KODIAK -- The Weather Channel received what may have been its first barroom round of applause Wednesday night, as "Coast Guard: Alaska" made its TV debut in front of an appreciative crowd at the Golden Anchor.
The social hall at Kodiak's Coast Guard base held about 50 appreciative fans who applauded, laughed and teased cast members in attendance as the new show was seen for the first time by some of the people it stars.
"It always looks different on TV," said Petty Officer 1st Class Claude Morrissey, a rescue swimmer who appears in the episode with his family.
At one point in the episode, Morrissey was filmed donning his rescue gear, and friends in the audience began teasing him.
"Hey, the camera adds five pounds," he said.
"So, did they have like six cameras on you then?" one man responded.
That kind of joking atmosphere dominated the viewing party as friends pointed out each other in the background of various shots, while those who appeared in the episode constantly checked their cellphones as they were barraged by text messages and phone calls.
Rescue swimmer Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric Stoecker held up a cellphone screen filled with messages.
"I'm almost afraid to check my Facebook now," he said.
Stoecker is from a small town in Illinois, and he said that even though his high school classmates have scattered throughout the country, "They hear about it and it spreads," he said.
In one scene, Stoecker said the North Pacific can get so cold "your teeth hurt" when you swim in it. After the room erupted in laughter and teasing, Stoecker said, "I'll be hearing about that one forever. When I transfer, it'll follow me."
He said "Coast Guard: Alaska" brought a different feel than the other show that prominently features Kodiak -- Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch."
Where crews for "Deadliest Catch" tried to steer him toward saying or doing particular things, Stoecker said "Coast Guard: Alaska" just filmed things as they came.
Series producer Tom Langan stood up for a speech after the episode finished and thanked those on hand for helping with the series.
"It's been an amazing experience for most of us here," he said. "We're a long way from our friends and family, and thank you for being so accommodating."
Seven one-hour-long episodes have been scheduled, and a film crew remains in Kodiak gathering footage.
'Coast Guard: Alaska' "Coast Guard: Alaska" airs at 8 p.m. Wednesdays on the Weather Channel. More, including video clips, at www.weather.com/tv/tvshows/coast-guard-alaska.
By JAMES BROOKS
Kodiak Daily Mirror