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 Chance is a dark mystery series about a psychiatrist who finds himself consumed by a case. Violence isn't frequent but is very disturbing when it occurs in patients' trauma flashbacks: a woman is trapped in her car after an accident with the decapitated head of her father; she screams for help as the camera holds on the head and blood. Later, we see her commit suicide, pulling a plastic bag over her head. A man also drinks bleach and other household cleaners and later is seen maimed. One character is violent and frightening, taunting men in a scary neighborhood so he can fight them; a soldier collects scalps as war trophies. Cursing includes "f--k," "s--t," and "ass," and one man calls another a "bitch." Characters are suspected of murder; a woman is beaten terribly and says her husband is the culprit.
What's the story?
As a consulting neuropsychiatrist, Dr. Eldon CHANCE (Hugh Laurie) has a pretty bleak job -- he only sees patients he can't help, recommending further courses of therapy and medication but not treating patients himself. When we meet Chance, he's at a professional and personal low, his marriage breaking up and his finances in disarray so much so that he has to pull his daughter from her private school. But his "one appointment and done" streak is broken when Jaclyn Blackstone (Gretchen Mol) comes in for a consult. She has periods of missing time and an abusive husband -- or so she says. Before you can say "femme fatale," Chance is in over his head, investigating Blackstone's mysterious background, her mysterious -- and scary -- husband, and the mysterious way that Blackstone's ex-therapist was suddenly murdered.
Is it any good?
Slow, murky, and expertly written, this series is the kind of dark drama that rewards viewers who don't need an explosion or twist every seven minutes. The goings-on of Chance have a strong whiff of Hitchcock -- and Mol is a perfect blonde cipher of a heroine, Kim Novak in Vertigo or Grace Kelly in Rear Window -- and of classic noir mysteries, in ways that will thrill fans of the genre and probably bore others. There are plenty of scenes in which characters sit pensively in shadowy rooms thinking or walk slowly up a street, telegraphing their emotions with subtle facial expressions.
But it's easy to see why Dr. Chance is caught up in this fascinating case and why he's consorting with shady characters who promise him a way out of his financial worries. Viewers who don't mind their revelations unspooling slowly will be fascinated with this mature drama and willing to wait for its mysteries to reveal themselves.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether Dr. Chance is a hero or an antihero. How are they different? What actions does Dr. Chance take to reveal his character?
Television and movies have a long history of presenting this kind of dark mystery, often called film noir. Why do you think people are drawn to this kind of story?