Remembering Junkyard Wars

There was a time on cable TV, particularly speciality channels like The Discovery Channel or The Learning Channel that put on some interesting concepts. One had testing the sketchbooks of Leonardo Da Vinci ('Doing Da Vinci') to see if his inventions actually could work. Another had several custom motorcycle shops compete with their best output in a short range of time, like four days (Biker Build Off).

One that was a good use of an hour on a Saturday was watching Junkyard Wars. It was formatted like a game show with on-site teams competing against each other at a large scrapyard to complete a basic task, like building a hill climbing machine or a glider or a submarine. They had access to just the material in the yard -which usually contained lots of useable things like cast-off cars or appliances. They had cutting/grinding and welding equipment, with some spray paint cans for decorating. Usually there was a severe time factor, like 48 hours or something like that. Most of the time the task was fairly within their grasp so that the team could catch some sleep after the first day. Usually they'd put in about two 14-16 hour days to get it done. The next morning they'd present their entry for judgement.

There's no shortage of 'reality shows' that are contest based (British Bake Off, Ru Paul's Drag Race etc). A lot of them are extremely niche, having a narrow appeal. The world of streaming entertainment means half the energy is spent in picking and choosing what to watch before the program is even up and running. Maybe we've gone past that 'ideal zone' of having just the right amount of variety in the form of cable television from about 15-20 years ago to this deluge of streaming visual material with no end in sight? Abundance of choice without limits takes away the focus and keeps calling out to whatever else could be consumed out there. Limits are what made Junkyard Wars interesting -as in just 48 hours.

Have a great weekend!

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