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 Nightwatch is a tense reality show following emergency responders (police, fire, EMS) who work the night shift in New Orleans. From Dick Wolf, creator of the Law & Order franchise, it covers some of the same crime-based themes as his scripted shows. Violence and mayhem are ever-present as these emergency pros are called to tend to people who have been shot, stabbed, or otherwise injured. The camera doesn't shy away from realistic medical imagery; it lingers on gory wounds, puddles of blood, and more. We see dead bodies and parents crying piteously after their children are killed. There's some cursing from patients and responders, and drugs and alcohol play a part in many emergencies. Teens who are used to seeing this kind of thing on scripted shows may find it jarring and more upsetting to see the real-life version of a medical/crime drama.
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What's the story?
In New Orleans, says the opening voice-over, more than 1,000 emergencies are called in every night. And when they call, the desperate, the injured, and the needy call the members of the NIGHTWATCH: firefighters, EMS technicians, and police officers who work the night shift. Each hour-long episode of the reality show tracks the calls that come in over a single night, following each case from the appearance of the first responder to its ultimate conclusion (which sometimes arrives via subtitled updates at each show's end). Some of the people featured on NIGHTWATCH will end up in jail. Others will make a complete recovery. Still others end up dead. But the stalwart professionals on the NIGHTWATCH keep doing their jobs, no matter what happens.
Is it any good?
Watching an injured person being rushed to the hospital with sirens blaring and a team of medical professionals working him over can be dramatic and fascinating. That's why emergency room drama is a TV staple, from vintage shows such as ER to more modern iterations such as The Night Shift. It's easy to identify with a person who's helpless and in pain and easy to admire the people who've made a career out of protecting the public. Creator Dick Wolf knows what grips true-crime fans -- and gives it to them.
But for the sensitive or the young, Nightwatch is nightmarish. The music pounds and pulses; the camera returns again and again to blood or injuries; victims squeal in agony. The red light cast by emergency vehicles, the sirens -- it's sensory overload even for adults watching comfortably from the couch, much less for little kids. If you must watch with family, save it for tough teens who might at least learn that crime doesn't pay. There are moral lessons to be learned here, but the show is just too intense for young kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the other shows creator Dick Wolf is responsible for. How are they similar to Nightwatch? How are they different?
TV shows that center on emergency professionals (firefighters, police, ER staff) are common. What other shows can you think of? What dramatic possibilities are inherent in such shows?
Is the audience supposed to like the emergency pros we meet on this show? How can you tell?