Discovery Channel's MythBusters TV Series Review
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Discovery Channel's MythBusters TV Series Review

The Discovery Channel's MythBusters debuted on January 23, 2003. Special effects wizards Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage explore a wide array of popular myths using science as their principal tool. The sinking of the RMS Titanic, escapes from Alcatraz, Civil War rockets, Hitler assassination attempts, pre-mature Edgar Allan Poe-type burials, tongue piercing lightning strikes, mirror death rays and elevator malfunctions are just some of the topics examined.

MythBusters follows the exploits of a pair of special effects wizards who conduct experiments into various myths and urban legends. Nothing is too wild for our brave adventurers as they explore a wide array of scientific phenomena and commonly held beliefs.

MythBusters Debuts in 2003

MythBusters was created by Peter Rees of Australia's Beyond Television Productions. Originally titled Tall Tales or True, MythBusters made its premiere over the Discovery Channel on January 23, 2003, starring Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage.

The premiere episode "Jet-Assisted Chevy" featured Hyneman and Savage putting to the test two myths: a) Could a 1967 Chevrolet become air borne via jet-fuel assisted take off?; b) Could the popular carbonated candy Pop Rocks combined with soda pop cause a stomach rupture?  Also featured in the second-half that evening was the segment "Biscuit Bazooka," which explored three "pressing" issues: a) Could biscuit dough explode in a heated car?; b) Could a person be sucked into an airplane lavatory toilet?; c) Could one hurl himself through the window of a skyscraper?

MythBusters stars: Jamie Hyneman, left, and Adam Savage - Discovery Channel

MythBusters: Duct Tape Island

One of the more fascinating episodes is "Duct Tape Island," episode #198 originally telecast on March 25, 2012. This 60-minute segment features Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage testing their survival skills on a deserted island – actually Turtle Bay on Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands.

The premise is simple: Hyneman and Savage wash up on the island with only a huge pallet of duct tape comprising their supplies. Our fearless castaways then get to work, running through a checklist of survival necessities: signal beacon, clothes, water, food, shelter, rescue, et al.

The first order of business is the signal beacon, which comes in the form of a big S.O.S. laid out on the beach in duct tape. Adam then constructs a nifty duct tape hat for protection from the sun and wind. The two adventurers also make sandals from duct tape, which prove to be a godsend from the hot sand, bugs and jungle brush .

A normal human being can only survive three days without water, thus the castaways begin their search for precious H2O. Jamie constructs a solar still using only duct tape and the plastic wrap which came with it. A hole is dug in the sand with Jamie striking salt water. The plastic is placed over the hole, whereby fresh water evaporates into a container made of duct tape. Although the amount is small, the fresh water is welcome, though Adam later discovers an unlimited source of drinking water, using 6 1/2 liter duct tape containers to store and transport the precious element.

Food is next on the agenda, with Jamie fashioning a bamboo spear secured by duct tape which he uses to snag a fish in the ocean. Adam proves to be as innovative, as he makes a duct tape snare which he uses to catch a wild chicken. A fire is then started using a friction bow and duct tape.

On Day 4 the two men build more permanent shelter – they had been sleeping on duct tape mattresses – constructing duct tape hammocks, a duct tape table and chair and even a chess set made of duct tape. Jamie even makes a duct tape surfboard, which he tries out in the ocean with less than spectacular results.

After four days our castaways are watered, sheltered and well-fed, but it's time to start thinking of an escape from the island. The two men then construct a 20-foot bamboo/duct tape canoe with outrigger for balance, which they complete in a mere six hours. They stock their canoe with several weeks of provisions, all of which are housed in duct tape containers. The hairiest part of the journey proves to be the breaking waves as they embark from the beach. But amazingly their improvised boat holds together thanks to duct tape – called "miracle material" by Adam – as they later spy land and eventual rescue.

MythBusters: Wild Science Explored

MythBusters is a fascinating show with a bent towards the wild side of science. Since 2003, Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage along with their various helpers – Tory Belleci, Kari Byron, Grant Imahara, et al., – have taken on a wide range of myth-busting projects. They include such diverse fare as:

  • exploding toilets
  • pre-mature burial in a coffin
  • an escape from Alcatraz in a makeshift raft
  • techniques used to beat police breathalyzers
  • guns fired in airplanes during flight
  • RMS Titanic and its ensuing suction as it sunk in 1912
  • Jimmy Hoffa and his alleged burial in "coffin corner" at Giants Stadium
  • a prison escape using salsa
  • tissue boxes as possible deadly projectiles in car crashes
  • Confederate rockets of the Civil War
  • cell phone use and airplane crashes
  • gliders made of concrete
  • yodeling and avalanches
  • knocking the stuffing out of a baseball
  • Adolf Hitler's survival from a 1944 assassination attempt

Movie fans will especially enjoy the series as Hyneman and Savage examine various stunts and situations used in such films and TV shows as The Green Hornet, Lethal Weapon 2, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Jaws, Mission: Impossible and MacGyver.

Can a penny dropped from the Empire State Building in New York actually kill a person or penetrate the ground? The answer to that question and many others can be found in MythBusters. Tune in at your own risk, but watch out for those exploding toilets...

Top Image

  • MythBusters TV logo - Discovery Channel

Copyright © 2012 William J. Felchner. All rights reserved.

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Comments (2)

The show is based in San Francisco, so they tend to fill around the Bay Area here pretty often.  Of course, not at the bomb range in Alameda County at Dublin any more. 

I have watched this show on occasion and it is often quite interesting.

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