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Junkyard Wars Nominated For Emmy 168

abh writes " CNN is reporting on the Emmy nominations, apparently there is a new category for reality-based TV (such as Survivor), and none other than Junkyard Wars got a nomination." Junkyard Wars rocks - excellent recognition of good stuff. The Daily Show was nominated as well, and deserves it, IMHO.
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Junkyard Wars Nominated For Emmy

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    And hire a real host. Both of those guys are annoying and not funny at all. They can keep the girl though. Maybe some nicer clothes though.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I agree with the fixed comment. They at least hinted that the boats needed a little tweaking to make them not sink immidiately. I'm sure that more often than not the teams are given off camera time after they call time but before the trials, and they only present the successful trials. Watch for odd changes in the angle of the sun, extra weld joints, and groggy contestants that were allowed to spend all night fixing their project.

    That's not to say that the contestants aren't good engineers, but the show is trying to present them as superhuman engineers when they're typically not. By rigging the contest they're no more credible than Jeopardy contestants who get a little help from Alex during the commercials.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It was fairly obvious after watching for a month or so that there had been some "salting" of the junkyard, but I didn't think it was this blatant. There were a couple of times when they said they provided a part. And of course for the rocketry contest, they just out and out said they hid the fuel packs.

    I'm a little disappointed that they get to submit parts lists. That's the only out and out lie that they tell; they say that contestants don't know what the challenge is until they hear it, and they make a big point of that. The rest they just let people assume.

    On the shows when just Kryten is hosting it sure looked like just one day because they were filming at dusk and even at night.

    Overall only slightly disappointed in this news.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Contestants have freely admitted [] that the junkyard is less than pristine, but that the outcome of the show is not predetermined.

    Some food for thought:

    1. Ever wonder why the two experts always choose different ways to solve the problem? I wonder if they are steered to do so.

    2. God, the American host is awful. Bring back Robert Llewellyn!

    I think you're missing the point of the show if you complain about the accuracy of the results: the show is less of a competition and more of an educational tool. The grand prize is a trophy, ferchrissakes! And maybe a peck on the cheek from Cathy Rodgers, if you're lucky... The real reward is in the informative animations and explanations.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 16, 2001 @01:51PM (#81071)
    That so-called "junk" can love, man.
  • On the middle day, at least for the submarine episode, they did a lot of safety testing and tuning. It would be extremely implausible for them to end up with neutral buoyancy by just figuring out the right volume for their weights without putting the things in water at all, and everything had to be checked out thoroughly.

    They also radically changed the scoring system between what the teams were told and what the show had; I think they wanted to make the team with the sub that worked better win while making them worried. So it might actually be a bit fixed, but only by making the team which made the better device win, and probably even that can't happen in the ones with more qualitative tasks.
  • I think the PROS get to make the list, not the contestants....
  • You don't like Kryton? Are you crazy??

  • During one of the english seasons they had an american team on called NERDS. The have a website that I cannot remember at the moment. They kept a journal and gave a behind the scenes perspective. They said that The show is edited such to make it seem that they are running out of time while having a lot left to do. The website went on to say that for the most part they were pretty much done and that the editing was done that way to create suspence. That is why things seem to just apear towards the end. Don't forget this is 10 hours compressed into 1. There are going to be things that happen that will not be shown. I am going to try and find that website, it was actually pretty intresting reading.
  • Besides Junk Yard Wars, the only other good "Reality-Based" TV shows didn't even get nominated! Those being, of course, the PBS-produced The 1900 House [] and American High [].

    Executive summary:

    In The 1900 House, a family is forced to live as did Victorian families did for a few months. Needless to say, the situation puts some strain on familial relations.

    American High chronicled the lives of a bunch of kids at a High School in Anywhere, USA. Real kids, too, not Real World rejects. It was originally slated for a run on Fox, but Fox decided at the last moment that it wasn't for them. Perhaps this was due to the fact that it violated Fox's "all our shows suck" policy.

    Both great shows. Both not even mentioned. A shame. PBS may be underfunded and underwritten, but they're still churning out solid content.
  • Junkyard Wars is about the only TV show I watch regularly.

    And yes, I am fully aware that the junkyard is stocked. They openly admit it on some shows. It is also obvious that the hosts offer design help to teams who may have things very wrong. And yes, they fudge a bit with the ten hour time limit. Who cares. What's left is an amazing look into the art of complex problem solving.

    Watching the two champion teams (U.S.A.: The Long Brothers and U.K.: The Megalomaniacs) come up through the ranks one had the distinct feeling that they had a special ability--something Finns call sisu, a tenacity of purpose--that helped them triumph. Some of the contraptions were positively ridiculous, with the Megalomaniacs walking machine a prime example.

    In spite of the pre-rigging of the shows, there are some amazing surprises, like when the Long Brothers used a pair of panty hose (donated by a female member of the opposing team) to cradle a raw ostrich egg for their junkyard rocket payload. By the way, it survived both launch and landing giving the Longs a clear victory.

    Another element I enjoy is the feeling of good-sportsmanship between opponents. Teams often help each other get to the final test. When all is said and done there's a feeling that the fun is in the journey, not the victory. They certainly aren't going through hell for those Junkyard War trophies.

    In short, Junkyard Wars is one of the best education programs I've seen in a while on the commercial networks. I look forward to it every week.

    Is there any truth to the rumor of cannibalism during last season's filming of Survivor?
  • but I'm sure it worked fine before they smashed into the back of the other team. ;)
  • According to the Junkyard Wars website she was inspired after watching the scene in Apollo 13 where the astronauts had to build an air filter after junk that was lying around the space shuttle.

    That would have been a neat trick.

  • nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo, I love this whos it's heart breaking, although it does make sence in retrospect. ah well.
  • The NERDS, the American team in the UK series, tell about it on their website. It looks like they've got half an hour left and have barely even started, but in fact they "finished" early and were never in any danger of not having a working machine.

    It is 10 hours compressed into less than 30 minutes(*) air time. It would be easy to show the first 25 minutes comming from the firt hour, and pack the last 9 hours into the remaining 5 minutes.

    * Yes I know it's an hour show. That means about 43 minutes of actual material. Minus the final contest and the sketches, it's less than 30 for the building part.
  • And all this is available exactly where on your website...?

    It isn't. My co-host diligently converted past taped episodes to RealAudio, and I promptly lost the CD-R he gave me. I plead only partial stupidity - the CD-R was a blank, unlabeled one, and it got swallowed by my office. All the links on the past guest list are outside links (as you probably discovered).

    And we're currently trying to get on the Clear Channel network. After years of fighting them, we decided to try joining them. Five points if you can name the source for our logo.


  • Thank you for the clarification. It certainly adds new clarity to the situation

    Hey, there's this new concept - not all replies are in direct opposition to your point of view. I knew you weren't saying the outcome is rigged, I just disputed your term "fixed"... it was very misleading.

    Experts, Leaders, The Guys Showing The Team How To Build The Device. Does it really matter?

    Yes, since the "experts" are the non-team members brought in for one show, and the "leader" is one of the people on the team. The expert provides specialized knowledge, and the leader organizes the construction.

    It's a bit like looking at a car and saying: "Engineer, mechanic, the guy who puts the car together. Does it really matter?". I've seen experts that don't get their hands dirty, or come up with great *theoretical* ideas, and a good team leader will just ignore their plan and go with a simple, direct design.

    Realistically, there are three experts - the Judge also makes comments, and the hosts will wander down and try to subtly warn teams of grevious potential problems.


  • Yes, the show is fixed.

    I would decidedly not used the word fixed. The outcome is not predetermined.

    the team leaders who built the crafts on Junkyard Wars.

    Not quite. Unless that particular show was an extreme abberation, the team *experts* are the ones who stock the junkyard. In some cases (the underwater diver episodes, for example), there was no stocking whatsoever. In others (the rocket and steam engine episodes), the junkyard is stocked with pristine, new, tested parts. In both those cases, the reason should be obvious. I would seriously question the common sense of someone who is slapping together a high pressure steam engine in 10 hours and letting people ride in it. Safety is a concern. In the case of rockets, they were focusing on the body construction, not the propulsion, which are almost completely seperate aspects.

    And yes, the corner of the junkyard that is the set is *very* "rich". Lots of working engines, lots of unpunctured batteries. Basically, it's real junk from the rest of the much larger junkyard tossed into the corner.

    Also, in addition to the two days of filming, they used a 3rd day off-camera to finish up their hovercrafts.

    Again, unless it was a very abberant episode, the had 10 hours in one filming day. The next day, they make sure the damn things work. In some cases, they just pull them out and play. In other cases, which they very clearly mention (something along the lines of: "We given both teams some extra time to make sure their /foo/s are up to the task"), they give up to a few hours. Almost always, it is at this point that they get some spray paint and paint their device in team colors.

    It's important to remember that the point of the show is education, not competition. The prize is a wad of welded metal. The experts are generally chosen to present two very different ways of solving the problem and have had time to research the situation. The teams are thrown in with no knowledge of what they are going to build, and have to do the construction themselves. There is (in the British set, and presumably also on the American set) a large facility filled with stuff that you'd get from a Home Depot (a large warehouse style building supply store here in the states). It's behind the vehicle weighstation that's filmed in some of the episodes. That's where the paint, glue, screws, blades, etc all come from. They *have* run out of supplies, and the 10 hours ticked by.

    Incidently, a few more details: they have an hour for lunch, tools down, debate on the blackboard encouraged. The clock stops when the host asks the people to explain what they are doing (as a result, the ten working hours often end at different times for the two teams).

    I have almost all the episodes on tape, have interviewed Robert Llewellen for my radio show, and have exchanged emails with a few prior players. I am putting together rules for a micro version of the game for SF Conventions. It's one of the only television shows that have every caught my attention.

    Sure, it's spun to be entertaining. They selectively edit and try to make sure things work; the point is to show how things work. But is it "fixed". No. The teams are genuinely out there trying to win.


  • Don't know whether the first series has been shown outside the UK - the one with the same teams throughout and only the experts different - but in that, when they made hovercrafts, one never made it.

    There has been at least that one total failure, as well as the merely embarrassingly poor like the rugby ball cannon or the gun which shot its own barrel, or the boat with outriggers on one side only which sank at the first bend...
  • You're building a cool toy, and didn't provide a URL? C'mon, c'mon, c'mon. Let me see it!


    Seriously, any good links (yes, I could hit google, but I'm guessing that you have progressed beyond the sniffing butt stage of a new project, and have some good sites stashed in your bookmarks.)

    Back on topic: there is a good site (lost the URL) by one of the teams that states how and why the stocking is done. Basically, they don't give *exactly* what the experts ask for. Typically something requires a bit of bodging. For example, the dragster with no forward gears in the tranny. Lack of props. Etc.

    Why? Have you ever been to a junkyard? Most of the good bits are already gone. You will almost never find a working (or potentially working) motor in a junkyard. That stuff gets picked out (as do almost all of the usable bits) and the only thing the public can see and crawl over are bare carcasses. (Of course, if you read Car Craft or Hot Rod, the planet is covered with wonderful junkyards that you can enter, and find a perfect 455 Olds engine for a mere $25. As a matter of fact, according to them, there are so many 350 Chevy engines that you have to carry one away when you leave the junkyard. Maybe in So. Cal., but on the East Coast? Bullshit.)

