Figure It Out
Figure It Out 2012.svg
Created byKevin Kay
Magda Liolis
Presented bySummer Sanders
Jeff Sutphen
StarringDanny Tamberelli
Kevin Kopelow
Amanda Bynes
Lori Beth Denberg
Ciara Bravo
Matt Bennett
Narrated byJeffery "J" Dumas
Elle Young
Music byRoy Harter
Country of originUnited States
No. of seasons6
No. of episodes233
Production
Production locationsNickelodeon Studios, Universal Studios
Orlando, Florida (1997–1999)
Paramount Studios
Los Angeles, California (2012–13)
Running time24 minutes
Production companyNickelodeon Productions
DistributorViacom International
Release
Original networkNickelodeon
Picture formatNTSC (Seasons 1–4)
HDTV 1080i (Seasons 5–6)
Original releaseOriginal:
July 7, 1997 (1997-07-07) –
December 12, 1999 (1999-12-12)
Revival:
June 11, 2012 – July 16, 2013

Figure It Out is an American children's panel game show that aired on Nickelodeon. The original series, hosted by Summer Sanders, ran for four seasons from July 7, 1997, to December 12, 1999. The show was revived in 2012, with Jeff Sutphen as host,[1] with the revival airing from June 11, 2012, to July 16, 2013. The series was originally recorded at Nickelodeon Studios at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. The revival episodes were filmed on stage 19 at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles.[2]

Children with special skills or unique achievements compete as contestants on the show while a panel of four Nickelodeon celebrities try to guess the predetermined phrase that describes the contestant's talent. The series is a loose adaptation of What's My Line? and I've Got a Secret, both established panel shows created by Mark Goodson and Bill Todman.

Shortly after the series aired its last first-run episode, Figure It Out began airing repeats on Nick GAS until the network ceased at the end of 2007 (2009 on Dish Network). Several episodes of the Sanders-hosted series also aired in 2012 as part of The '90s Are All That, a 1990s-oriented rerun block that aired on TeenNick.

Gameplay

Each episode has two sets of three timed rounds (originally all 60 seconds in length, for the revival series, rounds two and three were played for 45 seconds), in which the panel takes turns asking yes-or-no questions to try to guess the contestant's talent. For every "yes" answer, the panelist's turn continues. Once a panelist asks a question with a "no" answer, their turn ends and the next panelist's turn starts. If at any time a panelist cannot think of a question on their turn, they may pass their turn to the next panelist. Each time a panelist mentions a word that is part of the phrase that describes the secret talent, the word is turned over on a game board displaying the puzzle. This game board was referred to as Billy the Answer Head during the original series run and is known simply as the "It" Board in the show's later adaptation.

This game board shows which words of the phrase are guessed, along with blanks denoting words that the panel did not solve. Prepositions and articles, such as "of" and "an," are provided automatically. During the very early episodes of the show, synonyms of words that were on the board were accepted by the judges (e.g.: A panelist revealing the word "song" by saying the word "carol" and another episode featured a panelist revealing the word "tossing" by saying the word "throw"). This was later changed to a panelist having to say the exact word in a contestant's talent in order for that word to be revealed on the board.

The contestant wins a prize after each round that their talent remains unguessed. The prize for winning the third round is a trip. In Season 1, prizes consisted mainly of leftover props from then-defunct Nickelodeon shows such as Double Dare, Legends of the Hidden Temple and Global Guts. Merchandise prizes (such as a Nintendo 64) and gift cards for stores including Kids Foot Locker, Toys "R" Us, and Loew's began to appear as prizes during later seasons. If Round 3 ends with at least one word left unrevealed, each panelist takes one final guess as to what the contestant's talent is (any correct words given during the final guess are revealed, as during the game). The game ends when a panelist either guesses the secret talent or if no panelist guesses the secret talent correctly after the "last guess" stage.

