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    Mohsin Kazmi / Discovery Channel

    Sam Nixon

  • "Naturalist" Paul Rosolie is seen in the Discovery Channel special...

    Mohsin Kazmi / Discovery Channel

    "Naturalist" Paul Rosolie is seen in the Discovery Channel special "Eaten Alive."



Oh, Discovery Channel, how far you have fallen.

It’s no secret that over the last few years the television network, once known for nature and science documentaries, has had a bit of a quality plummet. First “MythBusters” was a hit, and while that show still managed to house some educational value under the guise of blowing shit up for fun, it paved the way for the steady decline that led to the channel’s latest atrocity, “Eaten Alive.”

For those who didn’t tune in Sunday (undoubtedly a wise decision), the special focused on “nature conservationist,” author and schmuck Paul Rosolie as he set out to accomplish every shock-stunt coordinator’s wet dream: being eaten alive by an anaconda and filmed for TV. (Spoiler alert) I’ll save you two hours and skip to the end: He was attacked by the snake, but apparently had a change of heart when the whole, you know, being eaten alive bit was about to happen and tapped out.

Two goddamn hours and nobody gets eaten? Hell, that Jennifer Lopez movie was only 90 minutes, and the snake got like six people.

This latest stunt goes beyond manufacturing a publicity stunt to draw in viewers; Discovery has already made an annual event out of that practice with its “Shark Week” offering. Looking at the highlight reel from this year’s iteration reveals more clips of two assholes in felt-shark costumes making dumb faces and a guy hammering a nail in with his forehead (get it? Hammerhead? ohpleasefuckingkillme) than actual animal footage.

But “Eaten Alive” crosses a line by potentially endangering the animal that supposed conservationist Rosolie claims to find so majestic. I’m not exactly an expert on what would happen when a 20-some-odd-foot snake is forcibly made to regurgitate a squirming jerkoff in a Tyvek suit, but it probably wouldn’t feel too pleasant for the animal.

I have fond memories of coming home from middle and high school and flipping through to Discovery in hopes of finding a glimpse at some far-off part of the natural world to admire. This is the same network that just seven years ago broadcast the American release of “Planet Earth,” one of the most captivating series I’ve ever seen. And it’s just a damn shame that it’s been reduced to what it is now.

Quality nature and science documentaries do still have places to call home, however. PBS has proven to be a reliable source of some damn enthralling works, many of which are available for streaming through Netflix. The most recent example I’ve been turned on to is the three-part “Your Inner Fish.” While I was initially hesitant (thinking it would be a long examination of my spirit mudskipper or whatever), it’s a fascinating and engaging look at the genetic ancestry of the human body, and well worth checking out.

I can’t say it’s likely, but I hope that the backlash and scorn Discovery is earning for “Eaten Alive” bludgeons some integrity back into the heads of those in charge. Because really, seeing James Franco and Seth Rogen in an episode of “Naked and Afraid” pop up when I search for one of my former favorite channels feels like a cruel joke.

Sam Nixon’s “Words From a Nerd” runs every Wednesday in the Colorado Daily.