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 this engineering-themed reality show is heavy on demolition. Two teams of young people are encouraged to destroy large objects (like cars) and use the wreckage to build a machine of their own. With help from adult experts, the winners get to destroy the losers' creation using TNT, plastic explosives, military-grade weaponry, and other devices capable of inflicting heavy-duty damage. The "build" phase of the show requires some creative thinking and design sense, though the competition and the destruction segments take up much more of the show and present much less of a mental challenge. Expect some trash-talking between the teams, sometimes more good-natured than others.
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What's the story?
In DESTROY BUILD DESTROY, two teams of young people go head-to-head in an engineering-themed competition -- with a healthy dose of destruction thrown in for fun. The show's title describes the three stages of the contest. Host Andrew W.K. starts the action by asking each team to pick a method to destroy something big -- like a car or other major machine -- using high explosives, a team of burly guys armed with heavy tools, dropping it off a cliff, or another equally effective demolition technique. Using the wreckage, the teens must then construct something new that they can use in a contest (think along the lines of a tennis ball air cannon mounted on a movable platform). At the end of the show, the winning team gets to destroy the losing group's creation using even more impressive tools of destruction, including military-grade weaponry or plastic explosives.
Is it any good?
What's not to like about blowing stuff up? And the explosions on this show are seriously big -- which means they're certain to appeal to teen and tween viewers, especially boys. Perhaps not surprisingly, then, even though the point of the show is ostensibly engineering, it's the smallest part. Two-thirds of each episode is about destroying things, and only the building phase requires thinking and creativity. Still, at least the teenage participants aren't handling the explosives (or the power tools, for that matter). They serve more as directors, telling adults what to do and watching the results. Only during the actual contest do the kids really take a hands-on role, though they certainly seem to be having fun through the entire process.
Andrew W.K. and the producers encourage a fair bit of rivalry, and a few of the comments occasionally go a bit too far. A team of skaters, for example, crows that their skills at building skateboard ramps will help them design a superior vehicle and is openly contemptuous of their rivals, a group of self-defined math team geeks whom the skaters deride as "dorks." And in the end, the contest stage seems kind of random -- and the results don't depend all that much on either group's engineering prowess. But at least the explosions are fun to watch.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about which part of the show is more fun to watch -- the building or the destroying. Why? If you were on the show, which part would be more fun to actually be involved with? Do you think it's OK for a TV show to encourage young people to blow up stuff, using real (and really powerful) explosives? Families can also discuss mechanical engineering. What do you think of the teams' designs? Would you have built something differently? How could you improve on their creations?
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