Last year, I commented at my social networking sites that, while watching The Deadliest Catch on the Discovery Channel, I had just seen quite possibly the best moment I had ever observed on television. While I am not a huge television fan, I do watch a number of series with the compliments of the DVR so I can fastforward through the commercials. With that handy-dandy tool, I have found myself watching more television than ever, and thankfully in less time.
One of the programs I do make room for is The Deadliest Catch.
Those who follow this reality television program know it follows the dangers of fishing for crab off of the coast of Alaska. They also know of the drama surrounding the series this year. One of the most beloved captains featured on the show, Phil Harris, died this year due to complications related to a stroke. The struggles of the family, crew, and cast of the program took reality television to a new place. As a result, this already outstanding series had one of the most memorable seasons of any television series in history.
This DVD series is in a word, OUTSTANDING! From the cinematography to sound, from the storyline, to cast, there are few negatives one could find. There is also the transfer of the series from television to DVD which is done in such a high quality. One cannot only enjoy this phenomenal series, but experience the emotion, hard work, sacrifice, and tragedy. We obtain some understanding that the luxuries we enjoy in life, in this case crab meat, come at a cost from people who take their work seriously, and find joy through their own difficulty to not only make a fair living wage, but to also enjoy the thing we often ignore: life.
In the five previous seasons of The Deadliest Catch, we hear each episode of the dangers of the work these men engage in. We see through the eyes of the camera lens the danger and hard life these individuals live. As a result, we have gotten to know many of the crew, the actual fishermen who fish these deadly waters. This season, however, with the death of Captain Phil Harris, we experienced for the first time the heartbreak of death.
In life we are often challenged with the reality that one of the last things we do is die. We live as if we don’t always recognize this, nor do we recognize the reality of mortality. Programs like this can help us in that discovery. This boxed set, thankfully, includes a special disc titled “After the Catch.” Here we follow the life of Captain Phil, his two sons, and others who loved him as they come face to face with the mortality of a loved one… not an acquaintance, but a father, a co-worker, a friend.
We get to see not only the impact of mortality on the cast of the series, but, in some of the most moving sequences, also the crew who are a part of the show. Like no other moment I have seen on television, is the reality of mortality so powerfully addressed. While the entire DVD set is exceptional, the special features disc “After the Catch” is well worth the entire cost of the set.
I have to admit that I wish the exceptional nature of this season didn’t come at the cost it did. That wouldn’t be real life, though; it wouldn’t be ‘reality.’ Many are rightfully critical of ‘reality television’; there are, however, some good programs that present reality, but few that have lasted as long, or done as well, as The Deadliest Catch. This program inspired quality in reality television, in my opinion; the willingness to capture and show real fishermen, in real situations, and in real life and death is a part of the reason of the success of this show.
This season, we saw and witnessed love, compassion, and reflection on life, and yes, even death. Not all deal with the situation in the same way. Some are called to be brothers that become fathers. Some are called to be friends to those who are hurting, to visit those in the hospital, and even to dance at the joy of life, and the gratefulness of memories. In fact, we see that we shouldn’t just reflect on the spiritual aspects of death, but the need to get our spiritual lives together in life. It is in life that we can truly celebrate.
It is in the death of those that lived life that we can find a place to celebrate even in death. Not because of what we may have done, but because of the way one we love lived. In that regard, Captain Phil Harris not only lived, he inspired others to live. I have a strong suspicion that, if watching this series, you will be inspired as well, just as I have, to live life. None of us are guaranteed a tomorrow; there is more to life than living, but there is also life in and after death. What we do with that life is determined in part by how we live, and may we all live life as God intended us to live. Thanks, Captain Phil Harris, for inspiring me to try to do just that.