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 docuseries -- which looks at how humans and animals may have evolved from various species that lived billions of years ago -- features scientific explanations that are relatively easy to follow. But younger kids may not be able to grasp everything or simply may not be interested. Some brief-but-violent images of animals hunting and/or viciously eating their prey may be scary for young or more sensitive viewers. And some viewers may find the use of live animals in some of the featured research projects upsetting. But tweens and teens who are interested in biology, anthropology, and/or paleontology may be hooked.
What's the story?
EVOLVE examines how Earth's living creatures may have evolved from plants and animals that lived billions of years ago. Each episode looks at when specific organs like eyes and stomachs first emerged in living organisms and at how their anatomy has changed due to genetic mutations passed on to each new generation. Scientists explain these phenomena in easy-to-understand terms, using paleontological findings and computer animated graphics to chart the evolutionary history of various animals. They also demonstrate how the featured organs function in different species.
Is it any good?
This science-oriented docuseries points out that even the smallest parts of our bodies are extremely complex due to both millions of years of evolutionary development and the need to survive planetary changes that impact hunting, feeding and mating habits. It demonstrates how scientists track these changes in species that are now extinct, connecting their characteristics with today's life forms. It also showcases various live-animal experiments that are designed to allow researchers to study how their organs function.
But while Evolve offers lots of informative detail, it's a little dry. Despite efforts to add some dramatic flair with music, visual graphics, and footage of animals hunting and devouring their prey (which could scare young viewers), kids might not find the show particularly appealing or entertaining unless they're already interested in this kind of science. But if they do watch it, they'll be sure to take away something new every time.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how science is used to study animals and humans from centuries ago. Are the explanations that scientists offer about early life actually facts, or are they just educated guesses? Do TV shows like this one give viewers the whole picture? If not, where could you go for more information? Families can also discuss theories of evolution and how they differ from other explanations for how life began on Earth.