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TV Review: Penn And Teller Tell A Lie!

The thing I like about Penn and Teller is the fact that they present well as a team despite the fact that only one of them actually talks (although Penn talks enough for both of them). Having been introduced to them through their Futurama guest appearance and their recent ITV show Penn & Teller: Fool Us, I was keen to see more of them in action and I recently got the chance to view a screener of their new Discovery Channel series, Penn & Teller Tell A Lie!

The idea is that the two magical men present six or seven claims in any given episode, all of which are true except for one, which is a cleverly disguised lie. The secret is that like the British show QI, the claims all sound implausible but are demonstrably not, which makes it harder to guess the lie. I like to think of the show as being like Would I Lie To You (in that they are trying to convince you that what they are saying is true) crossed with QI. The claims include “a butter knife can stop a speeding bullet”, “a linen shirt can stop an arrow”, and “you can melt steel with bacon”, which I hope is true because I love the thought of being able to conduct industrial sabotage with a fry-up. I’ve not given any claims from the episode I watched since they could probably be solved with a quick Google search and if you do, at least you won’t spoil yourself on this episode. 

(Incidentally, I got five out of seven claims correct. That would be good, except one of the ones that I said was true was the only lie in the show. That’s not really an achievement at all.)

During the show, viewers will be encouraged to go interactive  via app or website and vote whether a claim is true or a lie. When the show airs, the viewer will be able to go interactive or press the red button or whatever it is they do nowadays and find some exclusive videos, such as extra footage from the show and one interesting video where they show you how they constructed the lie.

If you don’t want to “go interactive”, then I’m sure that you’ll be pleased to hear that this makes for good family viewing (although there is a small amount of ruder stuff that’s probably not suitable for younger children), because you can guess amongst yourselves whether a given claim is true or not (much like playing “Good or Shit?” when The X Factor is on). I played with my brother and a sheet of paper and it was still enjoyable. I lost nothing by not having my votes counted with millions of others but I can see why others might enjoy that sort of thing.

As you might already have ascertained, I enjoyed the show rather a lot. I laughed quite a lot so the humour clearly worked (including one exchange about an on-screen title being a typo…or not) and learning about the strange but true facts that they put forward was very fun indeed. I shall be sure to catch this online when it airs properly (I don’t get the Discovery channel so I can’t watch it that way) and I recommend that you all do so too. 

About Scott Varnham

  • http://objectivistgamer.com Brian

    You absolutely must check out Penn and Teller’s Bullshit. It is the best non-fiction show ever created.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    While I’m intrigued to watch anything that Penn & Teller put out ( I love “Fool Us”),
    I really do miss “Bullshit”! That show was absolutely awesome!! Sorry, I just don’t think that this show will match it…