Discussion in 'TV & Media' started by Christopher, May 2, 2013.
Do you even have to ask?
*Finally* the MythBusters Star Wars special airs in the UK! About fucking time.
Belated heads-up: Mythbusters season premiere is tonight at 9 Eastern on Discovery!
"Oh, joy," I thought sarcastically at the beginning, "it's another bunch of explosions." But this actually turned out to be a really solid and interesting episode.
They said that shooting a grenade out of midair is a standard action-movie trick, but I can't recall ever having seen it. Can anyone think of a movie where this was done?
I can't believe Jamie let Adam shoot his beret! What's next, letting his white shirt get dirty?
And I had no idea clay pigeons were so small. But then, they don't call them clay falcons, I guess.
I love the sound the paintball "grenades" made when fired from Jamie's pop gun. You can't hear it without laughing.
And I really like Adam and Jamie's firearm discipline, their refusal to fire bullets into the air. Paintballs sufficed for proof of concept. Although... if someone throws a grenade at you, wouldn't you be better off running than standing your ground and shooting? It wouldn't take that long to get 12 feet or more from the impact zone, so you could probably do it in the same amount of time it'd take to fire off a full clip at an incoming grenade. So it seems like a pretty bad idea for a variety of reasons. Or no, wait, turns out 12 feet was for the "dynamite" in the other myth. A 45-foot kill zone? Man, grenades are scary things.
But I think Jamie's bomb-disposal robot is even scarier. A baby doll head, Jamie?? WHY??????
The results were really fascinating. I loved how counterintuitive they were. And it was nicely informative too -- not only did Jamie explain how a grenade works, but the results illustrated the anatomy of a grenade very well and revealed a lot about them. There's an explosive powder around a fuse and a blasting cap, and compromising the containment and spilling the powder will prevent the explosion -- but if you hit it hard enough, you trigger the blasting cap because it's moderately shock-sensitive. (Umm, does that mean one of those grenades could blow up if it fell from a great height or if something heavy fell on it, or does it have to be a shock as potent as one of those rifle bullets? What if a grenade were hit by the blast wave from another grenade?)
I am wondering, though, what they did about all that TNT dust left lying around after they broke open the grenades. It seems like something they'd want to ignite and burn off before they left, just to ensure there was no further risk. Or does it have to be packed to a certain density before it becomes dangerous?
It did my heart good to hear the junior team go into a discussion about the science behind C4. Hopefully it's a sign that the show is getting back to its scientific roots, and that the junior team will be getting more careful with their methodology.
No surprise the filing cabinet didn't help contain the explosion; they had similar results with a refrigerator. Really surprising that the mattress did work so well, but I guess it was flexible enough to absorb a lot of the shock. As for the aquarium, I was with Grant, figuring it was a no-brainer that the incompressible water would just transmit the force. But the conclusion was fascinating -- that it's not about containing the force of the blast, it's about directing it away from yourself. That's really cool.
The pacing on the garbage-truck segment was startlingly fast, just racing through the procedure. I guess they had a lot to cram into the episode. On the one hand, it was kind of nice to see them take another stab at the blow-up-a-whole-truck thing and get the high-speed shot they didn't get the first time. But on the other hand, it wasn't really an experiment, just an indulgence. Okay, the first was an indulgence too, but it seemed more justified, since it did technically fit the myth question of "how big an explosion would it take to break up the dried cement?" Also, while the high-speed was interesting (why was the explosion purple?), and the sight of all that debris flying hundreds of feet in the air was kind of scary, I'm afraid the sound of this explosion wasn't as unique and fascinating as the "pfeeoom!" sound made by the original cement-truck explosion. I wonder if that explosion was muffled somewhat by all the cement? Or maybe it was something to do with the shape of the vessel? Kind of like a musical instrument?
Not quite the same thing as hitting the grenade with bullets, but the only one where I can recall something similar happening off the top of my head was in the Michael J. Fox/Sean Penn Vietnam film Casualties of War. A Vietnamese soldier lobs a hand grenade at Fox, and he uses his M79 grenade launcher to shoot it in midair with a single shot and blows it up.
I can recall several movies where someone throws or hits a grenade back, but shooting them in midair doesn't spring to mind. I'm sure it's happened, but it's certainly not very common.
The mattress doesn't surprise me as much--explosions actually impress me less and less over time.
I've even heard it said that a stick of butter actually has more energy than a stick of C4--it just doesn't release as much at once.
Kinetic energy and pressure vessels--that's where its at.
Seeing water heaters go up like Sea Dragon--that's the power of pressure-feds for you.
It wasn't long ago that the mesocyclone of the Tuscaloosa Birmingham tornado went over my house. The Castle Bravo runaway blast wouldn't have scared me as badly as seeing that slow motion death machine overhead.
