I met Thom Beers while at the televised memorial of Capt. Phil. He introduced himself as the creator of “Deadliest Catch”, but I of course knew who he was. I could tell he took great ownership in the show. At the time of Phil’s passing he seemed to be highly involved in all aspects of the series. By most public accounts, his career was built on the back of “Deadliest Catch”.
The New York Times attempts to profile the genre he created in this article but falls short in their attempt. The reasons they cite for the popularity of the “Deadliest Catch” are more simplistic than what the show deserves. In this passage below, the creation of “Deadliest Catch” is explained.
In 1998, a Discovery Channel executive named Steve Burns approached Beers — at the time barely a year into a new career as an independent producer — about making a one-hour special called “Extreme Alaska.” It was supposed to include a 15-minute segment about Alaskan crab fishing, at the time the deadliest occupation in the United States. That January, Beers and two cameramen set out from the Aleutian Island port of Dutch Harbor, where the Bering Sea crab-fishing fleet delivers its catch. The plan was to spend a couple of days out of port on a crab boat called Fierce Allegiance, get the footage and go home.
Instead, Beers and his crew found themselves stuck at sea for a week as the boat battled an uncommonly ferocious storm. Waves swelled to the height of a four-story building. Beers pitched in with the work on deck, only to fall victim to the fisherman’s ailment known as “the claw,” the muscles and joints in his hands knotting up hopelessly. Still, he was aware of the elemental intensity of the footage: the crew lurching back and forth on the slick wood and steel in their orange and yellow rain gear, the prehistoric strangeness of the snow crabs, the terrifying void of the heaving sea. When he got back to California, he called Burns. “Listen,” he said. “There’s something big here.”
This is a good article on Thom Beers and Deadliest Catch. I recommend reading it if your a fan of DC or other Original Productions shows. I may have to provide my take on why the show is popular in the next blog.