Stolen Pixels #219: Mythbombers

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Aug 10, 2010

Filed under: Column 61 comments

I think Jamie and the Engineer have a lot in common with their soft-spoken, polite, property- exploding demeanor.

This is the only way the show could ever be improved.

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t watch TV. At least, not on purpose. My one weakness is Mythbusters. Here is how the drama plays out:

I’m sitting in my office writing a post or a comic, when I realize I’m out of water. I head for the kitchen through the living room, where my son is watching Mythbusters. Adam will be strapped to the nosecone of a scale replica of a Saturn V rocket. Jamie will be at the base, testing to see if you can light the solid fuel with various household devices. A terrified fire crew will be cowering behind their trucks. Adam will have on a bike helmet and some knee pads for protection, and he’ll be yelling down to everyone, “Hey! This is awesome, isn’t it?”

I’ll stop, water bottle in hand. Oh, I gotta see how this one turns out.

Then they cut away to Grant, Tory and Kari.

Dang. I wanted to see if Adam perished on the landing pad or if he died in the upper atmosphere.

Grant is building a robot to fling bricks at Tory at barely-subsonic speeds. Carrie is describing what happens to human bones when struck with high velocity bricks for the benefit of the slow people in the audience.

Geeze. What the hell myth are they testing? Who cares? It’s robots and danger. Let’s see what happens.

Eventually the end-of-show explosion shakes me out of my stupor.

Ow. My legs are tired. I’m thirsty. Oh. I’ve been standing in the middle of the living room holding this empty water bottle for half an hour.

I leave the room, fill up on water, and pass back through the living room on my way to the office. Son has let Netflix roll right on to the next episode. “In this episode… Adam is set on fire and strapped to the nose of one of Japan’s famous high-speed ‘Shinkansen’ bullet trains. Will the extreme speed be enough to blow out the flames?”

Hm. I’ll just watch the first couple of minutes.


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61 thoughts on “Stolen Pixels #219: Mythbombers

  1. Integer Man says:

    Agreed. Mythbusters is freaking awesome and Jamie looks like a super villain in a bomb suit.

  2. Jeremiah says:

    So now we know the real reason when updates are slowed or delayed.

    At least it’s for a good cause.

  3. Meredith says:

    I love that show. It keeps getting sillier as it goes on, but who can argue with massive explosions and robots?

    1. Aldowyn says:

      It’s getting sillier because they’re going farther afield with the myths– and probably specifically looking for ones to do with explosions and robots.

      Hmm, I wonder if they’ve ever done anything with lightsabers?

  4. Deoxy says:

    I’ve seen a few episodes of Mythbusters, and yes, it’s good… but your description of it is even better. Heh. :-)

  5. Michael says:

    You know, Mythbombers isn’t too far from what they actually do. Every episode I’ve seen has an explosion in it. No matter what they’re doing.

    Testing the echo in a mine? Let’s use explosives as our sound source!

    Seeing if a duck’s quack echoes? Let’s make fireworks that blow up in the shape of a duck!

    Want to know how fast a bullet travels? LET’S FIRE THE GODDAMN GUN AT A CHUNK OF EXPLOSIVE.

    I may be exaggerating.

    1. Mari says:

      If you are it’s not by much. It’s part of the charm of MythBusters. At least, it was last time I saw it. Since we gave up television my viewing has been spotty at best, but before that I watched religiously and at that time Jamie and Adam were pretty upfront about the fact that they didn’t feel a show was complete without an explosion or at the very least something catching fire even if they had already busted the myth and were now just blowing stuff up for the sheer joy of it.

      1. Jeremiah says:

        And, really, what more excuse does a person need to blow something up than “the sheer joy of it.”

        1. Will says:

          None whatsoever.

        2. Raygereio says:

          You speak with wisdom, good sir.
          So says the guy that synthesised 1,2,3-trinitroxypropane (nitroglycerin) and 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT) at work today when my boss asked me to demolish an old toolshed. The man should really learn not to ask questions like that to a chemist.

