This fairly novel approach to creating interactive television –inviting viewers to take part as amateur sleuths–needs to be more fully explored if this show is to develop legs. While the first episode successfully breaks down the fourth wall, it doesn’t go much beyond it.
The best thing “Likely Suspects” has going for it is Sam McMurray as wise-cracking Detective Marshak, who gives the show an appropriate amount of comic zing, throwing out as many asides as he has suspects.
Those asides are tossed directly into the camera, as the audience becomes Marshak’s new rookie partner. “You get to play detective, but pay attention because we’ve only got 30 minutes,” he warns.
This first homicide involves the Jacuzzi electrocution of a conniving TV reporter, with a number of viable suspects, including the embittered older wife of the network producer (Barbara Bain).
Working from a set of clues, Marshak leads viewers through a step-by-step examination of the evidence and then solves the crime in 29 1/2 minutes. The big question is whether audience members were able to solve it before him.
Don Scardino directed this first episode rather mundanely, given the built-in ability to bob and weave the camera through various scenarios. There needs to be a keener awareness of the potential for comic interpretation within this kind of interactive set-up. The scripts–Steven Aspis wrote this one–also need to be zippier.