“Who are the Mythbusters?”
You know who the Mythbusters are, don’t you? They’ve been a staple on the Discovery Channel for over 12 years now. We’re now looking at Collection #13 on DVD. If you really don’t know who the Mythbusters are by now, I can’t think of a better way to get acquainted than to pick up these collections.
To answer the question, the Mythbusters were originally Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage. Jamie has done tons of f/x work on television commercials where he’s most famous for that 7-Up can-throwing machine seen during the Super Bowl. Adam comes from a line of entertainers including a father who worked as a “Muppeteer” on Sesame Street. He came out of George Lucas’s Industrial Light & Magic workshop, so you know he has a pretty good background at building amazing things. He also appeared as Mr. Whipple’s stock boy in the famous Charmin toilet paper commercials. Together they take on urban myths, fantastic claims, old wives’ tales, and iconic movie scenarios to find out if there’s any truth to these claims. The show’s hallmark is that something always invariably gets blown to pieces. Of course, we get to see it over and over again in slow motion courtesy of some sweet high-speed camera equipment. It all comes with the obligatory “don’t try this at home” warning several times throughout each episode.
After the first season the team was expanded to include a B team. This trio takes on the smaller myths, but these are in no way small. That team is made up of Tory Belleci, Grant Imahara, and Kari Byron, the single female in the group. Kari’s background is art. Tory also worked for Industrial Light & Magic, creating models for the second run of Star Wars films. Grant also worked for Lucas creating animatronics.
Each episode has the teams talking about some myth or idea often proposed through their website. The idea is then put through the science of it all. That’s where the guys do some calculations and research. From there it’s usually a small-scale test where the results can be more easily controlled and photographed. Of course, this isn’t the stuff that has made the show such a sensation over the years. We’re all waiting for the full-scale tests that usually spell trouble for cars, planes, buildings, boats and particularly Buster. Buster is the team’s mascot of sorts. He’s a crash-test dummy who has been really put through the wringer over the years. He’s been launched on rockets, shot at by canons, dropped from dizzying heights, scorched, blown up, and broken into the smallest of pieces. Obviously, he takes the punishment too severe for the hosts themselves.
That’s not to say the hosts don’t put themselves into some pretty hairy positions all in the name of science, or more likely ratings. The job comes with a guarantee of bruises, singed eyebrows, headaches, and assaulted senses. And let’s face it. Part of the fun is watching these guys taking those risks. It’s almost as entertaining as the show’s eventual explosions. It doesn’t really matter if a myth is busted or not. You can always count on these guys to go beyond the parameters of the original concept. You could say the show’s not over until there’s maximum carnage.
What makes the show infectious is that some of this stuff doesn’t turn out the way you or even the hosts expect. The energy of the hosts keeps it all interesting, even though they’re quite good at milking a moment. You’ll find that particularly annoying on DVD, where there’s always recap stuff following what would have been a commercial break when the show aired. The redundancy can sometimes be quite frustrating indeed. There’s good chemistry between Jamie, who is the show’s straight man, and Adam, who usually does the joking around. Combined with some of the amazing toys they get to play with, it’s enough to keep you watching even through the repetition.
The stunts often require the help of NASA, bomb squad guys, and other cops and feds to keep things under control. An occasional expert in a field will show up to offer assistance. Athletes show up to attempt some of the boundary-pushing feats. It’s usually pretty safe, but there is an episode contained here where the B team launched a cannonball through someone’s house. Fortunately no one was hurt, but you have to appreciate the honesty.
In the end it boils down to one of three verdicts. “Busted” means there’s no way it’s true. “Plausible” means that while the team might not have fully proven it, there was enough to suggest it could be possible under just the right conditions. “Confirmed” is pretty self-evident. It means that it really works. Again, you shouldn’t try this at home. In fact, once in a while they deliberately withhold a portion of the test, deeming it too dangerous to let us know what it is.
So what other kinds of things will you come across in this collection? The highlight has to be Explosions A-Z. This is a best-of explosion episode. No build-up. No small tests. This one goes directly to the big bangs themselves. Mythbusters doesn’t get much better than this.
I’m a little disappointed that there are no extras here. I have to believe there’s tons of stuff that didn’t make the cut that would be a hoot to watch. Some of it is offered online at Discovery.com. We’re told that some shows have bonus material you can access online. Why not include it on a DVD release? Likely all of those moments are not still available at the website, and during the show they’re telling us that they have cool material we didn’t get to see. With the constraints of a slotted broadcast show, I can completely understand. No excuse for it on a home video release. “Bye-bye.”