During each Round, the panelists receive one clue as a hint to one of the words of the secret phrase. The clue usually takes the form of physical objects - such as dates to indicate a clue about calendars - sounds (rarely used), the clue-cano (seasons 4-6), featured messy clues erupting out of the clue boxes all over the panel, making them just as messy as a sliming, especially in the Sutphen era which made the panel cautious when opening the clue boxes) or pantomime (the "Charade Brigade" (Season 1-4), "Clue Force 3" (Seasons 5-6), usually two or three cast members that act out a word from the phrase during Round 3) with "Clue Force 3" pictionary was sometimes used instead of pantomime. At the start of the second and third rounds, a recap of two or three clues are shown on the monitor next to the contestant and host.

At the end of the game, after the secret talent is revealed, the contestant demonstrates or displays their skill and discusses it with the host and panel.

Secret Slime Action

In each game, from the start of round 2, a randomly selected member of the studio audience plays for a prize (a merchandise prize, such as a Nintendo 64 or a mountain bike in season 1 or a Figure It Out-branded article of clothing in seasons 2-6). If at least one or more panelists perform the Secret Slime Action, those panelists will be slimed by the end of round 3 especially when one of the panelist tries to break the rules and get a second chance (during season 1, the secret slime action could be triggered anytime after the end of round 1, including between rounds and when the contestant is performing their secret) and the audience member wins that prize. "J", the regular announcer for the original show, would disclose what the Secret Slime Action was for each episode in which he appeared.

The action designated as the Secret Slime Action is typically simple and almost guaranteed: touching a clue, looking to the left, which was reflexive, as clues were commonly wheeled out on a small track from a tunnel to the panel's left; using the phrase "Are you..." or "Is it...", looking to the audience behind the panel, who was sometimes used for clues, saying "I don't know," which panelist Danny Tamberelli was notable for saying out loud whenever he got confused, having a certain name, and even being a panelist. For example, Steve Burns (from Blue's Clues) was slimed because the Secret Slime Action was "having a blue dog," Alex Heartman (from Power Rangers Samurai) was slimed because the Secret Slime Action was "wearing a red unitard to work", Jade Ramsey (from House of Anubis) was slimed because the Secret Slime Action was "having an identical twin sister", and Ryan Potter (from Supah Ninjas) was slimed because the Secret Slime Action was "being a supah ninja".

Some Actions are logically not able to be forced, such as "thinking about coconuts" or "thinking about mushroom soup." Especially in the latter seasons, a successful Action has mostly been a foregone conclusion - the variables have only been when it will be triggered, and by whom (not necessarily a panelist).

When the Secret Slime Action is triggered, all play stops (including the clock) while the panelist is slimed, the action is revealed, and a replay of the sliming is shown, after which gameplay resumes. The host knows of the action and sometimes tricks the panelists into performing it by making them say or touch something (in one episode, the action was "touching your head." Sanders touched her head and said, "Have you done something with your hair?," which caused the panel to touch their heads in reaction).

Word of Honor

In the 2012 revival, prior to each game, one word of either the first or second contestant's secrets may be designated as the "Word of Honor." Should the panel guess this word, the contestant is slimed.[3] As the contestant is slimed, gameplay and the clock are paused. Once the Word of Honor was revealed, either by a panel guess or the contestant filling in unguessed words, it would be out of play for the rest of the show (if this word was in game 1, it would not carry over to game 2). If a player got slimed by the Word of Honor, Elle Young, the announcer for the revival, would tell the player that they got slimed when she recaps the prizes that player won.

Panelists

Either three or all four panelists are taken from Nickelodeon shows airing at the time. Regulars during the original run included All That cast members Amanda Bynes, Lori Beth Denberg, Kevin Kopelow and Danny Tamberelli (who also starred in the Nickelodeon program The Adventures of Pete & Pete). Bynes (occasionally), Kopelow and Tamberelli were notorious for frequently asking silly questions and acting goofy, while Denberg was the serious panelist, who asked well-thought out questions, and frequently was the one to guess the secret phrase, during the final guesses. The only four panelists who appeared on every season of the original run of the show were Kopelow, Bynes, Tamberelli, and Irene Ng (from The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo).

