Do you like murder mysteries? Escape rooms? Elaborate sets and meticulous production? Crime scene is a very well crafted show that hits all those points. After the classy and suspenseful soiree of The Genius, get down and dirty with actual murder mysteries.
Here’s the gist: The six cast members are given roles to play in a murder case and one of them is the criminal trying to get away with it. It is a ‘deduction variety’ show, with a bit more role playing done by the cast as actual suspects. The characters are only given partial scripts, details of their own interactions. The game is in aligning the scripts with each other to piece the entire story together and find out who’s lying through their teeth. Details are not given to each other outright but only when the right questions are asked through their interactions. Every suspect is written as sufficiently suspicious with only key pieces of evidence to tie them to the crime.
The first thing that struck me was the set and its production value. The crime scenes were on-stage recreations of various locations. They were littered with carefully placed clues. Some were easy to find and some creatively hidden. Each of the characters conduct their own on-site searches of the crime scene and related rooms. They were under a time limit to collect pictures of evidence so they have to prioritize based on their hunches. The set was precisely reset every time a character is done with their search by the staff. At the end of each episode they are also kind enough to introduce whatever crucial clues the cast may have not found. As a viewer you get to see what kinds of paperwork and evidence criminals leave behind. So… hide your stuff properly.
Through the two seasons, the program played around with different formats. During the first three cases, running time was about 3 hours per story, split into two episodes. They promptly listened to comments and cut them to an episode per case. I really liked this fluidity, it allowed them to improve the show quickly. For example: in the beginning they conducted the on-site searches individually. It made for boring scenes of just a person walking along. Eventually they searched by pairs. It cuts the time by half and was far more entertaining. It gave us more time for the characters to interact; role playing so relationships can be revealed more organically. The briefing and questioning portions were also merged into one segment. The show went a lot faster as evidence got questioned and clarified on the spot. One of the guests during the first season was a real detective. He was treated as an outside character with real authority and experience. Then in the second season, the role of the detective was given a permanent position among the 6 characters. It was a good call, it allowed episodes to focus on one of the cast instead of all of them at once. The detective is also given two votes to affect the final outcome so there is more pressure in getting their deductions right.
After watching Crime Scene and The Genius, I really came to appreciate how the cast members were serious about taking down notes. It was entertaining to watch them figure out stuff in a natural and unscripted environment.
The show doesn’t have a real air of competition between the cast. There’s no threat of elimination so there isn’t any cut-throat tension among them. Crime Scene is just a fun show to enjoy if you like social deduction games and detective stories.