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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Zorro: The Chronicles follows a teenage Zorro as he battles the forces of injustice in his town. The tyrants are lawmakers, which puts him at odds with those in charge and could be confusing for kids with a rigid understanding of right and wrong. As you'd expect, there's a lot of action in this show, with swords and Zorro's whip dominant in the clashes, but Zorro never looks to hurt anyone, only to disarm. Expect to hear some name-calling ("idiot," "buffoon," and the like) and derogatory treatment of Native Americans by the settlers. On the other hand, Diego, Ines, and their friends are poster kids for following your conscience and treating others with respect.
What's the story?
ZORRO: THE CHRONICLES opens as Don Diego returns to his home of California after years away at a school in Spain. He arrives to find that corruption has taken firm hold of his town, led by the unscrupulous Captain Monasterio, and the people are suffering under unfair rules and regulations. Inspired to action, Diego unleashes his masked alter ego, Zorro, on the tyrants, freeing those unjustly imprisoned and opening the coffers to set things right. With his best friend, Bernardo, and his twin sister, Ines, keeping his secret, Zorro fights for justice for all.
Is it any good?
Blending action and humor, this rendition of the classic masked hero has adventure that appeals to kids but also some serious themes. Diego -- and, by extension, Zorro -- is like the cool older brother every kid wishes he had; he's charismatic, easygoing, and a real cutup, not to mention the best partner in lopsided fights with the corrupters in town. What's more, the fact that he keeps his alter ego a secret gives him a certain humility that's appealing, since he's in it for justice and not for his own family. And not to be outdone by her brother, Ines is feisty and outspoken and matches wits with the bad guys in her own way.
On the other hand, there are some aspects of the show that might give parents pause. While Diego's duplicity makes sense for him to protect his identity, the fact that he encourages Bernardo to feign deafness to their advantage (so he can overhear conversations that aren't meant for him) has negative connotations. From a historical perspective, Zorro: The Chronicles also glosses over the complex interactions between settlers and Native Americans (who speak flawless English, mind you), only superficially addressing issues such as slavery and the seizure of land. And then there's that sticky matter of breaking the law to do what's morally right, which raises many dilemmas of its own. The bottom line? This series isn't a mindless watch, and kids may come away from it with some questions about these heavier themes.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Zorro's sense of right and wrong in Zorro: The Chronicles. What inspires his respect for people? Why is it important to judge a person's character rather than his appearance?
How does this series present women? Who are some of your favorite female characters on TV?
Kids: Have you ever been at odds with a rule or set of rules? When is it OK to follow your conscience rather than the rule of law? Would the possible repercussions be worth it?
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