Turning a myth into a hit
Even the US President is a fan of the Mythbusters, write Aaron Barnhart and Darren Devlyn
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.