Penn & Teller: Tell a Lie

Did anyone catch the premiere this week on Discovery?

I’m sorry to say that I was really unimpressed with it, and normally I like pretty much everything that P&T have to offer. I loved Bullshit, and knowing that this is its replacement is a bit of a blow (apparently I missed the news about it being cancelled).

The lie, to me, was incredibly obvious:

It would have been better if they claimed it was a re-enactment, rather than actual video footage. There were way too many angles showing the attack to be security footage, the video footage was too high quality and re-worked (poorly) to look shoddier than it was, the tiger was clearly playing, there was no blood at all… it just screamed fake from start to finish. Also, they supposedly heard about the attack, and got a camera crew there to interview the victim 2 days later, at the site of the attack?!

I hate to say it, but the show kinda… sorta… sucked. I feel like a traitor for saying it, as it was mildly amusing on some level, but kind of patronizing to my intelligence as a viewer. I felt that Bullshit often challenged me to think about things, and this, well, didn’t. The big, played up thing works in the context of a magic show for me as it’s part of their “bit” – I have nothing but respect for their work as magicians, and I loved Fool Us as well – but this felt like just another stupid cable show that treats me like I have an IQ of 70.


Saw it and feel exactly the same as you. The lie was obvious a mile away. Here even a couple of days after it aired I can’t even remember some of the items. Hair Lifting a car, Fire Proof Gel/Fabric, Gators getting excited by tubas, Tiger gag… there were three more that I can’t even remember.

I never saw Bullshit, but felt this was a 5 on a scale of 10: great that P&T were doing this sort of thing, but like you, felt disappointed in the actual execution. I’ll try to watch the next episode and see if it gets any better. If it doesn’t, then my opinion will be that Discovery is dumbing down the whole idea P&T try to get across. In which case maybe they should do a Saturday morning cartoon show based on Bullshit (appropriate for kids, that is).

I agree with the OP word for word. As soon as I saw the tiger video shot from different angles, I was like, WTF. Way to totally give the lie away.

I am a huge fan of Penn and Teller and Bullshit,but this show was not great. Not great at all. I did like the commentary between segments…they were funny as usual.

Bullshit was canceled?!

And as for the cursing helping with pain “Simpsons”, er, I mean “Mythbusters” did it!

I didn’t even make it through the whole episode. It was kind of boring.

The first story was about landing an airplane with a stuck rudder by opening the door on either side. I thought that was a little misleading. Technically, they did manage to do it, but I’m not sure they actually needed the doors. Most steering is done with the ailerons. If they’d gone to a wider runway instead of a two-lane road, especially if there was no crosswind, I think they could have landed fine.

I was too bored to keep watching it, and thought the tiger “attack” was rather lame. However, I was curious about what they meant by “suspend a car by a human hair.” What was that about?

Didn’t Johnathon Frakes used to host a show with the same premise?

Anyhoo, I don’t really like “news of the weird” type shows, and less so when you don’t know if the story is actually true till the end, so I hope they ditch this and go back to filming new episdoes of "Fool Us?

They suspended a car with human hair.

I’m not sure where the idea for the bit came from, but what they did was this:

They showed a guy with hair halfway down his back, and cut the pony tail off, so his hair length was normal business length (as opposed to shaving his head completely). They took the cut hair - about 2 feet worth I’d guess, and braided it to make it stronger. They then took a Mustang, put it on a platform, hooked cables to it, attached the hair between the cables and a crane, and lifted the car about 10 feet in the air.

The guy whose hair they cut was in the car, along with Teller, and a woman. For added gimmickry, they put bowling balls in the trunk and other light stuff. I forget the total weight, but I think it was around 8,000 pounds (or maybe between 4,000-5,000). Penn sat in a chair under the car to prove the hair could hold the weight.

The thing is, sure the hair could hold the weight if you used enough of it. It looked like it was as thick as a bridge cable when they got done with it. Not very impressive, if you ask me.

Never mind. I should have read more thoroughly.

You sure? I definitely saw the rudders moving. I rewound the video several times to be sure. It’s right as they are actually landing. It’s even mentioned repeatedly in the YouTube comments to a full video that I’m not going to link because of copyright reasons.

For safety reasons, I’m sure they didn’t actually jam the rudder. The idea was that the pilot would just keep his feet off the pedals. I wasn’t watching the rudder, but as the plane moved around the rudder could have shifted back and forth a little.

The scenario they were testing was that if you were flying a small plane and the rudder jammed, you could land by using the doors in place of the rudder. My point was that you wouldn’t really need the doors at all. Your best bet would be to fly someplace with a wider runway and land without the doors or rudder.

You may be alone and can’t reach both doors, or some planes don’t have doors on both sides. But that’s getting a bit off topic.

Pretty much agree with the OP. Not much of a show.

Ditch the “spot the lie” part and just run thru each thing in sequence.

Teller had virtually nothing to do with the show. Didn’t see much of the previous series but I think he had more to do in that one. Teller is the star of the pair because of his subtle deceptiveness. If he’s not part of the lie, it’s not going to work.

But thin as it is, “spot the lie” is all the premise the show has. Eliminate that and all you’ve got is Penn Jillette narrating some clips of second-rate stunts.

See the problem to me is that I guessed either that was the lie, or it should have been. They didn’t suspend the car by a human hair… or I suppose they did, and a couple thousand of its closest buddies.

I’ve seen all of P&T’s shows and this latest series really blows. By the end (and I couldn’t wait for the end) I really didn’t care which was the lie. Their last series Fool Us was a lot more interesting. Yeah, too bad about Bullshit, but some of the shows in the last few seasons of Bullshit were pretty pathetic too.

No, not really. Or at least a really important difference. In that show, there were 3 stories about paranormal stuff - two were “real”, and one was made up. Except it’s only as real as all ghost stories (and the like) are. So essentially the premise was “here are three stories, one we made up, and one other people made up - which is which!?”

Anyway, yeah, the show was pretty lame. I could see them make something decentish out of this show - like if they basically turned it into an extended, TV version of the science or fiction segment from the SGU - where most of the interest of the show doesn’t come from necesarily spotting a lie but rather in learning about interesting stuff. But it would also help if they made the lie remotely difficult to detect, as has been noted.

So basically - pick 6 or 7 real, interesting things that most people don’t know (for example, the swearing/pain tolerance thing was interesting) and then create a lie that actually takes some thinking and skeptical skill to detect, and you’d have a decent show. As it is, meh, I’ll half-watch it for the Penn and Teller commentary between segments.