bret Michaels, Nichelle Nichols, Geraldo Rivera, Olivia Newton-John, Greg Louganis, Fabio).

If you feel the need to refresh your memory, however, you can wallow in an all-day Sharknado marathon courtesy of Syfy. On Sunday, Aug. 19, the network will air Sharknado (8am), Sharknado 2: The Second One (10am), Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! (12pm), Sharknado: The 4th Awakens (2pm) and Sharknado 5: Global Swarming (4pm). The marathon is topped off by the premiere of The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time (6pm and 8:02pm), in which Fin and April’s mysteriously grown-up son (Dolph Lundgren—don’t ask) takes his dad on a trip through time (Nazis! dinosaurs! Noah’s ark!) to stop the sharknadoes once and for all.

So, goodbye and thanks, Sharknado. You were dumb and cheap, but—as advertised—you had sharks. In a tornado.

The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time airs Sunday, Aug. 19 at 6pm on Syfy.