Episode: MythBusters 8.28 – “Green Hornet Special”
Original Air Date: December 15, 2010
It seems that Jamie Hyneman and Seth Rogen are friends, so Jamie brought him along for a whole MythBusters episode devoted to two myths taken from Seth’s upcoming new movie, The Green Hornet. Seth, as the title character, will be taking on the bad guys with the help of his loyal sidekick, Kato, but it is their souped-up, mid-1960s Chrysler Imperial, nicknamed Black Beauty, that is the focus of the myths.
Is it just movie magic, or could they really fire all of the car’s rockets (eight aftermarket accessories installed by Kato) to escape being buried alive by the bad guys? Likewise, if the car was cut in half by the ceiling as it went up in a glass elevator, could it still drive out of the elevator on the other side so that our heroes could make good their escape, or is it all special effects and stunts? “If there’s a circle of hell for people who destroy beautiful cars, that’s where we’re going,” says Grant at one point in the episode, and I think that sums it up pretty well!
Myth #1: In a scene from The Green Hornet, the Green Hornet and Kato, riding in the Black Beauty, are forced into a large hole and buried. They shield themselves behind the car’s armored seats and fire all eight of the car’s rockets at the same time, blowing a hole that removes not only all of the dirt covering the car, but also the bulldozer that was sitting on top of the dirt. They are then able to climb out of the window of the mostly-intact car and escape. In reality, the explosive power of 8 rockets would be enough to move the dirt and bulldozer, and the armored seats would protect the occupants from harm in the explosion.
MythBusters: Adam and Jamie
- Obtain a Chrysler Imperial similar to the one used in the movie, two crash test dummies, and a bulldozer.
- Figure out the amount of explosives likely to be contained in the eight rockets installed in the front of the Black Beauty. Obtain that amount and install it with a remote detonator in the front of the car.
- Armor/reinforce the front seats of the car and secure the crash test dummies behind them in the back seat along with some pressure sensors.
- Dig a hole and place the car in it. Bury the car and park the bulldozer on top.
- Detonate the explosives.
- Observe and analyze the results.
Results: The bulldozer was still on top of the hole, although now resting in the crater created by the blast. There was still quite a layer of dirt on top of the car, possibly even more than there was to begin with. The car was destroyed, as were the pressure sensors that were supposed to tell whether or not the explosion would have harmed the car’s occupants.
Conclusion: The explosion moved dirt off of the car, but most of it fell back into the hole and did not uncover the car as in the movie. The explosion did not move the bulldozer off of the hole. The car did not stay mostly intact or still have a window opening for the heroes to climb out of. The pressure of the explosion was great enough to destroy the pressure sensors, so presumably that means it was too great for people to survive and the armored seats were not sufficient protection. Myth Busted. Busted myths never stop the MythBusters, though, so to give them more excuses to blow things up, the myth can be adjusted a bit to allow for further testing.
Myth #1a: Exploding rockets can’t save the heroes from being buried alive, but it is possible to create an explosion that will move a bulldozer away from the blast site while keeping it intact.
- Create two 200 lb. model bulldozers to use in small-scale tests of different types of explosives. Obtain a high-speed explosive (TNT) and a low-speed explosive (ammonium nitrate and fuel oil, aka ANFO).
- Bury the TNT and place a model bulldozer on top of it. Detonate the explosive. Observe and analyze the results.
- Repeat step two with ANFO.
- Bury a much larger amount of whichever explosive worked better in the small-scale tests and park a full-sized bulldozer on top of it.
- Detonate the explosive. Observe and analyze the results.
Results: In the small-scale tests, the TNT blasted the model bulldozer into small pieces as it moved it away from its original place, while the ANFO separated the bucket from the main part of the model but otherwise kept the bulldozer intact as it moved it off of the original site. In the full-scale test, when 250 lbs. of ANFO were buried under a bulldozer and detonated, the bulldozer was blasted into lots of little pieces and scattered some distance away from the original position.
