Critical Content’s Jenny Daly

Captain Lee Rosbach, who garnered popularity as a steadfast mega-yacht captain on Bravo’s hit reality series Below Deck, left the show’s helm after ten seasons aboard. He’s now using his maritime expertise in a new arena: true crime. The Critical Content-produced series Deadly Waters with Captain Lee, delving into tragic murders that have taken place at sea, debuted at the start of this month on Oxygen. Jenny Daly, president of Critical Content and executive producer for the series, talks with TV Real about the brand-new title, leveraging star power and familiarity to make new but recognizable content and how Deadly Waters fits into the rest of Critical Content’s diverse remit, which includes Netflix’s Sly, MTV’s Catfish and more.

TV REAL: How did Deadly Waters with Captain Lee come about?
DALY: Our company Renowned Films in the U.K. originated the concept. We helped progress the show into development with Oxygen. The first phase was to ensure that there were a significant number of stories that could hold an ongoing series, and the answer was yes; unfortunately, there are a substantial number of cases that allow us to have a unique series based solely on murders that happen at sea.

We knew Captain Lee was the perfect man to lead the series. When you think of open waters, you think of him.

TV REAL: When it came to producing the series, how did Below Deck’s success inspire or influence the process?
DALY: Captain Lee is synonymous with being on the open seas and dealing with all types of nautical issues and emergencies. It was a very clear connection, and as Bravo and Oxygen are in the same NBCUniversal family and share an audience, it made perfect sense to bring him on to host this series.

We did not mimic Below Deck, but we wanted to make sure we connected Captain Lee to the sea. To that end, we had him wear his captain outfit, and we dressed the interview backdrop as if we were on a ship. As this is a crime show, the tone is much different than Below Deck—everything from the color saturation to the music.

TV REAL: What’s behind the choice to pivot Captain Lee’s appeal into true crime with Deadly Waters?
DALY: Captain Lee has had decades of authentic experiences on the open ocean. In looking at this series, we wanted someone to steer it who could give us their knowledge of how and why the sea could affect the outcome of many of these stories. His insight was truly invaluable when it came to understanding the nature of the waters and how certain crimes could be committed under specific circumstances.

TV REAL: What’s the key to leveraging known universes and familiar faces, such as the Below Deck series and Captain Lee himself, into something new but recognizable, marketable to buyers and audiences?
DALY: Captain Lee is widely adored by the Bravo audience. Based on this and his years of experience on the seas, we felt he was the perfect and the most authentic host for this arena of storytelling. Knowing that there is a crossover between the Bravo and Oxygen audiences, we also felt this allowed the viewers to connect even further to the new series.

TV REAL: Talk to me about the collaboration between Critical Content and Oxygen. How involved was the broadcaster in development?
DALY: Oxygen takes development very seriously and had us vet every story before we received the official greenlight. The network had to ensure that the stories we covered were very unique in relation to the other series that they produce.

TV REAL: How does the show fit into the rest of the Critical Content remit?
DALY: We pride ourselves on having a very diversified slate. We produce across all genres, from premium docs like Sly to home-reno series such as Instant Dream Home.

We do a lot in true crime and are planning to do much more. We have several series and documentaries that we are developing or packaging. We’re excited to bring them to life.