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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Incredible Dr. Pol is a reality series that follows a veterinarian on routine exams and emergency farm calls, and cameras capture the dramatic moments as he works to save the lives of animals of all shapes and sizes. Although the changing nature of the content makes it hard to predict its appropriateness for younger viewers, you can expect a fair amount of blood and other bodily fluids as doctors work to save animals teetering between life and death due to illness or injury. This is a real know-your-kid situation, since many of the medical procedures (draining abscesses, sewing stomachs to the inside of a belly, and anesthetizing an aggressive animal, for instance) may confuse and potentially frighten youngsters who aren't familiar with them, but if this is part of your family's culture (through farming, for instance), it won't have the same effect. If your kids can handle the content, though, this is a great series you can both enjoy, and there are quality messages about the rewards of hard work, respectful living, and fostering good relationships.
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What's the story?
Farmers in rural Michigan lay claim to THE INCREDIBLE DR.POL, a veterinary legend in Dr. Jan Pol, a seventy-something modern-day James Herriott whose dedication to his some 18,000 patients (and their people) is an anomaly in modern medicine. Whether it's a dog suffering the effects of a run-in with a porcupine or a cow with a life-threatening case of pneumonia, Dr. Pol treats every patient with kindness and a no-nonsense attitude that endears him to the farmers and pet owners who trust him with their animals. The series follows Dr. Pol in the exam room and on farm calls as he works tirelessly to keep the animals in good health and the farmers seeing profits. Dr. Pol's team includes his wife and office manager, Diane; his son, Charles, who's visiting from California to help out in the clinic; and Dr. Brenda Grettenberger.
Is it any good?
There are few TV personalities who model the good life quite like Dr. Pol. A relentless go-getter with impressive stamina, he's generous with his time and uses his considerable skills and knowledge to help others. The effect of the care he gives extends beyond the animals he treats, and he takes as much pride in helping the farming community stay profitable as he does in bringing a patient back from the brink of death.
The Incredible Dr. Pol is positive, life-affirming reality TV that's great for families, but only if your kids can handle the true-to-life drama that surrounds the doc's work. The series doesn’t shy away from showing close-ups of surgeries and medical procedures like manual replacements of prolapsed organs or taking a rectal temperature, and it does raise the issue of death when the content warrants it. If your kids are OK with this kind of thing, though, this is a worthwhile series that has great messages about personal fulfillment and strong communities.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about communities, like the one in The Incredible Dr. Pol. What kinds of jobs are essential to the success of a community? How do people rely on each other? What happens to a community if a few of the people leave?
Kids: What do you want to be when you grow up? What personal fulfillment do you hope to get from the job? Is money a factor in your decision? Why or why not? How will you be able to help others in this career?
What can we learn from reality shows like this one? What do you think was Dr. Pol's motivation in doing this show? Is it possible to get an accurate sense of a person's character through the TV screen? Does Dr. Pol seem believable?
Find more TV shows that help kids build character.