Special Unit 2

 
MIB copycat offers so-so horror comedy.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The officers of Special Unit 2 operate in secrecy, and don't necessarily have to follow the standard rules when it comes to police procedure. Monsters in custody are generally informed that the basic Constitutional rights apply only to humans, which opens the door to a wide variety of unsavory interrogation tactics. Not much compassion here. One of the characters is constantly plotting robberies.

Violence

Since the show is centered on cops who hunt down monsters (with weapons), there's plenty of action and lots of detailed discussion about the best way to destroy the various creatures (one of the characters seems to enjoy killing the beasts a bit more than seems healthy). But there's little blood or gore, and the show has a humorous tone.

Sex

No sex or nudity, but there's a fair amount of sexual tension and innuendo between the two main characters.

Language

Some explicit language, including "ass" and "oh sh--" (which is clearly recognizable, even though it isn't completed on screen).

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

One character certainly enjoys his smokes, but otherwise there's little smoking or drinking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that, like Men in Black, this show mixes comedy with monster hunting. Though the show plays this concept for laughs, treating monster-hunting more as a sport than a dangerous avocation, many of the creatures can be quite scary, especially for young viewers (undermining all that work parents have done to convince kids that nothing goes bump in the night!). Some beasts take humans hostage, including children, which can make the situation seem even more threatening. Watch out for sci-fi weapons, a bit of language (mostly "ass" and the like), and some smoking.

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What's the story?

When most people see something odd out of the corner of their eye, they look away and tell themselves that it's nothing. But Detective Kate Benson (Alexondra Lee) is the kind of person who keeps looking, who needs to know what's out there, and who instinctively understands that whatever it is may not be very nice. That's what makes her the ideal recruit for SPECIAL UNIT 2, a secret division of the Chicago Police Department assigned to investigate the supernatural. Benson is paired with Detective Nicholas O'Malley (Michael Landes), a veteran creature-hunter who has a snarky remark for every occasion, and Carl (Danny Woodburn), a gnome -- yes, an actual mythical creature -- with a penchant for burglary, who also serves as the unit's informant on the world of monsters.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Monsters are very real in this show's universe, but on Special Unit 2 they aren't very scary because it's more of a tongue-in-cheek comedy trying to mine laughs from the undead. Basically, the series is Men in Black, right down to the secret headquarters -- just with ghouls instead of aliens. The problem is that while Men in Black charmed audiences by taking pains to develop the characters of even minor alien extras, Special Unit 2 skimps. The detectives are funny but flat, and the show gives viewers little reason to root for them: We're left watching smart-aleck cops chasing down smart-aleck creatures, with only the tediously long explanations from the unit's in-house, smart-aleck expert to explain why we should care. Even the monster costumes look cheap, an unforgivable sin for a show that depends on these beasts to make it interesting.

One place where Special Unit 2 doesn't skimp is its props; someone did a great job creating the team's arsenal, which is full of elaborate tools of mayhem, each one bigger than the last. This, too, is straight from Men in Black, but the agents in that much-superior film also had a device that could erase people's memories. After a few episodes of Special Unit 2, you might be wishing you had one, too.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the enduring popularity of monster movies and shows. This series takes a lot of liberties with classic monster legends, which may not sit well with purists. (Who knew that gnomes are all inveterate thieves, for example, or that werewolves can be cured of their lunar malady?) How do these portrayals differ from the classic legends? And since just about every other mythical bogeyman makes an appearance here, why does the show go to such lengths to make it clear that vampires are total fantasy? Families can also discuss whether it's OK to kill these beasts. Human murderers go to prison, so why is it OK to dispatch a non-human killer without remorse?

TV details

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Quality

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  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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