MythBusters Seasons 1-15 DVD Box Set
Cast and Crew
Leading Role: Jamie Hyneman,Adam Savage,Robert Lee,Kari Byron,Tory Belleci,Grant Imahara
Summary of MythBusters Seasons 1-15 DVD Box Set
MythBusters is a science entertainment TV program created and produced by Australia's Beyond Television Productions for the Discovery Channel. The series is screened by numerous international broadcasters, including Discovery Channel Australia, Discovery Channel Latin America, Discovery Channel Canada, Quest, SBS Australia, 7mate Australia and the Discovery Channel in the UK. The show's hosts, special effects experts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, use elements of the scientific method to test the validity of rumors, myths, movie scenes, adages, Internet videos, and news stories.
Filming is based in San Francisco, though some elements of production are done in Artarmon, Australia. Planning and some experimentation takes place at Hyneman's workshops in San Francisco; experiments requiring more space or special accommodations are filmed on location, typically around the San Francisco Bay area and other northern California places, going elsewhere when required, such as Florida for alligator experiments, or Africa for shark and elephant myths.
During the second season, members of Savage's and Hyneman's team ("The Build Team") were organized into a second team and now generally test myths separately from the main duo and operate from another workshop.
MythBusters refers both to the name of the documentary and also the cast members who test the experiments.
Each MythBusters episode focuses typically on two or more popular beliefs, Internet rumors, or other myths. The list of myths tested by the series is compiled from many sources, including the personal experiences of cast and crew, as well as fan suggestions, such as those posted on The Discovery Channel online MythBusters forums. Occasionally, episodes are produced in which some or all of the myths are related by theme such as pirates or sharks, and occasionally these are dubbed as "[Theme] Special" episodes. As of May 2009, four myths have required such extensive preparation and testing that they had entire episodes devoted solely to them, and four specials have been double-length. Several episodes (including the 2006 Holiday Special) have included the building of Rube Goldberg machines. Before a myth gets introduced by the hosts, a myth-related drawing is made on a blueprint. After the hosts introduce the myth, a comical video explaining the myth is usually shown.
The MythBusters typically test myths in a two-step process. In early episodes, the steps were described as "replicate the circumstances, then duplicate the results" by Savage. This means that first the team attempts to recreate the circumstances that the myth alleges, to determine whether the alleged result occurs; if that fails, they attempt to expand the circumstances to the point that will cause the described result. Occasionally the team (usually Savage and Hyneman) will hold a friendly competition between themselves to see which of them can devise a more successful solution to recreating the results. This is most common with myths involving building an object that can accomplish a goal (for example, rapidly cooling a beer, or finding a needle in a haystack).
While there is not any specific formula the team obeys in terms of physical procedure, most myths involve construction of various objects to help test the myth. They utilize their functional workshops to create whatever is needed, often including mechanical devices and sets to simulate the circumstances of the myth. Human actions are often simulated by mechanical means in order to increase safety, and to achieve consistency in repeated actions. Methods for testing myths are usually planned and ex ecuted in a manner to produce visually dramatic results, which generally involves explosions, fires, and/or vehicle crashes. Thus, myths or tests involving explosives, firearms and vehicle collisions are relatively common.
Tests are sometimes confined to the workshop, but often require the teams to be outside. Much of the outdoor testing during early seasons took place in the parking lot of M5. A cargo container in the parking lot commonly serves as an isolation room for dangerous myths, with the experiment being triggered from outside. However, budget increases have permitted more frequent travel to other locations in San Francisco and around the Bay Area. Common filming locations around the Bay Area include decommissioned (closed) military facilities (such as Naval Air Station Alameda, Naval Air Station Moffett Field, Concord Naval Weapons Station, Naval Station Treasure Island, Marin Headlands, Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Hamilton Air Force Base, and abandoned base housing at Marina, California's former Fort Ord), and the Alameda County Sheriff's Bomb Squad and Firearm range. Occasionally, mainly for special episodes, production is out of state, or even out of the country.
Results are measured in a manner scientifically appropriate for the given experiment. Sometimes results can be measured by simple numerical measurement using standard tools, such as multimeters for electrical measurements, or various types of thermometers to measure temperature. To gauge results that do not yield numerical quantities, the teams commonly make use of several types of equipment which can provide other forms of observable effects. When testing physical consequences to a human body which would be too dangerous to test on a living person, the MythBusters commonly use analogues. Initially, they mainly used crash test dummies (most notably one they named Buster) for observing blunt trauma injury, and ballistic gelatin for testing penetrating trauma. They have since progressed to using pig carcasses when an experiment requires a more accurate simulation of human flesh, bone, and organs. They have also occasionally molded real or simulated bones within ballistics gel for simulations of specific body parts.
Both for the purposes of visual observation to determine a result, and simply as a unique visual for the program, high speed cameras are used during experiments and have become a trademark of the series. Very fast footage of moving objects in front of a measured scale is commonly utilized to determine the speed of the object.
Testing is often edited due to time constraints of a televised episode. It can often seem as if the teams draw results from fewer repetitions and a smaller data set than they actually have. During the Outtakes Special, they specifically stated that while they are, in fact, very thorough in testing myths and repeat experiments many times in many different configurations, it is simply impossible to display all of it during a program. Beginning in the fifth season, episodes typically contain a prompt for the viewer to visit the show's homepage to view outtake footage of either additional testing, or other facets of the myths being tested. However, Savage himself has acknowledged that they do not purport always to achieve a satisfactorily large enough set of results to overcome definitively all bias. In response to criticisms they receive about their methods and results in previous episodes, the staff produced several "Myths Revisited" episodes, in which the teams retest myths to see if the complaints have merit. These episodes have resulted in overturning results of several myths, as well as upholding some results for different reasons than originally concluded.
There are some myths the MythBusters refuse to test. Paranormal concepts, such as aliens or ghosts, are not addressed because they cannot be tested by scientific methods, although one exception, pyramid power, prompted Adam to comment, "No more 'oogie-boogie' myths, please" and state at a tour show in Indianapolis in 2012 that it was a mistake. The program generally avoids experiments harmful to live animals, though in one episode they bombarded cockroaches and other laboratory insects with lethal doses of radiation and the cast addressed this, saying that the insects were specifically bred for experiments and would have likely died anyway. However animal carcasses, including those of pigs and chickens, are often used.
The book MythBusters: The Explosive Truth Behind 30 of the Most Perplexing Urban Legends of All Time (ISBN 1-4169-0929-X) also gives a list of a dozen myths that are unlikely to be explored (although four were eventually tested). Savage has commented that it is difficult to test myths that require them to disprove general claims because of the inherent difficulty in proving a negative. As a result, when they do pursue such myths, they typically go about disproving specific methods that claim to achieve results.
Additionally, certain myths are not tested due to various objections by Discovery Channel or their advertisers, most notably myths pertaining to radio-frequency identification (RFID) vulnerability. Through nine seasons, a total of 2,391 experiments were performed and 12 tons of explosives were used to test 769 myths. The team has also expressed reluctance to test conspiracy theory myths such as the JFK assassination or 9/11 conspiracies, although they have tested some of the conspiracy theories relating to the Apollo Moon landings.