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He‚Äôs been all over Alaska working on shows for Discovery Channel, from Iditarod to Deadliest Catch, and now Thom Beers is venturing into another corner of life in the largest state. Bering Sea Gold, on which Beers serves as executive producer, premieres Friday, Jan. 27, at 10pm ET, bringing viewers to the waters just off the coast of Nome, where they‚Äôll see people risk their lives in pursuit of gold on the floor of the sea. It‚Äôs a brutal life and one that most people would think you‚Äôd have to be out of your mind to pursue. But Beers and his team found approximately 80 boats out there dredging for riches, and from them, found five manned by people with stories worth telling and whose lives are undoubtedly about to change.
Bering Sea Gold has all the hallmarks of a Thom Beers series. ‚ÄúTo me, the stuff that I think really works and has worked for us, we‚Äôve got places where people are going, and they‚Äôre going for big rewards,‚ÄĚ he explains. ‚ÄúBut along with big rewards always comes high risk. This place is perfect: It‚Äôs high-risk, high-reward, and the third leg of the stool is always, in a really interesting location where you and I will probably never go in our lives. That‚Äôs what makes this show work, for me.‚ÄĚ
So who goes out in these waters to make their living in this way? (Other than the Deadliest Catch guys, of course.) According to Beers, all sorts. ‚ÄúThere‚Äôs the guy who‚Äôs basically left his family and he‚Äôs risking it all ‚ÄĒ Scott. There‚Äôs the big boat ‚ÄĒ the big corporation, the big barge, and the father-and-son team who normally don‚Äôt get along, and the son so much wants to take over for the father.‚ÄĚ
This is where Bering Sea Gold is like any other show, in that it‚Äôs largely about the interplay between the characters as they battle adversity. In this case, adversity just happens to be the Alaskan elements, the machines they use to do their work, and often each other. ‚ÄúYou‚Äôre always looking for not only iconic characters, but dynamics within that,‚ÄĚ Beers suggests. ‚ÄúThe tough guy who left his wife and kids to come up and try and make a living for them ‚ÄĒ he also is saddled with ‚Äėtwo complete morons.‚Äô It‚Äôs like the fates are against him. ‚Ä¶ And his frustration is, it‚Äôs always somebody else‚Äôs fault. That kind of guy. And then there‚Äôs another guy who basically left his job as a social worker, working with kids ‚ÄĒ he left it all behind. Why? Because he was burned out. And obviously he‚Äôs a rookie, he doesn‚Äôt know what he‚Äôs doing, so there are a lot of mistakes.‚ÄĚ
Like the executive producer he is, Beers has no end of fascination for his project, and he assures that Bering Sea Gold will impress more than anything he‚Äôs done before. ‚ÄúThis show ‚Ä¶ it‚Äôs epic,‚ÄĚ he pronounces. ‚ÄúWe have the luxury of working with some of the best people in the business. And all of a sudden we‚Äôre making these shows ‚ÄĒ they look like big, theatrical releases. They‚Äôre beautiful. Big helicopter shots, epic sweeping shots ‚Ä¶ it‚Äôs tough-ass work. It‚Äôs hard. It was hard for all of us, but I‚Äôve got to tell you ‚ÄĒ I think this is one of the most compelling, provocative series I‚Äôve ever made in my life. And beautiful.‚ÄĚ