Family game shows can be fun for everyone watching, like the original Double Dare, or be excruciating to adults (too many to mention). So it’s refreshing when a show like The Big Fib comes around. It not only imparts a lot of information even adults may find interesting but it does so in a funny and entertaining way. It helps to have Yvette Nicole Brown’s warm presence as host.
THE BIG FIB: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
Opening Shot: “These two adults claim to know everything about something. But one of them is lying,” says C.L.I.V.E. (Rhys Darby), the “robot” sidekick to The Big Fib’s host, Yvette Nicole Brown.
The Gist: The Big Fib is a game show geared towards kids, where a preteen contestant tries to figure out which of two adult “experts” is telling the truth and which is fibbing. Brown hosts the show, with the funny assistance of C.L.I.V.E. (Computerized Library of Information & Visual Expert). In the first “silly warm-up round,” the kidtestant asks questions of a real expert and an actor who is over-the-top, like a woman who makes wigs for bald eagles. But after the warm-up, we get serious with the main topic.
For the main topic, the two experts answer questions from the kidtestant, some of which include visual clues and prop clues. Then each expert is subjected to “the hot seat,” where the kidtestant asks them rapid-fire questions for 40 seconds each. At the end, the kidtestant has to guess which adult is the fibber. If he/she pushes the button for the actual fibber, the fibber gets doused with “fib foam” and the kidtestant wins a huge trophy. If he/she pushes the button for the real expert, nothing happens.
Our Take: The Big Fib gets a whole lot of things right when it comes to the family game show genre. The audience is full of kids, who rightfully laugh their butts off at the goofy robot-dad humor of Darby’s character C.L.I.V.E., like when he adjusts the volume on his control panel and ends up muting himself. And Brown, in her first game show hosting gig, proves herself to be very capable of keeping the pace of the show going, relating to the kidtestants, and bantering with C.L.I.V.E.
Its pacing is a little off; a screener episode we watched — that didn’t appear in the first season that Disney+ dropped on May 22 — took too long to set up the various rounds of the game and leaned too heavily on interstitial comedy sketches and C.L.I.V.E.’s improvising and too little on game play. The first episode that was part of the season that debuted on Disney+ was a little tighter, but still dragged between the “silly warm-up round” and the first round of real game play.
But the show is a lot of fun once the game play starts, with the fibber being pretty convincing in his or her answers, more than enough to convince this adult viewer that he/she is the expert. But, as Brown says, “no one can spot a fibber better than a kid,” and these kidtestants are smart and curious about the subject they’re asking questions about. And even a cynical adult like myself can learn a thing or two from the real expert, like when we learned that aquariums can send jellyfish through the mail overnight.
The learning factor, Brown and Darby’s funny presence and the whip-smart kidtestants can help us get past the odd pacing.
What Age Group Is This For?: Any kid 5 and up who is curious about things like science, arts, and people with interesting careers.
Parting Shot: After the fib foam comes down (if it comes down), the fibber explains some of the fibs he/she said, and then the expert talks about some of the other fibs the fibber fibbed about.
Sleeper Star: Really, it’s the kidtestants. They’re so damn smart and curious, it makes an old fart like me hopeful that we’re not leaving this world to a bunch of idiots.
Most Pilot-y Line: We get the feeling that, the way the episodes are structured, that Disney will at some point sell the game out to syndication, since YNB throws to commercial breaks that right now don’t exist.
Our Call: STREAM IT. As far as family game shows go, The Big Fib is one of the better ones we’ve seen. It has something for both kids and adults, but the best part about it is that it doesn’t talk down to the kidtestants trying to suss out the fibber or the kids watching it from home.
Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon, VanityFair.com, Playboy.com, Fast Company.com, RollingStone.com, Billboard and elsewhere.