In their six seasons on the Discovery Channel, MythBusters hosts Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage have tested the veracity of more than 300 legends. But for their 100th episode (airing Feb. 20 at 9 p.m. Eastern; see a clip from the show, below), they’ll take on one of the greatest: TV’s MacGyver.
First, they’ll find out whether MacGyver (Richard Dean Anderson) really could’ve blasted a hole in a wall with one gram of pure sodium. Then, their Build Team — Tory Belleci, Kari Byron, and Grant Imahara — will attempt to replicate the ultralight airplane MacGyver constructed out of bamboo and duct tape. Finally, Hyneman and Savage will face a four-part, timed ”MacGyver challenge”: picking a lock, developing film with common kitchen liquids, building a compass, and devising an aerial signal for a rescue helicopter. Sounds simple, right?
EW.com caught up with Hyneman and Savage to chat about the milestone episode, their proudest MythBusting moments, their personal rules governing the proper disposal of pig carcasses, the time Adam West’s agent called, and why the makers of Lost might want to beware.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Why do a MacGyver theme for your 100th episode?
JAMIE HYNEMAN: We had to work quite a long time to get their cooperation to actually let us show footage from the show. It seemed somehow appropriate for the 100th episode, ‘cause in a way, we’re the real MacGyvers. We’re the guys that you would come to to pull something like that off in real life. We could probably do a MythBusters episode about every MacGyver episode.
ADAM SAVAGE: It’s a vein we’ve been waiting to tap ‘cause it just dovetails so perfectly with the kind of improvised, can-do-it spirit that we have on our show. And the fact that they worked really hard on MacGyver to have some kind of factual basis behind what they we were doing, in contrast to, like, The A-Team, and most other television shows.
HYNEMAN: In fact, one of the science advisors that we use on the show was a science advisor for MacGyver.
SAVAGE: At the end of the episode, Jamie and I get put through a set of challenges that MacGyver faced on the show. I think that works really well as a way of not just testing the facts of MacGyver, but testing the fact of MacGyver’s problem-solving abilities. My producer said, ”Well, what happens if you guys can’t do it?” And I said, ”Well, I would think that if we can’t do it, we could generally say that MacGyver probably couldn’t have done it. It’s Adam and Jamie, come on!”
HYNEMAN: One of the things we look for, in general, on our show is some grain of truth, and you’ll see it, over and over again, in MacGyver. Yes, there are things that he’s using that will explode, but do they explode with enough energy? Or, he builds a flying device, and yes, you can do that, but would you actually be able to do that in an hour-and-a-half? The devil’s in the details, and that’s where we come into play.
Let’s talk about your entire run: Is there any myth that you were sad to see busted?
HYNEMAN: We’re not going into any of these stories with some kind of preconception. We’re genuinely curious about what’s gonna happen when we do these things — if we’re not, we don’t want to do them. So even if we fail miserably at our attempt, we like that because it means we’ve just learned something. That’s what we’re all about.
Watch a clip from MythBusters‘100th episode:
NEXT PAGE: ”We go to some length to make sure the carcasses are kept refrigerated while we’re not working with them.”