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Primetime Show Reviews
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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