The Mythbusters are back with Collection 2, a set of their best episodes from seasons 4 and the beginning of 5. While I'm still disappointed that they are not releasing season sets (come on studio executives, that's what consumers want!) this collection examines some great myths including what really caused the Hindenburg to explode, why Mentos added to a bottle of diet Coke causes it to erupt, and if a bullet fired straight up in the air can kill someone when it lands.
Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage are the Mythbusters, a pair of mechanically inclined individuals who like to test all of those myths that everyone has heard and many people believe. Things like the exploding toilet; a woman dumps a jar of paint thinner into the toilet and when her husband throws in a lit cigarette an hour later, he ends up with burns all over his behind. Could it really happen though? Each week Jamie and Adam take on a different myth and try to see if they can confirm or 'bust' them. If they can create an explosion somewhere along the line, so much the better.
The Mythbuster are joined in each show featured in this collection by the 'junior team' consisting of Tory Belleci, Kari Byron, and Grant Imahara (who is the only one of the group who seems to have any scientific knowledge or training.) This second team also tackles a myth every episode and, like their more senior brethren, aren't satisfied unless something burns or explodes.
The entertainment comes largely from the interaction of the two hosts, Jamie and Adam. They are like vinegar and water, and approach each problem from totally different angles. Jamie is the thoughtful, careful part of the team. He wants to plan out each experiment, see if they can improve on it, and after all the angles have been examined then he goes into the shop to create the machinery needed. Adam on the other hand is much more impulsive. He's like that ADHD kid from second grade who couldn't sit still. He wants to take the first idea that springs into his head and run with it. He just flies by the seat of his pants and sees what happens. Between the two of them, they come up with some interesting and unique ways of testing myths.
While the first seasons covered many common myths, but the time the show entered its fourth season (where a majority of these episodes originate) they were examining some more obscure urban legends. While I hadn't heard of many of the myths they were testing, the shows were just as enjoyable as ever. One of the more interesting episodes involved testing some movie myths about breaking into building and safes outfitted with the latest electronic protection devices. The team had to break into a room that was guarded by a fingerprint lock, a motion detector, and a thermal sensor. The last one turned out to be the trickiest one to get past. They tried a neoprene suit to keep a person's body temperature inside, but the suit itself soon started to heat up and set off the alarm. They also tried to change the temperature of the room, but incoming air also set off the alarm. The motion detector was surprisingly easy to get past, with a white sheet held in front of the 'intruder' effectively masking their movements.
The Earthquake Machine was another fun-filled episode. Nikolai Tesla was an amazing man who not only invented the radio and came up with the theoretical model for AC power, but also made some wild claims in the later years of his life. One such claim was that he had created, accidentally, and small machine that could cause a huge building to shake itself to pieces. The concept that Tesla had harnessed was mechanical resonance and Jamie and Adam decide to construct a machine identical to Tesla's see if they can shake apart a huge bridge.
The only real problem I have is that the pair (and the announcer) often describes what they are doing as "science." As far as scientific experiments go, the stunts they pull off for the camera leave a lot to be desired. Neither of the hosts have a background in science (nor does anyone else associated with the show apparently), and the protocol that they come up with often leaves something to be desired. They should try to repeat their results, have controls, use larger sample sizes, and set criteria for confirming or busting a myth before hand. This is a minor gripe, but every time Adam talked about doing science I cringed (especially after seeing Adam sticking his face up to a working vacuum cleaner motor and lacerated his lip in the first collection).
Having said that, the show has evolved over the seasons. The show in this set have more scientific rigor (though not a lot) than the first seasons shows. One good example of this is the Diet Coke and Mentos show. Jamie and Adam attempt to discover why Mentos and diet soda produces explosive results. They approach the problem in a systematic way, first testing the candy with plain soda water, and then testing it with many of the ingredients found in Diet Coke which were added to the 'raw' soda water. Even so, they could have been much more quantitative. Adam would just eyeball how high the spout of soda squirted during these tests rather than make any measurements of how much gas was released. Still, this show is about entertainment, not science. I can appreciate that, I just wish they wouldn't claim that it's something that it isn't.
