Discovery Channel // 2003 // 514 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Dan Mancini (Retired) // May 6th, 2009
Jamie Hyneman: Give me a break.
Adam Savage: Don't try anything you're about to see us do at home.
Who are the Mythbusters? Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage are science geeks who had successful careers as practical special effects technicians on feature films before they ever achieved television fame. Hyneman's film credits include Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and The Matrix Reloaded, while Savage worked on the likes of A.I.: Artificial Intelligence and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. The Discovery Channel launched Mythbusters in 2003, a show in which the demented scientific duo subject urban legends and other myths to the scientific method. Hyneman and Savage are joined by a three-member build team that takes on myths of its own: model builder Tory Belleci, sculptor Kari Byron, and electronics expert Grant Imahara.
Each 43-minute episode of Mythbusters explores two or three myths drawn from a variety of pop culture sources. This Volume 4 collection explores everything from Internet viral videos, to superhero absurdities, to the persistent rumors that Neil Armstrong's one giant leap for mankind was a government-funded hoax. The two disc set contains a hodge-podge of 12 episodes from the series:
* "Walking on Water"
The team tests a variety of legendary feats attributed to ninjas, including using bare hands to stop a sword, catching an arrow in flight, and walking on water.
* "Western Myths"
Can a horse pull out the bars of a jail? Can you shoot someone's hat off with a revolver? Adam and Jamie explore a number of myths from movie Westerns. Meanwhile, Tory, Kari, and Grant tackle a question from the Mythbusters fan site: Can an car's airbag turn a Slim Jim into a deadly projectile?
* "Big Rig Myths"
The team tests some myths involving motor vehicle mayhem. Can an exploding truck tire decapitate a motorcyclist? Does drafting behind a truck really improve fuel efficiency? Is it possible to drive a car into a moving tractor trailer, Knight Rider style?
* "Viewer Special"
In this episode based entirely on fan requests, the Mythbusters test if sneezing can blow your eyeballs out, a car can be stopped by throwing it into reverse, cigarette butts fired from a rifle can kill you, and you can pick a car door lock using a tennis ball.
* "Superhero Hour"
Jamie and Adam attempt to build a rig that will fire a grappling hook into concrete and hoist a full-grown man into the air à la Batman. Taking a page from The Phantom, Tory, Kari, and Grant test whether it's possible to punch someone hard enough to leave an imprint of a ring in the person's face.
* "Lead Balloon"
Can a balloon made out of lead fly, or will it go over like a lead balloon? Adam and Jamie are determined to find out. Tory, Kari, and Grant test whether it's possible to surf a wave created by an underwater explosion.
* "Airplane on a Conveyor Belt"
Adam and Jamie take on a myth that has caused a heap of controversy on the show's fan site: Can an airplane travelling at its take-off speed while riding on a conveyor belt running the opposite direction at the same speed manage to lift off? Tory, Grant, and Kari want to know if cockroaches can really survive a nuclear explosion. As a side experiment, the crew tests a practical joke: will the foam in a can a frozen shaving cream expand to fill an entire car as it warms?
* "MacGyver Myths"
In the show's 100th episode, the team explores a bunch of myths based on the small screen adventures of the 1980s' most resourceful secret agent. Can you blow a hole in a concrete wall with a gram of sodium? Is it possible to build a functional, full-sized bamboo airplane? Finally, Tory and Grant put Adam and Jamie to a four-tiered MacGuyver challenge: Can the duo escape from jail using a light bulb, develop a roll of film with orange juice, make a compass out of a paperclip, a cork, and a some water, and then create a rescue signal using potatoes and PVC pipe?
* "NASA Moon Landing"
Jamie and Adam explore myths that the moon landing was an elaborate hoax. Among them: the lighting in lunar still photos indicates multiple light sources, distinct footprints couldn't have been left on a moisture-free moon, and an American flag couldn't have flapped in a vacuum. Cooler still, as a way of plunging a dagger into the heart of the various conspiracy theories, they bounce a super-powerful laser off of a reflector left on the moon's surface by astronauts.
* "Viral Hour"
The team turns their collective scientific eye on viral internet videos involving a sawdust canon, a water-powered rocket car, and fainting goats. Are the videos real or just camera trickery?
* "Phone Book Friction"
Are phone books with interleaved pages resilient enough to resist the force of two cars trying to pull them apart? Taking a page from Deep Blue Sea, Tory, Grant, and Kari try to kill a (fake) shark with gun powder, a harpoon gun, and a boat battery.
* "Water Stun Gun"
Adam and Jamie attempt to build a water-based stun gun. Tory, Grant, and Kari test whether throwing a fire extinguisher into flames will put out a fire. Finally, the entire team tries its feet at firewalking.
Mythbusters' greatness is in its perfect blend of inquisitive intelligence and knuckleheaded tomfoolery. While the team goes to rigorous lengths to devise and execute sound experiments that bust or confirm the various myths they investigate, they also go out of their way to ensure that the show entertains on a primitive "guys like to watch mayhem" level. Okay, so an automobile's airbag can't possibly launch a Slim Jim into a car thief's neck, but that doesn't stop the Mythbusters crew from using an accurate skull replica, ballistics gel, and an air cannon to test the force and velocity necessary for a thin piece of metal to pierce bone. Okay, so two cars driving in opposite directions can't overcome the friction holding together a pair of phone books with their pages interleaved. Can two Sherman tanks get the job done? Mythbusters is every bit as cool as it is educational.
On top of the show's fine mix of science and adolescent hijinks, it also delivers a likable cast that play well off of one another. Jamie Hyneman's tight-lipped, walrus-mustached reserve is perfectly balanced by Adam Savage's boundless and sometimes brash energy. Tory, Kari, and Grant are an affable team that delivers an enjoyable cocktail of intelligence, wit, geeky resourcefulness, and I-love-my-job enthusiasm. The earnest inquisitiveness of the five Mythbusters makes for infectious (and educational) entertainment.
Shot on video, Mythbusters looks decent on DVD but not excellent. Colors are mostly accurate, though occasionally a bit washed out. Detail is acceptable, but doesn't match the broadcast quality on Discovery HD. Audio is a perfectly functional though not particularly dynamic Dolby Stereo. There are no extras.
Want to know whether cockroaches can survive a nuclear blast, or if men really have walked on the moon? I won't spoil it for you. Pick up this set.
The awesomeness of Mythbusters is confirmed.
Review content copyright © 2009 Dan Mancini; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Discovery Channel
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 514 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Site