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Who dunnit this week?

Your Humble Blogger was reading a 1971 play in which a television network brings together a bunch of stereotypical mystery novelists to collaborate on a television series, and then people start dying and so on and so forth. Hilarity ensues. Except it doesn’t seem to, and besides, the problem with a play that is mocking all of these outdated mystery styles is that forty years later Your Humble Blogger is mocking the 1971 stuff as much as the parody 1930s stuff.

But it occurred to me that it’s a terrific idea for a reality show. I mean, in theory, because I don’t watch them myself so I don’t know how they really work. And since I don’t watch them myself, I may well have missed a version of this that bombed. So there’s that. But here’s my version:

The show gathers together eight (or so) mystery novelists into a secluded house outside a small town in, probably, Vermont. The contestants are all published novelists with a series of books featuring a detective; part of the deal is that the TV show will talk a little about each detective. In each episode, as I understand the formula, there is a sequence of challenges that the contestants must rise to, with one or more of them getting either a Benefit of some kind or safety from elimination for the week. These challenges will of course have a mystery-novel theme of some kind.

But the great part is that the first challenge each episode is to solve the murder of the contestant that was voted off at the end of the last episode, and we get to see the murdered novelists come up with the murders, scatter clues and play the corpses.

Or, I suppose, the stuff over the course of the show indicates both a murderer and a victim, and at the end of the episode we see the designated murderer have to dispose of the victim in such a way that the other housemates will be mystified. I’m less keen on this idea, actually, because (a) having an unsuspecting victim is actually creepy, and (2) the other way provides more opportunities for the team of writers to help an eliminated novelist whose ideas are either totally unworkable or just bad television.

If the idea worked, you know, you would have the reality-tv show crew and the mystery-fan crew watching. I suspect that half-a-dozen mystery novelists shut in a house for a month would generate lots of dramatic scenes of interpersonal whatsit, although I do not actually know any mystery novelists, so that’s not necessarily an accurate assessment. Still, it shouldn’t be hard for the production company to find eight mystery novelists that (a) have published three or four books in a series, (2) are in need of the money and publicity that such a stunt could provide, and (iii) would themselves make good television. I mean, if they can do it with cooks.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,


It seems suspiciously like a reality television program that re-incorporates writing. Which would be good.

Just saw an ad for a reality tv show where people hide a suitcase of cash, and real cops are tasked with finding it. Kinda similar approach, if more lowbrow.

So, the idea is that the "murdered" writer writes h/h own murder? Implicating one of the other writers? Who, perhaps, knows, and has to bluff through it? I might actually watch that.

I hadn't thought of the bluffing aspect, but clearly that would be a plus. There are a few different ways to handle the murder aspect, though, in ways that would not violate genre expectations of reality television, while still bringing in the mystery-lover crowd.

I don't know if this would incorporate more writing than Survivor or I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, mostly because I don't know how much writing goes in to those shows. It wouldn't require scripting dialogue, which I understand is the expensive part.

Well, that and the suitcases of cash. In the cop show, is there an identical suitcase with a bomb, and another full of lingerie? Or is YHB in the wrong genre altogether?


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