ABC's murder mystery reality competition series Whodunnit? is, in a word, hokey. The 13 contestants claim they've signed up for the series knowing very little about it beyond the promise of spending their summer in a mansion with hopes of winning a game worth $250,000 -- but what they didn't know is that if they didn't succeed, they'd be murdered. Dun dun dunnnnn!
Of course, death is to Whodunnit? what love is to The Bachelor; just pretend, and very poor at that. Honestly, this series is so silly and campy that it's actually pretty enjoyable -- and as the executives over at CBS know, nothing draws in ratings like crime procedurals. Each week, a murder is committed by the unknown killer, who happens to be one of the 13 contestants (a double agent... think The Mole). With the help of a delightful butler-archetype named -- wait for it -- Giles, clues of the exact details of the murder are slowly revealed, and the competitors must form alliances to share selected information. After several rounds of hints and riddles, the hopefuls must privately declare to cameras exactly how they think the fake-crime went down, and announce which of their houseguests they think dunnit. This is followed by a dinner party where Giles relays messages from the killer about whose prediction was the closet, who's "spared" and who's "scared." Then, from what I can piece together, the person furthest from being ratings-friendly is the next to dramatically fake-die.
My favorite thing about Whodunnit? is not playing along, though I've never really been one for armchair detective work. Instead, I'd suggest watching at least a few minutes of this show to see how terrible the contestants are at acting. When the first amongst the group was "dead" in the middle of the living room, everyone screamed, cried and expressed how scared they were... even though in their talking heads, we got quotes from contestants about how they knew the girl convulsing on the floor wasn't actually dead, but it still felt so real. Whodunnit? is kind of a brilliant social experiment to see what people will do when they know they're being filmed for a reality show -- think Big Brother, if instead of lawn games and the occasional Zingbot, just a Clue board and buckets of fake blood.
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