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Back on the horse doing something productive, baby. Previously announced as “Sea Dogs” during my last extravagant announcement post and initially announced as “Megalo Don” two years ago, I’m finally ready to sea this thing through just in time for Shark Week

 

Plot

The Graphic Nature Channel is rolling out their very own answer to Shark Week in the form of “MegaloMania”, another week-long celebration of all things shark. However, the producers and network executives never counted on the water in that well of content to run red.

 

Characters

Manny Mangrove: A mild-mannered and wimpy lemon shark who has moved his family away from their original group after an incident that almost resulted in the predation of his two kids. Since moving out to Bikini Bottom, he’s cultivated a career in showbiz, taking up roles that most sharks would never consider doing. He hopes to use his career as a platform to show the world that sharks aren’t mindless killing machines.

Kai Mangrove: Manny’s wife and mother to their two pups. She saved her children from a near-fatal encounter with another adult shark in their group. In contrast to what’s customary for most sharks, she and her husband take care of and raise their kids themselves rather than leaving them alone to their own devices.

Pan & Thalassa Mangrove: Manny and Kai’s pups. They are regularly ridiculed by their peers for being so easy to step on despite the fact that they’re apexes.

Nigel Darnell: Once seen as a serious rival to Frenchy Barbeaux in the field of marine biology, he has since devolved into an overzealous, opportunistic content producer for The Graphic Nature Channel. The creator and innovator of the first annual “MegaloMania” television event, failure to produce ratings against Shark Week could mean the end of his tenure with the network.

Hieronymus Glove: Founder of the Hieronymus Glove Company and creator of all things glove-related in your childhood. However, most members of his own species collectively frown upon his “contributions” to the world, seeing him as profiting off the suffering of other sharks by marketing the image of man’s glove for his benefit. To help preserve the good image of both himself and his company, he bought out The Graphic Nature Channel to have it serve as a platform to better represent his species (and to pump more content into his Glove+ streaming service).

Kea Blanco: A great white shark handpicked by Darnell and Glove to be the official “Face of MegaloMania”, their “Megashark”. Having previously sold his soul to shill Anchor Arms, Blanco has somehow sunken even deeper, morally speaking.

Sergeant Sam Roderick: A sleeper shark and an active duty member of the Ōma’o Corps. Descended from sharks who fought in The Great Shark Wars many years ago, the Sergeant dedicates his life to carrying on the good fight as they once did.

Gill Hammerstein: A hammerhead shark and executive producer for “MegaloMania”, who was personally recruited by Glove himself following a private screening of the “Hammerstein Cut” of the Mermaidman and Barnacle Boy Movie.


 

Episode 1: Breakthrough

Following another eventful day of bringing park goers smiles and happy memories as a cast member at Glove World, Manny Mangrove is scouted by producers for The Graphic Nature Channel and is offered what’s described as a “breakthrough role” for the channel’s upcoming MegaloMania marathon, finding the story of the Mangrove family to be something worth documenting. Manny finds it hard to refuse such a tempting offer, so he eagerly accepts, convincing his family that it’ll get their story out there and send the message that not all sharks have to be violent, bloodthirsty and without emotion. Manny strongly believes that his family is living proof that sharks are perfectly capable of going about healthy, non-violent lives as a cohesive family unit. 

Manny and his brood are instructed by Darnell and Hammerstein to undertake a long, quirky road trip to The Palauan Shark Sanctuary, where their story will conclude. However, a quirky shark family road trip just isn’t enough to beat Shark Week on Night 1 of the ratings war, prompting Nigel to take some “creative liberties” over the direction of  MegaloMania going forward.

Before the Mangrove family could even reach Palauan waters and educate viewers on all the species who found salvation there, their boat mobile is violently intercepted by a crew of hunters. Manny offers to pay them with some of the MegaloMania money that he’s earned to make up for whatever they may be after, but the hunters won’t bite. The Mangroves are all forcibly removed from the vehicle and are about to be hooked to lines that will drag them up to the ocean’s surface. Manny begs for help from anybody on the Graphic Nature crew documenting their journey, but his begging falls on deaf ears.

Manny is mocked on camera for crying out for help when he’s perfectly capable of defending himself and his family. Kai and the pups are at least putting up a struggle against their attackers, but they’re each viciously clubbed for their efforts. Manny tries reasoning with the hunters, but it gets him nowhere as he gets dropped onto his back and clubbed as well. This act puts Manny into a state of tonic immobility. He watches helplessly as his children are hooked up and yanked to the surface, leaving a bloody trail behind them as they ascend further and further.

Kai is somehow able to break free from her line, though still pierced by the hook. Without hesitation, she swims up after her captive children. Manny is left behind as the hunters quickly give chase to her at speeds that seem very inhuman for the normal, everyday human. One of the hunters appeared to be bleeding heavily, possibly Kai’s doing. Manny then appears to lose consciousness.

15 minutes later, he awakens to the sound of a few splashes on the surface. He finds that he is now able to turn himself over upright, but grimaces from the injuries he received. He looks up and sees three familiar figures floating down towards him. Believing that Kai was successful in rescuing the pups, he rushes upward to reunite with them. What he finds is, indeed, his family, but he finds them in a state that Manny wouldn’t even wish on his enemies. Their fins had all been cut off. Their bodies, now incapable of even staying afloat, discarded like trash.

