OK, let”s get the obvious comparisons out of the way: New reality-TV show “Murder in Small Town X” has a number of somewhat attractive people from across the country fighting for survival (though no real harm will ever come to them), gathering every three days to vote on who will leave their haven. One person per episode has a form of “immunity.” Intrigue and quirky characters emerge. The person left standing receives a lot of money and probably 15 minutes of fame.

Paul Wong
You wouldn”t want to be caught dead in Sunrise Bwahahahaha (cough, cough)<br><br>Courtesy of Fox Television

Now, take a closer look.

The premiere opened with a killer”s view of the Flint residence in the small town of Sunrise, Maine. On the eve of the town”s Founder”s Day festival, the murderer shoots Nate Flint and his daughter Abby, with Nate”s wife Carmen missing at large.

Thus, for the ultimate prize of $250,000, ten people will try to use the killer”s clues to find out “whodunit?” together. But of course, there”s a catch: Every three days, the killer will ask a question. If the group answers correctly, one of the 15 suspects (in episode one, the town police chief) will be cleared. Not only that, two people must go out at night to investigate, one of whom will meet an untimely death.

It”s true that Gary Fredo, while a definite plus to the team, has yet to prove his talents hosting “Rock and Roll Jeopardy.” Fredo, a former Los Angeles police sergeant, acts as lead investigator and helps participants piece together the puzzle. As they watch videotape, he stops it to point out spots they should notice, and give out assignments. One person becomes the lifeguard, which includes immunity, but also forces them to do the unpopular task of picking one of the two who will leave the haven every third day.

Watching the contestants go out in teams (quick, Shaggy, go with Scooby!) and look for clues is actually quite amusing in the faux spooky show. They let suspects walk in on the scene of the crime, ask odd questions, and seem unsure of what to do when faced with less than happy suspects like Ferrier Thibodeaux. Perhaps an unintended benefit of the show will be people coming to appreciate the tough work of real murder investigators.

Unfortunately, the real investigation should be why the “investigators” are so freaking afraid. They seem scared for their lives at night, when the worst that could happen is they get caught alone and “die.” If they actually died, that would be a cause for alarm. But receiving the equivalent of getting booted off the island is hardly something to shudder about.

The improvisational actors paid to portray the suspects aren”t too shabby. If the contestants would just lighten up and enjoy the picturesque Maine town and solve the murder, everything would be swell.

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