The new lifelines are Double Dip, which allows a contestant to answer the question twice, and Ask the Expert, which is similar to the Phone a Friend lifeline. These replace 50:50 and Switch the Question. The Millionaire Menu shows contestants and viewers the categories of upcoming questions.
The biggest change though is the addition of the timer. Now, contestants have 15 seconds to answer the first five questions, 30 seconds for questions six through ten, and 45 seconds for the next four. The million dollar question has a time allowance of 45 seconds, but any time that was unused throughout the rest of the game can be banked and applied to that final question.
Prior to yesterday's show, I was apprehensive about the timer, and I thought Ask the Expert was a little too similar to Phone a Friend to work as a distinct lifeline. I'm happy to say that I was wrong, and that everything seems to work very well together. The new look and the Millionaire Menu make things fresh, and the lifelines were different enough to not be confusing. Host Meredith Vieira had to spend what seemed like a lot of time explaining things, but that will wear off as the changes become more familiar. The timer didn't seem to affect the speed of the game play much at all, at least during this first new game. But I can foresee contestants wanting to rush through the first few questions to bank time for the endgame, which could have some interesting results. Vieira could be cut off while reading the questions, contestants could rush and make mistakes that they wouldn't otherwise make - there are lots of imaginable scenarios here.
Overall, the game is still the one we've been watching since Regis Philbin made it a prime time hit. But there are enough new elements to keep things interesting and prevent the game from getting too stale.