ABC’s Whodunnit? = The Mole + Clue + Murder in Small Town X

ABC will air a new series this summer that sounds very much like The Mole combined with Fox’s Murder in Small Town X, though CSI and the board game Clue are cited as inspirations for Whodunnit?.

There will be a $250,000 prize and nine episodes, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The series is from CSI creator Anthony Zuiker and is produced by 51 Minds’ Cris Abrego, perhaps best known for producing the string of VH1 series that surrounded Flavor of Love, though he also produced Cannonball Run 2001 and MTV’s Fear, which were both surprising and inventive.

Vulture’s Joe Adalian said he has “been assured it is NOT Mole 3.0,” but here’s how his piece describes it:

“Sherlocks live together in a luxury mansion and attempt to discover who among them is a ‘murderer.’ One player gets knocked off each week; the remaining contestants will use CSI tools to try to figure out how the faux slaying took place.”

That is totally The Mole‘s core structure: one person, presumably working with producers, with others trying to figure it out who it is. And it is also a stripped down version of Murder in Small Town X, which was over-complicated for no reason. I do like the Clue-ish twists, and the use of tools to search for clues, but there is a danger that it could become The Great Escape in the sense that the contestants are just following dumb step by step directions instead of truly investigating on their own. That’ll be tough to pull off but amazing if it’s done well.

However, I don’t want the new to be The Mole, as much as I adored the first two seasons of that show, because the 2008 version was terrible. There is definitely room for a smart, artfully filmed, mind-bending competition series, though.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.