Text by: Robert Seidelman
I admit, I had my doubts when Idiotest was obtained by GSN. Knowing full well that Ben Glieb was part of this show and its creation, along with his horrendous track record of hosting with Dog Park Superstars 2, making it more unbearable to watch than the first Dog Park Superstars was, I thought we would be heading towards another gigantic failure like Mind of a Man was. Oh, but how wrong I was when it came to Ben and this show.
In one of the biggest 180s I've seen in hosting ability, Ben Gleib is actually really good on this show, mainly because he's got a format that works well with his style of comedy, which is making fun of stupid people for being stupid. Some people are complaining that his barbs are kinda mean spirited, but so were George Gray's barbs on Weakest Link and those were hilarious and so are Gleib's barbs. I think people got too used to the host that was everyone's friend, much like a Meredith Viera or Alfonzo Ribeiro who wouldn't even tell a contestant they blew the game by giving a person 21 and leaving in third place with their tail tucked between their legs. We need those that can barb and be funny, and Gleib is one of the, with the right format.
And that's where the show also shines: in its format. Two teams of two compete to solve as many brain teasers as possible in the fastest amount of time to win cash and then play the bonus game for $10,000. The first round has both members of the team trying to solve a brain teaser for $300, but the value of it goes down $20 for each second that passes, making the contestants think quicker than you would if you were playing the app or when you see one of these type of teasers on Facebook. Each team plays this round twice while in round two, each brain teaser is $500 and goes down by $25 each second.
The final round brings out a sweet looking ping pong table...i.e. putting a divider over the gigantic iPad in the middle of the set as the two teams do a vs. speed round type of deal. One contestant plays for $1,000 in the first one where it drops $50 a second and the second one plays $2,500 and drops $100 a second. This would be my only complaint. The $2,500 puzzle makes the rest of the game almost meaningless. If I were doing it, the amounts would be slashed to $750 and $1,500. At least that makes sure a team that donks the first two rounds have to answer quickly in order to win the game. The losers go home with nothing and the winners move on to the smart money round.
The smart Money Round is basically one last brainteaser that both contestants have to get right in 30 seconds. The first contestant has the max amount of time to figure out the right answer, but has to figure it out quickly because their partner has the remaining time left to figure out the answer on their own. If one person gets it right, then they win a bonus $1,000. If both get it right, their winnings get augmented to $10,000. That seems to be the new GSN standard jackpot now, which I'm down with.
I do agree with the critics out there that the set is painfully dull. The only thing that sticks out is the gigantic iPad/ping pong table. Aside from that, I would have felt like this show was ripping off Millionaire in look and feel and that's a really bad thing nowadays 15 years after the fact. I could see more bright and colorful sets with a theme. One of Mind Of A Man's bright spots was the set with the attachment bar, sometimes with Ted Lange. It oozed an atmosphere. Sure not a great atmosphere, but atmosphere. idiotest's set could have any pilot be on it and look about the same.
Aside from that, I really loved the show. The brain teasers are well done and Ben Gleib learned the appropriate chops to host it. Sure he's a little rough around the edges, but with some poilish, he'll be great for season 2, if GSN decides to give it one after the 40 episode order is exhausted after 20 weeks.