Television’s Summer Standouts

The summer shows have started, some of them anyway.  We still have The Bridge (FX) set to premiere this week, a few shows about camp life (Camp, an upcoming NBC dramedy, and Summer Camp, a new USA reality series), and The Vineyard (ABC Family) later this month… but out of the series that have already aired, which ones do you consider to be summer standouts?

Crossing Lines (NBC)

Devious Maids (Lifetime)

Graceland (USA)

King & Maxwell (TNT)

Mistresses (ABC)

Motive (ABC)

Ray Donovan (Showtime)

Siberia (NBC)

Under the Dome (CBS)

Whodunnit? (ABC)

For me, Siberia, Ray Donovan, and Whodunnit? are my summer standouts.

Siberia because it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen on television before.  And not in a good way.  By definition, the show might not fall under the classification of a standout, but it does stand out. Let’s just say it’s a scripted reality program (yeah, might as well call it a drama) with Blair Witch-like cinematography.  Yet, I keep watching…

Ray Donovan because Liev Schreiber is hot.  Ray is a family man; he’s a successful business man (he’s a Hollywood “fixer); he’s a man of few words; and most importantly, he’s not one to cross.  Seriously, hurt his family (either physically or verbally), and just see what happens.  This new Showtime series reminds me a lot of Scandal… meets The Sopranos.

And Whodunnit? because I can’t figure it out.  It may be a corny-murder-mystery-reality series, but I simply can’t figure it out.  I have my suspects… but “the killer” has already proven me wrong once.  Will he/she again?

Your turn… what are your Summer Standouts?  Or Stand Outs?  I’d love to hear from you!

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Whodunnit?

The summer shows have started, some of them anyway.  And while we still have a few left to premiere, and despite my second DVR crash since March (I’ve lost over 200 recordings this calendar year due to faulty boxes), I did manage to catch up on the new ABC reality program/murder mystery, Whodunnit? via OnDemand.

Ever want to attend one of those murder mystery dinner parties or theaters?  I have!

Whodunnit? is kind of like reality television’s version of these parties…

Thirteen contestants have gathered to live inside a mansion (Rue Manor).  Their goal?  Solve a “murder” for the grand prize of $250,000.  Each week, one houseguest is selected to “die” a mysterious death by the “killer,” who also happens to be one of the houseguests.  But who is it?

At the time of the murder, the remaining guests become “investigators.”  Led around by the butler, Giles, and two housemaids, they must immediately choose one of three options: to visit the scene of the victim’s last known whereabouts, the scene of the crime, or the morgue (located in the basement of the mansion).  The “investigators” then use their investigative skills to work up a “murder dossier” of sorts.

Let’s talk about the “investigators” for a minute…  talk about clashing personalities!  Most of the contestants should really know what they are doing, being their professions, in one way or another, are crime related (a former homicide detective, a bounty hunter, a few attorneys, an insurance investigator, and two journalists—one of whom is a TV crime reporter).  The rest of the houseguests fall into the “everybody else” category, with an ex-beauty queen, a cardiac nurse, a bar trivia host, an engineer, a flight attendant, and an ex-NFL cheerleader.

This is an eclectic group of people and this fact creates quite a few challenges of its own.  For example, pretty much everyone uses different investigative techniques and skills and has different ways of “dealing” with others.  But the biggest challenge between the members of the game is whether or not they can trust the other participants… do they share what they’ve learned or keep everything a secret?  To quote Melina (the flight attendant), “this group is a hot mess.”

Considering this is reality TV, the actual death scenes aren’t too corny and the stunts and special effects aren’t all that bad.  So far, we’ve seen a death by a musket round fired via a sling shot, covered up by the careful planning of the “killer” to make it look like electrocution at first glance, and a death by fire via static electricity.

As far as the game is concerned, the contestants also receive one clue/riddle per murder.  Once the riddle is solved, a bell sounds and the game is “dead.”  After getting dressed up for a potential last meal, the “investigators” describe in detail what they think happened and those furthest from the truth are eliminated.  One by one, and in front of each other, they learn whether or not their theories earned them a “spared” card or a “scared” card—meaning who’s safe and who’s potentially going to “die” later that night.

When I previewed this show last month, I commented that this setup reminded me of the older reality show, The Mole, that aired from 2001-2008.  Remember that one?

After watching the first two episodes, I’ve concluded that Whodunnit? is very much like The Mole.  For one, instead of working together to earn money each week, this group of untrusting souls should work together to figure out who “the killer” is to further advance themselves in the game.  Secondly, the way the “investigators” reveal what they think happened is similar, making their pitch privately to a camera.  Even the way the houseguests are informed whether or not they are safe is the same (from what I can remember from The Mole anyway… it’s been awhile since I’ve watched it).  And lastly, just like “The Mole,” “the killer” is doing everything in his or her power to throw the rest of the houseguests off his/her trail by sabotaging the game.

Bottom line?  I’m hooked… earning Whodunnit? the MacTV rating for this mystery writer.  TV’s latest reality program is a total guilty pleasure.  And so far, it has me completely stumped.  The person I thought was “the killer” was “murdered” at the end of the second episode.  Drats!  Back to the drawing board…

Have you watched Whodunnit?  Do you plan to?  I’d love to hear from you!

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss today’s review, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV):It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (NyQuil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech
Inedible TV: Exactly how it sounds…