Conclusion: ANFO is used in industries such as construction and quarrying for the purpose of moving things rather than destroying them, and it turned out to be the optimal type of explosive here as well. However, the plausibility of this myth can’t be determined because they only had one bulldozer, which was destroyed. Obviously, 250 lbs. was too much ANFO, but they did not have another chance to determine whether a smaller amount of explosive would have moved the bulldozer without destroying it.
Myth #2: In another scene, Kato drives a bullet-ridden Black Beauty through the lobby of an office building and into the elevator. The elevator begins to rise, lifting the car with it, and when it reaches the ceiling, the back half of the car that is sticking out of the elevator is sheared off, leaving the front half to continue on to a higher floor. When the doors open again, the front half of the car drives out of the elevator and through the office area, making good the heroes’ escape. In real life, the elevator would be able to cut the car in half and the front half of the car would still be able to drive once the car was cut in half.
MythBusters: Kari, Grant, and Tory
Part 1: “Bifurcation by Elevator”
- Obtain a Chrysler Imperial and trick it out to look like the Black Beauty from the movie.
- Take it to a firing range and shoot 275 rounds from semi-automatic weapons into the car’s body.
- Obtain a heavy-duty forklift capable of lifting the car. Build a platform for the car to rest on while being lifted by the forklift. Build a structure with an I-beam to act as the ceiling that the car hits as it is lifted.
- Place the car on the platform. Use the fork lift to lift it up to and past the level of the I-beam structure.
- Observe and analyze the results.
Results: The car is crushed and the back end is pushed downwards off of the platform when it hits the I-beam structure. It is not split in half at all.
Part 2: Half-Car Driving
- Obtain a front-wheel drive car and cut it in half.
- Attempt to drive the front half of the car to see if the fuel left in the cut fuel lines is enough to allow the car to travel any distance at all.
- Add a reserve fuel tank to the front of the car, as Kato supposedly did in addition to converting the rear wheel drive Imperial to front wheel drive.
- Take the half car to a dirt track and see how many laps (if any) it is able to complete.
- Analyze the results.
Results: When first driving the split car, it took a lot of ignition fluid sprayed directly on the starter to get it to crank. Once it finally did, however, Kari drove it into the wall before it ran out of gas, so no data was collected on the distance it could travel on the residual fuel in the fuel lines. When the auxiliary fuel tank was added, Tory was able to drive it up to 40 mph around the track and complete 20 laps.
Conclusion: The team wanted to call the myth busted since the elevator by itself couldn’t have cut the car in half, but Seth Rogen wouldn’t let them. He kept coming up with things Kato could have done to the car that would have made the stunt possible. The movie clip seen in this episode shows Kato telling the Green Hornet about changing the car from rear wheel to front wheel drive, but it is not clear if the reserve fuel tank that Rogen mentions was actually in the movie or something he made up. The same goes for his idea that Kato did something to the car to make it so that the rear half could detach from the front in case they ever ended up in an elevator. At any rate, Kari, Grant, and Tory called it plausible if the Black Beauty did indeed have these modifications.
Episode Conclusions: If you’ve been reading my other reviews this season, you already know that I’m getting tired of MythBusters taking on movie myths, mainly because the results are almost always the same — it’s really hard for reality to beat a Hollywood special effects department. Seth Rogen even said as much during the episode when he observed that “if you want to make a good movie, the first thing you gotta do is throw reality out the window.” No kidding! This week really takes the cake, though, since they spent a whole episode on one movie, and a superhero movie at that, which by its very nature means that anything goes, realistic or not. I could see doing one possibly realistic movie myth occasionally, but this season it seems like Kari, Grant, and Tory have been stuck with one almost every week.
I also don’t like what seems to be an emerging trend of using MythBusters to promote other shows or movies — first it was Storm Chasers, now The Green Hornet. That’s not why I watch the show. It shouldn’t be about promotion and stunt casting guest hosts. Yes, there were plenty of big booms and destroyed cars, but the whole premise for doing so was flawed and therefore took away from my enjoyment of the episode. I used to really enjoy seeing what they would come up with next, but I’m starting to wonder if they have exhausted the world’s supply of interesting myths to bust. If things don’t change very soon, I will be dropping this show from my weekly line up.
Rating: 1 / 5 Stars