Deadliest Catch – The beginning of goodbye to Captain Phil Harris

Deadliest Catch – The beginning of goodbye to Captain Phil Harris

If you are not watching “Deadliest Catch” this season, you are missing some of the most gripping and personally compelling story telling on television.  The show has always been good and has always been entertaining – but this season it has raised the bar.

In today’s world of 24-hour news and instant access, there are very few secrets.  For that reason, I don’t feel bad in talking about what has made this season of  “Deadliest Catch” so riveting, or why I am both looking forward to, and dreading, next week’s 2 hour special.  During the course of filming this season of the show, Captain Phil Harris of the Cornelia Marie, suffered a massive stroke and ultimately passed away.  When the news of his death hit the wires in February, it was shocking.  Even though the show follows men who partake in one of the deadliest jobs on the planet, you still – in many ways – think, “Hey, this is TV – nothing REALLY bad is going to happen, is it?”  Well, this is true reality TV, and the reality is always going to win out.

I was torn as to what to think when I started watching this season.  How would Discovery handle Phil’s death?  When would it happen?  What would they broadcast?  It was stressful and at times uncomfortable watching show.  Knowing what was coming only served to focus my attention on each moment spent on the Cornelia Marie.  Knowing what was going to happen – and knowing that the men on the boat DIDN’T know what was going to happen – created the kind of drama and generated the kind of empathy that simply cannot be scripted.  It was real, and it was hard.

I read once that, in today’s world many people form the same attachments to the familiar faces and characters on TV, as they do so some of the friends in their lives.  I don’t know if that is true – but I do know that I have come to care about the men of “Deadliest Catch”.  I’ve invested my time and emotion into the stories that they tell each week, and the small glimpse of their lives that they share.  I’ve come to look forward to the time that I get to spend with them each week.  That’s why next week will be so difficult.

Next week will mark the end of Phil’s journey.  I’m sure that it will be handled with the same grace and authenticity that has become the hallmark of the show. We have been given an unvarnished look at what happened during Phil’s last trip on the boat – the good and the bad.  From the confrontation he had with his youngest son Jake about his drug addiction, to the tender moments shared with his sons, reminiscing over old photographs shortly before his stroke.  We have been lucky to be witness to some small part of Phil’s life and for that, I would like to thank him.  Next week, unfortunately, we will bear witness to his death.  It will be tough to watch, but I will be there to pay my respects.

© 2010, The Word Zombie. All rights reserved.

13 Replies to “Deadliest Catch – The beginning of goodbye to Captain Phil Harris”

  1. Phil is irreplaceable.I have been tearing up all season . I think it has been handled with class and grace. This is whole different level of reality. It’s the part that touches you where you live. It brings out the compassion in people and has them express it.We can thank Phil for this because he allowed us to share his journey to the end of the road. A lot of people have never faced death in their lives. They have to face it or not watch. The After the Catch shows hosted by Mike Rowe have been real and not pandering to sympathy . It’s ironic that it was scheduled for New Orleans. It makes you think the Heavens approve of this show and plan to use it to help people. Discovery has gone where no one has gone for sure. I think people are going to cry openly for Phil’s story. We certainly will never forget this man and this season.

  2. Good, thought writing. There is definitely something to the idea of spending time with someone (watching them on television) can add up to caring about them.

  3. I’ve been watching the show since the start & find myself fascinated to see what each season brings. I find myself feeling like they are part of my family! Even the embolism 2 seasons ago was tough to watch but nothing compared to this season! As I read all the reports I cried at the loss of a Manila never really met but feel I knew personally. With each show this season I’ve waited with anticipation to see how this story would be handled. The sorrow is so raw & difficult to watch I can only say thank you for being allowed to be part of something so deeply private while paying respect to Phil himself. My heart breaks for the boys as they spend the last bit of time with their, I know how they feel having to say goodbye to my own father after a long battle with cancer.

    Phil, you are deeply missed & I will forever be grateful for the time you shared with me each season. R.I.P. & smooth sailing Captain Phil. You are deeply loved by your fans.

  4. I totally agree with whoever said that “many people form the same attachments to the familiar faces and characters on TV, as they do so some of the friends in their lives”, and couldn’t have said it better myself. Great blog…by the way it was Jake who, sadly, had the drug addiction, not Josh. Josh is older than Jake.

  5. Thanks for the catch on Jake – I’ve corrected it. Glad to know you enjoyed the post and the blog. Hope you come back and visit!

  6. I feel for the boys.It is so rough to have to try to accept something like a sudden illness and death just out of no where.I have been thru it myself and no matter how old you are or rather you are male or female,it is no easier.I am so inspired to watch Josh handle this with such grace and he held up and did what had to be done when he needed to sort out his own emotions.God speed Phil.Watch over your boys,they will need it.

  7. R.I.P.O.T.B.S. (Rest In Peace On The Bering Sea) to you, Captain Phil Harris, and to say sorry for the loss of a true captain, a true friend, for those of Dealiest Catch.

  8. capt. phil well be in our hearts and always be with us and his boys too hope they keep up ther chin stay strong GOD BLESS the whole deadly catch family and friends and crew

  9. Cindy,Wow, You said it the best,I knew i had to rite some thing,as never missing 1 from the start, and You hit the nail on the Head, Also to Jake anderson, That Poor Kid,what hes been thru,kinda been over lookeded,But were all pulling for you also Pal!!!!!!!,, And to Phil,as Cindy said,they do become part of your family,, RIP,Good budddy, Phil, Jack

  10. Great article which I found from the Deadliest Catch Twitter account.

    I have become a huge fan of the show over the years, to the point that I am sure I have watched all the episodes so far at least twice. Riveting for me since there has always been a lot of myself that I found in all the different Captains and Crew from the various boats that have been featured.

    Great show and yes they do become like family to where I feel their pain and their excitement over their successes. The camaraderie among the fishermen is impressive and I am sure that will be the toughest part for me this week, seeing the way these tough brothers react to the passing of one of their own.

    RIP Phil and my prayers go out to the Harris family and the extended family.

    Jason Hobbs

  11. To the Crew: I am so honored to send you guys this. My name is Dawn Tucker widow of Richard Tucker who was a Navy Vet 1969-1974 and also lived once in Maine and loved the seas and fishing. He wrote a song about his time at sea and had a great career as a musician and as a welder for 30 years until he passed away on 9-29-07, this was his masterpiece of his memories being at sea and I feel I should share it with you in memory of the captian also. A good fan put together a slide show of what he had invisioned his song to be. I am so proud of his talent of singing and writing. I hope you enjoy this song called “whales Tales” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSDjhzOkmIE

    May the Captain and Richard Tucker sail the seas forever……..RIP will miss you both

    Dawn Tucker

  12. To Josh,Jake, and the crew!!..Words can’t describe the feeling I am having and the dread of tomorrow’s episode where we have to say so long to Capt. Phil (episode- July 13th)..The thought of it just puts a big lump in my throat..I’ve been wondering if I can ever watch Deadliest Catch again, but I’m sure I will..I will always love the Cornelia Marie and her crew!!..My heart goes out to all of Capt. Phil’s family,friends, and most of all Josh,Jake, and the Cornelia Marie crew!!!..I know that Capt. Phil is riding the waves of the crystal blue seas there up in heaven and still sniffing out the crab by smelling those CRAB FARTS!!!LOL..May you always ride those waves and you will forever live in all of our hearts!!!..R.I.P. Captain. Phil Harris!

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