River Monsters? Well, there is a river, says Saul Sherry
To be fair to the Intense Angler, the boat is on the Congo. It’s not his first time here either, as he alludes to throughout the show. Years ago he searched unsuccessfully for a mythical fish so big it would drag unsuspecting fishermen to the their deaths. “Me and this river have some unfinished business”, Wade declares. At this point, we all realise that River Monsters is a documentary in the way that a jelly bean is a functioning human kidney.
Or is it? Suddenly he is delving into the heart of Africa, areas of mineral richness which have been exploited by Europeans, leading to extreme poorness. But no, it’s an associative game. Poorness leads to toughness, meaning that Wade the Zealous Gill Killer is tough. He’s the Chuck Norris of angling. The Ross Kemp of Rex Hunt’s world.
Next thing you know he is poking around with a small half-dead catfish. Clearly a true Extreme Fisherman. “Toothed Lungfish,” he says, fingering someone else’s catch again. “Looks like it could eat a fish.” Clearly not lying about the Biologist bit either.
All this fish talk isn’t just boring me, as Captain Scale Smotherer switches again to how violent life can be. Every time he mentions how weird something is, we are treated to a burst of X-files wobbly light effects. Suddenly fish hooks are flying off the side of the boat and embedding themselves in flesh (or cloth, probably). Blood splatters across wood, it is gratuitous. Gratuitously shit.
“I’m in the Congo, searching for a giant catfish,” he reminds us. Which sums it up, really. He’s also making out this normal fishing village out to be something from the Heart of Darkness. When the fish does arrive, its an anticlimax because you are expecting Marlon Brando to pop out of the water with cotton wool stuffed in his cheeks.
Well, it’s not just that. It’s also the fact that the fish he catches aren’t huge at all. He lands two normal size fish, but is quick to point out that “two fish can mean double the power.” Extreme Fisherman, Biologist and now Physicist, it would seem.
Turns out there is no big fish, it’s just people getting snagged on their own hooks. Less River Monsters and more Angling Safety Tips, I think.