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Figure It Out is an American children's game show hosted by Summer Sanders that aired on Nickelodeon for four seasons from July 7, 1997 to December 12, 1999.

Kids with special skills or unique achievements competed as contestants on the show while a panel of four Nick celebrities tried to guess the predetermined phrase that described the contestant's talent. The series is considered 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). The series was recorded at Nickelodeon Studios at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida.

On March 7, 2012, it was revealed that Figure It Out would be revived.

GameplayEdit

Each episode had two sets of three one-minute rounds, in which the panel took turns asking yes-or-no questions to try to guess the contestant's talent. Each time a panelist mentioned a word that was part of the phrase that described the secret talent, the word was turned over on Billy the Answer Head, a game board that displayed a puzzle (the solution being the contestant's secret).

Billy showed which words of the phrase were guessed, along with blanks denoting unguessed words. Prepositions and articles, such as "of" and "an," were provided automatically. The contestant won a prize after each round that his or her talent remained unguessed, and winning all three rounds won a trip. In Season 1 prizes consisted mainly of leftover props from then-defunct Nickelodeon shows such as All That, 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 ended with at least one word left unrevealed, each panelist took one final guess as to what the contestant's talent was (any correct words given during the final guess were revealed, as during the game). The game ended when a panelist guessed the secret talent or if no panelist guessed the secret talent correctly after the "last guess" stage.

During each Round, the panelists received one clue as a hint to one of the words of the secret phrase. The clue usually took the form of physical objects – such as dates to indicate a clue about calendars – sounds (rarely used), or pantomime (the "Charade Brigade", usually two or three cast members that act out a word from the phrase during Round 3).

At the end of the game, after the secret talent was revealed, the contestant demonstrated or displayed their skill and discussed it with the host and panel.

Secret Slime ActionEdit

Prior to Round 2 in each game, a randomly-selected member of the studio audience played for a prize (a merchandise prize, such as a Nintendo 64 or a mountain bike, in Season 1; a Figure It Out-branded article of clothing from Seasons 2-4) if at least one panelist performed the Action (and is subsequently "slimed") by the end of Round 3.

The action designated as the Secret Slime Action was 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", having a certain name, and even being a panelist were all used as Actions. Despite this, and contrary to popular belief, the Secret Slime Action was NOT always performed.

Some Actions were logically unenforceable, such as "thinking about coconuts" or "thinking about mushroom soup"; throughout the run, and especially in the last two seasons, a successful Action was mostly a foregone conclusion – the variables were only when it would be triggered, and by who (not necessarily a panelist).

When the Secret Slime Action was triggered, all play stopped (including the clock) while the panelist was slimed and the Action revealed, after which gameplay resumed. Sanders knew of the Action, and would sometimes trick 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).

PanelistsEdit

Either three or all four panelists were taken from Nickelodeon shows airing at the time. Regulars included All That cast members Amanda Bynes, Lori Beth Denberg (who left in Season 4), and Danny Tamberelli (who also starred in the Nick show The Adventures of Pete and Pete).

The first seat on the panel was usually reserved for an older-aged panelist, either an older actor from Nick (usually Kevin Kopelow of All That) or a non-Nickelodeon celebrity (such as Taran Noah Smith of Home Improvement). At one point, CatDog and Cousin Skeeter were panelists.

Other guest panelists included Coolio (semi-regular on the 1998 Match Game); Mike O'Malley (host of Nick's Get the Picture and GUTS from 1991–1995); Colin Mochrie (regular on Whose Line Is It Anyway?), who, along with Kevin Kopelow, was notably slimed for "having a shiny head"; Paul Wight (WWE's "The Big Show"); Chris Jericho also from WWE; "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan (WWE Hall of Famer); and Rondell Sheridan (regular on the 1998 Match Game).

There was also an episode where Lori Beth and Summer switched roles. Summer took Lori Beth's seat as a panelist, and Lori Beth took Summer's role as the host.

