What do you get when you combine Bear Grylls and Bill Dance, and then toss in a little history, a ton of mystery and even some cultural education? The answer: Animal Planet’s River Monsters, which stars extreme angler Jeremy Wade as he investigates mysterious attacks on people and animals — and then finds the water predator that was the culprit.
Sometimes he catches a fish, while other times he lures in something stranger, like an eel or a squid. But whatever he pulls up from the deep, the show is always edge-of-your-seat fascinating.
It began airing in 2008 but I didn’t discover it until recent weeks – thanks to my 10-year-old-son Graham — when Amazon Prime added the first nine seasons to its catalogue. Ever since, he and I have been on a River Monsters binge.
The 62-year-old Wade is the perfect fit for the show, with a skill level and flare for boldness and bravery that few could muster. The British native also speaks about a dozen languages, which benefits him when he’s in the jungles of Africa or the countryside of Peru.
For Christian families, there are only three caveats: 1) the show can be intense, 2) he occasionally swears – mostly d—n, and 3) he often discusses local religions.
With my 10-year-old son, I’ve used the show as a stepping stone to discuss cultures, worldviews and false gods – with extreme fishing as a backdrop.
Eight Men Out (May 1, PG) – It’s the story of the 1919 “Black Sox” scandal that forever changed baseball. But beware: Despite its PG rating, this 1988 film has some rough language. A PG-13 rating would have been more appropriate.
Rocky through Rocky V (May 1, various ratings) – I’m not a boxing fan, but the U.S.-vs.-Soviet Union storyline in Rocky IV still gives me chills. Of course, these films may not be appropriate for the kids. Rocky V is rated PG-13. The others are PG.
Dino Dana, Season 2 (May 22, TV-G) – In this animated children’s series, a young, budding paleontologist interacts with real (CGI) dinosaurs in her backyard. I enjoyed watching season one with my children, but you might want to screen an episode first to ensure it’s appropriate.
A Little Help with Carol Burnett (May 4, rating unknown) – Children dish out advice to help celebrities solve their life problems. Comedy icon Carol Burnett hosts it. I haven’t watched a screener, but the trailer looks promising.
Coco (May 29, PG) – A little Mexican boy who loves music is transported into the Land of the Dead, where he meets his deceased relatives in hopes that they will bless his musical career. This Disney/Pixar flick is artistically beautiful, although the worldview may concern some parents. (My youngest kids haven’t watched it yet.)
Chonda Pierce: Enough (currently streaming, TV-PG) – We get a glimpse of the Christian comedian on and off the stage following the death of her husband.
Eight Men Out (May 1, PG) – See above.
Rocky through Rocky V (May 1, various ratings) – See above.
Looking for some water fun without the monsters? Check out Living Waters Canoe.
Michael Foust is the husband of an amazing wife named Julie and the father of four young children.