Exclusive Interview: Deadliest Warrior host Geoff Desmoulin
|INTERVIEWS - TV|
The host of the bone-cracking Spike TV science show talks to us...
Spike TV's Deadliest Warrior is returning with more theoretic match-ups between some of the history's greatest fighters. I had the opportunity to talk to the hosts of the show about some Season 1 favorites as well as what we can look forward to in Season 2. Here I got to catch up with Geoff Desmoulin who talks about nerding out on modern weapons, his Buckeroo Banzai-like list of accomplishments, and the glory of ballistics gel torsos.
A lot has changed since Season 1 hit. Did it blow up like you expected it to? Not unlike some of the weapons you test...
I guess we had a little bit of an indication because during the pilot, "Spartan vs Ninja," it got field tested in Chicago. I think it was about 300 Spike demographic viewers that were watching and they had a little dial that went from zero to ten. Anytime they liked something, they would dial it up, anytime they didn't like something, they would dial it down so they had a real-time analysis of how people liked the show, and they also have to answer questionnaires after the show.
And apparently the show scored higher than any other show they had tested before. So based on those results, Spike just picked up nine shows for Season 1. They kind of expected it to take off, but you never really know until it's out there. But certainly with an average of close 2 million viewers every episode plus...I don't know if you've looked online lately at Spike.com but we've probably got an average of 1.1 or 1.2 million on line in addition to the 2 million on air, and these things are airing all the time in marathons. I think it's one of those type of shows that really inspires water-cooler talk and word of mouth popularity. Whether or not they expected it, I don't know but it certainly happened and it certainly justified a season one and maybe a Season 3.
So for some people who may not have seen the first season even though there's ample opportunities to do so and they should, why don't you explain what your job is.
Oh sure. Well, by trade I'm a biomedical engineer and by definition biomedical engineering is using engineering principles to solve problems in medicine. So under that umbrella I specifically study injuries and that could range from disc ruptures to broken bones to brain injury, things like that. And once we think we understand that injury and the mechanisms involved, then we try to engineer a prevention or develop a new treatment.
That's what I do in my day job, and because I also come with a Black Belt and previous EMT experience, it makes for a very good fit for the show. What I basically do on the show as well is take engineering principles, engineering measurements of the weapons and the injuries on the ballistics gel torsos that we use, and try to get hard numbers in engineering terms that we can use in our simulator that Max [Geiger] programs.
And you do a good job because there's a lot of ballistics gel flying around and encased organ damage.
To be honest, when we run tests in the lab, we get a Tupperware container, just like a block. We'll mix the ballistics gel in that container, we'll keep it in a refrigerator and when we're ready to do tests, we'll take it out and we'll shoot. That's how you do it in the lab, and that's considered fine but what you're missing is...ok, you're mimicking the density and viscosity of real human tissue, but you're missing the geometry.
And so what we get with the show is we get the human form with the gel, number one, then you have fake organs that are actually filled with fluid and located in the right areas and are roughly the right dimensions. Even fake bone in there as well and so the injuries you're seeing in the show are as close to what would actually happen if you cut a guy up. And typically...that's much better than what we even do in the lab.
Yeah, because you actually get the squishiness to go with it. 'Cause that's a scientific term - "squishiness."
[Laughs] We use that term once in awhile.
Which weapons surprised you the most in terms of how much damage it did or didn't do? Did you have a favorite weapon?
Season 1 favorite weapon is the Taiaha from the Maori Warrior. I love the fact that they believed that their ancestors' spirits lived in their weapons. I think that gives the warrior a lot of confidence using it. I think also the physics that were designed in that weapon - the narrowing of the edge near one end increases the pressure...that's a great design.
Also there's a low profile so when it's whipping through the air, you decrease air resistance. At the other end you've got a green stone tip that you can stab with. Also the green stone is heavier and tapered out on the other side so you really weighted both ends and when you do that and rotate it, you get what's called angular momentum which essentially allows you to carry that load right through the target. And so when people look at it, they may just think "Oh that's just a stick" but in fact there's a lot of physics for killing in it and that's why I like.
On Season 2 my favorite weapon is the M-6. That is a rifle and what I like about it is the fact that it uses the newer 6.8mm round that basically combines best of both worlds from the standard 5.56 NATO round and the old 7.62 round. 5.56 is known for its accuracy, and that's because it's leaving the barrel faster so it gets to it's target faster, and it's a little more stable in the air.
And because of both of those things it tends to be more accurate than 7.62. But the 7.62 has the greater stopping power. So the 6.8mmm round gives you an accurate round with a lot of stopping power. I love that about it, and secondly it has the yield-tech guiding system, which basically uses fighter pilot heads-up display technology. What you see in that is a little display with a little red dot, and wherever that red dot lands is where the round's going to land. That just blew me away. I got to geek out over the technology.
