‘Deadliest Catch’ Preview: Rough Seas Ahead As Capt. Phil’s Death Nears

by | July 13, 2010 at 12:03 PM | Deadliest Catch, TV News

Captain Phil Harris with sons Jake and Josh on Deadliest Catch (Discovery)

Captain Phil Harris with sons Jake and Josh on Deadliest Catch (Discovery)

It’s rough seas in more ways than one on tonight’s ‘Deadliest Catch,’ as we say goodbye to the late Capt. Phil in an emotional two-hour farewell.

As the dramatic clip below shows, one of the Bering Sea’s legendary storms churns up plenty of trouble for the fishing fleets’ boats and crewmen. And as if that is not enough, it’s also the night that Phil Harris, the captain of the Cornelia Marie, will pass away.

Fans of ‘Deadliest Catch’ have long known the end was near; previous episodes have been leading up to the moment tonight when Capt. Phil dies. He died last Feb. 9 in an Anchorage hospital after suffering a sudden stroke Jan. 29 while unloading a recent catch. He was 53.

On the show, Capt. Phil suffered his stroke just a few weeks ago, in the June 22 episode. In tonight’s episode, the end finally comes, but you won’t see the moment of death.

‘Deadliest Catch’ camera crews were allowed to film scenes inside Harris’ hospital room, but when it looked like he was taking a turn for the worse, the camera crews tastefully left the room, and Harris died off-camera, surrounded by family and friends.

Watch ‘Bering Sea Power’ Below:

If his death had been filmed, and then shown, it would have been one of the few times such a death was ever aired. TV has occasionally shown moments of death, captured by news crews or security cameras and caused by violence – including wars, crimes and highway accidents. But quieter deaths, such as individuals succumbing to diseases or other circumstances, have been rare.

One such “other circumstance” was the death shown on a notorious episode of CBS’ ’60 Minutes’ in November 1998, when the show aired videotape supplied by Dr. Jack Kevorkian that showed Dr. K administering the fatal drugs that would result in the assisted suicide of a patient suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease. The patient, Thomas Youk, 52, was seen basically nodding off and falling asleep, albeit permanently. The stunt led to Kevorkian’s conviction for second-degree murder.

Preview: The toll Phil’s health has taken on sons Jake and Josh

Four years earlier, ABC’s ‘Primetime Live’ aired the death of a man from Holland who was suffering from inoperable cancer and chose not to be treated. Instead, he chose to die at home, gradually and naturally – a process he agreed to be filmed for a TV special about life and death. ABC bought the show and aired it in the U.S. The man died peacefully and was seen losing consciousness and appearing to fall asleep.

Capt. Phil Harris’ final episode airs tonight at 9 p.m. on Discovery, followed by ‘After The Catch’ at 10 p.m., a special tribute to everybody’s favorite fisherman.

If you were producing ‘Deadliest Catch,’ or making programming decisions at Discovery, how would you have handled Capt. Phil’s death? After all, this is a reality show. Under those circumstances, don’t you think they should have been allowed to film it?