From the people who brought you “Mythbusters,” Discovery trots out another installment in completely disposable gearhead TV, letting tech geeks run wild with remote-controlled cars and sledgehammers. Unfortunately, the four dweebs at the center of “Prototype This” seem to be having considerably more fun than the audience is apt to, in the way that watching guys slide around in mud has its vicarious limits. On the plus side, at least the exercises undertaken seem slightly more practical than Discovery’s similarly themed environmental thumb-sucker “Project Earth,” which opened by trying to carpet over Greenland.
Again beginning from the premise that technology can solve all human ills — and if not, it should at least be cool to watch — the “Prototype” premiere posits whether it’s possible to build a road-rage-proof car, as opposed to just clamping down on A-holes who behave like idiots behind the wheel. Ah, but where’s the challenge in that?
So electrical engineer Joe Grand, MIT researcher Zoz Brooks, nanotechnology expert Mike North and animatronics ace Terry Sandin spend an hour fumbling around with devices to link the driver’s agitation levels to his vehicle — a feat that would seem more plausible if Ford or Chrysler could figure out how to sell ordinary cars. Nevertheless, this conundrum provides an excuse for the gang to dabble in gee-whiz-ardry and stage their own half-assed demolition derby, preceded by smashing cars with hammers and chainsaws.
Advances and theories are illustrated through computer animation, but one suspects there’s plenty of vamping going on to flesh out the premise — or for that matter, the 13-episode order. Subsequent hours will be devoted to space-age sleeping pods, wearable airbags and “giant boxing robots.” With a list like that, inflatable girlfriends can’t be far behind.
“This whole night has been just completely amazing,” one member of the central quartet enthuses after testing the mind-controlled car.
Not really, dude, but hey, whatever floats your boat, or more accurately, drives your car.