Life on Fire

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Life on Fire TV Poster Image
In-depth look at volcanoes takes curious mind to appreciate.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

The show offers an in-depth look at volcanic activity throughout the world. Experts discuss how they gather and study data that helps them understand previous eruptions and predict future ones.

Positive Messages

The series promotes awareness of the world's natural wonders and teaches viewers about volcanic activity. Viewers are exposed to different cultures as the series moves from one location to the next.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Scientists demonstrate skill in their work.

Violence & Scariness

Witnesses describe their experiences of surviving a volcanic eruption, which range from intrigue to fear.

Sexy Stuff

Rarely "hell," in references to mythology ("the gates of hell," for example).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Life on Fire is an educational series about worldwide volcanic activity whose subject matter likely won't appeal to kids but will fascinate older viewers with an interest in geology. The show features sweeping scenery from remote corners of the planet and in-depth scientific accounts of how volcanoes form, erupt, and eventually die. Some eyewitness accounts hint at dangers bystanders faced during eruptions, and scientists try to predict the possible casualties from a future cataclysmic eruption, but overall this is a smart series with a wealth of educational value.

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What's the story?

LIFE ON FIRE travels to the far reaches of the Earth to study how volcanic activity affects life for the areas' resident species. From the ice-crusted volcano trail that bisects Iceland to an array of tropical island volcanoes, each episode is filmed on location where geologists and volcanologists research the area's past and present eruptions as well as how plants, animals, and humans have adapted to living near the unpredictable forces.

Is it any good?

Narrated by Jeremy Irons, Life on Fire offers a unique snapshot of the far-reaching fallout of volcanic eruptions, from forcing evolutionary changes in animal species to having some surprising effects on farmers' nearby crops. Even if science -- and volcanology in particular -- isn't your thing, you'll still find yourself drawn into the stories of devastation and survival by stunning scenery, witness accounts, and close-up observation of experts' onsite research.

But for all the talk of eruptions, Life on Fire is hardly bursting with action. More often minutes pass with cameras hovering over hardened lava beds or steaming hot springs rather than capturing actual volcanic activity, and the interviews are equally slow-paced. But for those who can hang in there with the methodical content, the show offers a unique glimpse at these temperamental natural wonders.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the media has changed how we learn. How do we receive information in today's culture? Are any sources more or less reliable than others? How do docuseries like this one fit into the picture? Is its content reliable?

  • Teens: Who is this show's target audience? How can you tell? Does it have any value for younger viewers? Does entertainment always have to be entertaining to keep your attention?

  • Do you find this branch of scientific study interesting? How does the volcanologists' improve people's quality of life? How does studying the past help us better understand the present?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love nature

Themes & Topics

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