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Friday, February 20, 2015

Television Whodunnits

I know some of you probably might not be aware of this, but yesterday marked the thirtieth anniversary of the BBC dramatic series EastEnders.

On February 19, 1985, the serial debuted in the United Kingdom, and over the last thirty years, the show has certainly had its share of drama.  We've had several murders, a few fires and explosions, some sexual abuse storylines, a couple of incestuous storylines, a couple of stories involving the mob, rape, and a lady screaming her head off because there was bubbly in the fridge.

Sigh.  That never gets old.

Although I've only been a fan of the show since I started watching it during the 1999 dated episodes, I have quickly become a fan, and I have to admit that I get caught up in the lives of Phil Mitchell, Sharon Watts, Ian Beale, Dot Cotton, Pat Butcher, Kat Slater, and the other four hundred or so cast members who have called the fictional borough of Albert Square, E20 home.

Certainly the 30th anniversary episode was something special.  In a series of episodes in which part of the episodes were pre-recorded and other parts of the episodes were filmed live, we finally found out who murdered Lucy Beale after ten months of waiting.

Turns out that the culprit of the deed was Lucy's eleven-year-old half-brother, Bobby Beale, who bludgeoned her to death with a jewelry box that played music.  And Lucy's former stepmother Jane was an accessory of sorts, for she helped Bobby cover up the crime.

Reaction to the conclusion of the mystery have been mixed (and more people seemed interested in the sudden reappearance of once-thought dead Kathy Beale, who made a shock return on the February 19 episode), but ultimately, I think this opens up the possibility for dozens of storylines for years to come.  After all, Ian Beale - the father of both Lucy and Bobby - recently married Jane literally one half hour before the truth was revealed.

I have to say, I have always been a fan of the classic "Whodunnit" plots shown in television.  Having been a fan of murder mysteries for years and wanting to go to murder mystery dinner theatres and playing online detective games, I have to say that I think I missed my calling being a detective.

Though, given how I can't stand the sight of blood, I fear that my foray into forensics and police investigation would have been quite brief.

But over the years, there have been several whodunnits that have been presented on television.  Some have been on soap operas.  Some have been on primetime dramas.  Some have even been on reality shows.  But all of them were ones that I either remember watching, or watched later on in life after they aired.

And, for today's edition of the blog, I thought I would share some of these whodunnit stories with all of you.


Okay, so this storyline aired in the spring of 1980 - a year before I was even born.  So, clearly I didn't get to see this story until the A&E network rebroadcast the series while I was in high school.  But certainly what made this "Dallas" storyline so good is the fact that so many people hated J.R. Ewing so much that it really could have been anyone who pulled the trigger!  Suspects included his long-suffering wife, Sue Ellen, his black sheep of a brother Bobby, his business rival Cliff Barnes, Cliff's daughter Pamela, and I'm pretty sure Miss Ellie was considered a suspect as well!

The real shooter wasn't revealed until the following season.  Turns out that it was Sue Ellen's sister, Kristen, who was dead by the spring of 1981 - found floating on the surface of a swimming pool.  Setting the stage for another whodunnit!


Now, here's a question that FOX asked back in the summer of 2001.  Could they find a way to combine a murder mystery with a reality format game show in which the winner solved a serial killer case and won a cash prize?

Yes.  Yes, there was.

I have to say, I was hooked on this show from day one.  When three members of the Flint family are murdered in the small seaside town of Sunrise, Maine, ten Americans come to the town to put together the clues of the murder, eliminate suspects, and try to prevent anyone else from getting killed off.  The trick is that periodically, the killer would kill off the investigators one by one using his "killer game" to knock people out of the competition.

The whole mystery unfolded beautifully, and the story made a lot of sense.  You could tell that they really worked hard on the plot.  Sadly, the winner of the game, Angel Juarbe, died on September 11, 2001 rescuing people from the World Trade Center.


I make no secret in the fact that I am a fan of the FOX series "Bones".  And over the show's ten years on the air, we've seen several serial killers.  Howard Epps, Heather "The Gravedigger" Taffet, Christopher Pelant, and Stephanie McNamara all made an impact on the show based on how cold and calculating they were on the show.  I tell you, Christopher Pelant still gives me the creeps.  That's a credit to Andrew Leeds, who played him brilliantly.

But the one serial killer storyline that "Bones" shocked me the most with was the Gormogon storyline - mainly because the accomplice of the Gormogan was linked to one of Dr. Brennan's team of interns!

When Zack Addy was revealed to be the second banana of Gormogon, it was very shocking.  And even though it was revealed in season three, its impact is still felt in current "Bones" storylines today.

Have any other whodunnits you'd like to add in this list?

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