Green Meanies: New cable show "Mean Green Machines" kicks off with Chevy Tahoe Hybrid vs gas-powered Silverado
June 4, 2008
Discovery Communications launches a new cable channel dubbed Planet Green today (June 4), which should help to satiate the public's increasing thirst for all things green. One show making its debut tonight "Mean Green Machines," might just gain traction with viewers.
Airing at 9:00 pm EST, the first episode pits a hybrid Chevy Tahoe against a gas-powered Chevy Silverado in four tests -- towing a four-ton tractor across a cornfield, a slalom course, a drag race, and an off-road course.
Canadian viewers might recognize this show, based on "Mean Machines." But now its Mean Machines with a twist of green. It's a co-production with Toronto-based Cream Productions and the Discovery Channel Canada, says Alon Orstein, executive producer for Planet Green.
"The transportation sector is such a critical component for Planet Green, we wanted to have a show that could get at some of this green technology and do it in a fun and entertaining way," Orstein says.
Although the show makes its debut today, its regular time slot will be a one-hour block at 9:00 pm on Tuesdays -- with two different half hour "Mean Green Machine" shows back to back.
Future episodes this summer will include a Zero motorcycle versus a Yamaha YZ250, with Neal Saiki, former NASA engineer, who made the first human-powered helicopter, and his new Zero motorcycle, a zero-emissions motocross bike. In another show, Jonathan Goodwin, who converted governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's SUV into a biodiesel one, takes a biodiesel Escalade and challenges a tricked-out H2 Hummer.
"Some of the individuals behind these are really interesting -- they're passionate about their work and their vehicles," Orstein says. "The green machines give their carbon counterparts a run for their money."
One episode is completely green -- engineering students face off with their solar cars that go 80 mph. "We're talking zero emission, fully solar-powered -- from a green perspective, this is truly the wave of the future," Orstein says. "It's really fascinating to see these prototypes going up against each other. It's not your father's solar car, they can get around the track. The perception with solar cars had always been either they didn't work or they went 10 miles an hour."
Yet another upcoming automotive episode is the "Smart Kart Smackdown," which takes an electrical race kart that will go head to head with a four-stroke single-cylinder kart.
Viewers might wonder why, for example, in the first episode, they used a hybrid Tahoe versus a gas-powered Silverado. Why not use a gas-powered Tahoe model against the Tahoe hybrid for a truer comparison? "It's certainly an avenue we could have gone down, but in a lot of these categories there isn't necessarily an apple to apple comparison," Orstein says. "We made the decision early on that we're going to pit the green versus the fuel-burning and get a good match up and use that as a platform to talk about how some of these green technologies work and why they might perform better or worse in particular areas."
If there is a second season, Orstein says they might create some episodes pitting cars with exact green counterparts. "It is challenging to find these and set up these challenges," Orstein says. "It's definitely for season two, something we would look at."
Some of Planet Green's shows will air on the flagship Discovery Channel to help promote the new channel. Planet Green is the old Discovery Home channel, found in 50 million households. Other shows on Planet Green include "Emeril Green" with chef Emeril Lagasse filmed at Whole Foods, actor Adrian Grenier from HBO's "Entourage" hosts "Alter Eco," and actor Ed Begley, Jr.'s "Living with Ed" moves from HGTV to Planet Green.