With the last drop of ironic enjoyment having long since been squeezed from its otherwise beached husk, SYFY claims the Sharknado series has reached a merciful conclusion with The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time. Always one expecting to be fooled twice, the internet is already wringing its collective hands over whether or not this inexplicably long-running series about a devastating meteorological event filled with hungry sea predators is really calling it a day. As recent trends in television have shown, nothing ever really ends, so viewers can probably take the intent behind this Sharknado’s title about as seriously as anything else this franchise has delivered since it washed on shore in 2013.
For a series whose claim to fame has been mixing deliriously incoherent storytelling with snack-sized cameos from the likes of Jerry Springer, Mark Cuban, Carrot Top, Ann Coulter, David Hasselhoff, Anthony Weiner, Fabio, and many more, The Last Sharknado makes it abundantly clear how little gas is left in either tank. The “final” installment begins with Ian Ziering’s Fin Shepard chasing down a purse-snatching dinosaur in a Humvee before blasting his way through time, seemingly in search of a coherent narrative.
The trip this time includes the oft-overlooked era when Neil deGrasse Tyson was Merlin and helped fight off a bunch of fire-breathing tornado sharks while riding a tamed pterodactyl. Tyson’s undeniable credibility as a wizard aside, his brief cameo in The Last Sharknado is perhaps also the biggest in this final installment. He is joined by Darryl Hammond as George Washington (who sounds suspiciously like Bill Clinton), Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider as an old West sheriff, and Leslie Jordan (Will & Grace, American Horror Story: Coven) as Benjamin Franklin. With the exception of deGrasse Tyson, cameos by Tori Spelling and real-life husband Dean McDermott are the only ones seemingly intended to elicit the same chuckle as, say, Jerry Springer in the first installment.
As with all the other movies, The Last Sharknado is simply a collection of images and noises loosely cobbled together in a way that somehow makes them barely suitable for ironic viewing. There’s the faintest whiff of a story that has something to do with Finn, April (Tara Reid), Nova (Cassandra Scerbo), and sometimes Judah Friedlander, as they travel through time trying to stop the first Sharknado and set the world right again following the events of the last five movies. Fin’s son, Gil (Chris Owen), is also traveling through time, which is supposed to make things more difficult for the heroes, but the reasons why are not entirely clear. There is, however, an attempt to establish some rules to the characters’ time travel, but because the movie’s internal logic is so shoddy and inconsistent, you immediately wonder why it was brought up at all.
But the purpose of watching Sharknado isn’t to see a good story told well; it’s precisely the opposite. That either makes The Last Sharknado critic proof, or, strangely, a shining example of what it was aiming to achieve. It’s oddly challenging to judge something on how bad it is, especially when it’s deliberately intended to be nearly unwatchable. There’s obviously an audience for movies like the Sharknado series, just as there’s an audience for things like The Room, a film that has gone on to epitomize the power of ironic viewing -- that is, watching something objectively terrible, provided it’s part of a larger, shared experience. The Room has its theatrical showings, and Sharknado has (or had) Twitter. But even with the help of raucous crowds and social media hashtags, they're still a slog to get through.
It’s surprising, then, that those who make it to the end of The Last Sharknado will find the series reaches a rather pat conclusion, one that puts all the characters (including the late John Heard) back at the beginning. If any series was going to tease additional sequels, revivals, or reboots in an installment promising to be the last, it’s this one. Yet, in its final moments, The Last Sharknado appears to genuinely live up to its title. Whether it does or not remains to be seen. For now, though, let’s chalk this up as the overdue end to one of the most gleefully incoherent series ever.