Mythbusters Secret Formula
There are some shows that are on TV that get great ratings because of the personalities, think American Chopper. I watch that show not because of the bike making, but because I want to see what Paul Sr. and Junior are going to fight about this week or what Mikey is going to do this week.
When it comes to Mythbusters, my attention to the show is driven by something very different. I'm intrigued by what they are going to do and how they are going to accomplish their study. What is going to be exploded or destroyed and how much explosives are needed to do a good enough job.
What is it from a production/editing perspective that makes shows like Mythbusters, American Choppers, and Dirty Jobs such a success. Produced or edited any other way and they would not be nearly as good or successful. What do you see as some of necessary components for success?
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While I like "Mythbusters" a lot, I hate that it is really only eight minutes of programming content stretched into an hour or half-hour with the endless use of fillers, teasers, bumpers, and recap/repetition of parts already seen. Show should be sponsored by Hamburger Helper and Xerox.
And yes, I'm bitter and angry that they got the airplane-on-the conveyor-belt thing completely wrong.:-P
"American Chopper" was pretty good when it was the only show like itself, but I feel lazy producers and sponsors of other shows have copied their formula to death and now everything looks too similar to that model.
I know someone who pitched a show to Discovery networks, and this show had plenty of real drama and danger, as well as cool technology but all the network guys wanted was to jam it up with soap opera fluff to be just like "Chopper". Pick something that works and imitate the heck out of that, instead of coming up with something fresh that's more risky. "Chopper" was risky when it came out, but somebody gave it a chance. "Dirty Jobs" was risky at first, now that's next to get imitated and used up.
Now more and more IMO "Chopper" is even less about the bikes and more day in the life "reality" coverage of the faux dysfunctional family. It's like watching wrestling on TV.
You ever see a current PBS show featuring kid/teen designers in team competition? I don't recall the name or time slot, it's on once in a while in the daytime in my region. That is a pretty cool show. I also liked the original British "Robot Wars" where designing for the course's challenges and using strategy was the point, and "Scrapheap Challenge" back before that show became "Junkyard Wars" and turned into the "what can we modify a car into this week?" contest.
I watch too much Discovery Channel, but due to all the imitations and repetitions and the lack of science/technology programing on it, I'm watching much less of "The Welding Channel" now.
While I'm on a rant, what's "historic" about running "Ice Road Truckers" on the History channel?
A few years ago VH1 ran a show "behind the scenes of reality tv" which revealed that producers take things out of context to make reality shows more exciting. In other words, reality shows as straight documentaries would not be very entertaining.
The original question seemed to be talking about the high concept of successful shows, rather than pointing out a particular editing situation that made the show unique - aside from the editorial decisions of the producers that is.
Ace of Cakes is a good newer show. It focuses on the cake projects, with whatever drama goes along with a project, but it sticks to the cake. Sometimes I think producers encourage reality show subjects to get nasty with each other for the camera. That may be the case in some cases.
Years ago in an interview David Lynch predicted that in the future, television would be nothing but reality shows and game shows. His prediction is coming true.
Always try to figure out what the formula is. It is...chemistry. It is what we find fun and entertaining. I don't care about how they build the chopper, but what conflict happens to make it a challenge. Or what brilliant design idea they came up with and how they did it.
Haven't seen Dirty Jobs...and I agree about ICE ROAD TRUCKERS...and want to ad AXMEN. "History is made every day?" HA! Great excuse to say "this is how we can air this stuff on History."
But to add another show...a new one...TIME WARP. I worked on this for a few weeks, and I like the show. All it really is is...lets shoot some stuff in really slow motion and see how it looks. That's about it. But dang it if I don't like things shot in slow motion! Fireworks, skate boarders, water balloons popping. It is cool stuff. They try to throw in some scientific stuff to justify it...and SOME of it works. But really it is just "look at this...it's COOL!" And it is. The two hosts are fun, but not why I watch the show. it is the Coke bottles with Mentos and the WILL IT BLEND guy. I know producers who are kicking themselves for not thinking of it first.
