I volunteered to write a Wickedly Perfect summary?
I wish I could remember doing that… The past few weeks are a blur. My last clear memories are of walking through a dark alley, someone hit the back of my head really hard, I think I screamed ‘Who’s Your Daddy? What a great idea!', and then two days ago I blinked, it was dark out, the clock claimed two minutes after nine, and the TV was tuned to CBS. I have absolutely no idea how it got there.
The biggest problem – outside of ‘Why is my bedroom now decorated in taffeta?’ – is that I don’t remember watching the first two episodes of the series, so I’m going in with absolutely no idea of what’s supposed to be happening here.
At least I managed to tape the thing. Roll opening credits.
And I immediately learn that I’m in trouble, because there were nine women shown in the initial cast of twelve, and one or more of them is probably going to die before the end of the episode. The music and half-motion animation used during the credits makes this look like a PBS production. Something imported from the BBC, where people with heavy Yorkshire accents travel across body-strewn moors without benefit of CSI lab and deduce the murderer’s name through their untoward use of toad in the hole where bubble and squeak was clearly called for. All we need is a weapon and a motive. And since just being on a reality show qualifies as a motive, I’m halfway home and we haven’t even hit the episode yet – wait a minute… A reality show about the most wickedly perfect murder? (Obviously it’s an elimination sort of series.) No wonder I volunteered for this!
I only asked for one episode? Well, I’ll just enjoy the bloodbath while I can. Let’s start the journey towards tonight’s midnight burial…
We join the Murder Estate on Day Seven, and it looks like we’re down two cast members already – eight women and two men left – although I have absolutely no idea how they were eliminated. (Wicked methods – well, arsenic has a certain classical touch, doesn’t it?) It takes about three seconds to pick out Dawn as being the one who should die next. She’s patrolling the kitchen, looking for ways to rearrange it into her idea of perfection. This includes putting everything away in her special, divinely-ordained, only slightly obsessive-compulsive way, followed by labeling – everything. The measuring cups are labeled as measuring cups. The glasses are labeled as glasses. Dawn lives in a world where people can’t figure these things out on their own and need all the help they can possibly get. This leads to a little research, which uncovers her profession as ‘first grade teacher’ and her specialty as ‘party planning’, because after dealing with six year-olds all day, a death party is just a way of blowing off steam. The labeling now makes slightly more sense, as Dawn’s normal audience can’t figure out that glue will be sticky every time you toss it in someone’s face.
‘My greatest strength is that I like to get things organized,’ Dawn says in confessional-tell. ‘I’m pretty determined and a bit of a perfectionist, so I try not to let myself get too carried away.’ Meanwhile, back in main camera time, Dawn, in complete control of all her actions, is sticky-labeling the microwave as a microwave, and looks like she’s about to break for the garden, because there’s a spade that needs to be called a spade.
Dawn mentions that she’s already been near the chopping block, which put the game in perspective – oooh, DAW death by cleaver! This is getting good! – and the camera switches to the host, who turns out to be Joan Lunden. This is an intelligent money-saving move by CBS, since she can run the show and do the special report on the massive graveyard out back after it wraps up. Plus she’s not Robot Julie, so they may be getting a little better at selecting their mistress of ceremonies.
Joan asks the contestants if they’re ready for their next team challenge – aha! They’re initially allowed to work in teams to eliminate the other contestants! – and I get the team names. The team that’s lost two members is called Team Artisan, which must mean they consider the perfect murder to be an art form (and it is, really), so it’s surprising that they’ve suffered the first two fatalities. The other team is the Crafty Beavers, so I’m guessing they either have a group specialty in Rube Goldberg slice-and-dice machines (connect Garrote A to Knife B and rotate around Poison Vial C), or they just like to gnaw people to death. And they all look so normal, which of course means they’re all killers, because only killers look normal. Just ask any Lifetime movie of the week.
The challenge is this: committing murders at the estate has gotten a little predictable over the last two episodes, so the teams will be sent on an overnight camping trip – one campsite per team, not too far apart. They’ll have to set up the campsites in a high-class way and make them look extravagant, because this is a wickedly perfect murder and bodies dropped in alleyways just don’t have the same refinement as those found in elaborate silk-woven tents. Each team will also have to cook a meal for the judges, because judging the perfect murder is hungry work. They’ll be judged on the aesthetic and functional aspects of the design – are there dark corners to lurk in? Did they construct a weapon-dumping pier next to the river? – as well as the quality and taste of the meal, because man does not live by wickedly perfect murders alone.
And because the contestants will want the judges on their side when all this finally goes before a real court, they’ll have to construct a bribe. Each contestant will work on their very own bribe project, to present to the judge of their choice. It must be made from the sort of natural materials one would find around a campsite, just to stay with the theme, and it must include a map guiding the authorities to where they hid their last twelve bodies. The team with the worst campsite will have its members judged on the quality of their bribes, and the two people whose bribes least impress the judges will be up for – elimination.
I’m really starting to like this show.
Which doesn’t mean it can escape corporate sponsorship. Sears, because it knows death so well through nearly having killed itself about eighty times, will provide each team with a $5000 shopping spree and one hour to spend it in, so they can get materials for their murder scene. There’s also an additional $500 for food and bribe project materials – inclusive, which is why using natural materials is so important. The campsite will be provided with lumber and electricity, and the contestants leave for Sears tomorrow morning. The challenge will be completed forty-eight hours from now.
Oh, and since the teams are uneven, Denise has been randomly picked to move over to Team Artisan, which means her specialty of ‘event planning’ should be handy in planning the event where she finally sticks the knife in the back of a new friend. In c-t, Darlene, whose specialty is ‘ornate sewing’ – lips together, eyelids closed, you know, all the little touches, only with sequins – is happy to have another teammate and feels this will help their group gel. Can’t see a weapon moving in from the shadows: not Bebo.
Mitch (specialty: planting flowers with poisonous scents and letting people inhale themselves to death) c-t notes that Denise is something of a control freak and doesn’t like having her toes stepped on, so this will tell him what she’s made of. (It’s not as if his chosen method shows him the interior anatomy all that often.)
The teams head out to do their initial planning, and if there’s anything more instructive to view than watching a group of serial killers try to mutually plan out their murder site, name the channel. The Crafty Beavers carefully plot the assault on Sears, figuring out who’s going to go for what, where the sections are in relation to each other, and how to disable the security alarms by the cash registers. Tim, who likes to finish people off with carpentry projects, favors a Moroccan theme for the campsite, for that ‘The 1001 Arabian Deaths’ touch. Mychael, the food poisoner, becomes my favorite by proposing that they serve roast quail to the judges. Death by roast quail… mmm…
Mitch, the eternal spoilsport, c-t thinks Mychael has to simplify her methods, and may not even get to do all the cooking this time. Shut up, Mitch. Roast quail may not be the most wickedly perfect of murder weapons, but it’s definitely among the more loving ways to go.