Whodunnit’s first 10 minutes: a killer start

ABC’s Whodunnit? debuts Sunday, and every since it was announced, I’ve been anxious to see if it’d be Clue, The Mole, Murder in Small Town X, or some combination of them. Based on the first 10 minutes, it’s hard to tell, but those minutes represent a very strong start.

Watch it first, then we’ll discuss.

From the first few moments, the cinematography and set design make the show look great, and almost seem better than the people and action that follows. There’s a hint of cheese in that action, but it doesn’t devolve into stupidity, even after a “contestant,” who did a bad job of acting while “dropping” her champagne glass, is “murdered” and flops around on the floor melodramatically after being “electrocuted.”

That said, I totally loved the butler–who is a little more than reminiscent of Wadsworth–saying, “fail, and you may be the next to die.” He also revealed that “the killer, I’m afraid, is among us,” suggesting a premise very similar to The Mole. Nice.

Of course, the investigations of crime scenes (and even bodies!) and how that turns into a playable game will really dictate whether the series works. And the introduction of the cast is pretty weak here–When will shows learn to rip off Survivor, which excels at that?–so we don’t yet really know who’s playing, beyond that several of them are doing the moronic thing where they lie about their true professions.

But, overall, an engaging start. I’ll be watching.

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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.