Swords: Life on the Line
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this reality series -- which follows the crews of several commercial swordfishing boats -- doesn't hide the fact that this is tough, dangerous work; the cameras show what it's really like to work 18-hour days at sea, in good weather or bad. Despite some bleeped swearing and a few fishing scenes that might be too graphic for the young or squeamish, it's an interesting look at a rarely-seen profession.
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What's the Story?
Head to the Grand Banks off the coast of Newfoundland -- one of richest and most dangerous fishing grounds in the world -- to see what it takes to bring in a catch of swordfish. SWORDS: LIFE ON THE LINE follows four commercial vessels as they battle waves, storms, and exhaustion to fill their holds with these magnificent (and profitable) creatures. This is a tough, dangerous job, and the series shows the crews working to the point of exhaustion -- and sometimes beyond. Though swordfishing can be lucrative, a poor catch might not even cover expenses for these month-long trips, as the captains explain when detailing the economics of this demanding business.
Is It Any Good?
Viewers who know anything about commercial swordfishing have probably heard that it's demanding and dangerous. But because the crews typically work far out at sea, few people have actually seen them on the job. The cameras here stay with the crews for the duration, showing the long days, the dangerous conditions, and the brutal, exhausting labor. The show also captures the excitement when a crew lands an enormous swordfish or giant tuna, with the men glowing with professional excitement and the knowledge that each pound of fish adds to their paychecks when they finally get back to port.
One angle the show ignores, for the most part, is the environmental impact of the profession. Though not officially considered endangered, many activists assert that swordfish are in danger of being overfished, a notion that's hard to juxtapose with images of crew members high-fiving each other after landing a 150-pounder. The fishermen rarely discuss whether their profession could be contributing to a problem and instead are eager to catch as many as they can. But the Discovery Channel does add teasers encouraging viewers to visit its website for more details on the controversial issue.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about fishing and overfishing. What do you think of the techniques used here? Does it seem like a fair fight, or are the fish easily outmatched by human technology?
Commercial swordfishing can be a lucrative job. Does this profession seem interesting to you? How does it compare to other dangerous jobs you've seen on reality shows?
- Premiere date: August 11, 2009
- Network: Discovery Channel
- Genre: Reality TV
- TV rating: TV-PG
- Last updated: February 24, 2022
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