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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Lab Rats: Elite Force brings together select cast members from Disney's Lab Rats and Mighty Med, creating a new series out of their now-shared mission to rid the world of villains. For a superhero-themed show, there's little violence to be concerned with, and what exchanges do exist show little more than the characters using their power to incinerate objects or hurl each other away from the fray. The blending of two sets of characters sets up some power struggles among them, which usually results in lessons about teamwork and appreciating other people's strengths. This fun series is a good pick for families, but if your kids haven't seen the two previous shows, their interest may be piqued by the characters' frequent references to their pasts.
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What's the story?
LAB RATS: ELITE FORCE picks up after villains destroyed Mighty Med hospital and killed numerous superheroes. Best pals Kaz (Bradley Steven Perry) and Oliver (Jake Short) and their friend Skylar Storm (Paris Berlec) join forces with bionic teens Chase (Billy Unger) and Bree (Kelli Berglund) to hunt down and eliminate the perpetrators. Teaming up in Donald Davenport's (Hal Sparks) tricked-out penthouse and subterranean lair, this new Elite Force must blend their super and bionic powers to form a team powerful and cohesive enough to counter the villains' determination to rid the world of superheroes altogether. But is their common goal of saving the world from evil enough to keep all five of these headstrong teens on the same page, or will internal differences spell doom for the team?
Is it any good?
There's nothing better than a sequel series to ease fans' angst over a favorite show's ending, except maybe a sequel that combines major players from two such favorites. Lab Rats: Elite Force brings together the best of Lab Rats and Mighty Med, creating a five-member team (six if you count Davenport) of returning stars whose new surroundings and mission yield new adventures for them and for viewers. For the most part, it's a seamless mingling -- save for the occasional power struggle between Chase and Kaz -- and the teens turn their collective attention on the ill-intending villains, but there are some tripping points that remind viewers that these are five teens with different ideas and priorities, much like in real life.
Ultimately, though, Elite Force is another example of kids' and family entertainment done right, much as its predecessors were. By repurposing popular characters, Disney ensures itself a ready-made fan base right out of the gate, but even viewers who don't know the teens or their backgrounds will get up to speed quickly enough to find the show amusing. Of course, if your kids are tuning in for the first time, they may want to backtrack to learn how the characters from both shows got to where they are today, so that's something to consider in adding this one to the playlist.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence on TV and in movies. Is what you see in the shows you watch very realistic? Does its having a fantasy component like there is in Lab Rats: Elite Force make it less upsetting than more realistic content would be?
If your kids have seen Lab Rats or Mighty Med (or both), were they drawn to Elite Force because of the familiar characters? Do they seem to make a good team, despite their different backgrounds? How does this crew display teamwork? What kinds of challenges exist on any new team?
Villains and dangerous situations are easy to spot in this show. How does that differ from real life? Have your kids ever been unpleasantly surprised by a peer's true nature after a positive first impression?
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