It's interesting that first season your favorite weapon was old-school, in that it's the best engineering of the most simple products put together to make the most lethal stick ever - that's a sharp contrast to the extremely high tech M-6 of the second season. Since you have an engineering background, do you find that you geek out more with the modern weapons, or do you get a little more wrapped up in the classic weapons because you haven't necessarily seen them before?
Good call. I tend to favor the modern warriors only because I do like the modern technology and I think the warriors that we get are guys that are actually encountering deadly force incidents and recently and they can talk about it and talk about it behind the scenes. It's hard to find a guy who's next to Shaka Zulu with that kind of experience under his belt. But at the same time, the older, more traditional warriors are more raw.
It's very up close and personal and gritty and force-on-force kind of weaponry. But it's interesting, the contrast between the two, because you learn about the evolution of the weapons. What you see with the traditional warriors is that they take something very simple and turn it into a weapon. But as you progress to the modern warriors, you see that man's really tried to move away from their weapon, because the opponent can end up hurting you. So the weapon designs basically went from a rock in your hand to bow and arrow to crossbow to something you can shoot from 2 kilometers away and still hit your mark. So I find all that very interesting, but I do tend to side with the modern warriors because of the technology and I have some experience in the Canadian Military.
So you're basically the Jack-Of-All-Trades on the show since you are, let's see...a Black Belt, an EMT, you were in the military, and you're a biomedical engineer. Is there anything else on the list I should know?
Well, you know... [Laughs] It's funny, yeah when I was an EMT, I was on the Fire Department so I have some fire experience as well. It's funny how my life has gone but everything happens for a reason, and I stuck to enjoying myself with what I do, and it just so happens that everything I've done since I was 13 years old is a very very good fit for the show. That just happened by accident. It's not something that I planned, I'm just doing what I love, and it just happens to be an awesome fit for the show and I'm glad that it worked out.
What do you think is the must-see episode of Season 2?
Uh...there's a few of them. I can't narrow it down to one. If I had to I'd have to say "SWAT vs GSG9," our premiere episode. And I'll give you an inside scoop - it actually wasn't planned to be our premiere. It was supposed to be "Alexander the Great vs Attila the Hun" because we have "Sugar" Rashad Evans coming on that episode and that's what we did last year, we front loaded with "Gladiator vs Apache" when Chuck Liddel came on the show.
But as the shows were cut together and they started reviewing them, they said, "Oh my god, we love "Swat vs GSG9" and we want that to premiere." And I knew why - and there's lots of reasons why. I don't know what I can say...they bring less lethal weapons, so they have a sting-ball grenade in that episode, and we have tasers that we test. They let me get away with talking about the electronics behind the taser and why they're safe and how the work and how they immobilize a person. But then, we actually go and shoot somebody with it.
Yeah...exactly. So imagine this: taser on a live human in high-speed.
That pretty much explains a lot right there.
Ok so which episodes do you think are the other, say...two big must-sees?
The other big one? I gotta admit I think "Navy SEAL vs Israeli Commando" is going to be really really good. The Israeli Commandos were both Krav Maga specialists. Krav Maga is a special Israeli hand-to-hand combat technique and they were showing us stuff and we took measurements off them. And it's very interesting for me because in Season 2 I got to see several different types of martial arts in another must-see show but to finish off, everyone knows the SEAL. There's a lot of excitement around the SEAL, so we got to see a guy set a charge underwater and, again, the Israeli Commandos and their Krav Maga techniques I thought were fantastic. Another really good episode is gonna be Ming [Warrior] vs Musketeer.
I love that era of warrior because they were still using blades for close-in contact, but they had very early firearms and black powder weapons. And not so early that they weren't effective either, because the Musket from the Musketeer is actually quite good and quite accurate compared to most black powder weapons we've seen on the show before.
The Ming Warrior brings some interesting tools to the game, because they have this thing...a network of mines basically. So you trigger one of the mines and it blows up, then it triggers other mines that are connected through hollow bamboo underground that has black powder inside the bamboo. So you detonate one mine and that ignites the black powder sending that black powder on fire towards the other buried land mines - you can take out a whole squad with these things. And the numbers I was getting off of those land mines, they were able to pack the black powder in a such a way that they would contain fragmentation - and it may just be pebbles, anything they can get their hands on - but they pack them in such a way that the numbers I was getting off of them was almost equivalent to modern land mines.
Have you been getting recognized now when you're out and about?
All the time. Airports, bars, just walking down the street...it's crazy. It's probably only about once a week now but an interesting thing that happened in Season 2, before they left they wanted to get a picture with me before the left and that never happened Season 1. And everyone on set was saying, "Just wait until Season 3, it gets way, way worse." [Laughs] Recently it's kind of died down but I'm expecting people to recognize me more once we get into Season 2.
Deadliest Warrior premieres Tuesday, April 20th, first with 90-minute special "Deadliest Warrior Season 1: Back For Blood" at 8:30pm followed by the Season 2 debut episode "SWAT vs GSG9" at 10pmE/P on Spike TV
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