- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 30, 2006

Each week the Browser features some pop-culture places on the World Wide Web offering the coolest in free interactive sounds and action.

Best of the best

It’s the end of the year, and “best of” lists are creeping out of every pore in the cyber-sphere. The editors at MTV network’s IFilm (www.ifilm.com) have compiled what they consider to be the best clips posted on their site, both user-generated and commercial, and most are hardly surprising to the average Web video junkie.

Among the Top 5 videos in categories such as Best Music Videos, Best Trailers, Best Commercial and Best Viral Videos are Connie Chung’s brutal performance of a skewed version of “Thanks for the Memories,” (www.ifilm.com/ video/2745632); a trippy Folgers commercial with the tag line, “You can sleep when you are dead” (www.ifilm.com/video/2743552); and, of course, former comedian Michael Richards’ racial tirade against some audience members at a Laugh Factory performance (www.ifilm.com/video/2798666).

While at the site, and much as on YouTube and every other video-sharing site, users also will find an enormous amount of free stuff to watch. In the case of IFilm, that comes in all levels of ratings and broken down by intriguing sections such as Estonian TV, Bad Girls, Claymation, Adrenaline Movies and Feats of Stupidity.

Identify yourself

In case you missed it, a new game show debuted on NBC a couple of weeks ago hosted by entertainer-illusionist-comedian Penn Jillette. “Identity” requires contestants to identify the not-obvious attributes (i.e. occupation, car owned, educational background, etc.) of 12 strangers just by looking at them and to try and win $500,000.

The show’s site (www.nbc.com/Identity/) offers an online equivalent to the televised action and certainly delivers the same kind of stress-inducing dilemmas seen by the contestants.

The player must work his way up from $1,000 to the $500,000 mark as he tries to identify 12 images of people dressed in various attire. Could an old man dressed in a sweater and holding a hoe wear a pacemaker, or is he a better guess to be an organic farmer?

The player must drag an identity box from the left side of the screen over to his choice to see if it’s a match. He gets only one chance to make a mistake, and the next one means “game over.”

The player also has two lifelines to help identify an individual. One that narrows a choice to three strangers or a virtual expert offers a likely percentage of a match based on the selections.

I’m guessing the show gets an extended stay on NBC just because it plays on what the human species already is well-known for doing, stereotyping and making snap judgments.

Of course, an already popular game show on the Peacock network, “Deal or No Deal,” has a very healthy online component (www.nbc.com/ Deal_or_No_Deal/) to keep fans engaged in the challenge.

For those who have no clue about the program, contestants try to win $1 million as they select a suitcase and eliminate 25 others in hopes they have the largest monetary value in their case.

As each is opened, amounts are withdrawn from a board, and the dilemma comes down to what is in the contestant’s case and what is left in the other unopened cases. Howie Mandel hosts the action, and a mysterious banker tempts the contestants along the way with cash to stop playing.

For the male demographic especially, the first point worth a click on the opening page is the Models section for biographies and a photo gallery of all of the suitcase-holding models featured on the show.

Next, under the Game section, visitors can virtually take part in a full round of “Deal or No Deal” that, sans the models and Howie, is pretty faithful to the actual show.

Also, a slightly altered version of the game also can be played, courtesy of King.com (www.king.com) that requires contestants to pick opened cases with numbers moving on them as on a slot machine. The players must continually choose the lower denominations to increase the banker’s offer and make a deal.

Finally, the section Video provides a Model Theater in which the girls perform some really lame skits, 29 highlights from shows and another 15 clips with the models. I am starting to see the appeal of the show.

Have a cool site for the online multimedia masses? Write to Joseph Szadkowski at the Browser, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send e-mail to jszadkowski@ washingtontimes.com). Joseph also writes a Web-exclusive column for the Washington Times Web site where he reviews educational software and family-friendly video games. Check it out at www. washingtontimes.com/familytimes/ romperroom.htm.

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