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Television Media

Junkyard Wars Wants You! 377

Posted by michael
from the community-service dept.
Dan Messinger writes "Bring On The Junk! Junkyard Wars is looking for new contestants to compete on the 2003 series. Teams of contestants are given ten hours to build a machine to solve a specific challenge using parts they salvage from a junkyard. In contrast to previous seasons, this year we are looking for individual applicants who are skilled at putting together sophisticated machinery and not afraid of getting their hands dirty. Successful candidates will possess a strong background in engineering, fabrication and a good mechanical 'know how.' Junkyard Wars wants applications from people of all ages, races, creeds, colors, sexes, religions, and sexual orientations, as well as people with physical disabilities. We are especially interested in applications from women and/or people of color, as previous crops of contenders have been underrepresented among these groups. Lots of kids watch Junkyard Wars and we want to show them that anyone can grow up to be the world's greatest mechanic or engineer! If you think you match the description or you know of someone who does - please log onto our website and apply: you will find the application forms as well as all of the information that you need regarding applying. Application deadline is February 28, 2003."
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Junkyard Wars Wants You!

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  • PC! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Gannoc (210256) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @09:48AM (#5294197)

    I've been saying for years that we need more hispanic lesbians building robots on TV. Count me IN!

  • Sounds like fun (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mhaisley (410683) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @09:49AM (#5294201)
    Sounds like fun, they have a diversity problem they want you to solve. Its amazing that this day in age we are still this worried about diversity, they probably got threatened by their network and/or the fcc. Anyways, I'm still going to apply, it's a good oppertunity.
    • Re:Sounds like fun (Score:5, Insightful)

      by chris09876 (643289) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @09:51AM (#5294221)
      I agree completely. I don't think diversity should even be an issue. ...why does it matter? If someone is qualified to be on the show, more power to them! Heh, I'm in computer engineering at the university of waterloo. About 70% of my class is chinese... and it's great :-) I'm learning all sorts of curse words and tasty new foods. I don't know why the asian percentage of my class is so high, but it must be 'cause they were the most qualified people that applied. It's a good rule to follow... letting the most qualified people participate. It shouldn't matter what race/age/gender/disability status they are.
      • Re:Sounds like fun (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ajakk (29927) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @10:20AM (#5294431) Homepage
        While normally I would agree with you, you must notice that this show is entertainment, not some actual competitive event. They want a greater diversity of contestants because they want to appeal to a greater diversity of audiences. While I doubt that it will actually work, what is wrong for them wanting to expand their viewership?
        • Exactly its not about being "PC" or anythiong like that its about demographics and selling ads. If they get a more diverse group of contestants they think they might get a more diverse (and therefore larger) audience.

          1. Diversity
          2. ???
          3. Profit!
      • Diversity on this show is crucial because, as a Hispanic engineering student, I can only be entertained by people that throw out spanish words and that are eating taquitos on the set.

        Why does diversity ALWAYS mean race (btw, I think Asians are getting pretty close to losing any preferential treatment, the other minorities have a little resentment towards them because they have been so successful), ethnicity, sexual orientation, handicap status etc?

        Diversity for Junk Yard Wars should be something like we need more people with Electrical backgrounds, machinists or something like that.

        Also, how are they going to check to see if you are gay? Seriously, how many gay men know a lot about building stuff? Are the various interior decorating shows actively seeking more straight men? No, of course not.
        • Re:Sounds like fun (Score:2, Insightful)

          by mattreilly (33603)
          Also, how are they going to check to see if you are gay? Seriously, how many gay men know a lot about building stuff? Are the various interior decorating shows actively seeking more straight men? No, of course not.

          Well, put down your taco for a second and get a job, maybe then you'll understand.

          Did that bother you? Maybe now you understand why making generalizations about people is a bad thing. Come on people, this is after school special 101, grow up.
          • I have a job, I do understand.

            No it didn't bother me (tacos are awesome, though I am not mexican).

