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Recently, Mythbusters ended a long and storied run on the Discovery channel with a final episode that paid homage to the series and saw its leads get at least a wee bit sentimental in a few moments. Some great stories came out of the episode, but around the same time the final episode aired, longtime series lead Adam Savage did an AMA in which he admitted there were a few big experiments that Discovery put the kibosh on before they could ever come together. The first one involved a truck full of liquid oxygen (we kid you not). Here’s what he had to say:
There's one about a truck full of liquid oxygen that spills on a road bed and turns the entire road into a bomb. We played enough with liquid oxygen to respect its power and understand that it is some of the scariest stuff on earth. It can literally turn an oily rag into a bomb, and that's not exaggeration. It's terrifying. And to deal with an entire truck load on a road that might explode (or to be honest if we're gonna spend that much money, it has to explode one way or another) what we found was it was dangerous and unpredictable, and that made going full scale really really touchy, so we decided to leave that one.
Honestly, while anything involving liquid oxygen sounds very cool, it’s easy to see why Adam Savage, Jamie Hyneman and the rest of the team were a little nervous about this one when it was initially being conceived. Production may have ultimately stopped it from happening, but Adam Savage still seems to have been a teensy bit relieved about the outcome.
There was another myth that the production company didn’t actually have to say no to, because the budget actually stood in the way of making the experiment a reality.
Upside down race car is the myth that a formula one or indycar (two different kinds of cars, I'm totally aware of that) has so much down force because of its construction that it could drive upside down and still hug the road. We've been wanting to do this since season one. And number one, obviously we can't do it full scale with a road. We're not going to build a tunnel. That's hundreds of thousands of dollars, that's well more than the budget for an episode of MythBusters. We could do it potentially in a wind tunnel, but we could not find either a wind tunnel that would go fast enough, or two someone that would lend us their indycar or formula one car and allow us to hang it upside down in said wind tunnel. If said wind tunnel actually existed, be assured that it would cost in excess of $10,000 an hour to operate, and that right there also pushes us way to the outside edge of the MythBusters budget.
Mythbusters lasted for so long largely because it could be produced on a budget-friendly scale. In fact, at one point, the show fired more than half its cast, thus saving the show a ton of money. It’s easy to see how the budget could get in the way of interesting ideas on occasion.
So, when danger and budget constraints weren’t a problem, what else could stop a myth from getting busted? Sometimes, simply editing out ideas was the culprit.
I did want to find out if I could swim up to a duck dressed as a pumpkin and capture it, because that would be amazing! Unfortunately, a couple of the episodes in our last season ended up being so difficult to shoot that we put those difficulties into the narratives, and thus we ended up with narratives that were fat enough we didn't need this secondary story. Pumpkin duck hunting was always going to be about a 12-13 minute story, not a very long one. And like I said, we ended up with enough narrative that we didn't need that, so I took one for the team and chucked it.
These aren’t the only instances of Mythbusters editing down content. A few months ago other Mythbusters lead Jamie Hyneman revealed there was another experiment involving a baseball player and a train—yes a train—that Discovery wasn’t so keen on. I’m sure over time there were quite a few other segments that were bandied about that never made it to the air. All in all, though, we got to see a lot of really cool stuff make it to the small screen.
You can check out more from Adam Savage's Mythbusters Reddit AMA, here.