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Cities of the Underworld
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 each episode of this series is a detail-packed mini history lesson about the tunnels, caves, cisterns, dungeons, and tombs that have been discovered beneath the streets in cities all over the world. Kids may find some spaces and descriptions frightening -- like those involving prisons, tombs, and torture dungeons -- but thanks to the high-definition video and dramatic music and camera angles, this show will hold the attention of school-aged children interested in history, archaeology, or engineering.
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What's the story?
In CITIES OF THE UNDERWORLD, the Hippodrome in Constantinople, the Nazi bunkers in Berlin, and the tombs where plague victims were buried alive in Edinburgh all come to life. Each episode packs in lots of fast-paced information and visuals about the origins of fascinating underground discoveries like these. The hosts explore the often-hidden spaces on foot, via raft, or by climbing, rounding out what they learn first-hand through interviews with historians, scientists, archaeologists, engineers, and other experts.
Is it any good?
Some information -- like discussions of bodies being buried, slaughtered, and tortured -- may be too violent, sad, or frightening for young or tender-hearted viewers. But the excitement that the hosts and the featured experts get as they uncover underground tunnels, caves, palaces, and streets is palpable for school-aged viewers and up.
The trick to holding the attention of kids this age for an hour-long history show is special effects. With its dramatic close-ups, fade-outs, and sharp angles -- accompanied by equally dramatic music -- Cities of the Underworld gets the job done well. Plus, helpful graphics offer more details on the structures being discussed: how they might have appeared when they were new, how they were built, how they're used today, and so on. For history buffs, young engineers, or any kids who like uncovering secrets, Cities of the Underworld is a good fit -- as long as you're comfortable with discussions of past violence.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the appeal of shows like this. Do they make education fun? Do you think they usually give an accurate representation of the facts? How could you find out more if you wanted to? Families can also discuss the specific information presented in each episode, from straight-up history (what was the significance of each historical period?) to geography (where are these cities located?). Kids may also be interested in the engineering and architecture of the ancient structures.