In RED, John Malkovich's character went face to face with an RPG with a big ass revolver. Not only did his shoot intercept the RPG, it caused the blast to shoot straight back at its source.
Of course, it doesn't matter one iota if it's plausible or not, because that was cinematic awesomeness.
Mythbusters recreated that in an episode, I think it was last season.
Of course, they were missing the key ingredient...John Malkovich
Flammable sunblock: Pretty straightforward. Butane, propane and alcohol are flammable -- what a surprise. But I'm glad they didn't have their pig carcass "griller" barbecuing ribs or pork sausage or something -- that would've been even more creepy than it was already.
Vacuum cleaner/gunpowder: I'm more curious about the alleged circumstances behind the myth. Someone "making his own ammo in the living room?" Is that legal? Or is this myth about a survivalist or gangster or something?
Also I'm surprised at how large the grains of black "powder" were. It was more like pebbles than powder.
And they didn't really try to replicate the result, I thought. They should've tried rigging a short circuit that would reach the black powder, some vaguely plausible scenario for the myth. Instead they just blew it up for the hell of it and called that replicating the result.
Piano drop: I think this was my favorite one. That high-speed shot of the grand piano falling through the air was a thing of beauty. That thing was amazingly well-balanced! It fell perfectly upright, no wobbling or tumbling, until it hit the roof. Remarkable. And I should've predicted the result -- all the weight was concentrated on three points, the legs, so they'd just punch through the roof and there wouldn't be wide enough structural compromise for the whole thing to penetrate. I wish they'd tried dropping it with the narrow rear part pointing down. That might've given a better result.
This one was kind of dear to my heart, because I remember my father telling me stories about how a coworker of his at the radio station had a history of dropping pianos from helicopters. I don't recall if I ever got a clear explanation for why or in what context he did this, but it's just this weird, outrageous, random tidbit of the sort you never forget.
Water heater putting out fire: Ooh, too bad about Adam breaking his hand. Anyway, the result was pretty much what I expected: that the spray of water was too broadly distributed to put out the fire, and that the blast would destroy the structure anyway so it would be a Pyrrhic victory at best. Actually it was the configuration of the "living room" that made me skeptical -- the wastebasket was shielded from the spray of water by the couch. If they'd started the fire on the other side of the couch, it might've worked -- well, in the sense that the shattered pile of rubble that used to be the house would at least no longer be on fire.
I wonder why, if it was fire season, they risked doing the experiment so close to the trees and grass and stuff. Why not take it out to the desert or a quarry?
I didn't notice until the "rerun" of last week's show that Adam had his hand bandaged when "skeet" shooting. Tonight's newest episode provided the answer.
Completely different topic, but I noticed that Kari has a rather rich, throaty scream, not really shrill. I refer to the axe killer homage when she closed the mirrored door to the medicine cabinet to reveal Tori holding an axe.
Perfectly legal, and a hobby enjoyed by millions:
There are different coarsenesses (I made a word! ) for different uses. Coarse for rifle/musket, fine for pistols such as civil-war-era revolvers, and extra-fine for the flash pan of flintlocks. I imagine cannon powder would be the coarsest, but I never shot a cannon.
though my 1847 .44 caliber Colt Walker replica comes close:
I'd think that was at least something you'd need a pyrotechnician's license and training for.
It is indeed cheaper, and no license is required. You usually have to show an ID, though, and, at least in NJ, the store logs the purchase of components the same as buying ammo. I tried it for a while, but I found it to be an annoying exercise, and I didn't shoot often enough to make it worthwhile. My bullet press is back in the box and rusting in the attic.
Not so much myths this week as stunts from commercials.
Apple bobbing bungee:
This one didn't do much for me. It's pretty straightforward. Can you calibrate bungee height? Yes. Can you aim it? Basically (though it looked like they would've hit their heads on the sides if that had been an actual barrel). They spent nearly half the episode just establishing those simple things.
The building of the apple-grabbing rig was the one interesting part; I like watching Jamie and Adam plan out and engineer a weird gadget. But the results were underwhelming.
Mainly I kind of feel sorry for Jamie. He sure took one for the team, but they put him through all that torture for very little gain. I don't recall the last time the Mythbusters gave up on getting a conclusive result because they were just too fed up with the whole thing to bother any more.
Although I find myself wondering how much of the drama there was real and how much was constructed in editing or played up by Jamie for the sake of the show, reality-TV style. I hope they weren't distorting reality too much. I would've been a lot more suspicious of editing if the jaws had actually worked on that last-chance jump.
Speaking of cinematic technique, though, the one thing about this myth that genuinely did impress or interest me was that really lovely rising crane shot they did toward the end. That was beautiful.
Wing walk volley:
Kari in a tennis dress? That immediately makes this myth a whole lot more interesting.
