Pros: I'm excited about TV once again
Cons: I'm excited about TV once again
Stand aside Survivor, Junkyard Wars is a better (and more honest) TV show than you will ever be. I discovered this show after reading an Epinion by Pillar (thank you Pillar and welcome to my Web of Trust). What a terrific show. Junkyard Wars is entertaining, educational and a whole lotta fun. Lemme tell ya', I love it.
Junkyard Wars (terrific title) airs Monday nights at 8:00 p.m. on TLC (that's The Learning Channel: check your local listings). The concept is brilliant: two teams "battle it out for scrap heap superiority" by competing in an all-day challenge.
The one-hour show takes place in a London-area junkyard that looks like something out of the Mel Gibson Mad Max and Road Warrior films. The teams?there are four members on each team?are given a challenge to build something out of whatever scrap they can get their grubby little hands on. Each episode features a different challenge.
Last night, the challenge was to build a "power-puller", a sort-of tractor that had to weigh in under one metric ton. The more powerful the better, because?before the show's conclusion?the teams were asked to pit their creations against one another in a glorious tug-o-war.
The co-ed teams are comprised of various experts and there's always a design engineer of some sort. This person has a chalkboard and functions as the leader, giving out instructions via headset to the various crewmembers. Initially these instructions go out to the "scroungers"?the team members who search the field looking for primo junk.
Once they have all the parts they need, they commence building and strategizing. This is my favorite part. I love watching each crew saw, grind, and weld the material because?well, it's all skills that I lack. (In Junior High I took shop and the bald-headed teacher wrote in my annual at the end of the year: "Good having you in class and seeing you finally finish something").
Robert Llewellyn is the host and he periodically checks on each team's progress. He asks lots of nosy questions and?in both episodes I've seen so far?points out interesting potential problems. Design, you see, is critical.
In last night's episode one team decided that their power-puller would feature a "fixed diff". A fixed diff, I learned, is a locked differential?where both back wheels are forced to spin together. In a tractor-pull, steering isn't critical so one might gain an advantage by doing this but, as Llewellyn points out?and I love this?it's debatable.
By sunset each team?ready or not?is called to compete in a challenge that had me on the edge of my seat. In both episodes I've caught so far there's always some last-minute tweaking and testing?which is a lot of fun because it has some suspense going for it. They worry and second-guess and I was convinced each team had a strong desire to win?even though it's all for fun (no million-dollar prize like that other show).
You know, a lot of good television ideas have come out of the U.K. ("All in the Family", "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire", "Sanford and Son", etc.) and Junkyard Wars really follows in that tradition.
I also noticed that the show gives its viewers the opportunity to write in and suggest a challenge because "if you can dream it, they can build it." You betcha.