Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery Dinner Party (Shipwrecked Comedy, 2016)
One of the biggest news stories in the Literary-Inspired Web Series world this year has been the production of Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery (Invite Only, Casual) Dinner Party (/Gala for Friends Potluck): kickstarted in February with the epilogue airing in November, it was a whirlwind of production and filming that created great excitement with fans. Shipwrecked Comedy developed Poe Party from their previous series A Tell Tale Vlog; in Poe Party this world is massively expanded to create a fun, clever web series that I enjoyed watching immensely.
Poe Party is inspired by literature rather than being an adaptation with the premise involving a selection of famous writers being invited for a dinner party at the home of Edgar Allan Poe; however, before they can start the evening they mysteriously start being killed off. The series follows the ever-dwindling group as they try to work out who is committing the murders, decide whether it might be one of their group, and avoid being killed off themselves.
A Tell Tale Vlog was a funny series, and Poe Party is no different in that regard. I laughed out loud in every episode and the jokes stand up well to re-watching: I think this is particularly true of the literary jokes and references since I’ve found that I’ve noticed more on every re-watch. Part of the joy of the literary references lie in the characters themselves: all are very funny, well-acted, and intriguing. Rounded out by the high-quality editing and a great soundtrack, this was a series that kept the audience coming back week after week.
Despite the light-hearted tone, there was significant tension built over the course of the series as the writers died. The series kept you guessing about who the murderer was, throwing in lots of red herrings (and red herring soup). There were a couple of moments where the pacing felt a little off, particularly in “Chapter 6: Spirits of the Dead”. The resolution of the mystery was not particularly strong and relied on a lot of exposition; however, this was one of those rare occasions when it the rest of the series was strong enough that a weaker resolution didn’t take away too much.
One slight comment I did have was that it would have been nicer to have representation from a wider variety of writers. Most of the writers featured in the series are American and British writers, with one Russian writer; whilst it was a fun exploration of these particular writers, it would have been nice to have seen more cultures represented in the series. Obviously Shipwrecked Comedy could only go with writers they knew particularly well, but it could have been a nice opportunity to showcase famous writers from all over the world.
Overall, this is definitely a series I would recommend, particularly to any Literature fans who haven’t seen any Literary-Inspired Web Series before: I think this is a great introduction to that world, and showcases how clever and creative this genre can be. I’m excited by the quality and the way in which this series was created, and I look forward to seeing more from Shipwrecked Comedy in the future.