          “But Shamus! I don’t have a flamethrower!”
          We’re geeks (often geeks with no life). Build one, dammit!

        3. Mari says:

          I hope that’s a rhetorical question. It must be because you’re asking somebody who once got asked not to come back to CHURCH camp after paying off the thousand dollars of damage that my roommates and I did to our suite by attempting to light flatulence. I offer no defense beyond “Yes, it was childish but I was 13.”

          1. mark says:

            At my church camp, we shot biscuits with a BB Gun and broke beds by jumping on them…

      2. Pickly says:

        Some times it is part of the fun, sometimes the explosions are too much.

        I tend to like it simply for the “What would happen if we tried … ” parts, especially when something unexpected happens. (the Bull in a China Shop one was quite fun to watch.)

  6. Nyaz says:

    Oh great, now I feel the need to watch some Mythbusters. Daaaamn yooouuu

  7. WysiWyg says:

    I believe this quote says it all; “when in doubt, C4”. (Which incidentally they translated to “when in doubt, say fore” in Swedish ;-)).

    1. Blackbird71 says:

      To which I’ll add my preferred motto: “There’s nothing that can be blown up with one pound of C4 that can’t be blown up twice as well with two pounds of C4.”

  8. Hal says:

    My favorite episode is still when they covered alcohol myths (sobering techniques, beer goggles, order of consumption of drinks).

    If it’s wrong to watch people get plastered and make fools of themselves on national television “for science,” then I don’t want to be right.

    1. Dev Null says:

      Wait. I don’t get it. What did they blow up?

      1. Sekundaari says:

        The other guys tested the hwacha. There you go.

        That wasn’t the best part, though – Jamie slapping Adam in the face in slow motion was.

        1. Hal says:

          No, the best part was Adam falling on the treadmill and getting thrown into the wall.

  9. Gravebound says:

    I liked the show better when they would finish one myth before moving on to the next. It’s too jarring when they jump between two (or more) myths constantly; like watching two different shows ten minutes at a time.

    1. Drew says:

      What kills me is that every time they switch myths, or come back from commercial, they completely re-explain what the myth is, then recap everything they’ve done so far. It seems like 75% of the running time of the show is spent recapping the earlier parts of the show. It’s infuriating. Especially because it’s so fun when they’re actually doing something.

      1. Peter H. Coffin says:

        This is why the Good Lord gave us DVRs.

      2. MichaelG says:

        Amen! I start yelling at the TV when they do that! “You just told us this 5 minutes ago! We’re not idiots!”

        1. Irridium says:

          They probably do that for people like Shamus. Who are just passing by, and wondering what myth they’re testing.

          1. mark says:

            Yelling and fast forwarding helps. I don’t watch TV when its on anymore. BBC iPlayer + 4oD + eztv + pirate bay = pretty much any TV worth watching on demand, streamed to my TV via xbox 360 from my home server (really just my desktop PC, but its on 24/7 and since installing windows 7, it only gets rebooted for windows updates).

  10. Tohron says:

    You’re not alone in having Mythbusters as the only show you watch. Perhaps it’s the way they combine intelligent analysis with explosions that makes it so fun to view.

    1. MichaelG says:

      Mythbusters, Man vs. Wild, Top Gear and The IT Crowd. All available as torrents (EZTV).

  11. eri says:

    I love Mythbusters, sometimes more in concept than in practice. What absolutely kills the show for me, though, is that since it’s MADE FOR TV, approximately 50% of every single episode is devoted to explaining what already happened five minutes ago. I understand that some amount of recapping is required if you’re just tuning into the show and want to get into it. But sometimes I get the sense that they literally do not have enough content to fill up an hour and so they pad it out by recapping everything a dozen times over.