 

Trivia

  • Manny’s first SpongeBob appearance as the “before image” in the Anchor Arms commercial is referenced while he is listing off his acting credits to Gill Hammerstein.

  • SpongeBob’s casual racism towards Manny and his family during the events of “SpongeGuard on Duty” is mentioned specifically by Manny when convincing his family to sign on for MegaloMania.

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Episode 2: Return to Form

Manny remains with his family. With their boat mobile heavily damaged by the shark finners and no signal to be had on his shellphone, seeking out any help feels far too unrealistic at this point. Manny can only hope now to provide them some comfort.

Kai is able to regain her bearings enough to faintly speak to her husband. She laments their current situation, bringing up how they left their original group in order to escape the barbarity, only to face sheer brutality and suffer this barbaric fate. She’s come to regret leaving since the numbers meant safety. Manny brings up that members of their own tried to prey upon their pups, they had no choice but to leave that life behind. Kai says that sharks were meant to keep order in the ecosystem, how it’s in their nature to keep that ecosystem strong by weeding out the weak. How their children may not’ve lived long, but at least their deaths would’ve meant. She sees no meaning in them dying like how they are now.

Inching ever closer to death’s door, Kai realizes she made many mistakes in her life. Perhaps she wouldn’t be literally drowning in her sorrow right now if she hadn’t stepped up as parent for Pan and Thalassa. Kai’s parents abandoned her like all sharks would and she got to live a fuller life. Perhaps if Pan and Thalassa weren’t so coddled, they could’ve become stronger than they are now and probably wouldn’t even be in this situation. Manny sees little point in dwelling on the hypotheticals and what-ifs, Kai interrupts him by posing the thought that maybe this all wouldn’t’ve happened if she had just cut ties with Manny like she was supposed to. Sharks have never been meant to mate for life, let alone commit themselves to union through marriage. Love was never meant to be in the cards. She admits they’ve only committed taboo, and perhaps this is their punishment for it. Manny committed to MegaloMania to show the world that sharks can live peacefully and normally, but he’s only gonna show the world just how weak they truly are by straying from their true natures. Manny can’t find the words to retort to any of this.

Kai notes that she and especially the pups haven’t much time left, but there’s still a window of hope that their deaths can still mean something. Manny just needs to muster up the strength to grant them that serenity, which his nature won’t allow him to do. This draws the ire of his son, Pan, who uses his final breaths to insult his father. He grills Manny for his weakness, reiterating what his mother said earlier about they weren’t meant to weed out the weak. Manny should be dying alongside them right now, he’ll, he should be dying INSTEAD of them. Pan says that being a shark used to mean something, they would command fear and respect, but now they are the ones being constantly disrespected and living in constant fear. And all in some useless effort to fix something that isn’t broken. Pan attempts to lunge at Manny, teeth out, but he his injuries prevent him from doing so. Pan repeats that “we don’t need fixing” until his final breath. Pan’s body trickles down to the ground along his sister’s, eyes open and glazing over.

Having missed his opportunity to grant his children peace, Manny vows to Kai that he won’t let their deaths mean nothing. Kai voices her doubts, telling him that becoming even more sob stories to garner more pity for their species isn’t “something”. And just as sharks should find the concept of love meaningless, so too should they find holding grudges and seeking revenge. Emotion is a shark’s true killer. Kai passes on, leaving Manny with nothing but those words. Manny breaks down in prayer. He prays to Neptune, to somebody, anybody, to help ease his own pain, but he stops himself. He deserves to suffer through every bit of it, for as le long as he continues breathing.

The finale of the three-part “Sharky Road Trip” with the surprise ending proved to be a hit with audiences, becoming the first piece of MegaloMania programming to beat Shark Week in the ratings. Darnell is pleased with the results, but Hammerstein is fuming at all the abrupt changes to his original ending. Hieronymus Glove wasn’t amused either by the shock, bloody ending to a program that was meant to be entirely educational and approachable to younger audiences. Darnell argues that the ratings prove that what they put out there was approachable to ALL audiences, the demographic analytics tell the story: People want to see sharks do what they do best, and that’s get bloodied. And the grisly fate of the Mangroves will only serve to strengthen shark conservation efforts. Darnell reiterates that MegaloMania is meant to be a celebration of ALL things shark, which includes all the bad things that come with them. No matter if they’re the ones attacking or being attacked, this is what gets people tuning in to Shark Week every single year.

Hammerstein slowly warms up to the idea due to all the story possibilities that could be at MegaloMania’s disposal. Hieronymus mulls it all over. With their original star becoming a victim, he wants MegaloMania’s next star to be anything BUT. They need a killer instinct, a will to survive. He also wants a shark that’s lovably marketable and who can carry the brand for years to come. Hammerstein has just the shark in mind.

Hieronymus sends out an edict that’ll affect all MegaloMania programming going forward: More Violence, More Grit, and More of Life’s Harsh Realities. No more coddling, no more pity parties. MegaloMania shall become the destination where sharks of all shapes and sizes return to form.

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