RogerBW's Blog

MythBusters season 20 07 March 2018

2017-2018, 14 episodes (12 broadcast at time of writing). A new team tests various myths, sayings and rumours, to see how they stack up against the real world.

I knew that there had been a contest to find new hosts for a revived series (MythBusters: The Search); I didn't watch it, because it smelled too much like reality-TV, which is a format that just doesn't work for me.

So I don't know what the other contestants were like, but the two they picked… grate. Adam and Jamie were the funny man and the straight man; Jon and Brian are both half-hearted funny men. Sure, they're excited about having been given an enjoyable job, but they don't play off each other; there's no chemistry, and no difference of opinion about the best way to achieve something. (It also seems like a shame, these days, that they couldn't find a female presenter. There are plenty of women with the right practical building skills, even in the film industry which does its best to ignore them.)

Also, in the early days of MythBusters, Adam in particular was a bit more restrained. By the time he got regularly into full clown mode, he'd earned the silliness with real practical engineering. These guys feel, not necessarily through their own fault, as if they've just been dropped into the Adam-and-Jamie-shaped hole in the programme, and we're expected to accept them without asking why they're there. Again, if I'd watched The Search this might have worked better for me. But I have watched all of Doctor Who and enjoyed most of it; this shouldn't have been as hard as it apparently was.

So I wasn't inclined to like the show, but I gave it a try anyway. But the science felt wrong too; the experimental design was sloppy at best, mendacious at worst. Sure, some of the old show's episodes were like that, but this seemed like every experiment: it was much more about putting on a show than about gathering data. So: can a sword cut through someone's neck cleanly enough to leave the head sitting on the stump? We'll concentrate entirely on how fast the blade is moving, and pay no attention at all to how sharp or thick it is. Can a bullet dug out of a tree by a chainsaw kill the chainsaw's operator? We'll claim that the bullet is likely to move much faster than the chain, without attempting to justify that, and then act really surprised when none of the experiments show it happening. Does listening to angry music cause more aggressive driving? We'll do a 5-participant study, putting them all through the calm music / angry music test in the same order.

Even when they get things right, they're putting in less effort than on the old show. Half of one episode is dedicated to building a rig to launch a 2lb fish at 35mph. With Adam and Jamie that would have been "hey, we've still got the air cannon, we've stuck a wide barrel on it and turned down the pressure a a bit, now let's go and do something more interesting". If you're claiming to have continuity with proper MythBusters, why not use it?

Well, I gave it a fair shot, but four episodes in I hadn't had fun or learned anything new. So: off my watch list. As Ookla the Mok (the group, not the cartoon character) sang: Everything Good Turns To Crap.

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