  • Fortunately, the Emmy's (and Oscar's) are not always the popularity contest that the Billboard, MTV, People's Choice, etc. awards are. There is a chance (albeit slim) that Scrapheap Challenge could pull this off.

    But, to be fair, isn't Road Rules the only original show in the bunch? Junkyard Wars (as I implied) is a re-edit of Scrapheap Challenge. Can't remember the geneology of Survivor, but that may be original as well. And shouldn't 'The Real World' have been included before Road Rules?

    Still, it's nice to see a new category. I only wish they had never invented the animated series category. The Simpsons should have been up against comedies. Why separate it because it's animated? Of course, it probably never would have won, but it certainly contributes to the public's low opinion of animated shows.

    A few other comments:

    WB, why push a show that you are not going to have any more? Of course, UPN would love it, but it doesn't make sense to complain. Oh, and BTW, the reason you didn't get any nominations is because your network is full of repetitive drivel. Please don't tell me you think a 'very special episode of Seventh Heaven' is deserving of an award (and BTW, I watched it for several years, and have nothing wrong with the show. Nice, moralistic family 'drama'. But it doesn't do or say anything. It certainly doesn't push any boundaries or do anything in an exemplary manner.)

    And yes, 'Catcher in the Rye' IS a dime-store paperback. Even at 16, I thought this kid was a whining sniveller. I don't know about anyone else, but even as a geeky teen, I didn't have that much time to be doing a bunch of navel gazing like good old Holden Caufield. Get over yourself, man.

    (And let's not even talk about his 'odd' relationship and thoughts about his sister. I think I saw that on Jerry Springer a few weeks ago.)

  • Wish I had mentioned this in my earlier rant (message 30). Why the hell isn't this show reliably captioned? Why, why, why? It seems that the last British season is, but not the first US season (and the world series also was not captioned).

    Battlebots is captioned. (Robot Wars UK is not). Are You Being Served is captioned. Fawlty Towers is not. Half the weird stuff on Sci-Fi is captioned (and what the hell is up with that show they put on at 8:00???) Why can't current episodes of Junkyard Wars be captioned?

    Now, before anyone gets the idea that I'm one of those Deaf Community, ADA nuts, I'm not. My wife is hearing impaired, with a cochlear implant, effectively shutting us out of the 'Deaf community'. (Not to mention that she married a hearing man). And she watches JYW sometimes. Like... When it is captioned!! And she truly get's a kick out of it, but not enough to make time for it.

    More important than my wife is the schools. If TLC wants to be in more, they are going to have to caption more stuff. Some school districts have requirements that captioning is available. And as others have pointed out, JYW is a not bad science/applied engineering problem.

    Finally, that giant sledgehammer the Americans made was cool as shit. I really liked the British team (Hey, all those bikers? Can't go wrong) and I bet Nosh would have had a helluva good time bashing his own machine with the Americans killer sledge.

    There's no problem a big enough hammer won't solve.

  • Hey, mod this parernt up....I've never thought of this before. PBS was alwsys captioned, since TLC is basically taking over they should as well.
  • And Scrapheap Challenge is a glamed up version of The Great Eggrace. That was a lovely show :)
  • oh oh oh...where where???

  • I've spent plenty of time crawling around junk yards looking for elusive parts (like the suspension bits off a 78-83 Pontiac Grand Am, which had the coveted Delrin bushings that were unavailable otherwise, and usable Weber 40 DCNFs for a modified Fiat X1/9 and a stock Ferrari 308 gt4.)

    I've found that running engines aren't all that common, although I admit I passed by the mundane stuff looking for the exotic...
  • Agreed. From all evidences, the show isn't fixed, but the junkpile is seeded to allow the show to concentrate more on *making* the gadget than hunting down the pieces for it, which would be pretty darn boring.

    In fact, I strongly suspect that in a couple of cases, the teams have wound up building something pretty much unanticipated by the experts, sometimes against their advice - Bowser's miserable rugby-ball launcher comes to mind.

    BTW, a smaller scale version is a good idea - my son started doing this a few weeks ago with a bunch of popsicle sticks, wire, and bits of Lego Technic stuff. He wants a bag of surplus toy electric motors for his birthday next month. A Dad's *gotta* be proud of a son like that! (I do hope they do a kids version of the show, although I think they'd probably have a tough time dealing with 7-year olds, even if they do have a lot of bodging experience under their belts. (Oh, and thanks to the JYW/SHC crew for bringing that excellent word, "bodge" into American English.)
  • FWIW, here are some links to chat interviews with the Cathy Rogers and Robert Llewellyn about Junk Yard Wars/Scrapheap Challenge and how they set things up, how the heap is seeded, whether the teams even find all the good stuff, and the flexibility of "the last hour". These chats answer almost all of the questions and accusations thrown around elsewhere in this topic...

    Channel 4 chat session with Cathy Rogers []

    Channel 4 chat session with Robert Llewellyn []

    There's even a Scrapheap Challenge video [], for those of you in the UK, or with access to a PAL VCR. It reportedly contains some amusing out-takes.
  • by dublin ( 31215 ) on Monday July 16, 2001 @01:41PM (#81095) Homepage
    I discovered Junk Yard Wars earlier this year, and it has since become a family favorite. Such a favorite, in fact, that my children (a boy, almost 7, and a girl, almost 10) both insisted that I set the VCR to record the JYW 4th of July US vs. UK challenge. Then when we began watching over at my folks' house and realized it was a *two* hour special edition, all plans for watching fireworks went right out the window, and we stayed put to see who could smash that Jetta the flattest.

