'Hacking the System' Review: 'MythBusters' Meets 'MacGyver'

Hacking the System - Brian Brushwood

When it comes to earnest intrigue and exploration, MythBusters has served as television's saving grace for over 10 years. Tonight, National Geographic is looking to share that title with their new series Hacking the System, which takes that same type of ingenuity viewers have grown to love and uses it to reveal tips and tricks which can greatly help you in your life.

In the back-to-back, 2-episode special creators Brian Brushwood and Jason Murphy, who serve as host and co-host, respectively, walk viewers through the impressively simple steps required to do such things as: steal a car, break in to a house, or even talk your way out of a speeding ticket. On the not-so-illegal front: replicating keys, making smoke bombs and car salesman tricks are just some of what's included.

Realistically, if you read the front page of Reddit every day for an entire year, you will more than likely learn the same tips and tricks Brushwood shows in Hacking the System. However, it's the "show" part where this series really shines - and what makes it a worthy companion to Discovery's appropriately beloved MythBusters.

Reading pages and pages filled with text tips - no matter how helpful - will only get you so far, or allow you to remember so much. What Hacking the System does is brilliantly bridge the ever-present gap of knowing what to do and how, exactly, you do it, by showing you - successes, failures and all - which gives an entertaining visual memory of such tips, making it easier to apply them in your life, as needed. For example: in order to show you how to get out of a ticket, Brushwood actually gets himself pulled over, then uses hidden cameras and mics (and a blurry-faced police officer) to capture his attempt.

Being pulled over? dome light on and hands on steering wheel

Admittedly, Hacking the System does reveal information that some could potentially use to commit various illegal acts. Even so, in today's age, it's reassuring that the series never shies away from providing viewers - potential victims - with information they can use to defend themselves against such crimes - or in the case of car salesmen, such shenanigans. After all, if someone is going to break into your car, they've probably Google'd "How to break in to a car" more than once. Additionally, one could say that if criminals are watching National Geographic, they're not likely to be part of the stealing cars scene.

As a special that's currently positioned as a proverbial backdoor pilot that could be a series, Hacking the System is surprisingly polished in its two episodes, and as the first one comes to an end you'll be eager to tune in to the next one. What the future may hold for Hacking the System is still unknown, however, and that's more than a bit disconcerting.

Break a car window with no effort? Spark plug

Over the past few years National Geographic has been attempting to elevate the status of their network to that of their competitors, and with shows like Air Crash Investigation and Life Below Zero the network has slowly been climbing the mountain that the History channel - along with their aliens - has proudly stood atop of for quite some time. Hacking the System is a different beast, however, and Brian Brushwood is its energetic and enthusiastic figurehead.

Will National Geographic take a chance and back a series which could provide them with their first homegrown network star, finally providing a face that viewers point to and associate with them? It's too early to tell. However, if they're still sincerely interested in evolving their network then, no matter what, Hacking the System will be back.


Hacking the System airs tonight @9pm & 9:30pm on the National Geographic Channel.

You check out a preview of the show below:

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