Terry Morrow: 'Mermaids' mockumentary smells fishy

This is a joke, right?

The Animal Planet is airing the documentary "Mermaids: The Body Found" (9 p.m. Sunday), in which we're expected to believe the government is covering up the existence of mer-people.

Seriously?

OK. I'm game.

While the documentary is highly questionable as uncovering news that mermaids (and mermen) exist, it is a curious and highly entertaining report as a mockumentary. It is more like one of the sillier episodes of "The X-Files" than anything else.

Even the so-called experts in the fields of dolphins and whales — Dr. Rebecca Davis and Dr. Paul Robertson — come across as actors, not valid authorities.

The whole story starts at the site of beached whales, and a boy claims to have discovered a non-whale body among the carnage. Of course all the boy had was poor video footage, and the body was never seen by anyone else.

In the time after the United States Navy got involved with the cleanup, a body was never found, leading the experts in the documentary to believe the body was taken by the Navy, which, of course, has nothing better to do than hide evidence that mermaids exist.

More than 6.5 million years ago, mankind split off into two groups — ape-like creatures that evolved into humans and their relatives, who looked similar but remained in the sea, also known as "aquatic apes."

"Mermaids" contains flimsy evidence at best. The foremost physical, hard evidence comes in the form of thin blades, perhaps sea-worn shells or, as the documentary suggests, these blades are handmade by humanoid life forms living in the sea.

The experts also say they recovered 30 percent of the remains of an unknown creature from inside a great white shark, and the attributes are that of a human body.

Allegedly the marine creature had hands, not fins, and the hip structure of an upright animal.

Big Foot was not available for comment.

The words "may" and "might" and dozens of minutes of speculation shape the piece.

None of it is convincing.

Still the oddity of "Mermaids" makes it engaging. This documentary could be as staged as "The Blair Witch Project," and it'd still be compelling, the kind of train wreck, can't-turn-away viewing that makes it worth your time.

As a mockumentary, "Mermaids" is hokey but can be given forgiveness for its B-level humor.

"Mermaids" smells like bad fish, as far as being a source of legitimate knowledge. However, as entertainment goes, well, "Mermaids" swims up stream just for its weirdness to put it all out there.

Score: 3 stars (out of five)

Terry Morrow may be reached at 865-342-6445 or morrowt@knoxville.com. His Twitter feed is//blogs.knoxnews.com/telebuddy/.

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