    It’s even worse than your standard “for those just tuning in” recapping, though, because it give me the distinct feeling that the producers of the show think I am an idiot. This is reinforced by the fact that the show seems geared towards giant explosions and “ooh, shiny” moments – which are cool, but only if backed up by interesting content as well. I do not like it when people insult my intelligence, because I would like to think I am, in fact, not an idiot. If anything, treating me like an infant earns you a spot on my “do not buy from” list.

    I should also point out that I hate television in general. I watch the show online. Maybe somehow the recapping isn’t as bad if you’re watching it with ads in between… but then you’ve got ads. Ugh.

    1. Syal says:

      I have no doubt they’re trying to stretch out whatever ideas they have. How else would you explain the “sticking your finger in a gun barrel makes it blow up” tests, if not “getting low on ideas”?

      1. eri says:

        I think they are starting to run out of myths, come to think of it… the first season or two had a good three or four myths per episode, but now they try to draw out two per episode as long as they can. I think that the focus on pop culture myths is a big problem… they need to diversify a bit more, since there’s a lot of cool stuff you can test which doesn’t need to be an urban legend.

  12. SnowballinHell says:

    I loved Mythbusters most back around the turn of the century (I’ll never get used to say that)
    I was with the show since Ep. 001 and we rarely missed a week or a rerun
    Then the Mythturns came…
    Grant, Tory, Kari are THE reason I stopped watching
    Adam and Jamie have this wonderful dynamic together, one plays off the other and you can see that they’ve gotten to know each other pretty well over the years (no one makes fun of Jamie except Adam)
    But when the Mythturns show up, I feel like I’m watching YouTube
    The only one I feel any connection to is Grant, cause at least he knows his stuff…want a robot, ask Grant
    My guess was that when the show began to take off, M5 got more business
    Jamie and Adam are the main fabricators for most of their stuff
    They just needed more time to actually work then to be on TV
    I miss the show a little now and then, but I’m glad M5 is doing well

    1. eri says:

      I don’t really mind those guys, and I’m sure they’re reasonably smart people, but sometimes I feel like they added Kari just for the T’n’A factor, and Tory because they need to have some “average dude” the audience can identify with. Bleh.

      1. Nick says:

        Kari has been with MB from the very beginning, you can even see her in the second episode, it’s her ass that they take a mold of for the aircraft toilet seat myth.

        1. SnowballinHell says:

          Aye, I remember that ass :D
          And if you pay attention, you can see alot of other employees in the background
          I’m not against having other Mythbusters, I remember Scottie very fondly
          But Kari and Tory are just unbearable for me
          It’s all moot, since I don’t watch TV anymore

    2. Jarenth says:

      I too feel this way. I don’t know why, but every time there’s something going on that’s not immediately related to Adam and Jamie I just zone out.

      Until something explodes.

  13. Greg B. says:

    Seriously, Shamus. If you watch one episode, you may as well turn it into a marathon.

    “If it’s worth doing, it worth OVERdoing!”

  14. Dev Null says:

    I loved the episode where they debunked (one of the many) Hindenburg myth(s). They do their research, and discover that there’s no reason to believe that the paint was really explosive. Jamie looks bored; he knows there’s nothin in this one, but they’re halfway through the episode now, so they’ve got to do the A-team montage anyways. So they build 3 scale models of the Hindenburg, paint two of them with more-or-less likely variations of the paint that it probably had on it… and then cover the third one with enough thermite that it could never, ever have flown. They do not bother to explain why – they know their audience, and their audience knows why. Adam then turns to camera and says effectively “this could never ever happen”… and then they proceed to blow things up.


    1. Nick says:

      They did the improbable one because it is part of their “policy”: replicate the circumstances of the myth, if the results are not the same as the myth, try to replicate the results.

      Although they seem to be leaving out that second part a lot more often now.

  15. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I dont bother with tv at home,because I simply hate commercials.Thats why Ive watched all the mythbusters online.However,when I come to any friends house,and mythbusters are on tv,I cannot help but rewatch the show.Even though I know all the myths they did.

    And though I like the explosions,my favourite myth was with the friction between the two phone books.Physics for the win!