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I sometimes like to watch "Deadliest Catch", but after a few seasons, it's starting to feel the same. No crab. Lots of crab, but no sleep. Big waves break over boat (my girlfriend swears & cringes in fear). Break ice. Captain what's his name yells at 2 Sh**-head sons.
I occasionally like to catch an episode of "Storm Chasers". Crazy f**ckers try to drive directly into tornados. Need I say more?
OTOH, my girlfriend looooves her 'housey" shows. "Flip this House", "Flip that House" (they're on different channels, I can't remember which is which), some really slow show about someone looking to buy a house. They're typically 1/2 hour shows, and each is slower than the next.
She also follows "Project Runway". She sews herself & likes the creative side of it. I hate the fake melodrama, and I suspect they play waaaay up for the camera.
Post production is not an afterthought!
[Mark Suszko] "While I'm on a rant, what's "historic" about running "Ice Road Truckers" on the History channel?"
Simple. If they fall through the ice, they're history!
Post production is not an afterthought!
The only "reality" show I watched with any regularity was Bravo's "Project Runway". I could barely stand the petty bickering and over-the-top histrionics of the contestants, or the catty judges, but what kept me glued week after week was, watching talented artists and craftspeople actually design and MAKE something with their bare hands from nothing, in a short time, and then show that off in competition. Whatever else you think of the contestants, you have to hand it to them that they all have skills, and judging along at home was always fun. I enjoyed watching them meet the special challenges regarding style or materials. As that show progressed, it too drifted towards soap opera crud and away from what I thought made it great. And Tim Gunn is just a stitch, pun intended.
We used to watch MTV's Real World, but grew ever more frustrated watching the self-absorbed idiot kids waste all the opportunities the show presented them in favor of faking interpersonal drama.
My wife loved watching "The Osbournes" for a time, so I'd watch that with her, I always played it with the closed-captioning on, so I could make out what the heck Ozzy was saying.
Usually it was something about burritos.
[Mark Suszko] "We used to watch MTV's Real World, but grew ever more frustrated watching the self-absorbed idiot kids waste all the opportunities the show presented them in favor of faking interpersonal drama. "
I know a little bit about this show...
All I'll say is that it's a reflection of our society at large. Don't blame the messenger for holding up a
mirror to the face of some of our "less than altruistic" members. Over the years many people HAVE become more self-absorbed, melodramatic, and only interested in "what's in it for me?". You only need look at what's happened to this country over the past eight years to know that it's true.
We could tell ourselves that viewers prefer reality programming. While that may be so the fact is unscripted shows began with far less budgets than scripted shows. This is why they took off.
I too like AE, Discovery, ect. Most of what I create on my own is unscripted true reality. I like the freedom of making it and people like the spontiaety when watching "reality".
I quote that word as it's become an abused buzz word that usually means the opposite.
I'm surprised that nobody has noted the real WHY reality shows dominate TV so much these days.
They're incredibly CHEAP to produce compared to scripted drama.
I'm sure at some point somebody said, "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if we could make ourselves a whole hour of TV without paying any of those pesky writers or talent?"
Heck, they did it back in the early days of "What's my Line?" So let's re-configure TV as a place where original ideas and scripts aren't important and nobody will realize that we're feeding them recycled 1950's game shows if we make the LIGHTING really cool! (DMX free "Millionaire"? I don't think so!)
Then we'll replace actors with "edgy" real people who aren't afraid to make asses of themselves on national TV. And an industry was re-invented.
I do agree with another poster who noted that at least some of the reality shows like Project Runway, the Cooking Contests, the "decorator" shows, and the "mechanic" shows at least elevate people who have some actual talent for creating stuff. And at least that's a decent role model for the nation's youngsters.
Seeing people on TV who actually do productive work has been missing since the Ward Cleaver phantom job era.
yeah, someone should have mentioned budget.