            I was mostly joking, but how many effiminate(which I do realize is different than being gay but they are often related) men have you seen on junkyard wars, or working in professions like engineering etc.

            Generalizations are a bad thing? Is that not a generalization?
    • They don't have a network, they're licensing their show to Discovery, and their wholly owned subsidiary, TLC.

      The company (RDFMedia.com) is based in London, and the FCC doesn't give a poo about how many minorities you have on your show, anyway.

      However, Cathy Rogers (the creator of both Junkyard Wars and Full Metal Challenge) is head of the LA office of RDFMedia.com, the office that is in charge of the production of the two shows. Also, she is a total babe.
    • Or are they planning to do it in the style of that new show "Escape from Experiment Island" (or whatever it's called)? You know the one... where they stick a team together of people who don't know each other then make them build crap and watch them argue and junk, with time penalties and the like.

      I guess it would be ok if they kept the same "format" where they have 10 hours to build their machines then "The next day, they race!" I don't think I'd like this "random team" business though... sounds kinda... ripoffy (if that's even a word, which it probably isn't)
  • by doc_traig (453913) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @09:49AM (#5294203) Homepage Journal
    ... as previous crops of contenders have been underrepresented among these groups.

    Those groups are "underrepresented" among engineers!

    • by gowen (141411)
      Those groups are "underrepresented" among engineers!
      You're right, they are. But most of that is cultural[0]: women were told they couldn't be engineers, so they didn't become engineers. Positive discrimination, as the call for contestants says, can help change those perceptions. This is good. Diversity is a good thing. Monocultures are boring.

      Also, more hot chicks wear I work would be great (*damn* did I say that out loud?)

      [0] Unless you believe that only white males are genetically predisposed to becoming capable engineers, in which case, well ... you're a moron.
      • Also, more hot chicks wear I work would be great (*damn* did I say that out loud?)

        what's an "I work" and how do you wear one?
      • [0] Unless you believe that only white males are genetically predisposed to becoming capable engineers, in which case, well ... you're a moron.
        As far as I know, the debate on genetical vs social background of capabilities hasn't been scientifically resolved.You might want to read :

        "Brain Sex:The Real Difference Between Men & Women"

        Anne Moir, Ph.D. and David Jessel

        Of course you might also pick one alternative as the only truth and call anyone who disagrees with it a moron.

    • by BigBlockMopar (191202) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @10:09AM (#5294360) Homepage

      Those groups are "underrepresented" among engineers!

      Yeah, tell me about it. In my engineering classes, out of about 300 students, we only had two gay guys. Two! And they were both in aerospace engineering.

      It was really annoying, because anytime I needed fashion advice, I had to walk all the way to the arts buildings on the other end of campus and start asking random people in the hallways.

      In my experience, there are only two kinds of people who can drink harder than engineers: mariners and gay people. I think it would be utterly terrifying to meet a gay marine engineer.

  • by stevens (84346) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @09:49AM (#5294206) Homepage
    was Cathy rogers. Rrowr!
  • by teamhasnoi (554944) <teamhasnoi@@@yahoo...com> on Thursday February 13, 2003 @09:49AM (#5294207) Homepage Journal
    The other people caught on, and we need some new people to come in and clean up this junkyard.
  • Never Fails (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jetkust (596906) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @09:50AM (#5294213)
    Is is just me, or does anyone else find it strange that the teams always finish on time. Some editing tricks perhaps?
    • TV Magic! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Angram (517383) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @09:53AM (#5294234)
      I've always thought about that myself. They've always 'got a long way to go' with 45 minutes left, and just finish the last nail at the buzzer. A little too Hollywood in the timing, and it's consistant with every team every time.
      • Re:TV Magic! (Score:5, Informative)

        by Zathrus (232140) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @10:21AM (#5294434) Homepage
        You don't watch the show much...

