My rating of Discovery Channel’s Smash Lab: 9.9 / 10 (The only reason it isn’t getting a 10 / 10 is because THAT is reserved for the old seasons of Junkyard Wars.)
The Discovery Channel has been showing this new series (‘new’ at least in India, I reckon that it’s already in its second season in the US) called Smash Lab for the past few weeks – and it’s really fun! The basic premise of the show is to take some accident scenario – a bomb exploding in front of a building, a car breaking through traffic dividers on a highway, a speedboat on collision course, a lifeboat being ejected at breakneck speeds – or a hurricane hitting a mobile trailer. What amazes me is how over-the-top this series is, and how much money they burn up each episode. Sure, they product placements, but the episode today – the hurricane one – really dazzled.
What they did is to take a mobile trailer home, and then cover it with carbon fibre to see if it could stand hurricane-force winds. And guess what they did to generate that? Since Hollywood-level wind machines weren’t enough to produce that strong winds, they hired a friggin’ Boeing 737 and used it’s jet exhaust to try and blow apart their reinforced home! And astonishingly, the carbon fibre worked – the whole home turned turtle but it stayed in one single unit. Plus, along the episode, they also trashed 3-4 more trailers, just to make a point.
If bringing in a jet plane wasn’t enough, consider this – in one episode they constructed a whole building, and then coated it with a special kind of polymer paint which has very high tensile properties. Then, they loaded up a car with dynamite, parked it right in front of the house – and blew it up. Oh, and BTW, before that? They also blew up 2-3 pickup trucks before they did this, just to ‘analyse the forces involved in impact’.
I’m pretty sure their budget would rival that of at least some mid-level Hollywood movies. It’s not just the over-the-top approach – what makes the show exciting is their totally crazy ideas which they work on and actually make to work, in most cases. Like another episode, in which they made a sand pit which could be turned into a fluid mass at the flick of a button – as a security measure to stop a, say, bank robbers’ getaway vehicle at a bank. As far as the coolness factor goes, Smash Lab is right up there with other Discovery Channel classics like Junkyard Wars and Future Weapons. You can read about their episodes on the Smash Lab blog too.
I noticed one more thing. Discovery Channel had an India-specific site earlier at discoverychannel.co.in; but if you visit it these days, it simply redirects you to the International page of Discovery Channel UK! Talk about cost-cutting measures!