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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 because many of history's mysteries involve issues related to war, violence, and other less-than-happy subjects, some of the scenes in this series might be disturbing for sensitive or younger viewers. That said, the re-enactments themselves aren't particularly graphic, and most tweens should be able to handle them. More troubling is a lack of logic parading as evidence and proof. Younger viewers without much experience of history might be misled into accepting as fact something that is, at best, conjecture.
What's the story?
Is Elvis still alive? Did Adolf Hitler escape his bunker at the end of World War II? What really happened to the Russian Tsar and his family? History is filled with all kinds of mysteries -- which MYSTERYQUEST purports to examine to see whether we can figure out what really happened using forensic science, DNA testing, and historical research.
Is it any good?
Even the ancient Greeks noted that history is generally written by the winners, which can put a different spin on what happened. Here, it sometimes seems like the writers go into a particular mystery with a preconceived idea of what happened and only look at evidence that supports that idea -- with the result that the narration is often contradictory.
For example, in an episode seeking to explain whether Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun killed themselves in the waning days of World War II, a scientist discovers that the piece of skull that the Russians have claimed was Hitler's in fact belonged to a woman. The episode repeatedly notes that Braun and Hitler's remains were supposedly kept together -- but instead of pointing out that the bone fragment could have been Braun's (apparently they decided without discussing it that because the piece of bone contained a hole consistent with a gun suicide that it couldn't be hers because she was poisoned), they reinforce the theory that Hilter escaped the bunker. This is just one example of the show's many confuding leaps in logic, which unfortunately largely undermines the some of the good points and evidence that it otherwise brings forth.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how shows like this represent -- or misrepresent -- facts. What's to be gained from emphasizing certain points over others? Parents, encourage your kids to look up more about the mystery in question to see what was might have been left out ... or made up.
Can you tell whether the people who made the show think that a particular theory is true before they look at the evidence? How?
Are shows like this useful for encouraging kids to learn more about history?