Mythbusters, the Top 25 Moments: Adam and Jamie Reminisce

  • Share
  • Read Later

It was 25 years ago Thursday that the Discovery Channel began operations, reaching its initial 156,000 subscribers with reality programming that – at the time – was a whole lot less common on cable. Today, that audience has soared to 100 million subscribers in the United States alone; internationally, the network now reaches 1.5 billion subscribers in over 180 countries with more than 100 networks.

Not too shabby.

In honor of the anniversary, some of the channel’s top programs are doing special 25th anniversary shows – culminating with Man Vs. Wild: Top 25 Moments” Saturday at 9 p.m.

Tonight at 9 p.m., one of the channel’s most unique and timeless creations, Mythbusters, hosts its own “Top 25” special. Let’s take a gander:


We were able to ring up mythbusters Adam and Jamie – who just signed a new development deal with the network – to talk about the last 7 years of one of television’s most unique, and infectious, concepts:

The show’s been running so long now, what episodes jump out most in your memory, as you look back through the years?

Jaime: I think one of my favorite episodes is the lead balloon myth. I love that it didn’t include any explosives – there was nothing dangerous other than maybe lead poisoning if we weren’t careful. But it was such a clear celebration of process. And after all this time, more than when we started, I think the process is just so much fun.  Every minute of every day, we’re slowly getting better.

And one interesting thing to point out is that we don’t go into any of these saying, ‘Hey, let’s do science!’ We’re just like most people who tune in: We’re curious about the outcome, and trying to be most efficient and effective in finding answers to our questions and making stuff happen. Over the years we’ve learned a little more about being rigorous and actually going in knowing to think about things a little more scientifically. (More at Techland: Top ten spelling bee freakouts)

Through all these years, what experiments or conclusions have you been forced to reconsider the most? I’m sure you get all kinds of mail from people who poke holes in your conclusions.

Adam: Through the years there have been plenty of experiments where others have come up with conflicting results. Just recently, there was the golf ball car experiment, where we tested whether a dirty car would have better gas mileage, because it would better approximate the shape of a golf fall. And when we tested it, we saw a 11-12 percent improvement.

Because of our conclusions, though, one of the Big Three car companies went off and tested it, and came to the opposite conclusion. So that led us to look over our experiment, trying to determine whether it was maybe a problem with our methodology. The fact that we didn’t have a wind tunnel. But when we screw it up, we actually get excited by the prospect of getting to try it again.

Are you close to running out of myths to bust? I mean, there’s only so many myths you can go after, right? Do you ever find yourself grasping for new ideas?

Jaime: Surprisingly no. The flip answer we give is that we’ll run out of myths when people stop believing in stupid stuff. But honestly, the world is a complex place and this show is not just about urban legends but about us satisfying our curiosity in anything we’re interested in. And we’re nowhere close to being fulfilled. At this point, it’s not really active hunting party any more. At any given point we have between 40 and 50 stories ready to shoot that we could jump in and begin, and then probably another 100 or so possibilities still to be researched. And then it’s just a mix of having the right place to test the myths and developing the right structure for the show.

Do you see a light at the end of the tunnel at this point? Can you see the point at which perhaps you move on from this show?

Adam: Actually, no, we just signed a deal for multiple years, for doing this show and producing new content. And we’re going to be doing this show at least another three years. We love doing this, and I think that’s because the show keeps changing. As we’ve found more knowledge and enthusiasm, the show continues to get better. I think if you go back, there was more process in those early shows but actually less science or rigor in the methodology, but now we’ve matured and developed a little bit, and that process continues to be a centerpiece but we’re doing it smarter.

People say to us all the time: ‘You guys have the best job in the whole world,’ and we always say: Anyone who’s good at their job one, loves it, and two, finds ways to challenge themselves. And this show allows us to keep doing just that – to constantly challenge ourselves and improve our investigations. Even when we’re not doing the show, I love to high-tail it out of town to do nothing at all, but I still can’t turn those parts of my brain that Mythbusters has strengthened. Day or night, I’m always looking for stories that we could use for the show.

More at Techland: Happy Geek Pride Day! Our Geekiest Moments