Have you noticed? I mean the Discovery channel a few years back was about nature; like mountain climbing, Sharks and Space. All the kind of jazz. Basically they were trying to do a paid version of PBS. But a few years ago they came out with my beloved MythBusters show. I like the show. I’ve been watching since the beginning. Since before Grant, Carey and Tory (I’m not even going to bother looking up the correct spelling of their names)
And that was fine. I mean the show has sort of evolved, but pretty much kept to the original spirit and format they started with. It didn’t have the gritty LOOOOOW budget feel of American Chopper. The chopper show had the look and feel of a long format documentary (like the white version of Hoop Dreams). In an effort to prop up their sister network TLC, Discovery moved the chopper show over there. It’s been about a year or 2 now and I believe the show didn’t survive the move. The probably retained some viewers but…well ask Scrubs how much they enjoyed a station move.
A sort of semi-recent Discovery hit was Dirty Jobs. Now, some of you may have recognized Mike Rowe’s voice from those Alaska specials. I seem to recall that before they actually made a series they just did a couple of Alaska fishing specials. And again that was closer to a documentary/nature film than an action show. But Dirty Jobs seems to have been born out of the idea of that show, so in that respect it stands out as an original program in my mind.
Another sort of semi-recent hit is Man vs. Wild. I think Discovery has also got Survivor Man program. Plus, a few years ago didn’t they have another British guy running around? His thing was going to live with the “natives.” As a guy with anthropology degree I actually liked cultural investigations that show. Man, I think there’s another show out now were two guys go and live with some natives.
So as I look at these shows it seems Discovery has taken the idea of making stuff and destroying stuff as their model for all new shows. And all of these shows look like MythBuster copies to me. As if they decided to isolate some aspect of MB and build a show around. For instance they had a with this ex-Daily show guy Unger where they showed how stuff was made, and then they came out with a show called “How it’s Made.” On the other end of the spectrum they had show with a bunch of “young people” coming up with ideas for constructing stuff, but because most of the stuff was unstable there would be crashes and explosions. Then had had a show that was all engineers and it was all about creating weird stuff (that was still on the air. But then they put “Gone in Seconds” on the channel, and that one is JUST the explosions. So it seems like a mid-90’s Mike Darnell shows on FOX. (Mike Darnell by the way is the guy who created all those shows like When Animals Attack type shows). And now they’ve got a show just about detonating buildings.
So Jonathan Goodwin in One Way Out. Well, what is it? Ok, they’ve got all the construction of MythBusters BUT they’ve added magic. I mean they’re calling him an escape artist but that phrase has historically been attached to magic. In fact they seem to be down playing that element and pushing that “what will happen” aspect and for me that makes it another MythBusters! Plus they start the show with the trademark MB small scale test. So is all this a bad thing? No. Listen when you have some success you want to duplicate it and grow it. That’s how business works. BUT, you have realize when your success is in the public eye people are gonna notice. This is why copy-cat movies, copy-cat musicians, and yes copy-cat tv shows don’t make it.