Show of the week: MythBusters

Third time lucky: Adam Savage, Jamie Hyneman and Grant Imahara take a Chevy Impala to its limit.Monday, SBS One, 7.30pm
杭州桑拿

So the ultimate Do Not Try This at Home show turns 10.

Based on a concept developed in 2002 for the Discovery Channel by Australian writer-producer Peter Rees of Beyond Productions (original title: Tall Tales or True), MythBusters started out as a bit of nerd porn but soon became a pop culture favourite that today is broadcast around the world.

The show’s crazy-cool hosts – the effervescent Adam Savage with his boy-like ebullience, and the reserved, pedantic, beret-wearing, handlebar-mustachioed clean-freak Jamie Hyneman – have more than 30 years’ experience in special effects between them. This they’ve put to excellent use as they’ve built, burnt, shot, smashed, crashed and catapulted their way through more than 850 experiments.

Rather than celebrate their decade with a best-of look back at their most memorable busts, the team revisits the myth that got away, which also happens to be the first myth they tested: the infamous and probably apocryphal story about the bloke who attached a jet engine to his Chevy Impala and reached 550 kilometres an hour on a test run in the desert before hitting a bump, soaring into the air and crashing into a mountainside a couple of kilometres away. Their first test of the myth failed, as did a second attempt in 2007. But they know much more now. Have they learnt enough to prove or disprove the myth this time?

To find out the team buy an immaculate Impala – pure white, red trim, lovingly restored by a previous owner. They strip it, cut it up, add remote control electronics to guide steering, braking and accelerating, and bolt on a rack for five rockets that’ll supply 10,000 pounds of thrust, which, apparently, is lots.

And there’s more: eye-tracking technology to control the car from a virtual driver’s seat; a Mad Max-style beast of a truck to be used as a mobile control centre; cameras set up from every imaginable angle to capture the destruction.

They rope off a long take-off strip in the Mojave Desert, add a row of sandbags for the bump, point the car at a mountain in the distance and start the engine.

It’s an impressive effort, the results are spectacular and the puns are impressive (”blood sweat and gears”, ”between a rocket and a hard place”). But, must say, the set-up and testing get a bit much. It might be a great episode for auto engineers, tech nerds and fans of flaming car crashes, but it’s a big ask to stretch one myth test to fill a whole anniversary episode. Let’s hope there’s also a best-of show in the works.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.