If you’re among those who think CSI tends to be too gory, MURDER is definitely not the show for you. In this new offering – debuting Tuesday, July 31 at 10 p.m. EST – from the unabashedly testosterone driven Spike TV, everyday people set out to solve crimes so graphic they might make Grissom and company nauseous. Two teams compete to solve the crime by investigating gruesome recreations of actual crime scenes, questioning experts and listening to suspects being questioned, all under the guidance of host Tommy Le Noir, a Texas law enforcement vet. This being the manly Spike TV, it is perhaps not surprising that each team in the premiere was comprised of two men and a lovely blonde woman (one of whom is kind enough to wear a muffin top while on the firing range). To nip in the bud any talk of exploitation (since these are real crimes being recreated for our viewing pleasure, as opposed to the supposed “news” value recreations have on a show such as 48 HOURS or DATELINE), the team which makes the correct or more compelling case has a donation made in their names to a charity favored by the victim. Is the show sensationalistic? You bet your bullet it is… and yet we’ll take these wanna-be crimefighters over CBS’s pedestrian pirates or NBC’s lovelorn tennis player.
Of course, without scripts, the witty dialogue usually spouted by detectives on crime dramas is replaced with such brilliant observations as the one uttered by a “contestant” – for lack of a better word – after discovering the two blown-to-bits corpses: “If these people didn’t kill each other, someone wanted them dead badly!” But what you do get is very real reactions as the various faux detectives butt heads in trying to come up with viable theories. Production wise, it might have behooved the makers to spend less money on their ghoulishly realistic corpses and more in other areas. For example, when watching the suspects being questioned, one can’t help but wonder why it’s being done in what looks like a broom closet, and several of the actors playing those being quizzed have all the livelihood of… well, their supposed victims. But by the time Le Noir closes the book on the investigation by revealing how events really unfolded, chances are you’ll have a theory of your own. Unlike the dozens of fictionalized crime stories populating the airwaves – in which a last-minute suspect emerges based on inexplicable evidence – MURDER gives viewers everything they need to come to the logical conclusion, and challenges them to do so before the investigating teams. So if you’ve got a hankering to play detective – and a stomach of steel – MURDER could prove to be just the ticket to kill an hour each week.