The Mythbusters DVD Buying Guide

April 26th, 2010

As a fan of science and skeptical thinking, I consider Mythbusters one of the best shows on television right now. And as an anal-retentive collector, I want to get the whole series on DVD. Most current shows are available in complete-season box sets, making this endeavor easy. Unfortunately, the Discovery Channel has made things a little more complicated for their flagship series.

For starters, the most widely-available Mythbusters DVDs are the much-maligned “best of” collections or themed sets. These are of little interest to the completist, who’d prefer more logically-organized complete releases over cherry-picked episodes. Fortunately, season-by-season box sets of Mythbusters, up to season six, are available exclusively through the Discovery Channel Store. Unfortunately, the organization of the episodes on these sets leaves a lot to be desired, and many episodes are not included.

The first problem is that there doesn’t appear to be any consistent way of organizing Mythbusters episodes into seasons. Every episode list I’ve found breaks them up in different ways. The official Mythbusters site foregoes organizing its list by season altogether, instead grouping episodes by calendar year. One would expect the DVD releases to be the definitive word on the subject, but in some cases, episodes that originally aired on consecutive weeks are included on two different DVD season sets. There’s even one instance in which the first episode included on one season set aired before the final episode of the previous season set!

The other major issue is the handling of the episodes that have been designated “specials.” These special episodes aired during the show’s regular time-slot, and are mostly of normal length (although there are a couple of double-length specials), so it isn’t exactly clear what differentiates them from “regular” episodes (they generally cover a number of myths connected by a common theme, but then so do several episodes that aren’t considered specials). There are over a dozen specials among Mythbusters’ first six seasons, and most of them are absent from the DVD season sets. Some, but not all, of the missing specials are available on individual DVD releases through the Discovery Channel Store. Strangely, the season five DVD set includes all of the specials from that season except one, and the season six DVD set includes some, but not all of the season-six specials. No logic or consistency seems to have gone into the determination of which episodes would be included and which would be omitted.

Mythbusters

Frustrated by the Discovery Channel’s DVD release strategy for Mythbusters, I finally just took a complete list of Mythbusters episodes organized by airdate, and compared it, episode-by-episode, to the list of episodes included in each season DVD box set to come up with a list of the missing episodes, and on which individual DVD releases, if any, they could be found. I know that other fans of the show are similarly frustrated, so I hope that they might find this research useful. If you purchase the six seasons sets that Discovery offers, you’ll get all of the episodes that aired through November 18, 2009 except for the following:

  • “Jet-Assisted Chevy”
  • “Biscuit Bazooka”
  • “Poppy-Seed Drug Test”
  • “Best Animals Myths”
  • “Best Electric Myths”
  • “Best Explosions”
  • “Christmas Special”
  • “Buster Special”
  • “Ultimate Mythbuster”
  • “MythBusters Outtakes”
  • “Shop ‘til You Drop”
  • “Mythbusters Revealed”
  • “Hollywood on Trial”
  • “Jaws Special”
  • “Mega Movie Myths”
  • “Supersized Myths”
  • “Young Scientist Special”
  • “Shark Week Special”
  • “Alcohol Myths”
  • “Demolition Derby”

The first three episodes on this list (“Jet-Assisted Chevy,” “Biscuit Bazooka,” and “Poppy-Seed Drug Test”) are the show’s three pilot episodes that originally aired in early 2003. All of them are available on the The Pilots DVD release. The next three episodes (“Best Animals Myths,” “Best Electric Myths,” and “Best Explosions”) are essentially clip shows—they highlight themed myths from previous episodes, and include no new footage. None of them appears to be available on DVD, but since they contain no original content, I’m not going to worry about them. Heck, the official Mythbusters episode list doesn’t even include these three “best-of” shows.

“Buster Special,” “Shop ‘til You Drop,” “Hollywood on Trial,” “Jaws Special,” and “Mega Movie Myths” are all available on individual DVD releases. As of this writing, the Discovery Channel Store carries all except “Buster Special.” That DVD appears to be out of print, so you’ll probably have to hunt down a used copy; after a bit of searching, I found one on eBay. Note that “Shop ‘til You Drop” and “Hollywood on Trial” (and “Mythbusters Revealed,” but more on that in a moment) are also available on the four-disc Mythbusters Collection 1 DVD set. You’ll get another 10 regular episodes that are duplicated in the season sets, but for under ten bucks at Amazon, the collection is still a better deal than the Discovery Channel’s individual releases, which are priced rather exorbitantly for single-episode DVDs. Three other Collection releases exist, but none contains any episodes that are missing from the season sets.

There is also an individual DVD release of “Mythbusters Revealed,” but that episode is additionally included alongside “Mythbusters Outtakes” on the two-episode Mythbusters DVD in the Discovery Channel Best Of Collection, Volume 4 DVD box set. Since “Mythbusters Outtakes” isn’t available on any other release, that’s the one you’ll want to pick up. It might seem a bit extreme to purchase a five-disc box set for just two episodes, but you ought to be able to find a pretty good deal on a used set; I actually found the set’s Mythbusters DVD for sale individually on eBay.

