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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 Carter is a police procedural starring Jerry O'Connell that incorporates comedic elements. It's a mostly by-the-numbers show like you would see on other independent networks like USA (Psych, Monk) or TNT (Major Crimes). It's geared toward a wide range of viewers, so there's little profanity and no sexual content outside of a couple vague references to sex. Each episode centers around solving a murder, so dead bodies are shown and there's occasionally the threat of violence, but the show rarely shows violence on-screen and is also pretty good about showing and discussing the consequences of violence. There's occasional alcohol use and talk about drugs, usually in connection with the murders or the character of Dave Leigh (Kristian Bruun), who's a recovering opiate addict.
Great Show Must Watch
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What's the Story?
Harley Carter (Jerry O'Connell), the star of popular TV cop show Call Carter, has a public meltdown and runs away to his hometown in Canada, where he reunites with his old friends Sam (Sydney Poitier Heartsong) and Dave (Kristian Bruun). He begins to tag along with Sam, a police detective and former military officer, on murder investigations, thinking that his experience as a TV detective will help him solve crimes.
Is It Any Good?
The last decade-plus has been overrun with detective shows where a complete outsider joins up with the police to solve crimes, and Carter doesn't add much to the genre. The twist here is that Harley Carter (Jerry O'Connell) is an actor who is constantly discovering the hard way that there's a huge difference between exciting Hollywood police work and mundane "real life" detection, so there's at least a little bit of meta-commentary on the clichéd setup the show falls into. But the crimes are recycled, the clues are obvious, the characters have no distinguishing characteristics, and the jokes are paper thin.
There's at least some precedent of a show this bland eventually finding its own voice: Psych started out similarly but eventually developed its own unique -- and genuinely funny -- method of storytelling. But the odds of Carter ever becoming anything more than replacement-level television are low.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the difference between police work on TV and in real life. Carter is often surprised to discover that solving crime in "real life" is much less glamorous and exciting than in scripted television. What are the differences between the two? What do you imagine the life of a detective is like on a day-to-day basis?
Do you like watching mysteries get solved on TV? Why do you think this is such a popular genre?
How do you feel about Harley Carter? Is he a good person? What are his likable qualities? What are his faults?
- Premiere date: August 7, 2018
- Cast: Jerry O'Connell, Sydney Poitier Heartsong, Kristian Bruun
- Network: WGN
- Genre: Drama
- TV rating: TV-MA
- Last updated: February 27, 2022
Our Editors Recommend
Smart detective series more funny than graphic.
Light crime procedural offers less violence than CSI.
Mature crime drama with unique premise and lots of violence.
For kids who love mysteries
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