11 May 2015 | magicalmcg
Uneven tone and gratuitous clips, avoid unless a fan of the genre.
In The Science of Stupid Richard Hammond presents the viewer with a series of clips of unfortunate accidents, explaining the physics behind such calamities and how the victims could successfully perform the stunts (had they not failed). Much of the humour in the programme comes from amateur slapstick in the unfortunate events themselves alongside Hammond's jokey commentary on the plight of the 'stupid' casualties. The show follows the well-established formula of candid slapstick television, with the amateur clips of fails and prat-falls described by Richard Hammond's familiar voice-over, where it departs from the usual formula however is that it provides the scientific and mechanical explanations as to what is happening in each clip. The editing and style of the show is consistent and refined given the shaky, amateur nature of the clips used. The illustrations given describing the physics behind the clips are simple and highly effective given the complex variables involved. The slapstick aspects and schadenfreude will appeal to fans of the genre, but for casual viewers may often be too graphic to be found amusing. Expect motorbike crashes, water sport collisions and probable broken bones in the clips presented throughout the show.
The scientific aspect of the show is both its strength and its weakness, remaining interesting and consistently informative throughout each episode's run, though confusing and at times inappropriate with the context of the sometimes serious accidents being shown. In terms of the science itself, I enjoyed the explanation of the physics behind 'cat-jumping' in episode nine, one of many informative and interesting segments in that episode. At times, the science offered, and light commentary do not seem to marry well with the clips illustrating the 'stupid' aspects of the accidents. I found the sometimes graphic accidents to be gratuitously violent and most of the time not funny enough to justify the jovial commentary that the presenter gave. The scenes which were less dangerous for the people involved, seemed the most funny and at points worked well with the light-hearted facts offered up by the presenter. For the majority of the run time however, the commentary seemed unsuitable and too jovial for the graphic clips being shown. Accidents involving high speed vehicles and high falls in particular were too shocking to fit the light nature of Hammond's jokes and observations. The physics and mechanical illustrations offered make for a more informative and less 'stupid' amateur slapstick programme than the genre's usual offerings, though shocking footage and an uneven tone let the programme down, due to the harsh nature of the clips shown. Fans of the genre will enjoy this, and the science given makes a welcome addition, though for casual viewers, the 'science' and the 'stupid' will not always go hand in hand.