Mythbusters DVDs

That leaves “Christmas Special,” “Ultimate Mythbuster,” “Supersized Myths,” “Young Scientist Special,” “Shark Week Special,” “Alcohol Myths,” and “Demolition Derby.” None of them appears to be available on any U.S. DVD release. However, there are Australian releases of “Christmas Special” and “Ultimate Mythbuster”. Both are region-locked PAL releases, so they won’t play in a standard U.S. DVD player. But they are available to anyone determined enough to procure a region-free, PAL-compatible DVD player. “Christmas Special” is pretty easy to find; its DVD release is called Mythbusters Christmas Special, Volume 1 (there was a second Christmas-themed episode, available as Volume 2, but it’s included on season five DVD set), and there always seems to be a few copies available on eBay Australia.

“Ultimate Mythbuster” is a bit harder to get hold of. An individual DVD release of this episode (dubbed Mythbusters: Ultimate) was included as a freebie with an issue of the men’s magazine FHM in Australia a couple of years ago. That DVD is rather hard to come by now, but if you keep an eye out on eBay Australia, one’s bound to turn up eventually; that’s how I scored my copy. This episode is apparently also included in the Australian DVD release of season two; it should be easier to get it this way, since it’s a currently-available commercial release, but more expensive to do so since you’ll have to purchase a whole season set for just one episode. Of course, you could just go exclusively with the Australian DVD releases, since they contain at least some of the specials absent from the U.S. season sets, but they organize the episodes in yet another way, which matches neither the U.S. DVDs nor any episode list I’ve seen, and I’m not about to try comprehensively cataloguing the Australian releases, too. I believe that early episodes of the show also had Robert Lee’s voice-over narration replaced with the voice of an Australian-accented narrator (nothing against Australian accents; I’d just prefer to hear the standard U.S. narration that I’ve become accustomed to), though this practice was obviously dropped by the time they got to “Christmas Special” and “Ultimate Mythbuster,” the Australian DVD releases of which include Lee’s narration.

Having said that, one episode, the “Supersized Myths” special, appears to be availably only as part of an Australian season set—season four, to be specific. Again, the viewer will have to decide whether it’s worth buying an entire season set for a single episode, or consider just buying the Australian sets instead of the U.S. ones in the first place.

Unfortunately, it seems that “Young Scientist Special,” “Shark Week Special,” “Alcohol Myths,” and “Demolition Derby” haven’t been released on DVD anywhere in the world. They all aired during season six, the one most recently released on DVD, so I’m still hopeful that Discovery will put out individual releases of them at some point.

Mythbusters cast

In the meantime, here’s the complete list of DVDs you’ll have to acquire to get the first six seasons of Mythbusters—every episode through November 18, 2009—except for those three “best-of” episodes and the four aforementioned specials. Releases marked with an asterisk (*) contain episodes that are also included on the Collection 1 release, which, again, is the better deal.

  • Season 1
  • Season 2
  • Season 3
  • Season 4
  • Season 5
  • Season 6
  • The Pilots
  • Mythbusters Christmas Special, Volume 1 Australian release
  • Buster Special
  • Mythbusters: Ultimate Australian release or Season 4 Australian release
  • Outtakes and Revealed from the Discovery Channel Best Of Collection, Volume 4
  • Shop ‘til You Drop *
  • Hollywood on Trial *
  • Jaws Special
  • Mega Movie Myths
  • Season 4 Australian release
television

Comments

Carl Fink says…
May 6th, 2010

Shortly after writing this guide, I discovered that there exists a Discovery Channel Mythbusters/Man vs. Wild Emmy screener DVD containing the “Demolition Derby Special.” I found it on eBay and bought it for $13. The DVD includes two episodes from each show, but the other Mythbusters episode (“NASA Moon Landing”) is available on the regular season sets (as are both episodes of Man vs. Wild, whose DVD releases are almost as bad as those of Mythbusters).

Laura says…
June 27th, 2010

This is strange - we have the most recently released Season Six set, purchased through Ebay, and it does include “Alcohol Myths”. But, just to point out to readers, we purchased seasons 1-4 through the Discovery Store and found that every episode on “Season 2” DVD set was duplicated on the “Season 3” DVD set which negates the need to have the Season 2 set. We promptly sold that one on Ebay which didn’t make the deal as bad.

Larry Hartlne says…
October 11th, 2010

Question for Carl. Did the Emmy screener DVD have any presentation disclaimer running on the screen or was it a clean copy?

