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New season of 'Flying Wild Alaska' and new 'Deadly Seas' put Alaska on TV, again

Ben Anderson
Discovery Channel photo

Is the number of reality TV cameras to Alaska residents approaching a 1:1 ratio yet? It seems likely, given the litany of Alaska reality TV shows that have come, gone, are yet to arrive -- and even some that never came to be.

A brief, but by no means complete, list of Alaska reality shows illustrates the phenomenon: "Deadliest Catch"; "Ice Road Truckers"; "Sarah Palin's Alaska"; "Bering Sea Gold"; "Coast Guard Alaska"; "Gold Rush: Alaska"; "Goldfathers"; "The Frontiersmen"; "Flying Wild Alaska"; "Mounted in Alaska"; "Hook, Line, and Sisters"; "Alaska: The Last Frontier"; "Alaska Fishermen's Wives"; "Alaska State Troopers"; "Alaska Wingmen"; "Army Wives of Alaska"; and "Missing in Alaska."

Not to mention the numerous reality shows with Alaska-themed episodes, like "Auction Hunters," "American Digger," and "Dirty Jobs," to name a few.

Even so, in the unlikely event that you're jonesing for even more Alaska reality TV goodness, the Discovery Channel hopes to fill that very small void with the debut of two shows on Friday night, one a returning series that may be the best of the Alaska reality crop, and the other the first in a three-part series on dangerous seas.

Getting its debut is "Deadly Seas," a three-part affair spotlighting "violent and baleful bodies of water, and shar(ing) the stories of those who courageously face these wicked watery leviathans over and over again," according to the Discovery Channel.

The series is produced for Discovery by David Pritikin, who is no stranger to the Last Frontier, having also produced an episode of "Bering Sea Gold" and episodes of "Sarah Palin's Alaska."

By email, Pritikin said, "We ordered three episodes of Deadly Seas to pull back the curtain on three of the most dangerous bodies of water, and to share stories of those who earn a living from these waters. The Bering Sea, the North Atlantic and the Gulf of Alaska are main characters in this series; each episode is centered around them." Pritikin didn't specify why only three episodes were made.

The first episode is set in Alaska's Bering Sea, where several other Discovery Channel reality shows are already set, most notably "Bering Sea Gold" and the granddaddy of Alaska reality TV, "Deadliest Catch."

The first episode synopsis makes note of last winter's "mega storm" that thrashed the Bering Straits region, though the preview video for the episode (above) indicates clear skies and relatively calm seas. Paul Schur, communications director with the Discovery Channel, said that the Bering Sea episode was filmed in February and March of 2011.

The June 15 episode will take place in the Gulf of Alaska before transitioning to the North Atlantic for the final episode of the three-part series.

Also debuting Friday is the third season of "Flying Wild Alaska," about Bush pilots working for Era Alaska in some of the state's most remote communities. In the second season, viewers got to see Ariel Tweto -- daughter of Era Alaska Chief Operating Officer Jim Tweto -- complete her first solo flight, the last member of her family to do so. At the same time, pilot and former professional skateboarder John Ponts was transferring from his home base in Unalakleet and learning the ropes on an unfamiliar aircraft.

The third season of "Flying Wild Alaska" will also likely feature last winter's mega storm, though there won't likely be much flying involved. High winds and rough weather would have grounded any planes in the affected areas.

"Flying Wild Alaska" is perhaps the most honest of the Alaska-based reality series, despite some of its more dramatic moments, as pilots pay visits to some of the most remote sites in Alaska -- last season featured trips to Little Diomede -- and visit with real villagers. 

The third season will feature similar storylines, featuring bad weather, dicey landings and unusual cargo. 

"Deadly Seas" premieres tonight at 8 p.m. Alaska time, with "Flying Wild Alaska" making its debut at 9.

Contact Ben Anderson at ben(at)alaskadispatch.com