I'm not sure that the show is actually any good, but I love participating in murder mystery parties, and this entire show is like the ultimate murder mystery party. With a budget of several million dollars, professional actors, special effects, stunts, and a group of people who are highly motivated to solve the mystery. Whereas at our parties, we're all highly motivated to dress up in costumes and drink a lot of cocktails.
The concept is going to sound complicated on paper, but if you just think of it as Clue meets Survivor meets Agatha Christie's, Ten Little Indians, you'll be fine. From wiki:
The series follows 13 "guests" (11 actual contestants, as one is the "killer" and another was planted as the first "victim") living in a mansion. They are guided by the butler, Giles. Every episode a guest is "killed" and each of the remaining guests are allowed to search only one of three areas (the crime scene, the last known whereabouts, or the morgue) to find clues about how the murder was carried out. Guests then participate in a riddle challenge that leads them in a search through the mansion. They are individually taken to a private room where they orally describe to the unseen killer how they believe the murder took place and make an accusation as to who the killer is.
During dinner, Giles announces how the victim was "killed," and reveals the contestant who performed best in figuring out the details of the crime. Giles hands an envelope to each remaining guest. Those receiving cards with the word "Spared" performed well enough to advance to the next episode. At least two guests receive a card with the word "Scared," meaning they were the lowest scorers, and are up for elimination. During the night, the killer eliminates the lowest-scoring guest by "killing" them, in turn setting up the murder for the next episode. In the end, the contestant that can unmask the killer will leave the mansion with $250,000.See? It sounds like a lot. But basically there is a murder, an investigation, a riddle that results in more clues, and the guests then make an accusation. Depending on the quality of their accusation, they are either safe or on the chopping block. LITERALLY.
The series suffers from the usual reality show conventions; the contestants react to everything with hyperbole and too much emotion ("If I don't figure out how this crime was committed I could get murdered!!!"). Especially since we all know nobody is really going to get killed. There's a lot of the constant summing up of what we've already seen and to be honest, none of the contestants seem particular intelligent.
Having said that, it's just a fun summer show. Of course there is the droll English butler, lots of riddles and puzzles, and running around with people spouting crazy theories. An interesting twist is that the contestants are free to share, withhold, or lie about whatever information they find out from the investigation and riddle challenges. There are already some alliances that have formed and other contestants who have gotten the cold shoulder. At the heart of the show is a game, and despite needing each other to solve the mysteries it's every man for himself.
It's also not too late for you to jump in, two episodes have aired, but each episode has a self-contained murder so you don't really need any prior knowledge. The first two episodes are also available for viewing on ABC.com.
Oh, and my money is on Giles, the butler, as the actual killer. He just seems way too calm about all this murder.....
Never trust a man in a top hat.
Whodunnit airs Sundays at 9:00pm on ABC.