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 the series' gross-out factor might be disturbing for some very young kids -- one host eats raw seal, a cockroach's head is cut off to demonstrate its ability to continue to live and move without it, etc. There can also be apparent violence in demonstrations: for example, showing how police teams disarm a hostage taker or how martial arts movies are made. Although it's made clear that these are just demonstrations, they could be confusing to young viewers. Episode descriptions might help you determine whether a particular episode will work for the whole family.
What's the story?
POPULAR MECHANICS FOR KIDS isn't always exactly what you'd expect from a show with this title. Sometimes it explores the inner workings of sewer systems, roller coasters, and space travel. Other episodes look more like reality adventure TV, with the teen hosts experiencing a traditional Inuit feast (with plenty of gross-out items -- including raw seal -- on the menu) or wrestling alligators. Either way, it makes for good family viewing, but it isn't always the educational experience it purports to be.
Is it any good?
The teen hosts (the roster has included Jay Baruchel, Vanessa Lengies, Tyler Kyte, and 24's Elisha Cuthbert) are the conduit to each experience for the viewer. They try things out, ask questions, and sometimes provide explanations or talk about what they've learned. An adult (Charles Powell) sometimes pops up to offer suggestions on how to build something or have a similar experience at home -- where and how to find insects to look at, for example.
The program is perfect for middle graders. Younger viewers will enjoy it, too, but may have questions they need you to answer and may need to be reminded that what's happening is just a demonstration (police breaking down a door, for example). For kids that age, it's best to watch with them -- or at least be nearby.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the large mechanical systems in their community work. Did you understand the explanations of how a big-city sewer system works, or how a roller-coaster operates? Parents can also discuss the extreme sports and activities the hosts try. Would you want to try skydiving? Why or why not?
Themes & Topics
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