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 Canadian police drama is composed of high-stakes exchanges between a team of elite cops and would-be murderers, bombers, and suicide victims. Violence is the biggest concern, as most of the scenarios turn bloody or otherwise threatening (gunfire, stabbings, beatings, etc.), and some characters die in the crossfire. Viewers who are familiar with series like Law & Order may find this show's pace a lot slower than those of its American counterparts, but the upside is that the writing draws attention to the emotional toll the events take on those involved, including the officers and their families.
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What's the story?
FLASHPOINT is a Canadian police drama that follows the lives of the highly trained officers who comprise the Special Response Unit, an elite squad that handles hostage situations, armed standoffs, attempted suicides, bomb threats, and other high-risk missions. These jobs often escalate into conflicts that require both expert marksmanship and a knack for human intuition, which calls on the skills of Sgt. Gregory Parker (Enrico Colantoni) and his team of negotiators and snipers, including Ed Lane (Hugh Dillon) and Jules Callahan (Amy Jo Johnson).
Is it any good?
Plenty of cop shows -- especially the American ones -- glamorize the action and skirt around the issue of emotional fallout; this one deserves credit for steering the focus toward the characters' feelings at play in these life-and-death situations. Rather than sticking to visual drama and suspense, the show attempts to tell the back stories that impact the actions of the cops as well as the offenders. The result is a more cerebral take on the standard police drama like Law & Order, with the obvious omission of any courtroom scenes allowing more time to explore the characters' state of mind and motivations for their actions. In some cases, this blurs the line between black and white, right and wrong, reflecting the complicated nature of the law when it's filtered through human emotions.
That said, the fact that Flashpoint almost goes out of its way to portray a shooting as a negative experience can bog the show down a bit. Some scenarios warrant using lethal force on an offender, but the decision to do so is a lengthy, agonizing one. On one hand, it gives viewers a better sense of the issues at play in a real-world version of the events; on the other, it works against the show's entertainment factor. Ultimately, though, this is a heady commentary on the work of elite public servants whose jobs put them in harm's way and force them to make life-and-death decisions every day.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the media typically portrays the police. Is this show consistent with that? If not, how is it different? What moral dilemmas do cops regularly have to face? What other jobs have this same kind of emotional fallout associated with them?
Where is the line drawn between right and wrong when it comes to police using lethal force? How would it feel to be the person who decides or carries out that order? Do the characters' reactions to the situations they face seem realistic? Can showing a character's emotional response to violent duties be an argument against violence or does the opposite message get through?
What, if any, differences do you notice between this Canadian show and its American counterparts like Law & Order or CSI? Do you find one style particularly better or worse than the other? How do you think people in other countries view our country's entertainment style? How does it reflect our society as a whole?
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