Deadliest Catch is a long-running documentary about American fishermen targeting Alaskan king crab in the Bering Sea. The show began in 2005 and to date there have been 130 episodes over nine seasons. Deadliest Catch has been a massive success for the Discovery Channel and is shown in over 150 different countries, with the success of the show meaning that new series are almost certain to be commissioned in the future. The programme covers the king crab commercial fishing season and follows crews working out of ports in Alaska. Over twenty-five different vessels have featured on Deadliest Catch with the Wizard, Northwestern, Time Bandit and Cornelia Marie being some of the most commonly featured. All are large and powerful vessels, able to handle the harsh weather of the Bering Sea. The vessels are fitted out with hydraulic crane systems on board to haul and winch up the crab pots which weigh many hundreds of kilograms when full of crab.
The crews of the ships in Deadliest Catch operate in one of the most hazardous working environments in the world, with much of the focus of the programme given over to the danger these fishermen put themselves in by going out to sea. These dangers are not overstated – on average one fisherman a week dies during the king crab season, and on some vessels the injury rate can reach 100%. With expensive production values Deadliest Catch is well made and entertaining. The danger of this kind of fishing in wild seas is portrayed well, few other TV shows will have a moment as dramatic as the time the crew of the Time Bandit see a man fall overboard a nearby ship and have to race to rescue him. It is at times sold as a reality-style show with the trials and tribulations of crew being well documented, and since the show has an episodic structure the relationships and arguments between crew members can be followed. There are at time blazing arguments between crew but also humour provided with the pranks the men play on each other and the initiation rituals that greenhorn (rookie) crew members endure.
Although deadliest catch is not entirely relevant to British viewers in terms of the species caught it is still highly entertaining viewing. There are moments of total drama and humour in every episode, and once you get to know the personalities of the captains and crew of each vessel the show becomes even more engrossing. It is not difficult to see how Deadliest Catch has become successful the world over.
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