    The show is very well-done, and I think it's not only entertaining and funny, but one of the most educational shows on TV, teching basic physical and mechnical principles and reasoning seamlessly as an adjunct to the competition. Sure, the yard is occasionally seeded with stuff that would not typically be in a junkyard (propellers and a surprising number of running engines, for example), but that really doesn't detract from the incredible feat of inventing and fabricating a usable machine in only 10 hours. More incredible to me is how often very different approaches turn out to be quite closely matched when they compete.

    This is truly one of the best shows on TV, and the only one my family watches on a regular basis! If you haven't checked it out, you owe it to yourself to do so, especially if you've ever harbored any leanings to be a mech hacker..
  • It's
    I can't seem to connect to it right now, so here's google's cached page: :w
  • And the US version, of course, just had to have a more violent sounding name (it's a war, dude!)

  • Ever here of a VCR? Tivo isn't everything.
    Come see my website.
  • I missed the 4th of July episode and the VCR didn't get set!!!! I am still kicking myself that is the best show of TV. Anyone want to send me a copy of it?????
  • im with you there... when parts start magically appearing when it comes competition time, you have to wonder if something is up.
  • I was under the impression that the (original) UK version was known as "Scrapheap Challenge".

    Just to add further confusion Discovery Europe is broadcasting "Junkyard Wars" as "Scrapheap Challenge".
  • by edremy ( 36408 ) on Monday July 16, 2001 @01:50PM (#81102) Journal

    As I said in a previous post, both machines ALWAYS works, so I'm not surprised.

    They do? Have you been watching the same show I have?

    The shows have devices ranging from the functional but pathetic (Bowser's rugby ball crossbow, 2 sail land yacht) to the almost pathologically broken (Both the blimp and the plane on the radio-controlled bomber episode) to the so-bad-it's-embarrassing-to-watch (the Navy's amphib, which couldn't steer, float or move across water or land without the humans pushing/paddling.)


  • if you found out that Jeopardy were rigged, what would you think?

    Go watch 'quiz show' with ralph feinnes for the answer to this.

  • The shows have devices ranging from the functional but pathetic (Bowser's rugby ball crossbow...

    My uncle and I theorize that Bowser is a plant. He's been on the show and lost both times, the second time in an incredibly embarrassing manner (rugby launcher). I suspect the producers seeded him in the competition so there can always be someone losing horribly.

  • In others (the rocket and steam engine episodes), the junkyard is stocked with pristine, new, tested parts.

    Exactly, and if they ever go for my idea about "car-sized battle bots", they'd need to stock the junkyard with radio controllers and powerful servoelectronics. ;-)
  • by epseps ( 39675 ) on Monday July 16, 2001 @01:09PM (#81106)
    Creativity with junk will be competing with crap.
  • And my favourite non-functioning machine: The Brother's in Arms' cannon that fired its barrel down the range.
  • B) Umm, I would kinda consider a sinking ship, or a dragster whose engine was attached backwards to both be pretty much total failures... _I_ would certinally think they were if I had been on the teams in question. Also the "bombers" episode where it worked out that the bomber to crash closest to the target pretty much took it also seemed like a pretty miserable (if hillarious) failure to me.
    Remove the rocks to send email
  • >I am putting together rules for a micro version >of the game for SF Conventions.

    A micro version of Scrapheap/Junkyard is effectively an old, but very similar UK TV series called 'The Great Egg Race', basically the same thing but on a smaller scale.
  • I don't know about sexiest (I find her rather annoying actually), but she certainly is a geek. She wears the same clothes in every single episode!

    What is that outfit anyway? Is she an extra in a Mad Max movie or something?
  • >> I'm basically thinking that they shoot
    >> each "sequence with an anchor" twice, once
    >> saying "ScrapHeads", once saying "JunkYard
    >> Wars".

    Well, it's "Scrapheap" for one thing.

    And if you watch the Robert Llewellyn shows very carefully, you will notice that he NEVER actually says "Junkyard Wars". And, in fact, occasionally you can catch him saying "Scrapheap". (Trust me, I have every single episode on tape).

    You also occasionally can *see* the British name of the show, for instance in the one where they raised the car out of the lake, each car had "Scrapheap" painted on the side of it. (Also a banner with the show logo on the host truck in some of the remote challenges, and when trophies are awarded).

    That's why they add those endlessly repetitive bumpers at the commercial breaks to remind you of the American name of the show, because the host doesn't say it.

    Of course, this just applies to the ones that have aired so far. For the upcoming shows, they may well do something like you are talking about. I doubt it though, because it appears now they film separate American and British series, with separate hosts. Too bad, I really liked Llewellyn's style.

    At least George Gray is out [] for the next series! I found him very annoying

  • I have always been of the opinion that big brothers and the likes of that are jsut clones of real world, and personally, i think MTV was better at choosing casts.
  • Are you crazy? Of course there are people who know all of that stuff. Any good jazz musician has studied music theory, tone, pitch, chords, etc. for their entire life. But you're right, Britney and Christina couldn't have done it without those extra experts, which is why they *suck* and cannot be considered real musicians. And the music scene *is* the poorer for it. Bleh.
  • by szcx ( 81006 ) on Monday July 16, 2001 @01:23PM (#81114)
    What are the odds that the presenters will "vote off" the losers in the category?
  • our survivors must build a hovercraft out of the surrounding flora and fauna. you have ten hours. begin!
  • And the 2002 winner of the reality tv emmy is.......... The Running Man Show!!!! Remember back to the early 80's where we all thought that the running man movie was written by a bunch of crack heads? Well, guess what: we're very near that now. I can't stand reality tv and I really don't think it should have it's own emmy.
  • by fiziko ( 97143 ) on Monday July 16, 2001 @01:36PM (#81117) Homepage

    For those of you who haven't activated the Sci-Fi news Slashbox, a complete list of Emmy nominations in all categories is available here [].

