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TAC Reviews...Mythbusters

Date Posted: 31/01/15


An ongoing series aired on the Discovery Channel in which two science geeks and their three assistants test myths and legends to see if the truth will reveal if the myth could be Confirmed, at least Plausible, or totally Busted.


Mythbusters - Ongoing series


Now I will admit that I didn't used to like Mythbusters to me it seemed the whole premise of the show was to rain on other people's parades.


You know the bit in Superman The Movie when he flies up into space and turns back time by rotating the Earth the other way, yes, we all know that is stupid but we just enjoy the film anyway. My interpretation of the mythbusters were kill-joys who would say "Well, actually you cannot do that" - yes thanks geniuses, we all know you cannot do that but we are watching a film about an alien that looks human who is given superpowers by the sun - so yeah we're not exactly rooted in realism anyway. But you know what, I gave the show a chance (not sure why - I'm pretty sure it was the only thing on one day so I watched it) and it actually surprised me. It is good fun and reaches some interesting conclusions the episodes will almost always end with something blowing up.


The gist of the show is that popular myths, urban legends, and movie magic tricks are put to the test by special effects experts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman. Initially Jamie and Adam conducted the experiments themselves but over the course of the series they were joined by the junior mythbusters Tori Belleci, Kari Byron, and Scottie Chapman. Scottie left the show for personal reasons and was subsequently replaced by robotics expert Grant Imahara. 


The basic idea behind the series is that two special effects experts, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, who have over thirty years of experience in the field, put various myths to the test to see if they are based in fact. No myth or urban legend is safe as the pair work to determine which myths could actually be possible in real life. However, they never stop even if a myth is busted in its early stages, they always continue until they have a ‘ramped up’ result.


During the course of the series they have tested to see if elephants really are scared of mice, if it would be possible to make a cannon out of a tree log, and dozens of others. They have tackled conspiracy theories and movie myths. When Adam and Jamie were joined by three others Tori Belleci, Kari Byron and Scottie Chapman, the structure of the series changed with Adam and Jamie focussing on one set of myths, with the junior mythbusters working on others. It is a rarity that the two teams come together to work on larger myths but it does happen once in a while.


After Scottie Chapman left the series she was replaced by Grant Imahara, who has expertise in both robotics and electronics. The format of each episode is essentially the same with Jamie and Adam having a conversation regarding some myth they wish to test, and they go and test it. Grant, Kari and Tori then have a similar conversation about a myth they want to test before going off to put their myth through its paces.


The Mythbusters will always come to a conclusion at the end of their experiments, however, there have been a number of occasions when the viewing audience haven’t thought that the mythbusters haven’t gotten their experiments right. As a result the mythbusters have revisits in which they re-test past myths to see if they did indeed get it right or the viewers were right and they got it wrong. There is also a fan site in which fans can post suggestions for different myths they wish the team to test, not surprisingly after the film Wanted hit the big screen the fans wanted to know if curving a bullet was actually possible, and so the mythbusters put it to the test.


Some of the best episodes are the specials in which an entire episode is devoted to a single theme, for example the Pirate special, the Ninja special or the James Bond specials.


Those not familiar with the show may be forgiven for thinking that the Mythbusters are essentially a bunch of killjoys, the kind of people who sit at the back of the cinema criticising everything they see. As I said, this was the view I had before I sat down to watch a few episodes. However, actually a lot of what they do is very interesting, and some of the myths that they confirm defy belief.


On the whole Mythbusters is a great show which brings science to its audience in a fun way with two hosts that may argue sometimes but are both experts in their field. Some of the conversations sound staged but considering the audience is watching real people and not actors, that is to be expected. Mythbusters is a good series and is a well worth watching, and for UK viewers can be found on the Discovery Channel.


Recently it has been confirmed that Kari, Grant and Tory will be leaving the show and Adam and Jamie are returning to hosting it themselves. This is a shame, but hopefully the show will survive their departure.


Mythbusters has been going strong for ten years with Jamie and Adam doing a guest spot on The Simpsons and that is the sign that a how has really made an impact. There are plenty of explosions, with spectacular experiments. It is a really easy Sunday show. One of those programmes you can put on when you’re hung-over, it is certainly worth watching and is generally a group of people having some fun with science.


Good fun science show, and if it has been going for ten years it must be doing something right so I'm giving Mythbusters a Thumbs Up



8/10 - Good fun science show that turns up some surprising results.


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© Chris Sharman