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 Zoo is a drama series based on the best-selling book of the same name by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge. The story posits that the world's animal population -- from the largest land predator to the smallest house pet -- could coordinate a mass uprising against humans in retaliation for centuries of hunting and forced labor. The show is rife with tense encounters between people and animals, but, though many humans are killed, glimpses of a dead body or otherwise gruesome content is rare. Subtle messages about conservation and animal rights are evident. Expect some mild language ("hell" on occasion), drinking (mostly to cope with the stressful predicaments), and bland references to romantic encounters. Mostly, though, violence is the only real concern in this thriller, so it's fine for teens who can handle that sort of content.
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What's the story?
In the African safari, animals begin exhibiting strange behavior that eventually proves fatal for an outlying camp of tourists. When zoologist Jackson (James Wolk) and his friend Abe (Nonso Anozie) set out to investigate, Abe is killed by an unusual group of male lions, leaving Jackson and the camp's lone survivor, Chloe (Nora Arnezeder), stranded and fighting for their lives while they try to understand the animals' odd behavior. Meanwhile in Los Angeles, a young journalist named Jamie (Kristen Connolly) teams up with veterinary pathologist Mitch Morgan (Billy Burke) to discover the cause of similar happenings in the local animal population, from neighborhood cats to the zoo's most fearsome predators. As the signs begin to point toward a mass animal uprising, Jackson turns to his late father's (Ken Olin) discredited research for answers to the mystery.
Is it any good?
ZOO is a tense apocalyptic thriller that skips more common plot devices, such as natural disaster or nuclear war, in favor of an extinction method that doesn't get a lot of play on-screen: mass animal retaliation. The potential is there, since animals in one form or another exist everywhere (who knew house cats could be so vindictive?), and a carefully coordinated plot on their part to exact revenge on our species certainly would catch the human population unaware. If you can overlook the preposterous science, the implications of such an event do make for some decent drama.
Patterson fans' curiosity about this book-inspired series likely will bring many to Zoo, but reactions may be mixed. Though the premise makes for good TV, stories never watch exactly the same as they read. To their credit, the show's cast members do a great job maintaining the tension as events unfold, but they can't entirely compensate for the somewhat implausible theory that sets this series in motion. If extinction drama is your thing, then Zoo is one to add to your viewing history. If not, you may find the whole thing a bit campy for your liking.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about conservation and the environment. How have humans' habits threatened the existence of wildlife? Which measures are being taken now to correct that? Why is it our responsibility to correct that?
Is the concept of this story in any way conceivable? Why are the doomsday and dystopian genres so popular in movies and TV?
If you've read the book, how does this show compare? What types of books best make the transition to the screen? Are you a fan of Patterson's work? Who are some of your favorite authors?
Themes & Topics
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