Turn­ing a myth into a hit

Even the US Pres­i­dent is a fan of the Mythbusters, write Aaron Barn­hart and Dar­ren Devlyn

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Front Page -

IT’S one of TV’s biggest in­ter­na­tional suc­cess sto­ries, with an au­di­ence in the hun­dreds of mil­lions.

But who’d have thought US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama was such a fan of Mythbusters that he’d agree to film an episode of the show?

While Pres­i­dent Obama said that see­ing things get blown up is ‘‘ al­ways cool’’, he told the show’s hosts Adam Sav­age and Jamie Hyne­man: ‘‘ Noth­ing’s more im­por­tant to our coun­try’s fu­ture than get­ting young peo­ple en­gaged in math and sci­ence. A lot of the chal­lenges we face as a coun­try are go­ing to de­pend on how en­gaged young peo­ple are with sci­ence, and so I’m just thrilled that you guys do such a great job mak­ing it fun’’.

No­body’s more sur­prised by the en­dur­ing, mass ap­peal of the show than those who cre­ated it.

‘‘ When we first started the show, no one quite knew how it was go­ing to work,’’ says Dan Tap­ster, the show’s long­time ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer.

‘‘ We had a ti­tle and two ex­cel­lent hosts, or hosts we thought were go­ing to be ex­cel­lent.’’

Those hosts, Sav­age and Hyne­man, were both ex­pe­ri­enced spe­cial-ef­fects artists with a knack for build­ing al­most any­thing — and then de­stroy­ing it.

They were a clas­sic oddcouple pair­ing. Sav­age’s boy­ish en­thu­si­asm usu­ally got him into trou­ble, while Hyne­man’s tac­i­turn na­ture and bushy mous­tache con­cealed a taste for fast mo­tor­cy­cles and C4 ex­plo­sives.

‘‘ What quickly hap­pened was a key core fan base latched on to the show, and a lot of the changes were a re­sult of how the au­di­ence re­lated to Adam and Jamie,’’ Tap­ster says.

On­line dis­cus­sion boards sprang up, such as An­no­tated Mythbusters and Mythbusters Re­sults, that ex­am­ined each test on the show, of­ten chal­leng­ing whether the myth had been ‘‘ busted’’ as claimed. In re­sponse, Mythbusters be­gan re­vis­it­ing myths, us­ing sug­ges­tions from fans in the broad­cast. Mythbusters, SBS One, Satur­day, 7.30pm Dis­cov­ery Chan­nel, Mon­day, 8.30pm

Odd cou­ple: hosts Jamie Hyne­man (left) and Adam Sav­age.

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