        A lot of teams finish with spare time on their hands... not a lot of spare time, but I've seen at least 30 minutes before. They usually lose.

        The majority do finish in the "nick of time"... or don't actually finish at all and are welding/constructing during the hour of tinker time on competition day.

        A rather large number of the machines don't work at all, or fail during the tests... I wonder if they'll ever do hydroplanes again since they've yet to have a single one work out of two competitions (or maybe more... don't recall - most of them floated and moved, but none actually hydroplaned).

        Read the forums though... the ones where the teams actually participate in them. There isn't any behind the scenes help in construction. Sorry to burst your cynical bubble.
        • A rather large number of the machines don't work at all, or fail during the tests... I wonder if they'll ever do hydroplanes again since they've yet to have a single one work out of two competitions (or maybe more... don't recall - most of them floated and moved, but none actually hydroplaned).

          I forget which team it was (I think it was the Mules or something... forget their full name) but I was really disappointed when their motor died in the hydroplane competition because their machine was really cool... built from the helicopter blades and stuff, and I really really wanted to see it go and win... they were an awesome team.
      • by hpulley (587866)
        Ever worked on a project with a deadline? Notice how more work always gets done right at the end, no matter what you do? Specification, design, etc. at the beginning seem to take a long time while getting nothing done but implementation goes quickly near the end. Testing -- what testing?
      • Re:TV Magic! (Score:3, Insightful)

        They've always 'got a long way to go' with 45 minutes left, and just finish the last nail at the buzzer.
        Of course they hit the last nail at the buzzer -- they aren't allowed to hit any more nails after the buzzer.
        Looking for your keys? They always seem to be in the last place you look. That's because you stop looking for them when you find them.
      • I don't think its's staged. I think it's an affect of the approaching deadline.

        After nine hours the team has probably done all of the planning they need in order to build their machine. The impending deadline forces them to stop their 'is this the best way to do things' discussions and actually turn out a product.
    • Re:Never Fails (Score:5, Informative)

      by sheetsda (230887) <doug.sheets@NOSpAm.gmail.com> on Thursday February 13, 2003 @10:13AM (#5294389)
      See the Cathy Rogers interview [slashdot.org], first question.
    • They covered this on their "junkyard bloopers" show that aired last week. They may be re-running it -- look for it. There is a lot more that goes on behind the scenes than you are aware of.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 13, 2003 @09:51AM (#5294216)
    Don't you know the Slashdot audience?
    Overweight all-talk do-nothing airchair warriors.
    If you had some sort of porn watching or complaining challenge - then this would be the place.
    • If it were a case of scavenging the SourceForge junkyard for libraries, we might stand a chance of winning a virtual Junkyard War/Scrapheap Challenge. The pre-requisites would include coding/integration not welding ability.
    • As a skinny pale all-talk-do-nothing airchair warrior, I am deeply offended! Stereotypes like this are hurtful and counter productive but... hmmm... one more sentance and I might be doing something.

      /me crawls back into his seat

    • Don't you know the Slashdot audience?
      Overweight all-talk do-nothing airchair warriors.
      If you had some sort of porn watching or complaining challenge - then this would be the place.


      Are you suggesting -- PornYard Wars? What a great idea! Take two teams, make them construct a video camera and film the best porn movie, all in 10 hours. The hosts will, of course, stack the junkyard with cheesy second-rate jazz musicians for the background tracks. They also might place creative costumes in inconspicuous places -- skimpy bikinis, schoolgirl uniforms, nurses uniforms, tennis outfits, etc.

      The male/female ratio would definitely need to improve for this show to take off, though. :-)

  • But HW is probably a little too "RL" for the /. crowd.

    Now, if it were **LEGO** wars, or involved building video game consoles out of discarded kitchen appliances we could talk.

