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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 main character of this adult crime drama is a maverick undercover FBI agent who's willing to break the rules if it gets the job done. His peers respect him, and his superiors tolerate his behavior since he has a strong record of bringing in the bad guys. But some of his actions seem way over the line, such as blowing up a colleague's car with a rocket launcher. Some of what he does is part of maintaining his cover, but he also seems to relish abusing his authority, whether he's hazing a rookie partner, "borrowing" weapons from the bureau's armory without proper authorization, or blowing up vehicles to impress a potential buyer in an arms deal. Expect some intense, realistic violence, a fair bit of drinking, and some drug use, as well as some unbleeped swearing (including "s--t").
What's the story?
Charles Barker (Patrick Swayze) is an undercover FBI agent who likes to break the rules. He pays little heed to bureau policies or social niceties, but his supervisors tolerate his behavior because he gets the job done. His rookie partner, Ellis Dove (Travis Fimmel), faces the dual challenge of keeping up with the unconventional Barker, both on and off the job, and enduring constant hazing from the veteran. Despite the mistreatment, the newbie agent has nothing but respect for Barker -- but this admiration is tested when he learns that bureau higher-ups suspect Barker may be corrupt.
Is it any good?
THE BEAST is another in a long line of law enforcement dramas centered around cops who don't play by the rules, balancing on the very thin line between criminals and the people who pursue them (as Barker explains, "we know where to cross"). It's not exactly an original setup, even with the twist that Dove has been asked to play double agent, trying to outwit the master.
But Swayze brings flair to the series. He's believable as a possible rogue cop, and he really comes alive when going undercover gives his character the freedom to play criminal. Too bad the wooden Fimmel, a former model, doesn't hold up his end of the show. Luckily, watching Barker educate Dove about the subtle details that can keep an undercover agent alive on the job adds an entertaining layer to an otherwise standard procedural.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about breaking the rules. Barker regularly violates bureau policies in his efforts to bring in the bad guys. Do you think it's OK to break the rules -- or even the law -- in pursuit of a greater good? Do the ends ever justify the means? What would happen if everyone did this? Does Barker seem similar to characters in other police shows? Why are these maverick cop characters so popular? How else is this show similar to and different from other crime dramas?