Like the first "collection" of Mythbusters episodes, the main gripe I have with this DVD set is the way it is arranged. First off, this isn't a season set. Why not? Haven't consumers voted overwhelmingly with their wallets that they want entire seasons of shows that they like??? This set isn't even in chronological order, it skipping around for no reason. At least there are no "best of" specials in this set. Inexplicably there were two in the first collection.
This set contains the following episodes:
Season 4 Episode 4: Helium Football: Will a Helium filled football fly father than one filled with air? Can a magician really catch a bullet in his teeth?
Season 4 Episode 7: Bullets Fired Up: Can a bullet that is fired straight up return to Earth and kill someone? If you filter cheap vodka with a consumer-grade water filter, will it taste the same at top-shelf vodka?
Season 4 Episode 13: Whirlpools: Can a whirlpool really suck a ship down into the briny deep? What about a snowplow cleaning the highway? Could it blow a car off the road?
Season 4 Episode 16: Crimes and Myth-demeanors 2: How can you defeat modern alarm systems? The Mythbusters try to bypass motion sensors, fingerprint locks, and heat sensor. Then they try to break into a glass relocking safe by filling it with water.
Season 4 Episode 18: Deadly Straw: Is a hurricane powerful enough to blow a straw all the way through a palm tree? Then the Junior Busters test the myth that plants are psychic.
Season 4 Episode 17: Earthquake Machine: Did Nikolai Tesla really invent a small machine that could take down a large building? The mythbusters build one and attach it to a bridge. Meanwhile, the second team tries to reproduce a lethal lava lamp disaster.
Season 4 Episode 14: Diet Coke and Mentos: So, why does a Mentos candy cause Diet Coke to erupt the way it does? Watch this episode and find out.
Season 4 Episode 25: Anti-Gravity Device: Is there really such a thing as an anti-gravity device? They busters buy several kits from internet web sights and get some surprising results. Also, can leaving your Christmas tree plugged in overnight start a fire?
Season 4 Episode 24: Firearms Folklore: Is it really possible for one sniper to kill an enemy by shooting a bullet through his rival's scope? Can two bullets really hit the air and fuse together? per could kill another by shooting straight down the enemy gun scope.
Special 10: Holiday Special: Can a dropped turkey really break someone's foot? Then the busters try to discover the best way to keep a Christmas tree fresh over the holidays.
Special 11: Pirate Special: Which caused more deaths during naval battles, the cannon balls or the shrapnel from the wood splinters. What did pirates use to keep their cloths nice and clean? Were they washed in grog? And finally why did they wear eye patches?
Season 5 Episode 1: Hindenburg Mystery: What caused the Hindenburg to burn so quickly? Was it the Hydrogen gas that filled it, or the paint that was used? Then the junior team tries to get an alligator to chase them.
Season 5 Episode 2: Underwater Car: If your car runs into a lake, do you really have to wait for water to fill the cabin before you can open the door? Then the second team sees if you can fold a piece of paper in half more than 7 times.
Note: I received test discs to review. These did not come in a retail case and do not necessarily represent the final product.
The stereo soundtrack is fine but not outstanding. The show isn't recorded under optimal conditions, it's more like a documentary than a movie, and sometimes a comment or two is hard to hear. The explosions and crashes don't have the punch that I was hoping they would either, but that's not too surprising given the origins of the show. There are no subtitles.
The 1.78:1 image is enhanced for widescreen displays and looks good. As was mentioned in the audio section, this show isn't recorded on a set but in a workshop and the lighting and filming conditions aren't always optimal. Even so, the program looks good. There are some digital defects, a bit of aliasing and some minor blocking, but nothing too great. The image quality is very acceptable for a show of this type.
Unfortunately there aren't any extras included with this disc.
This is a really fun show, and if it gets people thinking about some
things they've always taken as fact, so much the better. This
set is better than the first one, mainly since there aren't any clip shows
included, but it's a shame that the Discovery Channel didn't release this
program in season sets. Even so, this collection is recommended.