    Great show though. Engineering r0X0rz!
  • Underrepresented.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nix0n (649693) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @09:51AM (#5294220)
    How, exactly? Underrepresented relative to their proportions in the general population, or relative to their proportions with inclination/education in mechanical engineering? If the former, they are idiots. If the latter, good for them. Applying one set of demographic standards to another domain entiely is ridiculous.
    • The domain is not "mechanical engineering" it's "television." Junkyard Wars has too many white guys for the televsion domain. As long as the contestants have sufficient skills, I'm happy they're looking to mix things up a bit more in other respects.
  • by TechnoVooDooDaddy (470187) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @09:52AM (#5294224) Homepage
    and see them fail miserably because they wasted 6 hours arguing over whether to use the MIG/MAG or TIG welding torch, or spending all the time trying to get linux to boot on their handheld so they can run some simulation calculations....
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "...and not afraid of getting their hands dirty..."

    "...as well as people with physical disabilities..."

    What about people with no hands?
  • by JohnA (131062) <johnanderson@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Thursday February 13, 2003 @09:52AM (#5294228) Homepage
    this year we are looking for individual applicants who are skilled at putting together sophisticated machinery and not afraid of getting their hands dirty.

    Hands dirty? The poster does realize that this is slashdot, right?

    Perhaps he ment to post that they were looking for someone to bitch on the sidelines in the upcoming season...

    • Oh, hands get dirty around here alright. Except it's usually bodily fluids, not grease.
    • Real Engineers (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Gerry Gleason (609985) <gerry@IIIgeraldg ... inus threevowels> on Thursday February 13, 2003 @11:18AM (#5294787)
      Will hack anything they can; they don't limit themselves to software and a little computer hardware. How many /.ers have rebuilt an auto engine? I have done a couple in my day, and I'd bet the percentage is way more than the general population. There are way to many comments on this story that stereotype people on /. without any consideration of reality.

      And on the diversity front; yes, engineers as a group are a lot more white and male than the population and even many other professions, but that doesn't mean we don't value diversity. We just don't have much time for a 'token' anything. I hope they can find a couple of competent participants that are not white males to spice up their show, but it will flop if these people don't add something to the teams they are on.

      The question I have is whether participants are paid. I would volunteer in a heartbeat if they made it worth my while, but I don't have time to just contribute my valuable time to their money making operation. I also think the concept could be a lot cooler if it wasn't so much of a race as a true engineering competition. You could still factor in time as a bonus for shorter time taken, but rushing through things rarely makes for good engineering.

      You could also downplay the 'wars' part of it and mix in some footage of a wide variety of wild and weird engineering feets, projects and competitions. Highlights of the 2.70 contest from MIT would always be good for a side story. For those who don't know the reference, '2.70' is the course number for a mechnical engineering design course that features a design competition where you get a box of parts and a goal, and teams just go at it. It has been featured on some programs in the past (Scientific American is one such program AFIAK). Just a thought.

  • by georgeha (43752) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @09:53AM (#5294239) Homepage
    If I can contact the legless mechanic and Tina Turner, I've got myself a team!
  • Trends (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by gmuslera (3436)
    Einstein said something like "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."

    With the actual problem in Middle East (and possible consequences [idleworm.com]) maybe the next war will be really a Junkyard war.

  • by cioxx (456323) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @09:55AM (#5294255) Homepage
    ..but wouldn't this be more suited for [H]ardOCP folk? Slashdot crowd's needs are different. Hear me out.

    Create a gameshow called IT Storage Wars.

    Premise: Nerds will be unleashed upon ridiculously aged hardware with a copy of putty.exe, 5 1/5 floppy disc, Linux distribution on a USB-pen, and a wrench to build enterprise-level application servers complete with clustering and a backend database.

    I think this could be a winning combination.
  • Wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by superdan2k (135614) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @09:56AM (#5294264) Homepage Journal
    This is probably going to become the first time in history that a snail-mail box is going to feel the wrath of the Slashdot Effect.

    And yes, I'll be applying. Heh.
  • ... make the competition more suitable to the ./ crowd.

