The Great American Manhunt
By Lien Murakami,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Fascinating look at forensic evidence -- without the gore.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Teamwork is required to complete the challenge and the investigators work together and share their knowledge in order to find the target. The show demonstrates the value of science, curiosity, and problem solving.
Positive Role Models
The three main investigators have extensive backgrounds in their areas of expertise. Bill is a retired detective; Daniel is a clinical psychologist; and Natalie is a forensic anthropologist. The three work well together and provide their own perspectives to the clues in order to help identify the target. Natalie in particular is a great example of a knowledgeable female scientist and could serve as a great role model for girls.
Violence & Scariness
Some of the targets have evidence of injury and past violence on their bodies in the forms of scars and other visual clues. Occasional imagery of violent events such as 9/11, the Vietnam War, or car crashes illustrate how some of the forensic clues may have been caused.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Great American Manhunt is an educational and engaging docuseries inspired by dramas like CSI, Bones, and other forensic-oriented television. Unlike police shows where criminals and other unsavory types are being hunted down, the targets in The Great American Manhunt are regular (non-criminal) people. The experts explore their theories by learning about specific occupations and activities and matching them up with the clues. Tweens and teens interested in science and investigation will gain some insight into the tools these fields employ.
Where to Watch
Based on 1 parent review
great show for kids 9 and up.
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What's the Story?
A team consisting of a retired police detective (Bill Erfurth), a forensic anthropologist (Natalie Shirley), and a clinical psychologist (Daniel Shapiro) are challenged to track down a living mystery target somewhere in the United States. The team is not allowed shortcuts such as DNA, dental records, or ID databases, but is given clues such as medical and psychological tests, clothing, and surveillance video to help track down the target. Each episode begins with a viewing of the surveillance video and initial theories on the target's physical features, location, and occupation. Each theory is then followed up by the team outside the lab as team members interview and work with other specialists to determine how clues may have come about.
Is It Any Good?
While not as fast paced as a forensics mystery show, THE GREAT AMERICAN MANHUNT is a fascinating look at how experts might go about tracking down a target. The experts form a theory and then go into the field to test their theories. Sometimes their hunches don't match up with the clues as more information on the theory is explored. Not only do viewers learn about forensics and psychology, but also about various other occupations and activities and how they leave clues on a person's body. Some occupations and activities, such as boxing, leave obvious clues while, other activities such as being in a band, firefighting, or motorcycle racing are revealed to have surprising effects and injuries as well. It's possible to fracture your pelvis surfing, who knew?
It's fun to follow along with the mystery and form theories while viewing. The Great American Manhunt is a fun and educational show for mystery lovers, and a great choice for kids interested in forensic science, but who are too young or sensitive to handle the violence and gore that normally accompanies these televised investigations.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about what they learn from this show. Did anything surprise you? What do our scars and medical history say about us? How accurately do our clothing and other features reveal our occupations or personalities? What would investigators be able to tell about you by examining your body, etc.?
Talk about the different experts and targets that appear on the show and the various occupations they represent. Also, at least one target is a famous person who is a role model to many. Does someone have to be famous in order to be a role model? Are any of the experts on the shows role models?
Talk about the appeal of the crime shows that inspire this show. Why are people fascinated by crime and mysteries?
- Premiere date: April 19, 2012
- Cast: Bill Erfurth, Daniel Shapiro, Natalie Shirley
- Network: National Geographic Channel
- Genre: Reality TV
- Topics: Science and Nature
- TV rating: TV-G
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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