  • Isn't this kind of like Sir Killalot being nominated for a BAFTA?
  • BTW, am I the only one (or only American) who thinks that the British male host was better than the US guy?

    No, you're not the only American who thinks the British host is way better. Not only does he make cool sounds (he has to mimic any motor he hears) but his jokes are much better.

    And just because it's called Junkyard Wars over here doesn't mean that we don't get the "UK with UK guys." I think I've seen about 3 seasons' worth (or are we in the middle of the 3rd season?) and there has only been 1 season with US guys.

  • ...I only have ten hours to assemble the television set!

  • will there also be categories for the best new game show with stupid host and eerie sound and lighting effects and catch-phrase-turned-pop-culture-cliche? that's my final answer, hahaha ha ha!
  • Have you seen Series 7: The Contenders []? I highly recommend this to anybody interested in reality shows and how they will end up.. The Contenders show is about killing people. The show people just give randomly chosen people guns and the goal is to survive by killing all other contenders..
  • (Of course, if you read Car Craft or Hot Rod, the planet is covered with wonderful junkyards that you can enter, and find a perfect 455 Olds engine for a mere $25. As a matter of fact, according to them, there are so many 350 Chevy engines that you have to carry one away when you leave the junkyard. Maybe in So. Cal., but on the East Coast? Bullshit.)

    Bullshit? Fine, then I won't share where you can pick up disk brake Ford 9" rears for $55... :-)

    -pf, on the east coast

  • I just wanted to post to clear up a few misconceptions about Junkyard Wars. First off the reason some are U.K. and some are U.S. is because seasons 1-3 were in the U.K. Only the last season (season 4) was U.S. I don't know whether or not there will be any more U.K. versions, but hopefully there will be more U.S. Also the female host Cathy Rodgers is actually the shows creator and producer. According to the Junkyard Wars website she was inspired after watching the scene in Apollo 13 where the astronauts had to build an air filter after junk that was lying around the space shuttle. Another interesting thing to note is the british co-host Robert Llewellyn was Kryton on Red Dwarf. Hope that clears some things up.
  • Works for software too -- do the simplest thing that might work, and just maybe the features will outnumber the bugs introduced!
  • Nah, the Yanks replaced an intelligent, charismatic and enthusiastic actor with... well, some bloke. Sorry guys, but your presenter sucks. At least they kept whatsername, the lass who runs it as well. Actually they'd have to, since she OWNS it (she came up with the idea, owns the rights, produces, etc, etc).

  • They've actually toned it down since the first (British) series when it was called Scrapheap. Robert Llewellyn's outfit in that was the dead spit of the Gyrocaptain's in Mad Max 2. I think they twigged that it was a bit _too_ OTT though, and toned it down a bit.

  • Depends. Plenty of times when things went radically wrong due to crap gear (the number of engines failing under pressure is a matter of record). And in the first series, the shortage of kit meant that only one team got a hovercraft built, and that had to be pushed.

    Compare to the American version. Full roll-cages in the dragsters and off-road buggies - that doesn't happen in 8 hours with scaffolding poles! Sorry, it's American dumbing-down in action again, I'm afraid.

  • Sure, they'll have something. But there's many cases where it has to be towed to the start line and never moves, or (in the case of the bombers or the submarines) where the only movement is down like a stone, or where it travels a few yards and then sheds its engine. Having "something" is no guarantee of having something that works!

  • by Grab ( 126025 ) on Monday July 16, 2001 @03:07PM (#81130) Homepage
    That's the point though, not everyone can. The expert comes up with a base idea, and it's then up to the team to try and make it happen, given the limited and rusty materials available. And then to keep whatever it is alive long enough to beat the opposition! :-)

    Be practical here - no-one knows enough about tractor pulls, drag racing, hang-gliders, high-pressure pumps, steam engines and rocketry to be able to design one of each successfully in a day. It isn't possible. You could maybe find two teams in the world who knew about all those subjects, and then they'd be blown out bcos none of them knew anything about balloons... :-) There's any number of wrong ways of doing stuff like that, and when they involve ppl standing around them, riding on them or operating them, you'd damn well better have an expert on hand to make sure everyone survives! And the time limit (regardless of if they get "tinkering time" allowed the next day) is restrictive enough without the extra hassle of having to experiment to find a way of doing something. For the more dramatic programs (the gliders and rockets, for instance), there is literally no way they could have done it without experts on hand; they would have had to have given them a less technical task, and the programme would have been poorer for it.


  • Reality shows like Survivor are brainless drivel. Your brain isn't engaged by such programs. Your emotions and blood pressure are. Perhaps if people paid a little more attention to the things that mattered, like, oh I don't know, politics, the country might not be going to hell in a hand basket in such a damn hurry.

    Sorry. I'm just tired of people defending all the "brainless drivel" on television by simply acccusing this bit of brainless drivel better than that bit... Blah blah blah. All of it succeeds for its purpose: to distract by entertaining. As long as people are entertained, they think they are happy, and when something bad happens, they just distract themselves again to "make it go away".

    Now, if I may, I think I'm going to run for Congress.

