MythBusters Recap: Fan Suggestions Night

by Alan Eggleston / August 23, 2015

MythBusters returned to a fan favorite in this week’s episode, “Unfinished Business” – digging into their mail for fan suggestions. Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman revisited three past myths to fine tune them, and added a new one.

Video Game Training Revisited

First up, Adam and Jamie revisited the idea that you can get the same results playing video games as in real life. In a previous episode, they compared slicing fruit in the air via a video game to doing the same thing using a real ninja sword. This time, fans wanted to know if you can improve a real life experience using video-game training. To test the myth, Adam and Jamie chose the game of golf.

This turns out to be a good choice because neither Adam nor Jamie has ever played golf, so there should be no bias in the results.

To be thorough, Adam and Jamie first record their raw golf swings in the studio as a control to compare after they receive training. Then they head to the famous Pebble Beach Golf Course to play a four-hole round of golf to set a neophytes’ score.

Afterwards, Jamie works out a whole day at the workshop using a leading video golf game to learn as much as he can. Adam goes to the Pebble Beach Golf Academy, where he receives individual instruction from Teacher of the Year Laird Small.

Jamie follows along the game mimicking what he sees on the screen. Then he realizes he can learn more by paying closer attention to on-screen details like foot placement, club angles, and the effect of wind direction and speed. He picks up a few ideas on club use and putting techniques, too. After a day his score on the artificial course is dramatically better.

Adam gets in-person instruction including use of clubs, hand grip, swing mechanics, and personall feedback as he works through the instruction – something that Jamie doesn’t get. After a day, Adam feels like, “Maybe I could actually play this.”

They return to the Pebble Beach course. Adam’s play is quite different, his score improving by 25 percent. Jamie’s score only improves by two points. “In the video game it seemed virtually impossible to miss the ball,” says Jamie, “but now I know it’s quite possible to miss it.”

But the numbers don’t tell the whole story. Adam and Jamie return to Laird Small for a look at their swings, comparing post-instruction with their initial swings. Small says that Adam’s swing has improved dramatically while Jamie’s hasn’t. Jamie’s changes are really the critical performance metric to the question.

  • Conclusion? Busted.

Spiking the Spy Car Revisited

Going back to another past episode, Adam and Jamie tested the premise that you can stop a spy car in its tracks by throwing out road spikes. Fans suggested that instead of using solid spikes you could get better results using hollow spikes. And Adam and Jamie gave fans just what they asked for.

Adam mass welds together 50 spikes using tubular steel with tetrahedral surfaces: “One point always points up.” Then to make them stand out on TV he paints them vibrant pink.

At the Alameda Runway, Adam and Jamie set up a quarter-mile straightaway followed by a slalom course, with Jamie riding at the back of a pickup followed by Adam in pursuit in the spy car. As Adam’s spy car reaches the right speed, Jamie tosses out the hollow spikes.

Almost immediately the spikes dig into the spy car tires and 300 feet later, the spy car is no longer drivable. A hollow spike creates an open hole that allows the air in the tire to escape faster than had a solid spike. What had taken minutes to slow the spy car before now takes only 15 seconds. “The fans were right!” says Adam.

  • Conclusion: Confirmed.

Gun Fire Revisited

Adam and Jamie have tested a lot of myths and legends involving firing weapons. Fans wanted to know, can you really change ammo clips between heavy blasts as quickly as Hollywood suggests in the movies? Adam and Jamie obliged fans with a speedy demo.

First Adam and Jamie try to shoot three full magazine clips as fast as they can, without worrying about accuracy. It involves shooting, pushing a button and pulling out the spent magazine, and then loading the new magazine, all made more difficult because of the noise and all the gun recoil.

Shooting 60 rounds in three clips, it takes Jamie 38.1 seconds and Adam 27.7 seconds.

Then Adam and Jamie try for speed and accuracy.

Again shooting 60 rounds in three clips, it takes Jamie 33.3 seconds making 57 hits, a slight improvement in time but he missed his target three times. It takes Adam 25.4 seconds making 57 hits, pretty much the same kind of improvement. While Adam and Jamie have had a lot of training in safely using weapons for MythBusters, they don’t feel that they are nearly experienced enough to be an accurate metric for the myth.

So Adam and Jamie bring in Travis Tomasie, a professional competitive shooter with 18 years of experience. He pulls off 60 shots with 60 hits in 17 seconds, proving that both a quick ammo clip exchange and accuracy are possible.

“For years we’ve been finding things that are competent on movies and demonstrating how ludicrous they are in real life,” says Adam, “but in this case, we’ve done kind of the opposite.” Jamie agrees: “Watching Travis work is kind of like watching a machine gun. It’s almost surreal.”

  • Conclusion: Confirmed

Hostage with a Live Grenade

In this new test of a Hollywood drama, fans wanted to know how realistic a TV show (Bron/Broen or The Bridge) was showing a victim locked in a room left holding a live grenade clenched in her hand for two before the hero shows up to relieve her.

Adam and Jamie construct a room to replicate the setting as much as possible. Adam dresses up as the woman victim. Jamie rigs a non-concussive grenade to have survivable consequences. And their quest begins.

Adam pulls the pin and sits in a chair with the grenade handle held tight in his hand. After an hour the spring behind the lever that’s intended to make the handle fly out and activate the grenade is making Adam’s hand tire out, so he relaxes his hold a bit. Adam notices a psychological element to the drama he feels in trying to keep the handle tight, which makes him feel tense and the situation more real. But after two hours he is still holding the handle tight and thinks he could probably hold on for a couple more hours.

In retrospect, Adam realizes there were probably plenty of things the woman could have done instead of holding the grenade by the handle. Dressed like the woman victim, he pulls loose his coat belt and ties the handle tight. He also had a gold necklace that could have done the same thing. There are probably other alternatives to holding the grenade in his hand.

For the fun of it, Adam decides to let loose of the grenade, and Jamie’s “consequence” is unleashed – the grenade pops, spreading green paint all over the walls of the little room, to Adam’s delight.

  • Conclusion: Busted

Next week is Shark Week on the Discovery Channel and MythBusters takes another look at shark myths in “MythBusters vs. Jaws.” Note that Discovery Channel has moved the time back to 9 pm ET again.

Alan Eggleston A writer from the boomer generation, I was among the first Americans to grow up with television and even got my bachelors degree in broadcasting. My first professional job was working in a television station, working camera and then writing copy and promotions. A few years later I turned to writing for print and then adapted to the Internet. I love writing and I love good television and film - I hope it shows in my reviews.