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Deadliest Catch

Mar 31, 2009 05:00PM ● Published by Super Admin

The best part of my favorite show is during the opening credits. It happens as Bon Jovi sings, “I drive all night, just to get back home.” During the first line, the bow of a crab boat plunges down, cleaving a wave in half. Spray explodes. Over the next line, that image fades into a tight side shot of Skipper Sig Hansen’s head, and for a moment, the spray – which is being raked by a fierce gale – aligns perfectly with Hansen’s blonde swept-back hair, as though one is becoming the other. As the fade-in continues, Hansen slowly turns and glares into the camera with eyes as hollow as sea caves. He looks like a Viking ghost.

“Lucky edit!” says Todd Stanley, when asked about the scene later. For some reason, I don’t believe him. Todd and his brother Doug are the Emmy-award-winning creative forces behind Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch. Not bad for a couple of dropouts from Roseville High School who were lured away by the temptation of being river guides. In fact, it was on the Colorado where they met a fellow guide who shot video in his spare time;  he taught the brothers, and they began their adventure. Long story very short, a decade later they’re in L.A. freelancing for tabloid shows like Extra! when Discovery called. Alaska was on the line.

The brothers agree that being raised among the rolling hills of Roseville and Rocklin prepared them in a way for the rolling nothern seas. “It was the Wild West back then,” says Todd. “Just wide open fields and motorcycles, having a good time, learning about being outside and being on your own.” Doug adds that living so close to world class skiing, rivers and climbing has nurtured their sense of adventure. It also made it impossible to forget where they came from, which is why they both live here now; Doug in Roseville, Todd in Lotus.

On the show, Phil Harris (the Chewbacca look-alike) is one of the captains featured. It wasn’t easy adapting to a camera crew on board his boat, the Cornelia Marie. Harris says plainly, “If you don’t like a guy, it can be a real pain in the [butt].” But Todd, a producer/cameraman, and Doug, a producer and director of photography, earned his respect. “Doug is amazing...he can bring things out of people that they just don’t want to talk about.” And Todd...? “He’s completely different, but every bit as good. And he helped me when things were looking really bad,” says Harris. He’s referring to last season, when he became dangerously ill while still at sea. It became the show’s main storyline. Todd stayed by his side as Harris navigated through bone-jarring seas to get emergency medical attention for what turned out to be a potentially fatal blood clot in his lung. The captain is grateful. “It wasn’t in his job description to stay with me. He did it because he’s a great guy, and he cared.”

Though, normally neither brother would be found holed up in the relative comfort of a warm wheelhouse, an example not lost on their crew. “They’re good mentors,” says Ben Zupo, a Sacramento native who’s worked two seasons as a cameraman. Has he ever seen them do something to make him question their sanity? “...All the time!” Probably not something their parents want to hear.

I asked the guys if they’re ever concerned for their safety.  Todd said he gets too involved with his work to worry. Doug simply announced that he’s yet to see a wave big enough to scare him. Another nugget their parents could likely do without.

So, what about the folks? “In the early days they couldn’t really figure us out,” says Doug. “And they are still quite worried whenever we go to sea because one storm could take out the whole family lineage!” The brothers chuckle at that one. But with the boys hauling in Emmys like the Cornelia Marie hauls in crab, at least the folks are proud. “We’ve finally became bona fide to them!” says Doug. More chuckles.

It’s a long way from the comfort of my couch in Roseville to the bitter cold of the Bering Sea, but thanks to Todd, Doug and my cable provider, I’ll be making the trip again this year. The sixth season of Deadliest Catch starts next month and I can’t wait for Captain Sig’s glare! <hr>
Catch Tom on the Pat and Tom Morning Show on New Country 105.1.

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