Critical Situation



Intense tales of survival include graphic footage.

What parents need to know

Positive messages
Not applicable

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.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Criminals are occasionally shown taking drugs.

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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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.

Families can talk 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

Cast:Rufus Jones
Network:National Geographic Channel
TV rating:TV-PG

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 7 years old April 9, 2008

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