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 V.15 No.12 | March 23 - 29, 2006 

Idiot Box

My Crabby Boss

“Deadliest Catch” on Discovery

Whenever I think I hate my job (which, honestly, isn't all that often--maybe during the rare National Lampoon Presents film or the occasional “Skating with Celebrities” results show), my mind drifts toward the pursuit of other occupations. I'm figuring, at this point, the window of opportunity for “astronaut” and “international super spy” has pretty much closed on me. Of course, the other thing that keeps me safely shackled to my desk here at the Alibi is the realization that it could be a hell of a lot worse. I could make my living tarring roofs or filling potholes or--God forbid--writing scripts for “The Simple Life 4.”

Perhaps worst of all, I could be an Alaskan crab fisherman. It is, statistically, one of the deadliest jobs in America. You've got to contend with 40-foot waves, freezing temperatures, swinging 700-pound crab pots and a nearly 100-percent injury rate. No wonder Red Lobster costs so dang much.

So, why, exactly, would anyone volunteer for this job? Well, for one, you can potentially earn an entire year's worth of wages in a few short months. I suppose nine or 10 month's worth of slacking off per year is a good enough reason. To further enlighten us working stiffs, Discovery Channel's documentary series “Deadliest Catch” is returning for another season of greed-and-machismo-fueled fishing.

Last season, the show ended with the termination of Alaska's long-standing “derby”-style fishing quotas. These quotas basically said that X amount of crabs could be caught in a single season. It didn't matter if 100 boats' cargo added up to X or if only one or two boats' cargo added up to the magic number. This fleet-wide quota resulted in an annual Easter egg hunt with boats practically knocking each other out of the water to snatch up as much of that season's catch as possible. (Which may have added to the danger, of course.) Last year, most of the boat captains were speculating on the end of an era.

But here they are, back for more punishment. Although the competition isn't as fierce as in previous years, “Deadliest Catch” is quick to inform us that this season is one of the worst on record in terms of weather (50-knot winds compared to last season's piddly 30-knot winds). Throw in 20-hour shifts and rising fuel costs and you've got a recipe for disaster (or at least the ratings-grabbing promise of such).

As before, “Deadliest Catch” takes 10 episodes to follow the captains and crews of five ships trawling for meaty gold in the icy Alaskan waters. Which ones will make their money, which ones will go broke and which ones will sink into the unforgiving waters of the Bering Sea (delivering some seriously dramatic TV in the process)? At the very least, watching “Deadliest Catch” makes you realize two, very important life lessons. One: My job ain't so bad. Two: Those creampuffs over on “American Idol” don't know the meaning of the word “reality.”

“Deadliest Catch” season two begins Tuesday, March 28, at 7 p.m. on Discovery Channel.

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