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 Colony is a tense, gritty sci-fi show about townspeople in the grip of a shadowy foreign enemy. Violence is relatively light but may be more disturbing to kids because it frequently involves family members: young people, moms and dads. Many visual references to warlike occupation, including ominous uniformed soldiers, fencing, razor wire, tanks, and guns. Characters are frequently in mortal jeopardy, guns are brandished, and people are violently hit with fists and objects, in the face and body. Dead bodies are shown on-screen (no gore). Medicine for a gravely ill child is in short supply, cut off by authorities. A father is imprisoned and missing to his family. Expect scary shots of otherworldly ships and cosmic events in the sky and frequent cursing, most often variations on "s--t" that are unbleeped.
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What's the story?
In a future Los Angeles, occupation by shadowy cosmic forces has turned a town into a COLONY. Living there under an assumed identity as mild-mannered mechanic Steve Sullivan is former Special Agent Will Bowman (Josh Holloway from Lost) and his wife Katie (Sarah Wayne Callies from The Walking Dead). The Bowmans are just trying to keep their heads down and take care of their family: rebellious teen Bram (Alex Neustaedter) and sweet 8-year-old Grace (Isabella Crovetti-Cramp). But since their other child, Charlie (Jacob Buster), was separated from the family during the Arrival of what everyone calls the Hosts, Katie and Will naturally want to keep searching for him. But that search, and Will's participation in the Resistance, soon brings the Bowman family to the attention of the authorities: They want Will to work for them, but the Resistance is ready to kill anyone found collaborating. The Bowman family seems to be in an impossible position -- but Will and Katie are wilier than anyone gave them credit for.
Is it any good?
Canny, creepy, and given to spooling out its plot with weird visuals and unexplained bits of dialogue, this is a sci-fi show that doesn't insult its audience's intelligence. Who is holding Los Angeles (and the whole world) hostage? Why do its citizens ride bikes now instead of driving cars and live inside a sleek silver fence that snakes behind the Hollywood sign? Who exactly has deemed diseases such as diabetes "not worthy of treatment"? And just where is the Bowman's other child being kept, and by whom? These intriguing mysteries percolate along, with viewers forced to look sharp and listen if they want to know exactly what's going on.
It will come as no surprise to viewers to learn that former Lost showrunner Carlton Cuse is one of the hands on the tiller here; this show shares Lost's propensity to keep its plot points close to the vest and dole them out as twists. It's manipulative but, in an age when viewers tend to binge-watch rather than enjoy slow dramatic tension, a lot of fun. Will Colony be the water-cooler sensation of the year? If it keeps up the tension and swift plotting, it sure could be. It's great whole-family watching, though scenes of moms, dads, and kids in danger could be too much for young viewers.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the concept of alien invasions. Can you name other shows, books, or movies about alien invasions? What about life under alien rule?
Are viewers meant to understand right away what type of world our characters live in? Why, or why not? Can you name other shows that attempt to deliver twists the viewer doesn't expect?