TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Explorer TV Poster Image
Fascinating docuseries delves deeply into science.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

There's a lot of educational material in this show, which often includes strong messages of conservation and respect for the environment.


Depending on the subject matter, photographs and re-enactments can be gruesome. One episode included scenes of snakes constricting and killing prey and swallowing animals and parts of humans. Dead animals are used in experiments and dissected.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this fascinating documentary series offers insight on a wide variety of subjects, from the evolution of helicopters and the intricacies of gang life to the life of Jesus and Indian residents' efforts to battle elephants wreaking havoc on their villages. The show's detailed scientific and historical focus is unlikely to grab little kids' attention, and parents will likely want to keep young viewers away anyway due to the strong violence (both real and re-enacted) that accompanies some topics. For example, one episode included multiple scenes of snakes biting or constricting humans and swallowing prey (in two instances, human prey), and photos showed animals dissected, dismembered, and bloody. That said, families of older tweens and teens will learn a lot from this well-researched series.

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What's the story?

Documentary series EXPLORER takes a scientific look at an assortment of historical, geographical, and ecological topics, everything from the dark world of methamphetamine use to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the secret lives of Jesus. Using thorough research and stunning complementary video and photos, experts piece together answers to questions surrounding the spotlighted subject matter. For example, in one episode focusing on the deadly impact of the world's largest snakes, scientists used monitors attached to live prey to measure the power with which an anaconda constricts and kills its victims, and viewers watched as snakes swallowed animals like deer, ducks, and alligators whole. Researchers also performed experiments on lab snakes to test their ability to consume animals nearly as large as themselves. Three-dimensional graphics helped illustrate the information the scientists provided on how and why the process works.

Is it any good?

While a multitude of educational opportunities can be found in Explorer, parents might want to scan the listings for upcoming episode topics before deciding whether their kids are up for it. Sometimes-graphic images are the main concern here (the snake episode got a bit bloody, for example), but the show's ever-changing subject matter makes it difficult to predict when anything iffy will show up. Kids (and parents) who do tune in will find themselves amazed at what they learn.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the research process. How do scientists plan their research? What experts are called in, and how are their views crucial to the investigation? What scientific advances allow researchers to view clues more clearly than before? Why are some scientific and historical mysteries never solved? What would it take to arrive at a clear-cut answer?

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