    And,because I love waisting other peoples time:

    1. SatansBestBuddy says:

      Yeah, people say the explosions make the show worth watching, but for me, my favourite myths always turn out having no explosions involved.

      That phone book one is a definite favourite, as is the Lead Balloon or this one bungee cord myth involving a baby and a tanker. (I really wish I could find this on YouTube, it was awesome :( )

    2. FacelessJ says:

      40 minutes later, I return to say “I hate you for wasting my time, but thanks for the link”. :D

  16. somebodys_kid says:

    If this becomes another recurring series like Dr Breen’s late night talk show, I will be a very happy person.

  17. rayen says:

    it’s probably already been asked but is this going to become a regular comic format along with guys on a couch and travis?

    1. Shamus says:

      I don’t know. We’ll see if another one comes to mind.

      1. Hal says:

        On this episode of Mythbombers: Rocket-jumping: Viable means of transportation, or hilarious way to die?

      2. SatansBestBuddy says:

        On the next episode of Mythbombers: how many rocket launchers could you build onto a single sentry?

  18. Sekundaari says:

    The Mythbusters in Irregular Webcomic could very well be called Mythbombers too. “Well, adding pineapple to this gelatin dessert was pretty boring. Let’s try it with thirty sticks of dynamite!”

  19. Blackbird71 says:

    You know, I really love Mythbusters, even if their approach to the Scientific Method often leaves gaping flaws, and thier thouroughness leaves much to be desired, it’s still really fun to watch.

    However, lately it seems that they’ve been re-running old episodes, slapping little pop-up factoids on them, and passing them off as “new” episodes (“Buster’s Cuts”). This really bothers me, and makes me worry about the length of the show’s future as the quality steadily rolls downhill.

  20. Gandaug says:

    Shows like Mythbusters and The Universe are the only reason I own a TV.

  21. Yar Kramer says:

    I imagined the sidebar-column in the voice of the Soldier.

  22. Ken Zieger says:

    I like how the test subject looks like Brian from “Ghost Hunters.”

    I wanted to put a grenade in his pocket since the first episode of Hunters.

    1. Pickly says:

      It’s the Team Fortress 2 scout (If you didn’t know), and I would love ot put a grenade in that character’s pocket. Little gnats with all that running and jumping and flying and jumping…

      1. Ken Zieger says:

        Yes. But he still looks like that whiny “Dude, Run!” clown from Ghost Hunters.

  23. Nick says:

    I liked the show a lot more in the first few seasons, they focused more on scientific method, now it just seems like the science is tacked on to anything that will let them attract the attention of 5 year olds.

  24. Alden says:

    The only thing that confuses me about Mythbusters is that they’ve managed to run this long apparently without anyone incurring a serious injury.

    Of course, that’s half the fun, watching it just in case someone is horribly maimed. Or is that just me?

    1. Aldowyn says:

      Any serious injuries anyone has had (which they almost certainly have) probably wouldn’t end up on the actual show… unless they were REALLY, REALLY funny.

  25. Kalil says:

    My Materials Science professor at the Maritime Academy, aptly named Dr. Strange, has done consulting work for Mythbusters a few times. I was chatting with another faculty member in the hallway once, and Dr. Strange came up to us and asked how one would go about acquiring a large maritime vessel. We asked him what for, and he said he wanted to sink it. Apparently, the Mythbusters folks called him to inquire about procuring a ship to explode. We recommended checking out the Suisun Bay ‘ghost fleet’ – the government is pretty much willing to sell those cheap to anyone willing to dispose of them in a legal and environmentally friendly manner. So, if an old Victory Ship goes down in a huge fireball for their season finale, you’ll have me to thank. ;p

  26. Jarenth says:

    I have martial arts classes on Monday and Wednesday. These classes start at 7 PM. Mythbusters, which I will often tune into while eating on beforehand, runs from 6 to 7.

    Many a class has been missed this way.

  27. SteveDJ says:

    So which is worse – Mythbusters, or that Tropes site?

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