Mythbusters was one of the most fun and creative shows of its time. Spanning over a decade, there are many episodes in contention for the best.
The sad passing of Grant Imahara is an opportunity to reflect on all the joy and science that the Mythbusters show delivered fans for fourteen seasons. Every conceivable myth out there about everyday life and even the movies was put to the test by the imaginative and inventive team on the show.
Imahara, Adam Savage, Jamie Hyneman, Kari Byron, Jessi Combs, Tory Belleci, and others presented endless experiments to prove myths wrong or right, or really just blow stuff up. Fourteen years means there were a lot of episodes but here are the ten best from the Mythbusters run.
One of the show’s best installment came early on, in episode eight. The myth Savage and Hyneman took on defined the show: attempting to recreate spectacular feats like Frank Morris and the Anglin brothers escaping from Alcatraz prison using an inflatable raft made from rubber raincoats.
The team put together just such a boat and set out from Alcatraz – at night – to try and make it to shore. To their surprise, they made it across San Francisco Bay to Marin Headlands.
Mythbusters started out focusing on myths that had been around a bit, like the Alcatraz escape (which – if it happened – occurred in 1962). As the show went on, they tackled myths from a new source – YouTube.
The YouTube Special focused exclusively on myths circulated by the then-new platform – this episode aired in 2009. Some of the amazing bits on this episode included creating a gigantic ball made out of LEGO bricks and testing the potency of match heads.
Duct Tape Island
Most people have probably heard the old adage you can fix anything with Duct tape. The Mythbusters team decided to put it to the test. A couple of times. The best was the episode “Duct Tape Island” that put the team in a Survivor-like situation with only duct tape to rely on.
The results were comical but eye-opening. Savage and Hyneman proved that they could use the stuff to build a hammock, a distress signal, clothes, a shelter, and so much more.
MacGyver (at least the Richard Dean Anderson version) begged for somebody to come along and test the gizmos the character invented to get out of jams. Mythbusters did just that, and in the process, delivered one of the most incredible explosions ever seen on TV.
One of the MacGyver myths tested was whether a cement truck full of cement would suppress a bomb blast. The answer was a resounding no, especially after the team loaded it with enough explosives to generate a discernable shockwave.
The episode “Border Slingshot” might have anticipated some current concerns when it debuted in 2005. The myth: whether or not illegal immigrants could use a makeshift catapult to launch themselves over the U.S. border into America. The verdict: a resounding no.
The person would most certainly be killed in the process, and the labor that went into creating the slingshot (involving a giant crane) would not be able to be hidden in plain sight. Still, it was fun watching the team try.
Diet Coke And Mentos
In what has become one of the most repeated fads of the Internet age, someone somewhere drops some Mentos in a bottle of Diet Coke. Naturally, this led to legends of swallowing Mentos and Diet Coke at the same time blowing up a person’s stomach.
Plausible? Nope. Even so, it’s no fun in the extreme, as the team proved by overloading a pig’s stomach with the stuff until they produced the catastrophic result they desired. Cement trucks or Coke bottles, the team will destroy anything.
It’s funny to consider that a team comprised largely of motion picture effects artists – Savage and Imahara both worked at ILM building models on the Star Wars prequels – would be so good at destroying things. But destroy things they did.
One of the best examples was the chicken gun. The simple myth: could a frozen chicken penetrate the window of a flying aircraft? Maybe. Could it penetrate the window fired out of an air compression cannon? Absolutely, positively, it could.
Star Wars Special
Speaking of Star Wars, an episode based on the space saga was inevitable. Aside from the ILM connection, the team worked out of San Francisco, and routinely busted myths that arose from other movies (the death of the shark in Jaws being just one example).
The team took on many myths, including if it was as easy to dodge Stromtrooper blaster fire as it seemed (nope) and whether Ewoks really could have taken down Chicken Walkers on Endor (yep). It was a great episode full of love for the saga.
A great episode striking right at the heart of fears for – well, maybe some people – the exploding toilet episode provided endless fun. Can pouring gasoline down a toilet cause it to explode? No, but once the team determined that it was false, they blew up a toilet anyways. The true joy of the show rested on the fact that regardless of whether something was true or not, it was going to explode. That was the one myth proved utterly true: everything can and will explode, with the proper ignition.
Dive To Survive
This episode provided a lot more entertainment for movie fans by tackling action movie tropes. Among the myths put on blast were making a car bulletproof by loading it up with phone books and whether or not a person can survive a shockwave by diving underwater.
They can! Water diminishes the speed of a shockwave, which the team determined detonating all kinds of explosives above and below water, and putting poor Buster through the wringer a few times.