Plus we get a nice elaborate build, a visit to Alameda, and a return to my favorite hangar, where they built the lead balloon. (They didn't say so, but I recognized it.)
I often wonder why they insist on doing things themselves that could more reasonably be done by an expert. When Grant and Tory were floundering on the wing, I was asking, "Why not bring in professionals?" And when they did bring one in, it showed how much this particular feat relied on skill. It's impressive how well it worked. And it was interesting to see them having to readjust to being farther out on the "wings" and having to relearn how to get it right, and the difference that switching sides made. (Part of the reason tennis players switch sides of the court every few games is to balance out any advantages due to wind or sun position or whatever.) This one really worked out nicely. And it's fun to see something that seems so implausible get totally confirmed.
The thing is, just a little research reveals that there's photographic evidence of this stunt being attempted for real during the wingwalking fad of the 1920s:
Although it's apparently unclear whether they were really able to get a rally or were just pretending.
So one lame myth, one solid one. And it's nice to see they can occasionally do an entire episode without blowing anything up.
Yeah, Kari in the tennis dress was lovely.
I had the same thought about getting an experienced person in rather than trying to do it themselves. Rather than having an acrophobic special effects technician do the bungee jump, why not find a guy who LIKES to bungee jump, and who has maybe even done the apple bit before (if anyone actually HAS done that).
I've also seen the tennis wing-walking images from the 1920s many years ago. I spent that sequence saying to myself "it's been done. Find the old footage."
Well, part of the "fun" of these experiments and the show is to see Jamie, Adam, Tori, Kari or Grant to do these thing not to see some guest-star doing these thing. Part of the "fun" is to see Jamie and Adam suffering through doing things they don't really like to do. Though, like how the Jr. Mythbusters got a professional tennis player to help do the experiment at its peak they probably should have done something similar with the bungee-jump myth at its ultimate point as a last-ditch effort to make it work. But I'm not sure it would have added or changed much as far as the result.
It really seems like bobbing for apples period is hard enough without adding a bungee-jump with a split-second contact time to it.
And, really, I think even a "professional" bungee-jumper would have struggled with the number of times he'd likely have to jump over the course of the testing. That's a heck of a lot for anyone to go through.
Movie car myths, and a whole episode at Alameda:
Running off the road: Ever since I learned about the PIT maneuver on this show a few years ago, I've been aware that all those prolonged car-duel scenes were unrealistic. The insistence of bumping side to side, it seemed to me, was just a way to prolong the chase by not using the surefire finishing move of the PIT. But now we learn that even just pushing against the side of a car is enough to push it quickly off the road, and that's an interesting thing to learn.
I like Jamie's observation: "It's like sumo wrestling for cars. Which, now that I think about it, would be a pretty cool idea." Or words to that effect.
Wanted car flip: My first reaction here was "Seriously? That scene was actually in that movie? What a stupid movie!" So it didn't surprise me at all that it was totally busted. If anything, it surprises me that they keep testing these totally cartoony ideas from that movie (well, twice, anyway), as if anyone would believe for a second that they could be true.
Still, it was a classic Alameda visit. Through the fence again! How many fences have they destroyed over the years? And on top of that, the broken cable took out a camera! I wonder, why didn't they rig the car with a remote braking system as they've done in the past?
I'm not clear on how they got the cars to travel at two different speeds when towed by the same truck. I assume it was a function of how the pulleys were configured, but I wish they'd shown the specifics of that.
The results of the crashes showed clearly why the movie scene was nonsense. It wasn't just about the bumper heights; the outer layer of a car is simply not rigid enough to function as a ramp that can support another car. They're mostly hollow, after all. And they're designed to crumple when hit so that the force is absorbed rather than transmitted to the occupants.
Driving on two wheels: Pretty straightforward. It's a matter of skill and practice, possible but hard. But I'm not sure I agree with the way they formulated the myth, that TV and movies present it as something done by novices. Normally when I see a stunt like this in a movie or show, I usually take it as a demonstration that the protagonist is a really, really skilled driver -- someone like Jim Rockford or the Duke boys, say, with plenty of experience behind the wheel and skills rivalling a professional stunt driver. So in that sense I'd call it plausible.
But I don't get why they were wearing helmets and neck braces in the other myth but not in this one. Even with a roll cage, head protection would still have been a good idea, as Jamie learned. I hope his whiplash wasn't serious -- that could've been pretty bad.
At the end, when Adam was leaning against the car and summing things up just before the credits, I was pleased to hear a snippet of my favorite piece of Mythbusters music, which they used plenty in early seasons (notably in the Alcatraz escape myth) but rarely anymore. I wish there were a soundtrack album for this show just so I could have that one cue. Honestly, I don't much like the rest of the show's music, but that cue is beautiful.
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