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Recommended age 7-18
30 minutes
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WHAT A DISASTER! cover image Click to play video trailer
What A Disaster! is an enjoyable family watch, after which you'll be prepared for any disaster that might come your way. The unique format, engaging challenges and crucial message all make this an amazing movie to watch over Thanksgiving!

What A Disaster! is a game-show style program hosted by Jay Jackson, centering around three Southern-Californian families (The Yang family, the Smith family and the Luna family) competing to be crowned the most prepared for any natural disaster that may come their way. They're also competing to receive $1,000. The families are led through a series of challenges that include knowing where your utilities are and what to pack if you're running out of a burning building.

As this is a PBS production, the 40 minute film is stitched together quite well. The contestants are spontaneous and bring life to the film, especially the little kids! I also enjoyed Jay Jackson's bubbly hosting. He looks upon these families as his neighbors, and the care he has is evident. There are some points where the contestants' voices seem to echo or reverb, though. It is also a bit obvious that the judges are reading from a script, as their eye line is off-center. But overall, the production value does not drag What A Disaster! down.

As its title would give away, the film promotes disaster preparedness and staying safe in any situation. Also, this film endorses messages of sticking together, especially with family, and teamwork. This is an especially important message for 2020, given the wildfires that SoCal has suffered, and I'm super glad that PBS produced this program.

I give What A Disaster! 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18. Adults would enjoy this film as well. What A Disaster! premieres in Southern California this Thanksgiving on Thurs., Nov. 26 at 7 p.m. on PBS SoCal and encores on Sat., Nov. 28 at 8 p.m. on KCET.

Reviewed by Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

see youth review below
PBS SoCal, Southern California's home for new PBS program premieres, debuts an entertaining new spin on emergency preparedness with the special What A Disaster! The fun new game show hosted by Jay Jackson (Parks & Recreation) challenges three Southern California families to test their emergency readiness plans in the event of the next wildfire, earthquake, flood or other disaster. Viewers will follow the contestants' progress through a series of fast-paced, exciting tasks that include comical twists designed to educate and teach critical, lifesaving guidance.

The competition-themed special seeks to raise awareness on the importance of disaster preparedness as well as equip viewers with an understanding of the "do's and don'ts" in emergency situations. Produced during the COVID-19 pandemic, each family's strategies will be judged remotely by two disaster response experts: El Sol Neighborhood Educational Center in San Bernardino's Lulu Lopez and LISTOS National Program Director Liliana Encinas. The family with the most creative and resourceful solutions will be rewarded with a $1,000 cash prize. The other families with the least number of successes will be receiving a Disaster Preparedness Kit.

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