What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that because the main characters are solving mysteries, adults will appear as villains, and the children on the team will occasionally be in mild peril. It's all quite tame, but it could worry younger kids who aren't familiar with crime or the baser motivations of the human heart -- here pretty much limited to money, winning, and general mean-spiritedness.
What's the story?
SCREECH OWLS is an engaging mystery series targeted at middle-grade viewers of both sexes. Four main characters, three boys and one girl, lead a pee wee hockey team in the Canadian town of Tamarack -- a town plagued by ghosts, mysteries, and the less-violent crimes, as small towns on TV so often are. The Screech Owls must struggle to keep up their game while dealing with con artists, kidnappers, ghosts, and thieves. Based on a popular series of Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys-style mysteries written by Roy MacGregor, Screech Owls is more successful than the television adaptations of either, largely because it doesn't need to appeal to a prime-time adult audience.
Is it any good?
Every episode praises the value of teamwork and emphasizes the need to practice to get -- or stay -- good at any sport. But other than that, the lessons are generally limited to not committing whatever crime the Owls solve in a particular episode. Neither the mysteries nor the characters are particularly well developed, but it's tough to get too in-depth in 22 minutes. Fans of the books will know more about the kids' lives outside the rink, and they're probably the likeliest fans for the series as well. This is good, simple, not-too-dramatic fare, reminiscent of the old PBS Ghostwriter series, and there's not much else like it out there.
Screech Owls is a great opportunity to encourage a kid who's more comfortable with TV and sports to do some reading, since being familiar with the characters and structure of a book ahead of time can make reading easier.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how the team resolves difficulties within the ranks, and when the kids do and don't decide to turn to an adult as they solve their mysteries. Each show usually also presents some area for social discussion, such as supporting your friends or getting a big head after a success. Older kids might enjoy looking for the plot holes that are inevitable in a 30-minute mystery program. Did the "evidence" really prove the crime, or are there other possible explanations?