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A contestant on Figure It Out.
Figure It Out is an American television 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 What's My Line?, I've Got a Secret, and To Tell the Truth (three established panel shows, all 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. The series was recorded at Nickelodeon Studiosmarker at Universal Studios in Orlando, Floridamarker.

Gameplay

Each episode had two sets of three one-minute rounds, in which the panel took turns asking yes-or-no questions to try and 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. The contestant won a prize after each round that his or her talent remained unguessed. 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 talked about it with the host and panel.

Secret Slime Action

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", and even having a certain name were all used as Actions.

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).

Panelists

Either three or all four panelists were taken from Nickelodeon shows airing at the time. Regulars were Amanda Bynes, Lori Beth Denberg (who left in Season 3), and Danny Tamberelli (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 (a Nicktoon) was a panelist.

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?), Paul Wight (WWE's "The Big Show"), and Rondell Sheridan (regular on the 1998 Match Game).

Format changes

For Season 3 (Fall 1998), the series became Figure It Out: Family Style, featuring two contestants who were related (typically parent-child or siblings; sometimes the panel would be surprised upon seeing the aforementioned contestant's relative jump into the game).

This season also featured the debut of "Little Billy", a miniature version of Billy on wheels with hair that would sometimes be brought out if the panel figured out the contestants' secret; each panelist had one chance to guess the (impossible) question on Little Billy, therefore giving the contestant another chance to win a prize (usually 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 was reshaped into various animals, including Billy the "Aaaan"swer Goat and Billy the Enormous Answer Elephant.

Cardinal Games released a board game based on the series in 1998.

Notes

Slime Spewer

The Slime Spewer was the machine that hovered a distance above the panel, which sounded an alarm klaxon and slimed any panelists who performed the Secret Slime Action (which was usually intentional in Tamberelli's case).

End-of-show games

"Name that Thingy": Similar to Liar's Club, Sanders would call down one member of the audience and give the panel an object. Each panelist would give a name and description of the object, but only one of them was telling the truth. The audience member (usually a child) had to choose which was telling the truth, usually getting a prize regardless of the outcome; on most of these occasions, the prize was an official Figure It Out t-shirt.

Other end-of-show games included "Name That Critter", "The Last Laugh", "Lightning Letters", "Winner's Wheel", "Drench Bench", "Little Billy", and "The Secret Panel Match-Up". Typically, one of these games would be played as a time-filler, or when the Secret Slime Action was not activated during the course of the show.

Prizes

In the first season, the round 1 prize was usually a piece of the set from a current or previous Nickelodeon show.

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