Prototype This: Season One
Discovery Channel // Unrated // $24.98 // October 6, 2009
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted November 11, 2009
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A series that certainly must be a favorite with industrial designers and engineers, "Prototype This" follows a team of inventors (an electrical engineer, an effects wizard and a pair of PhD's, as well as other guests) as they tackle various ideas within their warehouse (or, better described as "lair") on an island in the middle of the San Francisco Bay.

The back of the box notes that those featured "take on the problems on today's world..." and while some episodes do certainly take on inventions that are relevant to issues within today's society, one does tend to wonder what problem a "Backyard Water Slide Simulator" will solve, aside from possibly much shorter lines and - as noted in the episode - the repetitive nature of pre-existing waterparks.

The series adds a layer of tension by only giving the group a very small amount of time (such as two weeks) to take what are often rather complicated products from the idea stage to reality. For example, creating a giant waterslide simulator requires a serious amount (over 1 ton) of fiberglass and other building materials. The end result is a fantastic success, but is built on a scale that looks more appropriate for a "side/alternate" ride at a waterpark instead of something that anyone could hope for in their backyard. "Boxing Robots" - sort of a giant version of "Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em Robots" - is also a bit questionable in solving problems, although it looks rather fun.

More along the lines of tackling problems that modern society faces are episodes like "Mind-Control Car". While the title is a little mis-leading, this is still a rather fascinating take on angry drivers, with the team putting bio-feedback to use in order to try and control a car to stop before the driver goes into full-on road rage. Overall, while not exactly "mind control" as described, the results are exciting and one can certainly see impressive possibilities for future use.

"Automated Pizza Delivery" is a little dismaying in terms of having technology take over something like pizza delivery, but the team's ability to have the car drive through San Francisco and across the Bay Bridge is - aside from a bump towards the very end - a pretty remarkable success. "Robo Dog Sitter" is a little goofy, but definitely may serve as a big help to those who have to leave their pooches behind during the day or on vacation.

The series has apparently been placed on hiatus with no return date set. Hopefully the show will come back, as the series is generally a lot of fun and another solid bit of "edutainment" from the Discovery Channel.

Boxing Robots
- The team builds robots able to mimic human counterparts.
Traffic-Busting Truck
- The team tries to build a vehicle that will dodge traffic by rising up and driving away.
Get Up and Go
- The guys try to build a sleeping pod that wakes, feeds, grooms, dresses and gets its user out the door in a matter of minutes.
Wearable Airbag
- The team tries to invent an airbag designed to protect workers in high-rises.
Flying Lifeguard
- The team tries to prototype two flying lifeguard systems designed to save swimmers in distress.
Mind-Controlled Car
- The team have 10 days to build a road rage-proof car.
Six-Legged ATV
- The team has two weeks to build an all-terrain vehicle based on legs and not wheels.
Backyard Waterslide Simulator
- The team tries to build a backyard waterslide simulator that lasts many times longer than an amusement park water slide and has all the twists and turns of several slides in one.
Robotic Firefighter Assistant
- The team tries to invent a robotic assistant to help carry people and gear, as well as a pack to help firemen see in burning buildings.
Automated Pizza Delivery
- The team tries to build a self-driving car that will carry a hot pizza across the bay bridge without assistance.
Virtual Sea Adventure
- The team tries to build a virtual sea adventure that will allow users to scuba-drive any reef in the world from your local pool.
Gecko Superhero Suit
- The team of engineers borrows from the superhuman abilities of the gecko and the cutting-edge research of Stanford in an attempt to create a real-life superhero.
Robo Dog Sitter
-The team of engineers attempts to build the world's first robotic dog-sitter.


VIDEO: The show is offered by Image Entertainment in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Sharpness and detail are generally very good, although understandably some shots do look mildly softer due to alternate/smaller cameras being used. A few moments do show some minor noise or shimmer, but the majority of the episodes looked clean and detailed. Colors looked natural and spot-on, with no smearing or other faults.

SOUND: Clear, clean stereo soundtrack.

EXTRAS: Nothing.

Final Thoughts: "Prototype This" is a mostly exciting series that follows the team as they create some stunning (and admittedly a couple that are a bit silly) and imaginative inventions under a tight time frame. The DVD set offers very good audio/video quality, but comes up short when it comes to bonus features.

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