  • Llewellyn, by a long shot! For one thing, i dunno quite what it is, but I get the impression that RL is a person first, an actor second, and the guy who played Kryten third. His overall demeanor suits the show better and his rapport with what's-her-name (keep her!) is better. RL is apparently a genuinely funny man and it shows when he's talking but not to the camera. I just hope that someone, anyone, will get rid of the Zappa kid on Robotica. The guys on Battlebots are even far superior to him.
  • I remember in an episode where the goal was to build cannons, and one of the teams failed the first two times, then the third time succeeded but still lost due to not hitting the target :-P. Contestants getting 'help'? Maybe. Fixed? I doubt it.
  • Was when they found a brand new roll of ultra-lightweight silver material to build a blimp in the back of a rusted out car.... Just after mentioning how they didn't think they'd be able to finish their job without it. :)


  • I'd be inclined to agree with you, but most Yanks
    haven't heard of Red Dwarf, so more's the pity.

    Fortunately perhaps, that bloke has been replaced
    by some other bloke in the new season.

  • ml

    Marine Research (The band she's in) tm
  • Is it good enough for me to shell out for cable television?

    If it is, could someone tell me what channel it's on?
  • by fleener ( 140714 ) on Monday July 16, 2001 @02:26PM (#81138)
    Who cares if key components are planted in the junkyard? The contestants do not win any money. They do not have dreams of becoming reality TV celebrities. They take time off work, fly off to who knows where and spend a full day welding and getting sweaty and dirty. They compete "for the glory." I relate to these people more than any of the 'pretty faces' on Big Brother or Real World.
  • Not only would Americans actually see a tiny bit of what's going on in the world, they will hear intelligent (and drippingly sarcastic) commentary on it.

    Oh, wait, I forgot us in the US prefer totally scripted "reality" shows (if you think Junkyard Wars is scripted, whoo-wee!!) that make us yearn for the fake life that seemingly only the advertiser's products can deliver.

    It is a really, really sad state of affairs... not that there are shows like "Survivor" and "Temptation Island", but that there are humans that take time out of their own lives to watch them.


  • Well, what gets me is that no matter how badly a team falls behind in their construction, they always manage to finish just in time. I know that they are supposed to get tweak time the next morning, but they always at least have something to tweak. No one ever fails to get to the starting line.

    There's a difference between having a badly designed entry and having *no* entry, and that's where things get fishy with this show. But I can't help loving it anyway :-)
  • Actually, in some of the older shows, the host actually refers to "Scrapheap" in a way that makes it clear that it's the name of the show (ie. not just a generic term for a heap-of-scrap, or yard-of-junk).

    Now the really funny bit would be if they filmed two versions of the US vs. UK special: one with the US winning, and one with the UK. Kinda like the two versions of Godzilla vs. King Kong (which really annoyed me 'cause I was always a Godzilla fan).

    BTW, am I the only one (or only American) who thinks that the British male host was better than the US guy?
  • Hmm, I wasn't sure about this; it does look like english scrap, but I thought maybe the increased safety precautions on the US shows was due to our wonderful healthcare system (ie. cover the cost of the treatment by filing a frivolous lawsuit against whoever you can). Maybe this is too cynical; then again, I guess as long as they are Americans, they still have private insurance, so...

    (BTW, if you don't know what I'm talking about, look at the shows with similar challenges. For example, UK drag racing: find an old seat, bolt on a crappy two-piece roll cage, and off you go. US drag racing: give both teams specialized racing seats with five-point harnesses, demand a full roll cage that probably doubles the weight, etc.,etc.)
  • Yep, the only difference between these "distinguished" awards and TRL is the primary age demographic of the voters...
  • by green pizza ( 159161 ) on Monday July 16, 2001 @01:24PM (#81146) Homepage
    I was under the impression that the (original) UK version was known as "Scrapheap Challenge".
  • That's not to say that the contestants aren't good engineers, but the show is trying to present them as superhuman engineers when they're typically not. By rigging the contest they're no more credible than Jeopardy contestants who get a little help from Alex during the commercials.

    A good friend of mine was a five-time winner (and hence also championship contestant) on Jeopardy. I was in the studio audience while three of his games were being filmed. There was no help from Alex or anyone else involved. Not saying the same is true for all game shows, but Jeopardy seems to be pretty honest.


  • The leader of the American team (The NERDS) that participated in the British series has posted on Slashdot before.

    He said that the experts know what the challenge is beforehand - they submit a tentative design and a list of critical parts - but the actual teams don't know until it starts.

    In fact, if you go to the Channel 4 website you can see what appears to be the expert's design brief for each show; e.g.: The Airship [].

  • Sure, the yard is occasionally seeded with stuff that would not typically be in a junkyard (propellers and a surprising number of running engines, for example),

    The propellers were a surprise, but if you go to pretty much any scrap yard, you'll be able to start most of the "complete" engines if you try (and if the scrappy will let you!)

  • Creativity with junk will be competing with crap.

    While it may be true, Bobo resents that. He's built with junk, but he's definitely not crap.

    Remember, to apply to get onto Junkyard Wars, you have to submit a videotape of you and your team explaining how a machine works. What better machine to explain than something built in the Junkyard Wars tradition?

    You'll like Bobo. He's very strong. You can see him here [].

  • ... is in armchair quarterbacking the designs. I love sitting there yelling at the TV about some stupid design decision they're making.

    On the July 4th car crusher episode, I was craking on to my wife about how the hydraulic system would bend the frame of their crusher. Happily for the Yanks, it did.

    And on the diving bell episide, I was screaming "No, no, you idiots! Those bellows will NEVER generate the air pressure that you need!"

    And I loved that pumpkin chunkin' trebuchet design. Too cool.

  • "Fixed" means a winner is decided before hand. Think Don King. What you mean is the competitors get a little help. Some people might argue this is crap and ruins the spirit of the show, but would you like to see a couple of hovercrafts that didn't work? Or just 1 that worked? Of course not, and because TLC needs some ratings as well as a cool show, the junkyard is seeded.