Thanks

December 9th, 2010

This is the most comprehensive analysis of this problem that I’ve seen. And very much appreciated. Mythbusters is currently the best show on television, and I’m sure I’ll do a blog entry or two on or related to it eventually, if I ever get to the point of actually doing entries regularly. The terrible quality of the DVD releases has bothered me for some time. I’m a collector and a completist and a fan, so I wish I could just get the whole shebang, properly organized and actually complete, rather than “complete” seasons with episodes missing.

I don’t know if you have any information on this, but another factor I wonder about is the running time. The US episodes have a running time of just over 42 minutes. The UK episodes clock in at 50 minutes, but I greatly prefer Robert Lee’s voice-over to the replaced UK narrator. I’ve read that the Australian running time is also the full 50 minute version of the show, but with Robert Lee narration, so if their “complete season” boxed sets are actually complete, it seems like the Australian DVDs might be the best option - of course, as you note, I’m not aware of anyone cataloging what’s available and what’s missing from the Ausie DVD sets. I think I’ll look into it myself when I have the time.

The last issue I have, although it’s a much more minor one, is that there are no special features on the DVD releases. If Discovery would finally get it together and release well-organized, complete season boxed-sets that actually include every episode with the 50 minute running time and Robert Lee’s narration, I wouldn’t hesitate to jump on them. If they added bloopers, and/or additional material and included the web content relevant to each episode as special features, I’d be in completist-collector-fan heaven.

Teri says…
December 24th, 2010

Have you tried purchasing the hard to find episodes on iTunes? They are selling episodes at $1.99 each. I know that some of what they offer are specials. Thank you for all your effort in creating this list.

Anonymous says…
February 26th, 2011

just a heads up, im in australia and we only have season 1 - 4 available on dvd. from research ive done there is no plans from discovery to release any more seasons on dvd down under. Also to not not all the season are complete for example the season 3 dvd box set here in australia does not contain episodes Crimes and Myth-Demeanors 1 & 2. Crimes and Myth-Demeanors 1 & 2 are not evan in the specials dvd’s here.

Anonymous says…
August 19th, 2011

Howdy, just to confirm some of the messages from people here regarding Australian DVD releases. Yes they are all 50 minute episodes, all narrated by Robert Lee. As of this date we have had Region 4 releases of “Seasons 1 - 5” with a “Season 6” release on the horizon, no episode list yet. I’ve always wondered the reason for the inconsistent airing times..

It is a shame the episode ordering of MB is so wrecked, and I suppose in the interest of completeness, if you want the ‘full-length’ 50 minute episodes and you’re in the US, your job just got even harder ;/

Anonymous says…
December 15th, 2011

hi im a kid from aus and i have season 1-5 but have found there are some specials missing for example the jaws/shark special are not on the original seasons that i have but JB-HIFi has a specials disc set also avalible i als o wanted to point out some things that pirates special 2 is on the original seasons but not pirates 1 which is quite odd i would have done it the opposite way

MrDSmith says…
April 10th, 2012

I’m watching the episodes on Netflix and find it funny that many episodes reference the cement truck myth, and yet it is not available in the collections. It can, however, be viewed on the site as part of an explosions collection, but why?

Board Gamer says…
January 3rd, 2013

Thank you for putting this list together!!

Anonymous says…
January 27th, 2013

Thank you! I just discovered Mythbusters about a month ago and love it. I’m trying to get as many seasons worth of shows as possible before a hospitalization that will leave me wanting lots to watch. I am so confused though about what happens when and it does not help that they are constantly referring to having done things that I’ve never seen even though I am in theory watching them in order. You’ve helped this make much more sense and I’m glad to know about how to find missing episodes. I’d like to see the pilot shows, for example and assumed they were the first 3 shows since that’s typical for every DVD series I have. Thank you for a great job of clearing the confusion.

Anonymous says…
February 8th, 2013

Thanks! This too drives me crazy, particularly when one episode footnotes another (such as the top 25 moments episode). Thanks for the list, awesome work.

Brandon says…
August 30th, 2016

This has been dead for a while it looks like, but for me, some of these were found on iTunes, though many of us know how well that goes if you want them played on something other than an Apple device. But I was able to find one episode that nobody seems to be able to find. Unfortunately, it’s the Young Scientist episode, which can only be found on the Discovery Education site. You can purchase the DVD yourself, but it costs $60. If you’re determined enough to get it, here’s the link: http://store.discoveryeducation.com/product/show/54190

Many of the episodes like “Best of”, Buster’s Cut, and two Demolition Derby episodes from 2011 (not related to the Demolition Derby Special) I’ve decided are unnecessary since they’re all pretty much re-cuts of footage from other episodes though.

So, if you’re willing to give up the 8 episodes of re-cut material (5 Buster’s Cut, 2 Demolition Derby, and Car Conundrum) there are 274 episodes total, and they’re all achievable if you include the Australian DVDs. If you want those other 8 episodes though, all I can say is good luck. If you do somehow find them though, I’d love to hear about them.

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