    *Mental Picture*

    Ok, guys.. You got 10 hours to build a PC that will run Quake2 in 60 FPS or more. Good luck !
    • 60 fps on Q2 - that would be hard with decent hardware. At least you didn't say Unreal...

      And to make it more suitable to this crowd, the challenges would be to build a computer out of crap in the yard in ten hours, then use it to get on slashdot, and the team that makes the most SOVIET RUSSIA, Natalie Portman/grits in pants, "is dead", and FP b1tc#3z! 3y3 0\/\/n3rz J00! posts in two hours wins.
  • Come on now (Score:3, Informative)

    by RedWolves2 (84305) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @10:01AM (#5294310) Homepage Journal
    This is a show that does some great engineering out of nothing. But their application process is to download a word document, fill it out, print it out and send it via snail mail to the studio.

    Can't they come up with a better solution then this? At the very least make the application an interactive PDF and at most make it a Web Form.

    But because they are using word they have to post an e-mail address stating that if you can not open word to e-mail someone about it.

    Not very technically saavy they seem.
    • Not very technically saavy they seem

      Talk like Yoda you do much?

      Seems to me they have to raise the bar a little bit for these entries, else they'll be bombarded. Granted, they're soliciting, but there's a difference between holding your cattle call at 8:00am on a Thursday in a SoHo loft and Noon on a Saturday in Central Park. You'd be surprised at how many time-wasting wannabes and poseurs the simple requirement of licking a stamp and dropping an envelope into a box eliminates.
  • by AssFace (118098) <stenz77.gmail@com> on Thursday February 13, 2003 @10:03AM (#5294326) Homepage Journal
    I hope he applies for it - this is the sort of thing he would love.

    when he was a professor, his students hated him because he made them think (imagine that) and he frequently gave them assignments that were much like this show (the one I recall best was they were given a remote control car, assorted kitchen appliances, tin foil, wood, tennis balls, a 286, and some other stuff and were supposed to make a robot that would roam about a gym and retrieve various objects that were placed there. nobody completed the assignment and most didn't even try)

    I told him about this show once and he was quite excited - had never seen it - I don't think he watches tv. he wanted me to tape it for him, which to me is like asking me to carve it out of stone for him - I don't even own a VCR.
    Now I see that they sell VHS tapes of the show, so I guess now I know a present for him.

    I agree with another poster on here that my fav part of the show was the cute brit host girl that is now on that show with Henry Rollins.
  • by chrysrobyn (106763) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @10:10AM (#5294371)

    please log onto our website

    I tried, but I couldn't find the blank for my userid and password. Perhaps your site is broken.

  • Too bad this wasn't a call for contestant on Scrap Heap. The American installments of Junkyard Wars have been generally awful, with pparticipants who act no better than your average (American) football fan. Ugh! The British teams always seemed as if they were actually having fun, but the American teams spend most of their time posturing and sniping at one another. The Young Guns were the worst.
  • by K. (10774)
    Why did they change the name from Scrapheap Challenge to Junkyard Wars, I wonder. Junkyard I can understand, it's a localisation thing. But why Wars?

    And why did they drop Kryten? He was deadly!
  • by JohnnyBolla (102737) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @10:19AM (#5294428) Homepage
    Tonight, on a very special episode of Junkyard Wars- Two guys in wheel chairs join the megalomaniacs. Can Nosher find the true beauty within them, or will he be untouched by their stoic perseverance at trying to drag a mini out of a pile of crap? Will he tear their wheelchairs apart to get the motors? Will they all cry together at the end?
    Will this show suck?
  • by TerryAtWork (598364) <research@aceretail.com> on Thursday February 13, 2003 @10:22AM (#5294441)
    people who like to post 'F1r5t p0t7 d00d! 1'm 1337!'

    Then they'd have come to the right place.

