The premise of Mythbusters is a glorious thing: take silly ideas, and explosively, messily, noisily and mischievously put them under scrutiny. It had a fun Odd Couple dynamic with Jamie and Adam, and an occasional dash of prettiness from the lovely Kari. But, as TV shows are wont to do, it’s grown from a scrappy, relatively low-budget hour of nerdy japes into an obnoxious, self-congratulatory batch of bad comedy skits laced slightly with decreasingly fascinating science-y bits. (All of which was crystallised for me tonight, when I tuned in to find the MBs goofing around with Seth Rogen and “testing” some of the stunts from Rogen’s conveniently cross-promotable Green Hornet movie. Although the most interesting test was how often can I hear Rogen’s supernatural laugh before cowering in a corner.) It’s like when The Simpsons stopped being “clever cartoon” and became “longest running animated series on TV so we don’t have to try anymore, really, so here’s a celebrity voice you might recognise, and also here’s your gigantic bag of cash Mr Groening”, except not quite as disillusioning because Mythbusters wasn’t a huge part of my childhood that’s now lying in tatters at the bottom of a well somewhere in the dark corners of my brain.
Anyway, here are some low-key myths I think they should bust, to get back to their roots.
A watched pot never boils… or DOES IT?
This one’s pretty simple, really. Grant builds a robot that places a pot of water on a heated hob, then all three B team members watch it intently. Over the course of the hour, build to an exciting climax, where Kari, Grant and Tory all watch three pots each, and hope they all boil over simultaneously, at which point they high five enthusiastically, before an unfortunate timing error results in Grant horrifically scalding himself.
Two heads are better than one.
This is one is more complicated, so they could start with a scale test. Glue a second head onto a doll, and see if small children react more favourably. Then, once they’ve figured that much out and quieted the crying children, put a second head MADE OUT OF THIS SPECIAL BALLISTICS GEL on Buster, and see if he survives potentially fatal head trauma thanks to his trusty second head. And if he doesn’t, bring in a physics expert to explain in condescendingly simple terms to Adam and Jamie why Buster didn’t survive a point blank shotgun blast to the temple just because he had two heads. Then, for the big finale, they hire a shady backstreet surgeon to graft a dog’s head onto Jamie’s shoulder, and it just stays there for the rest of the season.
It’s always in the last place you look.
Kari and Grant take Tory out to Usery Park, Arizona, where they blindfold him, then run off to hide a number of his personal belongings. Once they come back, they remove the blindfold, give him an item to search for, and see if it ends up being in the last place he looks. Instead, he dies of heat exhaustion.
The show’s producers have kidnapped a king’s child thirty years prior to filming, and trust a neighbouring monarch to raise him to be a fierce warrior prince. Adam dresses up as an Oracle and tells the prince he’ll murder his own father and mother. Unimpressed by this claim, the prince promptly returns to his home nation to find his parents overthrown by the revolting masses hungering for democracy, and himself an unfortunate anachronism, and is mistakenly killed at the hands of an overzealous rioter who was distracted by a tweet on his iPhone.