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 informative, kid-friendly show explains just about everything there is to know about the modern railroad system. There's no sex or drugs or bad language, just trains, trains, and more trains. Many railroad companies are mentioned by name, and sometimes even specific routes that have historic significance.
What's the story?
In EXTREME TRAINS, host Matt Bown travels across the country to ride some of the most important railroads in the industry, including the super-fast Acela passenger line, a Pennsylvania coal train that tackles some ofthe region's toughest terrain, and the critical Los Angeles-to-Dallas freight connection. Bown explains just about everything that anybody would ever need to know about how trains work, what it takes to keep them moving across the tracks, what can go wrong, how they're repaired, and who keeps their hands on the throttles. The show is packed with footage of both trains in action and the people who work with them, along with plenty of clever computer graphics that provide extra details on how these powerful machines function.
Is it any good?
Bown, a train conductor in real life and a lifelong railroad aficionado, is clearly having the time of his life riding these powerful trains, and his enthusiasm is infectious. He makes what might seem mundane feel exciting and imparts a wealth of inside information about the rail industry. But parts of the show might seem a bit too esoteric to people who don't share his love of the railroad. Sure, it's interesting to see how steep a hill is too steep, but viewers might not need to learn the inner workings of both the specialized machines designed to remove the spikes that hold the tracks in the ground and the automated glue guns that fill in the resulting holes.
Extreme Trains is a worthy entry in the ever-expanding genre of reality shows that go behind the scenes in challenging and often dangerous jobs. But, while driving a 15,000-ton coal train is certainly a difficult and specialized task, watching it doesn't deliver the same drama as, say, watching crab fishermen battle the elements in Alaska or Canadian truckers haul their loads across frozen roads.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about turning hobbies and passions into career choices -- as host Matt Bown has clearly done. Kids: What do you like to do now? Is there a way to make a career out of that? How does this show compare to other reality shows that focus on specific jobs? Why are these shows so popular today? Do you think certain types of jobs would be more interesting than others as the subject of a reality show? Do these shows go too far in glamorizing certain professions? Do you think working on a railroad would really be as interesting as this show makes it seem?