Review of "Identity" From The TV MegaSite
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Primetime Show Reviews

"Identity" Review by Danielle 12/19/06

“Identity” is a new show on NBC that is a game testing a contestant’s first impressions. Penn Jillette of magicians Penn and Teller fame hosts the show. Each contestant faces a panel of 12 strangers with varying identities. The strangers individually stand atop a podium with their number lit up on it. The number is their only identifying factor with the exception of some strangers choosing to dress in the manner of their identity. The panel of strangers changes for each contestant so that after each contestant is through with their round, the true identities of those left on the panel are revealed.

The scoring is progressive in that the first correct guess garners $1,000 and the next brings the total to $5,000 etc with the main goal being reaching the final stage worth $500,000. After each question, the contestant has the option of taking the money they’ve accumulated to that point. To make the show interactive for viewers at home, the first show offered viewers the chance to view a panel of children and either use text messaging or visit NBC.com to answer which child they felt was the one who used Listerine’s Cool Blue mouthwash for kids. This tied in with getting viewers to watch the commercials because while Listerine’s commercial played during the commercial break right after the question was posed, a small blurb appeared on screen revealing that the correct answer was child #3. The home viewer winner was selected from the pool of correct answers submitted and won $10,000, which was announced at the end of the show.

The stranger’s identities were mostly based on their occupations with a small few based on specific events in their lives like the shark attack victim or activities they enjoy like skydiving. Several of the strangers had small blurbs about the accomplishments they’d achieved in connection with their identity once it was revealed such as which celebrities the celebrity hair braider had worked on. After the first couple correct attempts at identifying a stranger, the contestant was then given three ‘helping’ choices. These choices consisted of “Mistaken Identity,” “Ask the Experts,” and “Tri-dentity.” Each contestant had a small group of friends that was allowed to offer suggestions. “Mistaken Identity” is basically an automatic second chance that gets used when the first wrong guess is made allowing the contestant to proceed on should they choose to do so. If they guess wrong at any time beyond that, then they leave the game with nothing. “Ask the Experts” involves a panel of three judges, a body language expert, a psychologist, and an FBI agent. The contestant can choose one of the identities for the panel and they offer their own opinions on which strangers they feel fit that identity. In “Tri-dentity” the contestant picks one of the identities and three strangers including the one who correctly has that identity, are solely lit up to help narrow down the choices.

A couple things I didn’t like about the show was Penn Jillette’s repeated hand gestures as he talked which proved distracting and the way several strangers started answering when asked if the contestant had picked the right person. Instead of a simple yes or no, they began to answer as if they were in character as their identities. Another thing that I didn’t like was how some of the strangers were more obvious because they dressed in the attire you’d expect that identity to wear, i.e. the sumo wrestler wearing only the diaper wrap or the professional bull rider wearing a cowboy hat. Another low point was that the only person not stereotypically looking like their identity (if that was visibly possible and what I’d considered the whole point of the game), was the man the contestant assumed was more of a “surfer dude” because of his hippie like look who actually turned out to be the nuclear physicist. The game’s concept is good but I have to say its message got lost in the shuffle of what some powers that be consider entertainment.


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Updated 2/13/07 

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