Steve Irwin’s final documentary, tribute air Sunday

On Sunday night at 8 p.m. ET, Steve Irwin’s final documentary, ironically titled Ocean’s Deadliest, will air on Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel. Afterwards, at 9:30, both channels will air Crikey, What An Adventure!, a tribute to Irwin.

Although his series was essentially a nature show, not a reality show as we currently define them, Steve Irwin was a reality star. Viewers were drawn in by the strength of his personality; the show was, in many ways, about him more than it was his subject matter.

The documentary had mostly “been completed when Irwin was killed in early September in a freak accident,” according to the Toldeo Blade. “After some debate, Irwin’s colleagues decided to finish the project, with [Philippe] Cousteau taking over as the solo on-air host and narrator.” The paper says the show, then, “is a fairly routine wildlife documentary, all but indistinguishable from many others that are aired regularly by the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet. Its only real significance is that it’s the last documentary made by Irwin, and the one that killed him at the age of 44. It’s a good reminder of the infectious excitement that he brought to the task of entertaining and educating an audience.”

It’s ironic, then, to think that his enthusiasm for wildlife may have contributed to his death. But as my friend Mary Beth Ellis wrote in a tribute to him shortly after he died, “If the camera hadn’t been there, it may not have attacked. But then again, if the camera hadn’t have been there, we likely would have never known Steve Irwin at all.”

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