‘MythBusters’ is changing now that the build team is gone

When “Mythbusters” returns Jan. 10, it will be without three of its five cast members: Kari Byron, Tory Belleci, and Grant Imahara are out and in their place will be a greater focus on the process of building things to test myths — or the things that now stand in for myths.

The build team left and/or were fired last summer; one is now producing videos for McDonalds. That means after 12 years, the show is returning to its roots: just Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage.

Before the two appeared at the winter Television Critics Press tour this morning, a clip package showing excised any mention of the three. I asked about their absence, and Adam Savage said, “We were sad to see them go. We love Kari, Grant and Tory; that's primary.” But he said that “any show with longevity goes through stages.”

With the build team gone, that means Jamie and Adam are “responsible for 100 percent” of the builds, and that allows them to put “process back into the DNA of Mythbusters.” He suggested the show had become too bloated; now, there be more of less in each episode.

“That process of making is much more front and center,” he said, and it's “deeply scientific to show this is a messy process.”

There have been technical changes, too, with Blackmagic cameras replacing GoPros for a “much more cinematic look”, he said. They've also put “more energy into post-production” that includes pop-up information and graphics over the footage.

The show does look considerably better. Adam and Jamie introduce the new look in this intro to the new season, which Adam says in the preview “feels kind of a returning to roots.”

“You try different things,” Adam told TV critics today. “One of the ways we keep that fresh is by messing with the formula–by breaking the fourth wall, by playing with our characters,” and then having meta commentary about that. One reason why they started breaking the fourth wall was because “we found it exhausting to pretend it didn't exist,” he said.

They're also moving more and more into pop culture. Having previously tested “Breaking Bad”'s science, as the show did in 2013, the show will open its new season by testing myths from “The Simpsons,” though testing cartoons seems like a bit more of a stretch. Later this season, they'll tackle Indiana Jones, The A Team, and video games.

“Mythbusters” exhausted urban myths in its third season, Adam said, which means the show has to find new wells into which to dip. But that's not difficult; besides pop culture, Adam said that YouTube videos in particular are “such fertile territory.”