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Set Visit: Mythbusters wraps seventh series of science gone mad

by John Scott Lewinski, posted Oct 3rd 2009 10:00AM
The Mythbusters crew hosts a set visit in San Francisco.The Mythbusters crew aren't scientists, but they sort of play them on TV -- submitting everything from movie stunts to common household sayings to proven analytic methods.

Of course, it's more fun to determine whether you can cut a tree in half with a machine gun than it is to test the effectiveness of a new polymer, so Mythbusters gets a TV show -- and your average scientists don't.

To celebrate Mythbusters' completion of its seventh series of episodes on Discovery Channel, series stars Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage hosted a set visit of their testing and production facilities in an industrial park just outside San Francisco's Mission District.

Hyneman led the tour himself through M5 Industries -- a former visual effects house turned production shop for the popular debunking series.

"When people come through here on tours," Hyneman said, "they always say it's a lot smaller than they think. But, unless we're doing something in the field, this is where we do all of our investigations and produce all of our shows from here."

M5 sits in essentially a renovated warehouse. It's decorated with old animation and effects artifacts from such movies as Top Gun, Nightmare Before Christmas and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. There are also fragments of classic Mythbusters moments, such as the mangled remains of the crash test dummy, Buster.

Hyneman and company were wrapping work on the final episode of their latest commitment to Discovery Channel. Since the network doesn't set up precise runs for Mythbusters, the show works on episode orders rather than seasonal commitments. The bottom line is the show wrapped up its 168th hour of programming. That's a week's worth of shows if you aired Mythbusters 24/7 for seven days.

Savage credited the show's open-mindedness for its success and longevity. "There's really no limit to what we can take on here," he said. "There are areas we decide not to go into, but not because we feel restricted."

There's a system in place for Discovery Channel to review and approve ideas Mythbusters want to take on, but both Hyneman and Savage agreed the network rarely imposes any censorship. The only times when networks execs get nervous are when topics might tread too closely to would-be sponsors. For example, when the show tested whether or not Coca-Cola would melt teeth, it's a good thing the soft drink wasn't buying time on the show.

"We don't take on anything immoral, obviously," Hyneman said. "So, Discovery lets us take on even topics that might be in bad taste. We've looked at everything from exploding pants to flatulence to poo."

Hyneman referred to a recent episode in which the group studied whether it was really possible to "polish a turd." Studying various brands of animal dung (elephant, warthog, lion, ostrich, etc.) from the San Francisco Zoo and practicing the Japanese art of "mud-balling" (Dorodango), the team managed to produce smooth billiard balls of crap with the tensile strength of steel. Now, that's science.

Savage said the only myths the show has no intention of busting are instances that force them to prove a negative -- to make it clear that something doesn't exist.

"We don't go after ghosts because there aren't any," Savage explained. "We don't look for the Loch Ness Monster because it isn't there. It wouldn't be entertaining to do a show about those topics because there's nothing to prove or disprove."

As for the future, Hyneman sees no reason why they can't go on busting for a while. "Since there's no limits on what we want to take on, there's no reason to think we'll run out of ideas."

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While it frustrates me that Mythbuster's new episode schedule is so screwed up and impossible to track (only with the wonder of DVR can you do so), I do understand that it's best for them to clear the way for other major network fare on Wednesday nights.

The worst part is, they always choose to come back the same week LOST does, thus ruining my life (because South Park will do the same thing with their ludicrous schedule).

Shame you didn't get a picture of the Honey I Shrunk props... I love those films, and have never seen any of their props on the show in the background.

October 04 2009 at 9:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

No ghosts or Loch Ness Monster? How do they know that for sure if they won't look?

October 03 2009 at 1:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Have to laugh though, that Savage credits the show's open-mindedness for it success, then declares that they don't go after ghosts because "there aren't any."

Way to be open-minded.

October 03 2009 at 12:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Rich's comment

Pumpkinhead: I'm pretty sure they're not the ones who should be laughed at...this show is about science, not fantasy. If you enjoy believing in ghosts (or the tooth fairy, or santa claus), go watch some Ghost Hunters...

October 03 2009 at 11:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

A fantastic, fun show. I like their dynamic and try not to get too caught up in the science. They're showmen, not scientists.

However, the intern segments and the times when they try to "act" can get a bit cringe-worthy.

Stick to the experiments, fellas!

October 03 2009 at 12:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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