A perfect companion for “Mythbusters,” magicians/comics/debunkers supreme Penn & Teller again take a stab at separating fact from fiction, albeit in a less doctrinaire and political way than their Showtime series “Bullshit.” “Penn & Teller Tell a Lie” rather presents seven different unusual propositions, with only one being completely bogus. The show also incorporates a shrewd interactive component, urging viewers to go online and guess which segment is fake, with live updates planned to reveal how the voting went. Played for laughs but oddly informative, it’s a clever way for Discovery to ventilate its whimsical side without pandering.
The various stunts and peculiarities range from whether it’s possible to hoist a car by human hair to a tiny woman who can root herself to the ground so stiffly body builders can’t budge her. There are also a couple of animal stories — do tubas really make alligators horny? — and another on whether cursing can reduce pain. (From experience, I know that last one’s true.)
As usual, Penn Jillette does all the talking, with silent sidekick Teller helping illustrate the vignettes. And the best part is all the tidbits are quirky enough, it seems almost any one of them could be nonsense.
Score it as another arrow in Discovery’s “Don’t try this at home” quiver aimed predominantly at men — and a program that might even inspire more people to watch live instead of recording (which advertisers would certainly welcome) if they’re interested in playing along.
Wagering on the outcome, frankly, would be the killer app, but there are, alas, rules that would make overtly promoting gambling problematic. Then again, inasmuch as the central duo calls Las Vegas home, that’s the sort of risky stunt one suspects they wouldn’t actively discourage viewers from trying.