Television

Deadliest Catch: Season Six Premiere

Renee Scolaro Mora

The show's real life and death drama comes to the forefront, especially when the boats receive a distress signal from a smaller vessel.


Airtime: Tuesdays, 9pm ET
Cast: Phil Harris, Mike Rowe, Sig Hansen, Keith Colburn, Jonathan Hillstrand
Subtitle: Season Six Premiere
Network: Discovery Channel
Title: Deadliest Catch
Airdate: 2010-04-13
Website
Trailer
What is this? An omen or something?

-- Sig Hansen, Northwestern

Deadliest Catch enters its sixth season much like any other, with the now familiar captains and crews preparing to launch the 2009 king crab season. Every year, we follow the fates of the various vessels, anticipating the peril they face as they endure "the world's most dangerous job" on the unforgiving Bering Sea, hoping to cash in on an $82 million king crab haul. Along with these outdoor adventures, the series also offers "family drama" among all these tough guys.

The new season does bring with it a change. After filming it, Phil Harris, one of the show's best loved captains, died after suffering a stroke on his boat, the Cornelia Marie. Harris' health issues had been a part of the show's narrative for the last two seasons, and he missed out on the 2008 season altogether because of it. Harris' death was widely reported, and Discovery has now added several "Captain Phil Tribute" features (and a Captain Phil Quiz) to its website. Even if the Season Six premiere doesn't specifically mention his death, we all know about it, and so now we're watching to find out when in the season it will unfold.

This awareness adds an eeriness befitting a show that makes no bones about the superstitions, luck, and omens that frame the fishermen's experiences. Suddenly, much of what Harris says and does seems loaded with meaning. When Northwestern captain Sig Hansen and Harris decide to swap two deckhands who, according to the latter, "need to be brought down a smidge or two" (a notion hard to imagine, considering the incessant ridicule that is a part of the drill on these boats), one can't help but worry when one turns out to be Harris' own son, Jake. It's a painful separation for the two made even more terrible for the viewer who knows what's at stake.

Captain Phil's future notwithstanding, the deckhand switch is a refreshing twist to a well known format. For Jake Harris, this means realizing that he took the familiarity of the Cornelia Marie for granted, plus the added humiliation of a demotion (which he takes remarkably well). Jake Anderson, on the other hand, feels duped by Hansen's promise that the switch was going to make him a better fisherman and that this was what is best for him: baiting pots is about the same no matter what boat you're on.

But even as knowing about Captain Phil amplifies some situations in the season opener, it also renders other aspects of the show mundane. Every season features a "Crab Count" scoreboard for each boat, a game-show gimmick that has never been that interesting. This time, it just feels tacky. Likewise, the accusations of crew poaching and insults tossed between rival captains Keith (of the Wizard) and the Time Bandit's Jonathan and Andy Hillstrand, seem particularly juvenile now. (Jonathan Hillstrand whining, "Just stop pretending to be my fucking friend, okay?" is more Mean Girls than manly, and everyone witnessing the throwdown looks pretty uncomfortable.)

Luckily, such squabbles recede into the background before too long. The show's real life and death drama comes back to the forefront, especially when the boats receive a distress signal from a smaller vessel, the Carly Renee. The story of her sinking is captured on a cell phone video camera by a crew member of the first vessel to arrive on scene. While none of the regular crews of Deadliest Catch witnesses the disaster, they do hear of it. The Carly Renee's bewildered and clearly frightened captain is a stark reminder to us that this is far more than mere entertainment for some.

8
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

12 Essential Performances from New Orleans' Piano "Professors"

New Orleans music is renowned for its piano players. Here's a dozen jams from great Crescent City keyboardists, past and present, and a little something extra.

Music

Jess Williamson Reimagines the Occult As Source Power on 'Sorceress'

Folk singer-songwriter, Jess Williamson wants listeners to know magic is not found in tarot cards or mass-produced smudge sticks. Rather, transformative power is deeply personal, thereby locating Sorceress as an indelible conveyor of strength and wisdom.

By the Book

Flight and Return: Kendra Atleework's Memoir, 'Miracle Country'

Although inconsistent as a memoir, Miracle Country is a breathtaking environmental history. Atleework is a shrewd observer and her writing is a gratifying contribution to the desert-literature genre.

Music

Mark Olson and Ingunn Ringvold Celebrate New Album With Performance Video (premiere)

Mark Olson (The Jayhawks) and Ingunn Ringvold share a 20-minute performance video that highlights their new album, Magdalen Accepts the Invitation. "This was an opportunity to perform the new songs and pretend in a way that we were still going on tour because we had been so looking forward to that."

Music

David Grubbs and Taku Unami Collaborate on the Downright Riveting 'Comet Meta'

Comet Meta is a brilliant record full of compositions and moments worthy of their own accord, but what's really enticing is that it's not only by David Grubbs but of him. It's perhaps the most emotive, dream-like, and accomplished piece of Grubbsian experimental post-rock.

Music

On Their 2003 Self-Titled Album, Buzzcocks Donned a Harder Sound and Wore it With Style and Taste

Buzzcocks, the band's fourth album since their return to touring in 1989, changed their sound but retained what made them great in the first place

Reading Pandemics

Chaucer's Plague Tales

In 18 months, the "Great Pestilence" of 1348-49 killed half of England's population, and by 1351 half the population of the world. Chaucer's plague tales reveal the conservative edges of an astonishingly innovative medieval poet.

Music

Country's Jaime Wyatt Gets in Touch With Herself on 'Neon Cross'

Neon Cross is country artist Jaime Wyatt's way of getting in touch with all the emotions she's been going through. But more specifically, it's about accepting both the past and the present and moving on with pride.

Music

Counterbalance 17: Public Enemy - 'It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back'

Hip-hop makes its debut on the Big List with Public Enemy’s meaty, beaty manifesto, and all the jealous punks can’t stop the dunk. Counterbalance’s Klinger and Mendelsohn give it a listen.

Music

Sondre Lerche and the Art of Radical Sincerity

"It feels strange to say it", says Norwegian pop artist Sondre Lerche about his ninth studio album, "but this is the perfect time for Patience. I wanted this to be something meaningful in the middle of all that's going on."

Books

How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.

Film

From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.