By Will Wade,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Show about unlikely scientific advances is repetitive, thin.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Sends the message that advanced technology can do the seemingly impossible -- even though many of the most amazing feats may be hidden behind walls of government secrecy. Many of the experts' assertions are based on suppositions and educated guesses rather than fact, which is a little iffy.
Positive Role Models
Brilliant scientists, through hard work and dogged determination, just might be able to pull off the impossible.
Violence & Scariness
Some non-graphic computer animations of simulated combat.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this educational series about the thin line between cutting-edge science and the incredible depends heavily on speculation from experts, who often discuss classified military projects and advanced research. There's a big emphasis on how some emerging technology can be used as weapons, though there's no direct violence. There aren't any other strong parental red flags, either, but the show may not be compelling enough to really grab kids' attention.
Where to Watch
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What's the Story?
It's a short distance between the most advanced scientific research and the supposedly unachievable; THAT'S IMPOSSIBLE tries to explain exactly what scientists can do now -- and what it would take to move to the next step. In other words, narrator Jonathan Frakes and a variety of experts discuss whether something that's "impossible" now will soon be within our reach. The series combines historical footage and computer animations to first examine concepts like invisibility, weather control, and robotic soldiers and then speculate how learning to master them could change the world.
Is It Any Good?
The show's producers have tracked down some of the world's top scientists, and it's fascinating to watch them demonstrate truly amazing breakthroughs. But the show wants to go further; instead of seeing, for example, a cloak that uses advanced photographic technology to simulate near invisibility in a lab, it tries to convince us that true invisibility may already be possible.
In this, it reaches too far. Much of the show's speculation is based on rumors about secret military projects, some still secret. As a result, the show has little to go on, and the experts can only skim the surface of these concepts. Hearing some talking head tell thinly substantiated stories about a classified effort to make a tank invisible isn't compelling. Frakes repeats the experts' claims, sometimes more than once, using tepid computer animations ... but no real evidence. Hearing wild assertions repeated feels like padding. We don't need an expert to tell us that rendering soldiers and tanks invisible would give an army an big strategic advantage, and we certainly don't need them to make the same obvious point over and over.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about technology and the military. Why do so many advanced scientific breakthroughs get used as weapons? Do you think the military should have first dibs on cutting-edge research? Can you think of non-violent applications for some of the ideas presented here?
Also, some of the alleged breakthroughs presented here are the result of classified projects that are still secret. Why do you think the government and other large organizations might choose to hide things from the public?
- Premiere date: July 7, 2009
- Cast: Jonathan Frakes
- Network: History
- Genre: Educational
- TV rating: TV-PG
- Last updated: February 24, 2022
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