Both of my sons recently had Science Fair projects due, and I didn't really have to wonder where my oldest son got his inspiration for seeing which brand of gum is the most flammable--it's clear that Mythbusters has left its mark on my kids' psyches (my younger son in fact did a project exposing plants to different kinds of music to see if they grew different amounts, something Mythbusters itself has explored). While I'm not claiming the show has ever done an episode on flaming Trident (at least that I can recall), the mad exploits of the Mythbusters team have always been like your worst fantasies of you children's misbehavior, only enacted by grownups with at least a putative nod toward safety.
If you've never seen Mythbusters, you're missing one of the most fun, and not coincidentally, one of the most educational, shows on the Discovery Channel. Special effects wizards Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman set out to either debunk or prove (sometimes with qualifications) various urban legends. Typically each episode has Adam and Jamie working on a large scale project, while their assistants do another, usually somewhat related, project that ties into the overall theme. This summary can't even begin to hint at the fun and mayhem that usually ensues in each Mythbusters outing--as I noted in my previous review of a Mythbusters DVD collection, Adam, ever the supposed grown-up ADHD type, and Jamie, a more buttoned down, serious sort, have an incredibly appealing interplay, and that spills over to their younger charges. The entire cast seems to delight in the various stunts they're attempting, and that childlike sense of wonder imbues the whole enterprise with a lot of hilarity and excellent repartee.
This particular collection has some interesting and unusual myths scattered throughout some of the more typical investigations. Falling under the latter category would be such episodes as the one which attempts to prove whether following closely behind a large truck ("drafting") saves you gas. I won't spoil the outcome, other than to say your own attempt to reproduce the conclusion will probably be based on your own risk-reward assessment. Coming under the unusual category are a host of really inventive episodes, such things as whether Ninjas can walk on water, or whether using the analogy of a led balloon is really fitting if you're trying to describe something that doesn't exactly take wing. There are also excellent episodes involving the gadgets that superheroes use (with an attempt to build a grappling gun), including some really fun physics lessons, and a full episode spent proving that our intrepid astronauts really did land on the moon, and not just in some abandoned television studio cum warehouse in New Jersey.
Perhaps the most fun and funny episode, at least for those of us of a certain age who remember the series MacGyver (not to mention Marge Simpson's sisters, Selma and Patti, who obsess about the show). If MacGyver's penchant to make a usable weapon out of string and a piece of cardboard strains credulity at times, Adam and Jamie throughout their Mythbusters careers have shown over and over again that such incredible feats actually can be built, sometimes even successfully. This particular episode centers around an attempt to build a bamboo airplane held together by duct tape.
My only qualm about these Mythbusters collections is that they're cobbled together somewhat willy-nilly. At least the previous collection I reviewed had an overarching theme (explosions--which pretty much covers every Mythbusters episode). This one is more haphazard (if no less fun as a result of it), coming from Seasons 5 and 6. Is there a reason Discovery doesn't want to just release full seasons of the show to retail outlets other than its own online component? Other than that passing complaint, this is an unbeatable combination of science fact and fun, tied together with a joie de vivre that makes the entire series funnier than most sitcoms a lot of the time. Just be careful what ideas the show is stuffing into your kids' little heads.
And in case you were wondering--Stride burns the best.
Like a lot of Discovery content, Mythbusters is presented in an enhanced 1.78:1 transfer that is very sharp by television standards. Color and contrast are both topnotch, and detail is extremely good.
The DD 2.0 soundtrack is robust, if directionally limited. All voices are clear, and the bangs, pops and cracks that dot each episode (not to mention the outright big loud booms) are all reproduced with excellent fidelity and thundering range. No subtitles are available.
None are offered on this compilation.
Mythbusters continues to be fun, if formulaic. There's enough interesting science in each episode to engage enquiring minds, and the crazy quotient is still here in abundance, due largely to Adam Savage's shenanigans. This compilation has several really intriguing premises which kids of all ages should enjoy. Recommended.