The nutty MythBusters stars won’t be filming their science shenanigans in Alameda anymore.
TV science geeks Adam Savage and Jamie Hyeman have one season left on the Discovery Channel, but their wacky experiments, explosions, and goofy ideas will live on, thanks to the Science Channel.
MythBusters fans take note: the Discovery Channel’s longest running series will premiere one final season on Jan. 9, 2016. “After 248 episodes, 2,950 experiments, 1,050 myths, and 900 explosions, hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman will say goodbye to the series this winter,” the Discovery Channel announced this fall.
After the final season airs, the MythBusters library will move to Discovery’s sister network, the Science Channel, where the MythBusters legacy will live on. And Alamedans will be left reminiscing about the good ol’ days, when hosts Hyneman and Savage and the rest of the MB crew could be seen blowing stuff up and doing other weird antics on the abandoned runways at Alameda Point, as they tested theories, debunked myths, and made science experimentation look fun and cool.
“I liked the episode where they blew up a pig carcass,” said Ted Levitt, a librarian at Alameda’s Main Library on Oak Street.
“My favorite was the zombie one,” said Jessica Thiragirayuta, referring to the “Zombie Special” in which Michael Rooker of The Walking Dead demonstrated the best way to dispatch the undead.
“It’s pretty cool how they chose Alameda out of all places to shoot,” added Thiragirayuta, who works for the city’s finance department. And there’s no question that the seven-time Emmy-nominated series, which premiered on Discovery in January 2003, helped put Alameda on the map. That’s because a good chunk of the show’s episodes were filmed on the abandoned runways of the former naval base at Alameda Point.
“With the sun setting behind San Francisco in the distance, with the towering cranes lifting containers off boats that inspired the AT-AT Walkers from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, the Alameda runway is probably the most iconic of MythBusters’ regular locations,” said MB co-host Savage in a segment extolling Alameda’s virtues as a shooting location. Thanks to the show’s constant use of Alameda as a shooting location, people thought the series was based on the Island, when it’s actually based in San Francisco.
Over the lifetime of the show, Mythbusters has pulled approximately 64 permits to film at Alameda Point, said Nafisah Ali, a permit technician with the city of Alameda. Those activities included determining if moonshine is a suitable substitute for gasoline, attempting to play tennis on the wing of a moving airplane, and crashing two giant semis into a small car.
But despite the huge success of MythBusters, and the sometimes loud explosions at Alameda Point, the MB permits only brought the city about $33,434 in fees over the lifetime of the show. As such, Discovery’s decision to cancel the series will be more of an emotional than a fiscal blow for Alameda.
Jennifer Ott, the city’s chief operating officer for Alameda Point, said MythBusters usage helped the city lease the runways for other events. “It’s not a huge part of our portfolio,” Ott said. “So though it’s nice to have the publicity, it’s not going to impact us fiscally. But it did help us lease runways for events.”
Ott noted that MythBusters did have to coordinate with another set of tenants at the Point—a colony of endangered least terns that nest on the tarmac each spring where they are monitored daily by volunteers on the watch for predators and other threats to their breeding success. Whether an episode could be filmed depended on what it entailed, especially during least tern season, Ott said. “If it caused any specific ‘disturbance’ to the terns, it was a no-go. But it is always easier to film during the off-season.”
MythBusters is, of course, planning to go out with the ultimate bang, using a cement truck, a quarry, and a 60-foot train tanker, though not necessarily in that order.
“I’m glad for the chance to say goodbye with some of the best television we’ve ever made,” Savage said in a statement. “Best of all, we were able to do what we do and still have all our fingers and toes,” Hyneman added.
Between Dec. 23 and Jan. 3, 2016, the Science Channel will air every episode of MythBusters, starting with the “Jet Assisted Chevy” and concluding with “Star Wars: Revenge of the Myth.”
Speaking of myths, in 2008, George Lucas told the San Francisco Chronicle that it’s “definitely a myth” that the Oakland cranes inspired his AT-AT Walkers. Perhaps some myths can’t be busted.