Tools of the Trade

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Tools of the Trade TV Poster Image
How high-tech gear helps on the job.

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

Positive Messages

The series offers an intriguing, educational look at how high-tech tools help in many different jobs.

Violence & Scariness

Depending on the featured trade, men and women are sometimes shown in life-threatening situations (like firefighters putting out blazes), but no one is ever injured. In an episode about SWAT teams, members carried guns.

Sexy Stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this informative documentary series is great for curious viewers of all ages who like to know how things work. Detailed investigation and narration is enhanced by illustrative computer-generated images to explain which tools professionals use to perform their jobs efficiently. Some of the featured professions are associated with violence -- law enforcement, firefighting, etc. -- and although no one is ever shown injured, scenes of house fires or SWAT teams swarming may be frightening to the littlest viewers.

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What's the story?

In TOOLS OF THE TRADE, viewers get a behind-the-scenes look at the many different kinds of equipment that make performing certain jobs easier, safer, and more efficient. Show topics cover everything from SWAT team gear to the equipment required for demolition and road building. Each episode explains how the need for the featured tools has changed over the years and how technology continues to improve the tools' design and performance. In an episode about firefighters, for example, members of the Phoenix Fire Department demonstrated the functions of massive bucket trucks, high-tech onsite control rooms, and various pieces of their uniforms and gear, from moisture- and flame-resistant suits to infrared cameras (which help them locate victims and navigate smoke-filled buildings). Computer-generated images added more detail on the specifics of the items' design.

Is it any good?

Tools of the Trade offers an intriguing look at the diversity of gear that allows people to do their jobs -- curious viewers of nearly any age will enjoy learning what the tools do and how they work. That said, the show is probably best for grade-schoolers and up, since young kids won't grasp most of the content and scenes of fire or police work might upset them.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the tools they use every day. What tools help make our lives easier? How do they work? What would we do if we didn't have access to them? How would it affect our lives? How do you think people come up with these tools? If you could invent any tool, what would it be? How would you design it? How would it improve people's lives?

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