Critical Situation

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Critical Situation TV Poster Image
Intense tales of survival include graphic footage.

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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Graphic re-enactments include close-ups of gunshot wounds, aircraft crashes, spacecraft emergencies, boating peril, interrogations, and more. Actual video footage shows criminals aiming weapons at victims and committing suicide by shooting themselves. Some bloody wounds are shown/re-created.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Criminals are occasionally shown taking drugs.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this documentary series' graphic re-enactments of actual life-and-death scenarios are far too intense for most kids, even younger teens. Gun battles, hostage situations, and aircraft emergencies are replayed in accurate detail; in some cases, actual video footage from the incidents are used as well, showing perpetrators' violent actions and victims' terrified responses. Victims' emotional recollections of events can also be difficult to watch, so keep this one off sensitive viewers' watch list.

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Kid, 7 years old April 9, 2008

What's the story?

CRITICAL SITUATION takes viewers on a minute-by-minute tour of some of the most intense disasters in recent history (the perilous Apollo 13 space flight, a powerful storm that capsized boats and killed sailors in an annual yacht race, a violent Taliban uprising within an Afghan army compound, etc.), explaining how and why they escalated to such dramatic proportions and detailing the heroic efforts that brought them to an end. Each installment sets up the featured "critical scenario" with historic and geographical information that puts the coming events into context. Combining archival footage, computer-generated images, firsthand stories, and dramatic re-enactments, the series gives viewers a play-by-play account of the tragic events that unfolded. Experts explain their strategies in search-and-rescue and crime-fighting operations, as well as tactical changes that have been made as a result of lessons learned.

Is it any good?

Suspenseful and well crafted, Critical Situation is an addiction waiting to happen for adults, but be wary about sharing it with kids, since it's full of graphic, violent re-enactments of gun battles and vehicular crashes. It's also worth mentioning that when firearms come into play, the show gives detailed run-downs -- complete with graphic illustrations -- of the advantages and disadvantages of the functions of various weapon choices.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in the media. Teens: Do you think seeing violence on TV can encourage viewers' violent behavior? Why or why not? What limits should exist on violent programming? What about video games? Should the criteria be different for media coverage or re-enactments of actual events than for dramas? How does televised violence affect our impressions of issues like gun control and police authority?

TV details

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