    P.S.- I've also heard that in Britain there are laws about the quality of parts, so, (let's take the rockets, for instance) the engines are certified and seeded in the junkyard.
  • "Okay, you have 10 hours to build a working television using what's found out in the junkyard. After you're done, it will have to last through an entire episode of Red Dwarf to win the contest." (The teams depart and come back with cartloads of old TVs, monitors, radios, vacuum tubes, etc.)

    "It looks like the Bodgers are gonna have a go at an old green monochrome monitor while the Megalomaniacs came up with an old radar screen that was once used in the terminal at London's Heathrow airport..."

    A while later, one team member is picking himself up off the ground, dazed and confused, with smoke coming from his now frazzled hair: "Well, they don't call it a flyback for nothing!"

    After they're done assembling them: "That's a nice crisp picture of Rimmer on the Bodger's set, but he looks a wee bit on the sick side, kinda green... And the Megalomaniacs have... no horizontal or vertical output, just a blip on the center of their screen?" The team leader replies: "Oh, that's the Red Dwarf coming in for a landing..."

    You get the picture. (Or you don't. Instead you see sparks and smoke coming out the back.)

    Kryten, unpack Rachel and break out the puncture repair kit.

  • It's really rewarding to see people get interested in a show where the people with the most engineering know-how win. After all of the portrayals of engineers as "nerds", "geeks", and "losers" by the media, it's a refreshing change.

    Unlike Battlebots, women aren't just window-dressing. In fact, Cathy Rogers, who created the show and co-hosts it, it both insightful and intelligent, (not to mention attractive).

    If you don't watch it, start. If it's on at inconvenient time, tell your Tivo to record it. If you don't have a Tivo... well, then you are probably not the type of person who would really enjoy the show anyway.

  • Keep It Simple, Stupid.

    It seems to me that it's always the simplest machine that wins. Insightful...
  • by AdamInParadise ( 257888 ) on Monday July 16, 2001 @01:21PM (#81180) Homepage
    For those of you actually wondering about the difference between Junkyard Wars (US, with US guys) and ScrapHeads (UK with UK guys), well, there isn't any. It is just the same show, with two different names for each border of the big pond.

    TLC basically broadcasts both (they even had a super finale US vs UK (US won) for the Fourth of July). Sure they change the male anchors between the two.

    I'm basically thinking that they shoot each "sequence with an anchor" twice, once saying "ScrapHeads", once saying "JunkYard Wars".
  • by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Monday July 16, 2001 @03:19PM (#81187) Journal
    Sure, Junkyard Wars is cool, but the new season of Battlebots is cooler.

    All of the arena hazards got a 5x (yes, five times) improvement in motor power (they didn't look all that wimpy last year, but they're positively rocking this year), and the saws and hammer were improved to increase destruction capability.

    The contestants have clearly been improving their bots, too. They're heavier and stronger.

    And when the saws or one of the bots flips a 300-lb contestant 10 feet into the air, it's massively cool.

    I give it 10, maybe 20 years before the show turns into a live-action MechWarrior. Probably with a tie-in to Junkyard Wars, if everyone's smart.

    The only degradation year-to-year: they changed spokesmodels and now it's that plastic-surgery disaster, Tracy Bingham. Hey! She weighs maybe 100 lbs, she's half-lexan, and she's got the brains of a remote-controlled car; maybe the plan is she should get in the arena! See how far she'd fly off the kill-saw...

    "Claimer: I'm not connected to the show in any way except via my eyeballs."
  • I'm sure it's written by Robert himself. If you click on his name on Amazon, you'll see that he's written a number of other books. Unfortunately, his Red Dwarf book, The man in the Rubber Mask seems to out of print at the moment. Pity, it's a very funny read.

    "What are we going to do tonight, Bill?"
  • by McSpew ( 316871 ) on Monday July 16, 2001 @04:31PM (#81194)

    Yes, the British show "Scrapheap Challenge" is relabeled by TLC as "Junkyard Wars." Until the recent all-US version, that's all Junkyard Wars was. But TLC's ratings for the relabeled Scrapheap Challenge have been terrific, so they contracted with RDF Media and Cathy Rogers to produce an all-US version of the show.

    And yes, Robert Llewellyn (the British host) is much better than George Gray (the American host). I find it amusing that two cast members from Red Dwarf have jobs as gameshow hosts. Craig Charles (who plays Lister) hosts the British show Robot Wars while Robert Llewellyn (Kryten) hosts Scrapheap Challenge/Junkyard Wars UK.

    Apparently, British viewers got to see the US vs. UK championship back in December 2000 []. I'd discovered that website months back and studiously avoided reading too much on there because I wanted to be surprised by the outcomes of the shows.

    By the way, the first season of the all-US version of the show was shot in England at the same junkyard as the British version. The second US season will be shot at an American junkyard in California (and is probably being filmed right now).

  • by why-is-it ( 318134 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2001 @06:33AM (#81198) Homepage Journal
    Check out: :w

    Here is the text of the article:

    Seeding the scrapheap
    People have noticed that this junkyard is pretty unique in the breadth of its contents. The usual cry is "its fake". Here is a discussion from someone that has climed the Canning Town piles, in search all sorts of things. The short answer: It is part of a real scrap yard, and its contents are tailored by adding and removing items, to the particular challenge. This tailoring doesn't decrease the challenge significantly.

    First off: it helps to understand the purpose of the show -- its stealth science education - tricking 10 year old kids into watching an explanation of how a wing works. They sit thru the mini-lectures bcause they get rewarded afterwards with a shot of someone making precision adjustments with sledgehammers. When chosing challenges, its the education that drives the choice. The competition is partly to make it addicting, and partly to give the kids the idea that actually designing and building something might be a lot of fun.