  • "Junkyard Wars wants applications from people of all ages, races, creeds, colors, sexes, religions, and sexual orientations..." This is not a question of right or wrong. I completely fail to undersatnd why who/what you perfer to have sex with is a criteria for any job/tv gameshow.
  • I am:

    Caucasian

    Black

    Asian

    Hispanic

    Middle eastern

    Native [Australian/American/etc]

    Mixed

    Cowboynealean

  • Who'd like to put together a team from the Raleigh/Durham, NC area? If there are some people that'd like to get together, please respond here.

    I grew up on a farm with a well-equipped shop and was always putting things together. I've also got an degree from Cornell Bio. & Ag. Engineering. Proficient in all sorts of mechanical and electrical systems.

    If you're local, and feel like trying this - I'm all about digging through junk piles to get random shit built! email: cyrus_yunker at ncsu.edu Include in subject 'slashdot'.

    • by gimple (152864)
      From the application:

      "Unlike previous seasons, competitors will be chosen this year as individuals, not as complete teams." (Their emphasis, not mine)

      I think I liked the team concept better.
  • by BMonger (68213) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @10:54AM (#5294663)
    But in Soviet Russia...

    You want Junkyard Wa....

    Never mind.
  • by DulcetTone (601692) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @11:13AM (#5294752) Homepage
    Maker of the best hackery on the web that no one knows about: Plywood Guy [maxmatic.com]

    Plywood Guy is an "exercise in the magic power of plywood and drywall screws. He crouches! He stands! He stores potential energy!"

    tone

  • by Cyberia (70947) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @11:23AM (#5294832)

    Contestants must take code snipets from Real M$ applications and make some thing that REALLY functions and DOES what they planned it to do, and it won't cost a fortune to build, and can be done in a matter of 10 hours.

  • So far, I've seen all these posts decrying the want for those with disabilities and people of color to sign up for junkyard wars. Its making me sick. I for one, am a person of color, and it would be nice to occaisionally see someone on there who is not pasty white. Nothing wrong with caucasian individuals, but a splash of color every now and again would be good. I am entering myself, and I'm sure that them seeing hte video with me on it may help a bit, but i"ll probably get passed over.

    You know what else? I also have a disability, and am apart of hte growing amount of identified geeks out there who have been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. Probably won't make for good TV, but fuck it....I had to get it off my chest.

    I'm sick of all these fucking jokes about lesbian builders. This is serious!
    • I for one, am a person of color, and it would be nice to occaisionally see someone on there who is not pasty white.

      So you'd like people to be put on the show based on the color of their skin? And you don't think that devalues people of color? I mean, really: Do you want to be on the show because you've earned and deserve it, or do you want them just handing it over to you because your skin is the right shade of grey?

      If you have the skills and abilities to get put on this show, then get there based on those skills instead of pulling out the race card.
  • I nominate Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson because they both have very extensive experience in fabrication.
  • as well as people with physical disabilities

    I have no arms, but can rebuild an engine with my feet, I wonder if I'll make the cut.

  • by DrJohnnie (93092) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @12:19PM (#5295356)
    During lunch I'm going to run out in the shop and ask all the black welders and machinist if they're gay.....

  • by Darlington (28762) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @02:50PM (#5296566)
    Junkyard Wars used to be my favourite show. I watched it every week, chasing it around the schedule as it jumped from night to night, and would often watch the repeat on Saturday. The premise was and still is great. But here are the five things that truly made the show fun back in the old days:
    1. Great host(s)
    2. Fantastic machine builds
    3. Interesting team characters
    4. Wonderful sense of sportsmanship, that it was all in fun
    5. Fair play
    We had these things in seasons 1-4 and to some degree in season 6 (all British imports of the renamed "Scrapheap Challenge" with Robert). But in seasons 5 and 7, each of these things have been lost.

