After doing stunt school this past summer, you can imagine how my interest was immediately piqued by a new TV show on Speed called Stuntbusters. It’s a behind-the-scenes look at deconstructing and demonstrating stunts – focusing on automotive stunts. I was hoping that they’d cover the full range of stunts – but I understand why they had to focus, if only because they have find the right real-life stuntpeople as hosts.
Garrett Hammond and Vanessa Vander Pluym serve that role well – they’re photogenic, well-spoken, and do their own stunts on the show. The last part is a really important part of these type of shows – the hosts need to be a credible expert. For example, the Discovery Channel show Future Weapons has a ex-Navy SEAL demonstrating all the cutting-edge weapons they can get their hands on.
The portions of the show where they deconstruct stunts are only mildly interesting – it’s like Mythbusters Lite. In the episode (Ep. 2 “Bulletproof Beater”) where they crash 2 cars head-on, they use the cable-tow system that Mythbusters fans have seen many times.
What makes Stuntbusters unique is when Vanessa and Garrett actually go and do their own spectacular stunts. Watching Vanessa do the “can-opener” stunt in the first episode is heart-stopping. This is where stuntwoman drives a car at 50mph up a slight ramp, where it proceeds to launch into the air, impact and rip the roof off a target car, then flip end over end to land roof-on-roof onto a third card. Crazy. I remember thinking, “I hope they’re paying these guys a lot to do this.” They’re putting their lives on the line. An injury while hosting a TV show can derail their careers, just as surely as doing stunts on TV and movie gigs. (See the recent injuries and deaths of stuntmen on the movie sets of The Expendables and G.I. Joe 2). That’s why they don’t feature a lot of spectacular (read dangerous) stunts on the show – which unfortunately is exactly what viewers are looking for.
I’ll keep watching the show – I just love to learn about stunts, especially about an area that I’m not familiar with at all. Best wishes to Vanessa and Garrett – stay safe!