The Detonators

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
The Detonators TV Poster Image
Large-scale demolitions are a blast for curious families.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The series shines a light on the skills of professionals in the demolition field. CGI is used to illustrate the mechanics of the blasting process, from how the explosives work to the reasoning for their precise placement.


Lots of explosions and things blowing up, but it's all handled professionally, methodically, and safely.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this series makes blasting look like a major adrenaline rush, so be sure to remind tweens and teens that what they're seeing is the culmination of extensive planning, professional skill, and scientific precision. While kids -- especially boys -- may be enthralled by the idea of watching large-scale demolitions, the show may not fully capture their attention, since much of the scientific information is above their understanding. On the other hand, older viewers will appreciate the insight they gain into a lesser-known area of the construction world.

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What's the story?

In THE DETONATORS, demolition experts Dr. Braden Lusk and Dr. Paul Worsey join blasting crews around the world as they prepare to bring down massive structures, from a high-rise building to a hurricane-resistant resort complex. The investigators get a behind-the-scenes look at the demolition plans, then take the data back to their explosives lab to conduct experiments that test the likelihood of the job's success. Synchronized high-speed cameras and expert accounts piece together the details of the blast itself, and CGI helps illustrate how the explosives worked -- and whether or not they completed their intended job.

Is it any good?

This intriguing series packs a punch beyond the obvious curiosity factor of watching a 15-story bridge crumble to the ground in seconds. The experts are adept at condensing the details of the massive jobs down to a scale that most viewers will understand, even without prior knowledge of demolition or construction. Lusk and Worsey often visit two similar projects within an episode and compare notes on the blasting blueprints, showing viewers how factors like a structure's age, size, and spatial relation to inhabited areas affect how it's taken down.

At times the show plays out like a well-designed drama, referencing small power struggles among crew members, reiterating uncertainties that could result in dangerous and costly mistakes, and building up to the unpredictable climactic end. Despite that, there's a realism about the series that underscores what viewers will discover about the skills and precision required in the demolition industry. Young kids likely won't be interested in the finer points of the subject matter, but this is a fine choice for families with older children to share. Just don't forget to remind them of the dangers of handling explosives themselves.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how society views blue-collar jobs and workers. Do you think employees in industries like construction, food services, and retail get the same level of respect as those in other professions? Why or why not? Why does society assign stereotypes to certain jobs? Do you think shows like this can change people's impressions of the skill it takes to perform blue-collar work? Kids: What do you want to be when you grow up? What factors affect your options? What skills and education will you need to fill that job?

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