    1. THE HOSTS: In the old says we had Robert Lewellyn, who was perfect. He was funny, had clever insights, and joked around with the teams. Who can forget his impersonation of a V8 engine? The show brought Cathy onscreen as a foil for him, and that worked out fine too -- they played well off each other. Then we got George Gray. Who was about 50% as fun and interesting as Robert (but still acceptable). Now they've hit rock-bottom with Tyler, who offers no ad-lib humour, no insights, nothing -- all he does is yell -- and a generic hollywood talking head chick who doesn't even have as much personality as Tyler.

    2. MACHINE BUILDS: There was a time when it mattered if your machine worked or not, and if you really tried. Teams came up with brilliant designs, and there were failures, but they had to work at least a LITTLE. And teams did things that were ambitious. On one of the old British shows, a team actually built a demolition machine with a hydraulic claw. And it WORKED! Yes, they eventually had some hydraulic problems and their radiator sprung a leak, but when have we seen anything that great in the last three seasons? Nowadays we have things like "Mega Wars", where teams get two days to build an all-terrain amphibious vehicle, and in those two days, two of the teams manage to do nothing more than strip down an existing truck and hook some empty drums on for flotation in the water part of the challenge. Or we get challenges like the Hydrofoil, where the competition is a boat that can't hydrofoil vs. a boat that can't move at all. It's a disgrace.

    3. TEAM CHARACTERS: The Bodgers, The Long Brothers, The Techno Teachers, even the original Orange and Yellow teams were full of interesting, likeable characters. We all loved Anne, Nosher, Dick, and the rest of the old crews. We cared about them and rooted for them.

    In contrast, the teams that won the last two US seasons have had one thing in common: they're both comprised of obnoxious, cursing, unlikable jerks with no personalities. Our only hope in watching their progress through the season was that they'd lose and we wouldn't have to see them again.

    Let's face it: when we're against the teams, we're against the show.

    4. SPORTSMANSHIP: In the old days teams would trade with each other if they needed something. Nowadays they just steal it. Back then, teams joked around and had a good time. Our kids could watch the show and learn how to be a good sport, that there was such a thing as friendly competition, that winning wasn't everything. Now the teams mock each other's failures, openly berate the experts who try to help them, jump on each other's stolen stuff and are all-around poor sports. We can't let our kids watch the show anymore. It sends them the wrong message.

    5. FAIR PLAY: I don't think it's news to anyone that season 7's team won by cheating. Twice. And the last US season was "won" by a big cheat-off in the demolition final where both teams just ran their trucks into the walls because neither of them could make even their basic machines work. What a disappointment.

    What can JW do now?

    If you ask me, it's a simple matter to address these five issues.

    1. HOSTS: Put Robert and Cathy together again. Period.

    2. BUILDS: Talk to your experts before challenges. Make sure they have interesting ideas to present. Talk to your teams. Make sure everyone knows that their machines need to work. Do more creative editing if necessary. Find more good challenges. Ice racers, with 4-wheel drive, 4-wheel steering and homemade studded tires? Pipe sleds that need to travel inside big pipes and be invertable, with wheels top and bottom? Pole climbing machines? OK, my ideas aren't all gems, but that's 2 minutes' work off the top of my head. I'll bet Cathy & co. can do a lot better than I can -- or than what we've been getting lately.

    3. CHARACTERS: Rather than making everyone on the team required to be a welder, pick teams that are going to be fun to watch and who demonstrate some imagination. If necessary, bring back teams from previous seasons. Why not? We liked them before. We'd like to see them again. Particularly some of the early teams, whom new viewers might have never seen at all.

    4. SPORTSMANSHIP: This springs from #3, but is something you can enforce too.

    5. FAIR PLAY: Make the rules clear and stick to them.

    Making these changes would cost the show almost nothing, and would in my opinion save the show. Longtime fans would be thrilled to see a new golden age of JW, and new fans would be won over.

The meta-Turing test counts a thing as intelligent if it seeks to devise and apply Turing tests to objects of its own creation. -- Lew Mammel, Jr.

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