By Emily Ashby,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Creativity abounds as Disney alums return in online shorts.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
These short-form movies don’t follow any formula, and they're meant mostly as entertainment. A few do manage to work in some decent examples of sibling relationships, friendship, and occasionally a character choosing to do what's right instead of what's easy. At least one touches on a serious matter -- in this case, the death of parents, but it's more of an aside than a major plot point.
Positive Role Models
Again, a mixed bag. Some characters have strong values that guide them to make positive choices; others are inspired by the drive to have fun at all costs.
Violence & Scariness
No violence, but some shorts have costumed characters with weapons such as swords and staffs.
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Products & Purchases
Some Disney stars have roles in the shorts.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Free Period is a series of shorts available on the Disney app and YouTube. Every episode features a unique story and characters, some of whom are played by Disney alums such as Leo Howard and John Deluca. While there's no way to predict what each one holds in store for viewers, you can rest assured that the content is kid-friendly. Some are rooted in fantasy (brothers discover a trunk that can turn their toys into real-life characters, for example); others show kids in more realistic endeavors such as starting a business endeavor. If there's an overarching theme to the series as a whole, it's that cultivated creativity can be inspiring, as is obvious in these talented writers' work.
Where to Watch
Videos and Photos
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What's the Story?
FREE PERIOD is a series of 12 short-form movies from Disney Channel writers, producers, and actors. The diverse stories include fantasies, comedies, science fiction, and a mixed-media presentation that incorporates live-action and animation. In one, a girl discovers her new house is inhabited by ghosts with a passion for dance; in another, a teen attends high school via virtual reality. Disney alums Kent Boyd, Garrett Clayton, and Mollee Gray are among those who make appearances in the shorts.
Is It Any Good?
This unpredictable digital series is a fun forum for unbridled creative expression, and the talented writers behind these diverse stories don't disappoint. Because each one is unique, it's hard to gauge a viewer's interest in them ahead of time. The good news about short-form work is that if you turn out not to be a fan, you haven't devoted a movie-length amount of time to watching it. The bad news is that some of them are so well done, you leave wishing they were longer.
The fact that recognizable Disney faces are involved in the project virtually guarantees kids will want to check out the shorts, and there's no doubt they'll be entertained by most of the stories. Whether they'll get anything substantial out of them is less certain, since that doesn't seem to be a strong focus of most. Even so, the creativity on display in Free Period is impressive, and it's always fun to see familiar actors and actresses in new roles.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the appeal of short-form entertainment such as these stories. Are they satisfying to watch, or do they leave you wanting to see more? Are some better than others? Do you think it would be harder to write a well-rounded concise movie or a long one?
Kids: What brought you to this series? Do you often watch videos online? What sites do you frequent for that purpose? What rules does your family have to keep you safe online?
Does all entertainment have to have a point, or is it OK to just enjoy watching something? Can you pick out any positive messages in these shorts? How does watching a TV show or movie compare to reading that same story?
- Premiere date: August 5, 2016
- Cast: Leo Howard, Kent Boyd, Mollee Gray
- Network: Online
- Genre: Variety Show
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship
- TV rating: TV-G
- Last updated: September 15, 2021
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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