    Yes, this is a "rich" junkyard. There are all sorts of neat things to find. And unlike some, there is a lot of stuff that isn't metallic. (usually its construction debris -- the plywood we found had clearly been a concrete form in a prior life) -- Its mostly what you get, when you don't have the yard workers picking over the good bits. The set was a corner of a real working scrap yard. On the other side of the wall, there are cockneys in hydraulic claw loaders, tossing cars thru the air. You have to wear a hard hat when you go to the bathroom. (its out by the truck scales). When stocking the yard between episodes, the random lumps of steel plate are just dumped over the wall from what they have sitting around. But yes, they will add extra stuff to make it possible to complete building a machine.

    The basic rule for seeding: If its not possible to safely improvise a part with the time and tools provided, they will provide something that can be pressed into service. It will require some ingenuity to make it work, it will never "just bolt on". If there are specific safety regulations, the relavant parts will always be provided. For example, things like safety valves, regulators, and gas tanks will be planted, and will have their certification paperwork sitting in the directors briefcase. (and if we happen to find such a part that isn't one of the known good ones, they don't let us use it) A good example: The propellor that the navy crew hacked up was provided. Any propellor they could make in the time they had (no time for glue to dry to laminate) would not have been safe to run up to speed. Another example was the tank and regulator used by the Dipsticks submarine - The tank had a current hydro test, and the regulators used were new.

    But: Just because they give you a part, that doesn't mean its clear sailing. For example the wheels in the tractor pull. Sure they were there, but none of the differentials in the yard came close to fitting the bolt circle. If you wanted to use them, you had to make it work.

    And this brings up another point: That same helpfull crew that hides essential parts, can just as easily remove them. They made sure that there wern't matching differentials for those wheels. In the fire fighting boat episode, there wasn't a pump to be had. Both teams had to make a pump. And not just a wimpy one, the burning shed was supposed to be 50 feet away.
  • by Quizme2000 ( 323961 ) on Monday July 16, 2001 @01:30PM (#81202) Homepage Journal
    to accept an Emmy, weld it into an obscene gesture, and spray the audience with oil. For an old A-team addict, the show is my crack cocaine.
  • I'm sure that more often than not the teams are given off camera time after they call time but before the trials, and they only present the successful trials.

    While I'm sure that they do give them some extra off-camera time where necessary, the fact is that they DO show unsuccessful trials.

    • The speedboat competetion had one boat flipping over and sinking on the first lap. The other team finished the race unopposed.
    • The hovercraft competetion featured one hovercraft hitting ground and fatally (for the craft, not the driver) ripping the skirts. Again, the other team finished unopposed.
    • The underwater salvage episode featured one team that failed to get their Mini out of the water and, in fact, they had to give up and just watch the other team finish.

    While I'm sure we're not seeing everything that goes on, it's still true that not all of the machines work.


  • No argument they do have to stock the junkyard a bit, but that's not the point. The show isn't a scavenger hunt; it's about coming up with a useful design that can be built "from scratch" within a single day and with reasonable parts -- i.e. nobody's getting a fusion reactor.

    The show is about the science and mechanical engineering and competing designs. Hopefully the audience learns why hovercraft hover and the contestants can come up with machines that actually work. (by the way, sometimes they work VERY little; remember the "torpedo" speedboat that flipped and sank in the second turn of the first lap?)

    The producers could force the contestants to only use stuff from an unstocked junkyard, but the chances of them ever (much less in 10 hours) coming up with a serviceable machine that does much of interest is pretty slim.

    There's only so many times you can build "a car". If you want to do skyrockets you have to have some kind of usable rocket propulsion; which you're not going to find in the average junkyard.


  • by ryanwright ( 450832 ) on Monday July 16, 2001 @01:32PM (#81214)
    Yes, the show is fixed. Not too long ago, they built a couple of hovercraft on Junkyard Wars. I am building a hovercraft of my own (a real one, not made out of junk) and have spoken with both of the team leaders who built the crafts on Junkyard Wars. Basically, they submitted a list of necessary parts to the producers, who then stocked the yunkyard. Also, in addition to the two days of filming, they used a 3rd day off-camera to finish up their hovercrafts.

    If you'll recall, one of the guys carved a prop out of a piece of "old" burnt wood - yes, he really did carve that prop from scratch! But the wood wasn't old. It was a brand new piece of wood specifically selected for the purpose, and the Junkyard Wars crew burnt it for them beforehand. :)

    So yes, the show is rigged, but you have to give them some credit: How could you possibly have entertainment otherwise? They certainly wouldn't be able to build most of what they do if the junkyard wasn't stocked. What isn't rigged is the outcome: It's a real competition with real winners and losers.
  • They deserve any recognition they get, one of the best shows on TV. That's not saying much since most of the stuff on is brainless drivel, which some of the lame posters probably like.
  • I'm reminded of this UF cartoon [] discussing complexity v. simplicity.

    Carl G. Jung

  • Keep in mind that this is TV entertainment, not a real competition.

    Exactly. While part of me would like to see some failure, most of me just wants to be entertained. Besides, what good is a hovercraft race if only one can hover?

    "Genetic engineering lets us fix god's horrible, horrible German people."
  • by bani ( 467531 ) on Monday July 16, 2001 @03:43PM (#81230)
    Battlebots is all about destruction.
    Junkyard Wars is all about construction.

    Battlebots is more like watching script kiddies duke it out.

    Junkyard Wars is closer to the spirit of "true hackers".

    I'll take Junkyard Wars thank you very much.

"Say yur prayers, yuh flea-pickin' varmint!" -- Yosemite Sam