Admit it, Nickelodeon! Lori Beth Denberg always knew the answer on 'Figure It Out', didn't she?


PopWatch readers, see if you can guess what I’m thinking.

____ ____ ____ ____ ____.

Hopefully you guessed, “I loved Figure It Out.” Or else you’re getting slimed!

This goofy game show ran on Nickelodeon from 1997-1999, and during my childhood, I was a big fan. Hosted by Olympic swimmer Summer Sanders (who, in a very inside-Nickelodeon move, was lampooned on All That as a character named Winter Wonders), Figure It Out featured a panel of four TV stars who would try to guess an unknown phrase describing some extraordinary contestant. Over the course of three rounds, the stars would ask the contestant questions about his/her special talent. Each time that one of the stars said a word contained in the hidden phrase, the word would be revealed.

The stars (and mind you, when I say stars, I mean Nickelodeon personalities like Amanda Bynes and Pete and Pete‘s Danny Tamberelli, and other random pop culture figures like WWE performer Chris Jericho) would receive clues in between rounds about unanswered words, but if the phrase remained unsolved after three rounds, the contestant would receive a prize vacation and the panel would get slimed. Then the contestant would show off his/her talent — which were sometimes cool (“I have a pet squirrel that can water ski!”) and sometimes completely unimpressive (“I can bite cheese into the shape of any state!”).

More often than not, though, the panel seemed to figure out the hidden phrase with relative ease — even if it didn’t make any sense for them to stumble onto certain words. Lori Beth Denberg was the main culprit of this. In her final guess, Denberg, who was sort of the main panelist of Figure It Out, would routinely throw out a completely random word that had little to do with any of the questions asked, and whadayaknow? It would be correct!

That seemed fishy to me, even as a kid, and I always wondered whether the panel (or at least Denberg) knew the hidden phrase all along. I mean, Nickelodeon probably needed a way to limit the number of vacations it gave away. It’s kind of the same way that I’ll never really be able to know whether the celebrities on Hollywood Squares are told the answers to their questions. Are they actually that smart?!

What do you think?

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Comments (30 total) Add your comment
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  • Jason

    I love 90s Nickelodeon as much as the next, but enough is enough with all the posts. We get it, the EW staff enjoyed it when they were younger. Dont need 80 articles about each show. You’re making me the simpler times of your Twilight coverage.

    But if you must, how about a piece on Nick Arcade.

    • Kelcie

      Why complain then make a request to see more of what you complain about?

      I love the posts. Keep them coming so long as there’s an interesting angle! :)

    • Avi

      I love the 90’s coverage. Maybe it’s because it reminds me of my childhood. Every time I see a new 90’s article I eagerly click on it. It’s nice to remember parts of days gone by. It’s not repetitive because they deal with different shows every day. It’s not like Twilight where the articles are like “Actor who was extra in Twilight:New Moon arrested for punching kitten.” It’s actually interesting.

    • DUH

      is someone forcing you to read the articles? i hate american idol and twilight, but here’s a novel idea… i don’t pay attention to the coverage. you should try it sometime.

  • Woot

    You are so right! I remember watching this as a kid and thinking that Lori was too good at the game.

  • ShannonW

    This show just had it all, it was just good. They owned their corniness without taking themselves too seriously, it was just fun. I felt kinda bad about most of those “slime actions”, so unfair. Lori Beth was nowhere near Mike!

  • Felix

    My favorite thing about Lori Beth was that whenever she got slimed, she just closed her eyes and took it with this hilarious, resigned look on her face.

  • Carol

    I’d forgotten this show. I was a parent in the 90’s and I enjoyed Nick programming as much as my kid.
    What ever happened to Lori Beth. It was nice to see Mike O’Malley.

  • RayT

    I love Lori Beth! Can EW please track her down and do a feature on her with an interview? That would make my year!

    • Johnny

      Agreed! I would love that!

    • Meg

      Can we actually have a ‘Remember the 90s?’ special edition of EW? Featuring all of these articles and interviews with the “stars” so they stop blowing up the internets with these posts? Please, please, please with a cherry and green slime on top? It would be a bestseller. Nostalgia always wins.

      • tvocrats


        DO IT

      • Who Craig?

        Make this happen!!!! Track down Lori Beth and other 90’s stars?!

    • Will

      Track down Lori Beth Denberg pleaaaaaaase!

    • Matt


      EW should track down stars like Denberg and do an interview in an issue!

  • Anitamargarita

    Nickelodeon existed before the ’90s you know. You Can’t do that on Television, Don’t Just Sit There. Just saying. I haven’t heard of any of these shows y’all are pushing on us now.

    • Demond

      I loved You Can’t Do That On Television.

    • AE

      I too loved You Can’t Do That on Television. That’s how you tell the age of the person – which Nick show they remember most.
      I did have a nephew born in the 90s so I watched this show and liked it too. Can’t say I cared enough to harbor some “Quiz Show” conspiracy theories.

    • Captain

      You Can’t Do That on Television wasn’t a Nickelodeon show. It was a Canadian show they ran re-runs for in the 90s. That’s like saying Gilmore Girls is a Nickelodeon show.

    • ChutesAndLadders

      I agree with the remarks about ’80s Nickelodeon. Sure it’s a generational thing but I stopped caring about Nickelodeon programming in 1992.
      As for “Captain”…What? You Can’t Do That on Television was new when it was playing on Nickelodeon in the ’80s. Sure the channel didn’t actually produce the shows–and not much else of its programming–but it was the exhibitor for them. A lot of stuff on Nickelodeon at that time was from Canada and the UK. They didn’t just rerun it in the ’90s.

    • AK

      It just goes in cycles. EW was overrun with ’80s nostalgia for a couple of years, and now a bunch of new twentysomething writers have come in and they’re pushing their ’90s childhoods.

  • Elena

    Oh man, I completely adored Figure it Out as a child.

  • Brigette

    I’m giving Lori Beth the benefit of the doubt and saying that she really was that smart. This show makes me so nostalgic, although I’m not sure why, since when it ran I was a miserable Junior High Schooler…

  • Jack

    I lived in Orlando when this show as on and would see Summer Sanders at the grocery store and Blockbuster all the time. She was the hotness back then.

  • Captain

    I love Mike O’Malley!

  • Charles

    Love all these posts, EW! :{D

  • ted

    What about that show when they went in the video game and jump in it for coins and climb up ladders I wonder what they did to create that green screen?

  • ben

    nick arcade ted……wanna have a video challenge

  • viviennewestwood

    Thank you for providing us with such information. Really interesting stuff guys. You made some good points there, I will definitely take care of that. I did a search on the topic and found most people will agree with your blog. Anyway, this is terrific information to know. Good job on your research too!

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