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'Sharknado' jumps the shark -- please, Syfy, no more

Commentary: The unnecessary fourth installment of the TV movie bites, and all the flying cows and fighting strippers in the world can't save it.

Ian Ziering mechs up in "Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens."

The Sharknado concept is wearing about as thin as star Ian Ziering's hair, but there was a time when it hit a nice note of summer weirdness.

Past Sharknados have included Ziering cutting himself out of a shark with a chainsaw, a shark getting vacuumed up by a cleaning lady, shark-fighting in space, Tara Reid's character giving birth inside a shark, a shark being tossed inside a pizza oven and, well, you get the idea.

But this year? It's like the channel forgot to make "Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens" until two weeks ago and just had to ram together a script based on cartoons a fourth-grader drew on his math folder.

The TV movie aired in the US Sunday and will bite Australia on Monday and the UK on Tuesday.

In addition to Sharknados, the script threw in Sandnados and Lavanados, Bouldernados and Nukenados, to the point where you felt like that "Far Side" dog, just hearing "blah blah blah Nado blah blah." Viewers voted that Tara Reid's supposedly dead character should return to the series, and she was...bionic? Nuclear-powered? Iron Woman? A robot run by Gary Busey? The awkwardly flying Puma Man? It was never clear.

The "celebrity" cameos still flew fast and furious, but Syfy should seriously think about adding pop-up-video-style captions to identify them.

Vince Neil finds out that what gets eaten by a shark in Vegas, stays in Vegas.


Sure, you'll recognize Vince Neil and Carrot Top, but you'd better brush up on your UFC and MMA personalities and obscure reality-show and YouTube "stars" or there'll be long stretches when you have no idea who these faces appearing for all of five seconds are. Same deal with the homages to various pop-culture moments. The "house lands on the Wicked Witch of the West" joke is about as fresh as the flying monkeys' armpits. Reid lifting a car off a kid a la Superman from Action Comics No. 1 felt so random I'm still not sure it was intended.

This year's film started in Vegas, but jumped around like an old TV with vertical-hold problems.

The Vegas setting was actually a fun one -- Ziering stabbed sharks with the wheel of a pirate ship and a Chippendale dancer punched out one shark with his pelvis. But did we need to spend two seconds in St. Louis to watch the Gateway Arch crumble, and another two in Seattle to watch the Space Needle fall, another two with the Liberty Bell?

I'm sure Great-grandpa Zeke appreciated that long drawn-out bit about going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, but he may have been the only one.

You can't, of course, judge "Sharknado" like a regular movie. It's meant to take a ludicrous premise and stretch it, piling on more and more absurdity until the whole thing blows up like Mentos in Diet Coke. But you can judge it by whether it entertains, and when you find yourself praying for your own bloody deliverance, I think you can safely say this idea has jumped the shark.