Greg Fitzsimmons
Matt Price as the Brain
Paul Kozlowski as "Prize Guy"
Idiot Savants
MTV (Daily): 12/9/1996 – 4/25/1997
MTV Networks

OPENING SPIEL (Monday thru Thursday): "By the end of the week/Friday, one of these idiots will be crowned the Grand Savant, earning/winning (insert car/prize/trip). Will it be (insert four contestants [with (insert Savant category/insert score)])? (Insert funny comment), ('cause) I'm the Brain! And this is Day (insert number) of Idiot Savants."

OPENING SPIEL (Friday): "(Thank god) It's Friday/TGIF because you'll find out who will be crowned the Grand Savant. Taking home/earning/winning (insert car/trip) Will it be (Insert four contestants [with (insert score)])? (Insert funny comment), ('cause) I'm the Brain! And this is the Fifth and Final Day of Idiot Savants."

REST OF SPIEL: "Now, please welcome (the one man who can crown the Grand Savant,) the Master of the Brain, and our host, Greg Fitzsimmons!"

Idiot Savants was an MTV game show with an educational flair. The show's title refers to a label historically directed toward autistic humans with Savant Syndrome.

Savant PlayersEdit

Heather Blaze
Dave Attell
Tom Cohen
Jason Nash
Eric Friedman
Emmy Laybourne
Shonda Farr


Four contestants competed for an entire week in a standard question-and-answer game with an "educational" gimmick. Each day was played like a standard game show episode with eliminations and a bonus round. However, all four contestants returned to start each new episode, and each player's scores from all episodes throughout the week were added together to create a grand total. The contestant who had the highest total after five days of competition won the weekly grand prize, usually a vacation or a car.

Each contestant was an expert in a specific topic, his/her "Savant Category", which ranged from 1980s Sitcoms to Physics to Heavy Metal Bands.

As in its predecessor Remote Control, many of the questions were asked (or performed) by the Savant Players, a group of actors who acted out comical sketches that led to the questions. Many of these actors were also writers on the show.


The player's scores were initially set to zero on each of these four days.

Round 1Edit

Eight categories chosen by the contestants themselves were shown, and a player chose one of them. A toss-up question was asked, and the first player to buzz in with the right answer received 100 points and the chance to answer a bonus question worth 200 points. If that player answered the bonus correctly, he/she then had the right to try for the "Big Gamble" question, the last one in the category. Answering this question correctly awarded 300 points, while a wrong answer deducted 300 (no penalties for incorrect answers during toss-ups and bonuses). Any time a contestant answered a question incorrectly or ran out of time, the other players could buzz in and give the correct answer to steal the points.

At the end of the first round (which ended with either all categories chosen or time being called), the lowest scorer was separated from the other three contestants and labeled the "Dunce". The other three players went on to play in the second round.

As soon as any of the following occurred, the category went out of play and the last player who gave a correct answer would choose the next one:

  • No one answered a question correctly
  • The Big Gamble was refused after the bonus
  • The Big Gamble was asked

Initially, the first question of a Monday episode was selected by the contestant who answered a "Control Question" correctly (more often than not, the category of this question was also the answer). This was soon replaced by a straw draw. On Tuesday-Friday, the first category was chosen by the previous episode's Dunce.

Round 2Edit

The question format remained the same; however, questions were now worth double value (200, 400, +/-600 points). Also in this round, the Brain chose the categories, and if the three players could not answer a question, the Dunce could steal the points (the category would end immediately afterward). At the end of this round, the Dunce and lowest scorer of the other three contestants were eliminated for the day, leaving the remaining two players.

Round 3: Brainstorm RoundEdit

The category was retrieved by Fitzsimmons from "inside the Brain," and rapid fire questions from that category were asked for a period of 60 seconds (45 seconds by the sixth week). Each correct answer was worth 200 points, while an incorrect answer lost 200 points. The player in the lead after this round advanced to the Grand Savant Round.

Grand Savant RoundEdit

The winner of each day's contest played the bonus round for a mid-level prize, such as a vacation or a television set. Before appearing on the show, the contestant chose any subject that he/she knew most about, referred to as his/her "Savant Category". For the Grand Savant Round, the contestant was placed into a device called the "Cylinder of Shush" (a clear tube somewhat reminiscent of the "Cone of Silence" from Get Smart, but covering the entire upper half of the player's body).

The player was then asked a series of rapid-fire questions about his/her Savant Category, and had to answer ten of them correctly within the allotted time to win the bonus prize; failure to do so won a consolation prize. Win or lose, 200 points was added to the player's weekly total for each question answered correctly for a maximum total of 2,000 points (by the sixth week, the 200 points per correct answer was eliminated).

For the first few weeks, contestants had only 45 seconds to answer the questions; since very few contestants accomplished this feat, this time limit was soon increased to 60 seconds by the fourth week.

Friday FinalsEdit

On Friday, the four players' starting scores were the total points each one had accumulated during the week. Point values for the first two rounds were doubled (200/400/600, then 400/800/1,200), and the low scorer at the end of each round was eliminated from the game. There was no "Dunce" on this episode, and no Brainstorm round was played.

The two remaining players then competed for the weekly grand prize in the "Double Grand Savant" final round. The player in second place was placed in the "Cylinder of Shush" first, and answered questions from his/her Savant Category for 60 seconds, at 1,000 points per correct answer.

The other player was then placed in the Cylinder and given 60 seconds to try and regain the lead, unless the first player failed to take the lead. The player in the lead after this final round was declared that week's champion and won the high-level prize. Four new contestants appeared the following Monday and the process repeated.


Hotel Pennsylvania, New York City, NY


Rules for Idiot Savants
Article about the show courtesy of ""

YouTube VideosEdit

Clips of the unaired December 31, 1996 episode
A clip from January 1, 1997
Last few minutes from January 2, 1997
Bonus round and credits from January 3, 1997

Matthew Baxter's Week in Full

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