Comic-Con Report: The MythBusters Panel

Geek Culture

Midway through The MythBusters panel at Comic-Con, Adam Savage is very excitedly telling a story about pulling up to the San Diego Convention Center and seeing Guillermo del Toro on the curb and Adam’s frantic escape from the car so he could greet the director. In typical Savage style, it’s endearing and funny and you can’t stop smiling.

Then the moderator, Chris Hardwick, steers the conversation toward the other half of The MythBusters main team, Jamie Hyneman. “Have you ever met anyone famous, Jamie?” Hyneman thinks a moment and says, almost dejectedly, but with more than a touch of relief, “No.” There’s a split second of pause and then further down the panel, there’s a shriek from The MythBusters‘ Kari Byron “No? What about when you met President Obama?” Hyneman thinks for a moment and then deadpans, “Oh, yeah.” Savage, never one to miss an opportunity adds “We asked to see his birth certificate … myth busted!”

This little exchange sums up why so many people are crazy about The MythBusters, who recently completed their seventh season – there’s fun, truthfulness and a good sense of camaraderie on a show that actually teaches you something.

The MythBusters panel at Comic-Con was no different. The audience was often laughing uproariously and it was easy to feel the appreciation — on both sides of the panel. Often at the panels at Comic-Con you get the “here we go” feeling as actors talk about what a treat it is to work with certain people and how great the crew is, but with The MythBusters, there’s a sense of honesty that they are having just as much fun doing their jobs as we do watching them. (Which is important, because would you believe a MythBuster who seemed to be acting?)

During the course of the panel, a preview of season eight was shown on the screen. There were a few gross moments, a few scary moments and — of course — lots of explosions. After the preview, the crew talked about a few of the myths they would be attacking this season.

There is a German automobile that had a reputation that it was aerodynamically faster going backwards than forwards. So the team cut the car off the chassis, flipped it 180º and drove it as fast as they could backwards. Next, to test a human’s ability and survivability in tornadic winds, Jamie & Adam tried different methods of staying in place behind a 747′s jet engines. The season looks like it will be exciting, as usual — with a focus on fun and a eye on science.

And if you love The MythBusters, there will be more of them to see this year. Next month, Kari Byron will be extolling science as she brings a new one-hour, commercial-free afternoon kids’ show to the Science Channel. A show called Head Rush will be the Science Channel’s contribution to the White House’s STEM initiative to get kids more involved in science and math. The show will premiere at the end of August, just in time for the beginning of school.

The Comic-Con panel was the first time all five Mythbusters were together for a Con, but they weren’t alone. Geoff Peterson, the robot that Grant Imahara built for Craig Ferguson made a guest appearance, with typical, mechanical aplomb.

Grant gets a huge grin on his face as he talks about how Craig Ferguson called him “the Keith Richards of robotics” and everyone has a laugh about the implications of that honor. And that’s another example of the appeal of The MythBusters — without an air of Hollywood pretentiousness, these five geeks come across as people just having a good time, while we get to sit back, enjoy, learn and laugh.

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