• Wed, Nov 16 2011

The New Teen Sleuth Show Clue Lacks The Subtlety Of The Classic Movie Clue

When I heard that a network called The Hub – which apparently is responsible for the new My Little Pony that guys love — was airing a miniseries called Clue, I had the usual pearl-clutching, “stay away from my favorite movie!” reaction. Then I watched a few episodes and decided I’ll just leave it alone. The series, about six teenage wannabe-detectives embroiled in a plot involving an old hotel, wasn’t awful, but it doesn’t hold a candle(stick) to the original.

See what I did there? The miniseries might have benefited from that kind of humor. Some of the connections to the famous board game felt forced, instead of deposited naturally into the story. I will say that the writers did a good job of matching up each character with the traits of his/her Clue ”character,” and weaving those names in through references that feel natural to younger viewers:

  • Seamus (Sterling Beaumon) is a troublemaker who’s part of the exclusive Gr$$n Scene art crew.
  • Lucas (Zach Mills) is a smartie whose IQ is so high he’s already a member of something called the Plum Institute. Seamus calls him “Professor Plum” to be cruel.
  • Liz (Ana Golja) has scarlet streaks in her hair and a charm of the same color.
  • Whitney‘s (Sarah Desjardins) name says it all: She’s Mrs. — or Ms. – White. (Also, you can do process of elimination.)
  • Dmitri (Stephan James) likes to play an online video game called M.U.S.T.A.R.D. MISSIONS; he’s the only player to have achieved the rank of Colonel.
  • Agnes (Kendall Amyre Ferguson) knows all the hot gossip and follows a blog called Eyes of the Peacock.

Maybe I just have a problem with the overarching plot. In the third episode, which aired last night, Liz discovered that the necklace she has from her birth parents mysteriously matches a symbol on some printout they found at the hotel. (I missed that exposition.) The six symbols match the characters’ colors, so it’s clear that there’s some larger conspiracy that brought the kids together. That kind of plot is way overplayed; I much prefer in the movie when it was Mr. Boddy the blackmailer who invited everyone to his mansion.

I have to agree with Daemons TV that one of the miniseries’ strongest aspects is acknowledging how much teens rely on technology these days. In last night’s episode, the kids used tablets to basically Google the meaning behind several clues they’d uncovered; and later, once they’d managed to activate an energy machine by Nikola Tesla, they saw its worth when all their dead cell phones magically recharged their batteries.

In short, the series speaks teens’ language. But I was a teenager when I first watched Clue the movie, which was loaded with references to McCarthyism and the Cold War, seeing as it was set in the 1950s. Sure, it took me close to ten years and multiple viewings to discern all of the many layered jokes and turns, but it made the viewing experience like… I’m gonna get cheesy here… like a mystery. I could experience Clue multiple times, whereas I wouldn’t watch this miniseries more than once.

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