Advance review: ‘Curiosity: Plane Crash’ a new sort of Discovery

Whether it be through “MythBusters” or some of their assorted specials over the years, we have seen Discovery take on a pretty hands-on approach to science and solving some of life’s mysteries. However, we’re not quite sure that we have seen anything that quite compares to what the network is running Sunday night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern with their two-hour “Plane Crash” event. It is a part of the “Curiosity” series, and it features a stunt the likes of which we have never seen done before on television: a real-life crashing of a commercial jet designed for the purposes of research. This is no small plane they are using here, either; rather, this is a Boeing 727, the same sort that many Americans ride on every day to fly across the country.

We will start off by saying this: if you have a fear of flying, or if you are looking to kill some time before catching a flight, this is probably not the program for you. Even though the scientific data presented during this special serves as a reminder that plane crashes are not necessarily as much of a guarantee of death that you would think, the special can still be a little unnerving to watch. After all, you are effectively watching something of enormous size become completely and totally torn to shreds in a stretch of Baja California desert, and you are also hearing the stories of plane crash survivors talking about how terrifying their experiences were. “Heavy” is probably the best word to describe it in this sense.

If you have a little bit more of a stomach for flying, however, then this may very well be one of the more compelling two hours of television that you will see on Discovery this year. The sheer magnitude of the test this crew of scientists are trying to do creates for enormous stakes, and the special is even keen to remind us that this is something that has not even been accurately done before. The first hour of the special is really just used to set the stage for the crash test, whether it be by ensuring that the equipment for filming and recording the data is in place and that the crew is prepared to parachute out of the plane before things become too dangerous.

By the time the crash actually happens over halfway through the episode, you are literally on the edge of your seat, and the few minutes of this event are both devastating and spectacular. It’s not the sort of sight that you are going to forget about anytime soon, especially since the camera work here is stellar in giving you a view both inside and outside of the aircraft as it descends into the ground.

As if this was not enough, the drama does not end once the plane crashes. We immediately have a different sort of challenge to watch in that the team has to extract as much data as possible in a short amount of time, since the Mexican government has no interest in having the remains of a decimated plane on their land for an extended period of time. We don’t want to give much away about some of the results that are found here, but it could give you a new perspective on some the theories constantly associated with air travel, including whether or not certain seats or actions aboard a place increase your odds for survival.

Really, if you have any interest in either aviation, transportation, or even to an extent urban legends that are commonly associated with flying, “Curiosity: Plane Crash” is worth watching. The show is narrated by Josh Charles of “The Good Wife,” and the second hour in particular is so well-paced that it takes you into this frightening situation better than most other documentaries for TV can.

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