America's Port

Compelling docu sheds light on L.A.'s busy harbor.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The executive director of the port is pushing to clean up the environment around the port. As a woman in an influential position, she has the potential to be a strong female role model.


Lots of talk about the potentially deadly nature of the work; some photos of a dead body recovered from underwater.

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some older photos show people smoking and a child with a man's pipe in his mouth.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this compelling documentary series about the port of Los Angeles includes a lot of talk about people getting killed and very real potential danger, though little actual peril is shown. At least one episode features police photos of a dead body recovered from under the marina, but they're not particularly gross or upsetting. Some old photos show people smoking.

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What's the story?

The Port of Los Angeles is without question one of the busiest in the world. Documentary series AMERICA'S PORT looks at the lives of the various people working there, including the longshoremen charged with loading and unloading the massive cargo ships, the port's executive director, the port's police and customs officials, and the pilots charged with getting those massive ships in and out of the harbor.

Is it any good?


Some of the show's hyperbole and intense music can be a bit much, but once you get past that, the stories are fascinating. Segments in which Port Director Dr. Geraldine Krantz' discusses the reality of a terrorist strike, for example, or when a diver jumps into the water as part of a missing persons search are plenty dramatic on their own, with no extra embellishment required.

Frankly, the series works best when the stories are simply told, and the people involved are just able to talk -- from the trucker with an older vehicle that will soon be banned from the port who knows that it's important to clean up the air but doesn't know how he's going to make a living in the meantime; to the port pilot's son who watches his father work, joking that his dad's just doing what he does at home (i.e. standing around and telling people what to do); to the longshoremen who talk about risking their lives every day. Like all good filmmaking, it's telling a good story that counts.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how documentaries are made and how long it actually takes to get enough footage to make this kind of series. How does editing affect viewers' perception of what's taking place, and when? How are music and effects used to make things more suspenseful? Do you notice that as much in documentary/reality shows and movies than in fictional dramas? Why do you think that is?

TV details

Cast:Thom Beers
Network:National Geographic Channel
Genre:Reality TV
TV rating:NR

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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