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 Open Heart is a mystery series that centers on a teen who takes matters into her own hands when her father goes missing and police give up the search. Dylan is petulant and rebellious, often engaging in illegal behavior that goes largely underpunished, and she draws her friends into the mix, putting them at risk. Adults keep secrets from their grown kids, which casts them in a suspicious light. Some injuries and blood are visible, and there's mention of teens taking pills. Teens are seen in underwear, and language includes "hell." On a happier note, Dylan's actions are driven by her fierce love for her father and determination to find him against all odds.
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What's the story?
When Dylan Blake's (Karis Cameron) father, Richard (Jeff Douglas), disappeared six months ago, she spiraled into a world of law-breaking and defiance to cope with her emotions. But one escapade takes a disastrous turn, and she soon finds herself tallying community service hours at Open Heart Memorial Hospital, where her mother, Jane (Jennifer Cooper), is a celebrated surgeon and her older sister, London (Victoria Anderson), is a brilliant but fledgling medical resident. Then word comes that the police are tabling their investigation into her father's case, inspiring Dylan to take it upon herself to find out what happened to him, despite the rules. With her new friends Wes (Justin Kelly) and Mikayla (Cristine Prosperi), Dylan vows to uncover the secrets others -- including members of her own family -- seem determined to keep hidden.
Is it any good?
As mystery series go, OPEN HEART does a decent job building suspense and throwing curveballs that keep viewers guessing and perhaps coming back for more. Just when you think you have the characters and their motivations figured out, a comment or flashback raises more questions than it answers, and you're left wanting to know more. And the mystery doesn't lie only in Richard's whereabouts; it also relates to the motivations of those he left behind.
What the show does slightly less well is create a fully sympathetic character in Dylan, who has no concern for either authority figures or the letter of the law. Her reasoning is understandable, as they're the very roadblocks that often stand between her and the answers she seeks, but it's still a little concerning for tween viewers, since it raises the thorny issue of the ends justifying the means. What's more, aside from Dylan's relationship with her father, which we witness in flashback scenes, her family unit is fractured by secrets and withheld emotions that compound her feelings of desperation.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether Dylan's behavior correlates with her consequences. How often and to what degree does she break the rules? Is she given preferential leeway in any instance? If so, why? Is this different from how it works in the real world, or have you seen similar scenarios?
What are some positive methods of handling stress? Tweens: What are some common stress triggers for you? Are you ever inspired to act out in destructive ways because of them? To what degree do our emotions influence our overall health?
Do your tweens like mysteries? How well does this one entice viewers? Is the plot's complexity suitable for its target age group? Do your tweens like being scared when they watch TV or movies?
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