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April 23, 2014

Identity: Premiere

by Brett Love, posted Dec 19th 2006 11:34AM
Penn Jillette(S01E01) The latest in the ever increasing line of game shows is upon us. With Penn Jillette hosting, NBC unveiled Identity last night. After one episode, the show has a lot going for it. To start, Jillette was a great choice for the host. He's good with the guests, manages to keep the show moving along, and a pretty funny guy. The line of the night came when he said of the shark attack victim, "If she didn't have that top on our ratings would be a lot better."

The game itself is rather simple. The contestant is presented with 12 strangers and a list of twelve identities. For each correct guess they move up the money ladder. Correctly identifying all twelve strangers is a $500,000 payoff. They have one mistaken identity in their pocket, so the first miss is a freebie. But a second miss sends them home with no cash.

To aid them in their quest there are two helper options. With "tridentity" they can pick one of the identities and the field will be narrowed down to three potential correct answers. There is also a panel of experts that includes a body language expert, a psychologist, and an fbi agent.

The difficulty of the matches is varied. Both games from the first episode had some very obvious identities. As the field gets narrowed though, the identities get more vague and an element of guessing/gambling enters into the equation.

The thing that is really intriguing about the show is that I think someone can actually go all the way and win it. That's one of the big problems with Deal Or No Deal and 1 vs 100. The design of those games almost guarantees that nobody is ever going to win the top prize. The idea of including celebrity guests is a nice hook too. From the previews, Stan Lee is going to be on an upcoming episode as the creator of Spider Man. I'm curious to see whether the contestant recognizes him right away.

The show does suffer from two of the issues that plague its peers. Jillette explains the rules over and over, just like Howie and Bob do. We get it, the contestants get it, the strangers get it. Quit beating us over the head with it. They also have the ridiculously long pause before the reveal of the answer. I gather it's supposed to create added tension and drama, but after three or four times it's more annoying than anything.

Specific to the first episode, I thought the first game was much easier than the second. I guessed ten of the twelve easily, though that was helped by the fact that I've seen Mr. Moviefone interviewed before. The two that I had mixed up were the heart transplant patient and the scientologist. Those were generic enough to go either way.

The second game had much more vague identities, and a couple of them were not at all what you would expect. The pro bull rider totally bamboozled me. I've watched hours upon hours of PBR on VS and never seen female bull riders. Far and away the toughest one though was the termite inspector. Holy smokes, that's the hottest termite inspector ever. It was nice to see Eve Plumb (Jan on The Brady Bunch) there. She's looking pretty good for 48.

Overall, Identity is a solid show. I prefer it to Deal Or No Deal and 1 vs 100. It's not the kind of show that I would make a point of watching, and if Two and a Half Men had been new I would have watched that instead. But as a once in a while special event, scheduled in the off times, it's a fun distraction.

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Brett Love

I caught that too Brent. I have to say I would have mucked it all up with the Russian immigrant. I was picking the belly dancer as the Russian. It's not a bad show, but I'll be curious to see what happens with the ratings when it doesn't have Deal or No Deal paving the way.

December 20 2006 at 1:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brent McKee

Well you were right about someone actually going all the way - and it only took two episodes.

December 20 2006 at 1:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Michael C

THE SHOW WAS AWESOME!!!!!!!!!

My fave of all the game shows. Reminded me of a game i loved to play as a kid. GUESS WHO....

hope it lasts!!!!!

December 20 2006 at 12:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David

I forgot to watch it!

So I will just say...

I love you Penn! :)

December 19 2006 at 3:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Nathan

I liked the show, although the pause after Penn asked if that was their Identity was outrageously long. I felt they were making a fool out of everyone. If they want that pause, don't make the people stand there and blankly stare at the contestant. Make it fun and talk to the contestant or something.

December 19 2006 at 2:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ian

This show proved to me yet again that they seem to try and pick people with the stupidest friends for these game shows! The friends see a TV star and automatically think, "Golly, she must have won the Academy Award since she's all TV famous and stuff." So what does the contestant do? Listen to her stupid friends. And of course, she's wrong! Obvious bait tactic, and she fell right for it, all thanks to the buddies.

December 19 2006 at 2:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Steve

I thought it was fun to watch; I'll watch it again.

I didn't see the point of having the family members there, though; it's one thing for them to be there on Deal or No Deal, because it's all luck and all they're there to do is help the person decide how much to gamble. Here they're trying to help them, and more often than not they're wrong. Not that it's easy, obviously; the Scientologist had two of the three experts fooled, but still...

December 19 2006 at 1:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brett Love

I can see where the stereotype comment comes from, but I look at that part of it as a necessary evil. Some of the identities have to be obvious, like the sumo wrestler, to get the game going. They weren't all like that though. Had the second contestant not completely blown it with the Eve Plumb as Academy Award winner and made it further, it would have been interesting to see her struggle with the termite inspector.

December 19 2006 at 1:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tool

I tuned in because of Penn. He's normally hilarious and if he finds his stride with this show, he could be really good in it. Same thing with Show Me The Money with Bill Shatner. The concept was a little weird, but Shatner made it a really cool show.

December 19 2006 at 12:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jeredb

The other thing that really annoyed me was the little act that everyone did when they were "identified". The English professor saying: "You've passed the test", etc. It was really stupid!

December 19 2006 at 12:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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