The first seat on the panel was usually reserved for an adult panelist, either an adult actor from a Nickelodeon program (usually Kopelow) or a non-Nickelodeon celebrity (such as Taran Noah Smith of Home Improvement). In several episodes, CatDog, rendered in CGI, and Cousin Skeeter, a puppet character, were panelists. In Seasons 5 and 6, the first seat was not reserved for an adult, but Matt Bennett from Victorious and Ciara Bravo from Big Time Rush regularly appeared in the first position. Other guest panelists included Coolio, Mike O'Malley (host of Nick's Get the Picture and GUTS from 1991–95), Colin Mochrie (regular on Whose Line Is It Anyway?), and professional wrestlers Chris Jericho, The Giant and "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan.

Name Episodes Seasons
1
(1997)
2
(1998)
3
(1998)
4
(1999)
5
(2012)
6
(2013)
Danny Tamberelli 96 episodes Main
Kevin Kopelow 56 episodes Main
Amanda Bynes 52 episodes Main
Lori Beth Denberg 115 episodes Main
Ciara Bravo 21 episodes Main
Matt Bennett 18 episodes Main

Production

Production on the original version of Figure It Out started on March 24, 1997, and ended a month later, at Nickelodeon Studios in Orlando, Florida, with a planned 40-episode order.[4][5]

In 2013, Sutphen confirmed via Twitter that no new episodes of the revival of Figure It Out would be produced.[6]

Format changes

1997-1999 logo.
1997-1999 logo.

Famous contestants

On April 7, 1998, future country music singer/songwriter Hunter Hayes was a contestant on Figure It Out when he was six years old. His talent was playing the accordion and singing.[7]

Sam Roberts, host of Jim Norton & Sam Roberts on Sirius XM, appeared on an episode in Season 2. His talent was flipping quarters off his ankle.

Marcus Stroman of the Chicago Cubs was a prize winner in episode 13 of Season 1.[8]

Gentry Haukebo, Albuquerque rap artist better known as 1oK, was a contestant and prize winner in an episode during the show's fifth season.[9] Her talent was being a shovel racing champion.[10]

Julia Srednicki, character designer for OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes was a member of the "Clue Force 3" during the final two seasons hosted by Jeff Sutphen.[11]

References

  1. ^ Lesley Goldberg (March 7, 2012). "Nickelodeon Revives 1990s Game Show 'Figure It Out'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2016-01-23.
  2. ^ "Nickelodeon Figure It Out: Figure This Out". cattlecallauditions.com. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
  3. ^ "Ready, Set, Slime! Nickelodeon Premieres Figure It Out on Monday, June 11, at 7 P.M. (ET/PT)" (Press release). Nickelodeon. May 18, 2012. Retrieved 2016-01-23 – via The Futon Critic.
  4. ^ "Nickelodeon to bow 'Out'". Variety. Archived from the original on July 27, 2018. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  5. ^ "Nick series booming in Florida". Variety. 17 April 1997. Archived from the original on July 27, 2018. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  6. ^ Jeff Sutphen [@thousand3eighty] (October 1, 2013). "@jeffreydobson unless your secrete talent is bringing canceled shows back we will not be shooting any more episodes of #FIO #sadface" (Tweet). Retrieved 2016-01-23 – via Twitter.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ Video on YouTube
  8. ^ Video on YouTube
  9. ^ Gregson, Caitlyn. "Interview with Gentry Haukebo: The Mind Behind 1oK". Beautifulbizarre.net. Retrieved 2 April 2022.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2019-12-30. Retrieved 2019-12-30.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ "Julia Srednicki". IMDb.