When cable television was my primary means to get my home entertainment needs, I had to subscribe to the cable package that offered the Discovery Channel. Now, the Discovery Channel was a fine channel but there was actually only one program on that channel I would watch religiously. That show is Mythbusters, a show where a bunch of guys would try to prove or debunk popular myths and tall tales via a bunch of experiments. There was just something special about the show that got me hooked. Maybe it was how they made science look so fun. Or maybe it was the chemistry between the main hosts, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, as well as their camaraderie with the rest of the team that included Kari Byron, Grant Imahara and Tory Belleci. Maybe it was the actual experiments themselves and how they went about testing these myths. Or maybe it was the huge explosions. It may have been the explosions, actually…
Whatever the reason, I loved Mythbusters so I was so sad to hear that last year was going to be their last season. It did make bittersweet sense to me, however. The cast was getting old and Kari, Grant and Tory were booted from the cast. You could even tell that Discovery was cutting their budget because, besides the cast being trimmed down, the scale of the experiments seemed to be getting smaller and smaller each passing episode. So, when they called it quits, I was sad but glad that they got to properly close out the show.
But, like everything today, we gotta go look at old successful properties and revive them and it seems like Discovery sought to do that very same thing with Mythbusters. Which is why they held a contest on who would take over Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman’s spots in the show and the winners were Jonathan Lung and Brian Louden. These guys are your new Mythbusters. They have a bigger studio and are all set to bust a new set of myths. The first two episodes of this new revived Mythbusters has already been aired. But do this new duo hold a candle to the old Mythbusters?
I guess I have to address the biggest elephant in the room: is the show any good? I mean, there is a reason why the original Mythbusters show was incredibly fun to watch and inspired a lot of people, right? For the most part, the new show pretty much copies the old formula of talking about the myth, doing some small scale experiments to see how to proceed and then go whole hog and ramp everything up to full scale. Hey, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it! I’m totally fine with how they ape the old format and it feels like putting on a used but extremely comfortable pair of slippers. I’ve personally gotten so used to the original style and I would probably get upset if they tried to make these new Mythbusters “hip” and “radical” to appeal to younger people who haven’t seen the show… which has only been off the air for a year!
The hosts themselves are fine, overall. Both Jonathan Lung and Brian Louden do have a good deal of energy and exuberance while they take on the myths and try to come up with the best way to test their validity. My biggest concern was they were going to be camera shy, something that I felt the original hosts, Adam and Jamie, had to get over during the first few episodes on the show. Thankfully, both Jonathan and Brian look rather comfortable in front of the camera and are not that afraid to look goofy in front of millions of people.
One of the main reasons why the pairing of Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman worked so well was they played off the traditional comedy duo trope. Adam was the weird, wacky and zany guy that played off Jamie’s stoic and serious straight man. It’s something that worked out so well that, even though Adam and Jamie may not be close friends in real life (yes, it’s true!), it still managed to still looked like they enjoyed each other’s company while they were in Mythbusters. Right now, it looks like Jon Lung is going to be the wild and excitable one and Brian Louden is going to be the serious one of the duo.
However, I think their overplaying their parts right now. Jonathan’s enthusiasm does feel a little too much at times, almost as if he’s acting at times. Brian, however, is more like a mash up of both Adam and Jamie as, while he does seem like the straight man, he does have some flourishes of just giddiness like Adam did. Now, I didn’t watch Mythbusters: The Search, the reality show they won that got them the job. Their chemistry seems to be okay for the most part. They seem to get along well in general but there’s just something a wee bit off with how they come off on screen. Maybe they just need some time to get into the groove of doing the show. I mean, Adam and Jamie needed to get into the spirit of the show initially as well, I’m sure Jon and Brian will eventually. I do hope they find their own style and not just fall back on what Adam and Jamie did.
Right now, my biggest concern with the Mythbusters show isn’t the hosts; it’s the manner they’re going to test the myths themselves. The two current hosts do have a pedigree of product design and building stuff so I do believe they know what they’re doing when it comes to testing and constructing the experiments. However, there are times when I feel they don’t cover all of the bases properly. Like in the first ever episode where they test Delayed Causality, where if it’s possible to cut someone cleanly with a sword but there a dramatic pause before the body is actually sheered in two. In the final test, they used a ballistic gel cube with a wooden dowel in the middle to simulate the flesh and bones of a human neck. But aren’t the bones in the neck, which is a part of the spinal cord, not a long piece of bone but rather small pieces of vertebrae stacked on top of each other? There’s the possibility that the blade may slip through the spaces in between the spine bones and come out clean through. I’m sure there won’t be Delayed Causality still but, in the test, they deemed it busted because the dowel stopped the sword. I think this needs a retest!
Is the new Mythbusters still worth watching though? I guess it kind of depends on your feelings for the original team. I predict there are going to be some people who are going to say that Jonathan Lung and Brian Louden are not their Mythbusters and are just going to start instantly hating on it. But me personally? I say give it a shot. It’s different in some aspects but the spirit of Mythbusters is still there. It’s still rough around the edges but that’s to be expected. I don’t envy the two new Mythbusters as they have some very big shoes to fill but I think, given some time, it’ll get better. It’s not the same Mythbusters but, by golly, they’re still using the formula that made the original show so much fun and I can only hope that it can inspire people and make science look so enjoyable. If you’re a fan of the “old” show, I say give it a watch.
Have you seen the new Mythbusters? What do you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!