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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Mythbusters makes a "Mission Impossible Mask"

     Discovery Channel's Mythbusters is back for a fresh batch of new episodes. To kick things off, they tackled one of their weirdest challenges yet. Inspired by the Mission Impossible movies and TV series, Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage, the coloful hosts, decide to test whether those realistic-looking masks would be enough to fool people. Jamie and Adam build masks of themselves, and then dress as the other. Then they hire a professional coach to teach them to act alike.

     Testing it proves a bit complicated. First, they bring in fans of the show and ask them to shine a laser at a target that a false Jamie or Adam is standing next to. In these early round, Jamie or Adam talk to the participants, and all say the voice immediately gave them away as an imposter. A second test where Jamie and Adam don't talk proved much more successful. Fans did not realize until they turned and looked the host straight in the face that something is amiss. A final test, posed as an observational challenge for Kari Byron and Grant Imahara is the best. Kari picks up on the imposter from seventy feet away, though isn't sure until she gets close. Grant is fooled all the way up until the five foot mark.

     Besides proving the myth plausible, depending on circumstances, how well people know you, and if you have to talk, the scene was thoroughly enoyable, if a bit creepy. Because the molds are generic, and not fitted to the wearer's head, Adam's Jamie worked a lot better than Jamie's Adam, because Jamie has a bigger head and it stretched out Adam's face. Still, I'd love to have been a fly in the room as they did the test. I could not get enough of watching the pair impersonate each other. I'm so glad these two have a television show.

     The second team, consisting of Kari, Grant, and Tory Belleci, did what seems like the two thousandth gun myth on the series. Despite frequent testing of firearms, though, this one, as many are, is still fresh and exciting. They were testing movie scenarios (of course!). One had them trying to spin a playground merry-go-round by shooting it with bullets, while the other consisted of shooting guns on the ground to knock them away from their disarmed owner. The latter proved surprisingly true, and worked well no matter what surface.

     The merry-go-round did not work at all. That did not stop Kari, though, from making it into the merry-go-round of death by adding barbed wire and lighting gasoline-soaked rope on fire. It is a sight I will not soon forget, and definitely made the whole myth worth it. Leave it to Mythbusters to ramp things up until they are hilarious, and a bit frightening, rather than being satisfied with status quo.

     Reruns air constantly, but new episodes of Mythbusters can be found Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on Discovery Channel.

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