List of PanelistsEdit

  • Aaron Carter
  • Adam Busch
  • Alisa Reyes
  • Amanda Bynes
  • Arjay Smith
  • "Big Show" Paul Wight
  • Bob Sanders (father of Summer Sanders)
  • Boris Cabrera
  • Brian Knobbs
  • Carla Overbeck
  • Carrot Top
  • CatDog
  • Cedric Ceballos
  • Chris Jericho
  • Christy Knowings
  • Colin Mochrie
  • Coolio
  • Cousin Skeeter
  • Curtis Williams, Jr.
  • Danny Tamberelli
  • Dave Aizer
  • Dennis Haskins
  • Doug E. Doug
  • Eleanor Noble
  • Ellen David
  • Erin J. Dean
  • Evander Holyfield
  • "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan
  • Hardy RawlsIrene Ng
  • Jack Hanna
  • Jenna Leigh Green
  • Jesse Camp
  • Joe Namath
  • Josh Server
  • Judy Grafe
  • Julius Erving
  • Kareem Blackwell
  • Kel Mitchell
  • Kenan Thompson
  • Kevin Kopelow
  • Kordell Stewart
  • Leon Frierson
  • Lindsay Felton
  • Lori Beth Denberg
  • Marc Weiner
  • Mark Saul
  • Meagan Good
  • Michelle Trachtenberg
  • Mike Maronna
  • Mike O'Malley
  • Moira QuirkMýa
  • Neil Smith
  • Penny Hardaway
  • Phil Moore
  • Preslaysa Edwards
  • Richard Simmons
  • Robert Ri'chard
  • Rondell Sheridan
  • Schuyler Fisk
  • Shane Sweet
  • Sherman Hemsley
  • Steve Burns
  • Steve Purnick
  • Summer Sanders
  • Tara Lipinski
  • Taran
  • Noah Smith
  • Tiffany Roberts
  • Travis White
  • Vanessa Baden

Format changesEdit

For Season 3 (Fall 1998), the series became Figure It Out: Family Style, featuring two or three contestants who were related, typically parent-child or siblings. Sometimes on the 2nd half, the panel can have a family member of the contestant. Sometimes, the Charade Brigade can have family members of the panelists and the host. Figure It Out: Family Style also features Little Billy. If the panelists figured out the contestants' secret, then Little Billy (a miniature version of Billy the Answer Head with hair and on wheels) would come out. Summer reads a question about the family's talent and then each panelist try to guess one (impossible) answer. If they can't figure it out, then the answer in Little Billy would reveal and which gives the family another chance to win a prize (usually the Figure It Out apparel).

For Season 4 (Fall 1999) – the final season – the show was retitled Figure It Out: Wild Style and focused solely on talents involving animals; in addition, Billy the Answer Head was reshaped into various animals. During these episodes, the panelists went wild with hair, wigs and make-up, sporting a different, distinctive look. Lori Beth Denberg never appeared in any of those episodes, because she left Nickelodeon and went on to The Steve Harvey Show, so during these episodes, six different panelists such as Steve Burns, Shane Sweet, Erin J. Dean, Christy Knowings, Irene Ng and Kareem Blackwell permanently replaced Lori Beth in the chair on the right end.

Cardinal Games released a board game based on the series in 1998. Cardinal games included "Name That Thingy", "Name That Critter", "The Drench Bench", "The Last Laugh" "Lightning Letters", "Little Billy" and "The Secret Panel Match Up."

SeasonsEdit

Season # Name Run Episodes
1 Figure It Out 1997 40
2 Figure It Out 1997–1998 40
3 Figure It Out: Family Style 1998–1999 41
4 Figure It Out: Wild Style 1999–2000 41
5 Figure It Out 2012 40

RevivalEdit

On March 7, 2012, it was announced that Nickelodeon had revived the series and ordered 40 episodes, which would begin filming in April 2012. Jeff Sutphen, who hosts Nickelodeon's current game show, "BrainSurge / Family BrainSurge", will serve as host for the revival.

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