Whodunnit? Boss Anthony Zuiker: I've Got 9 More Murders in My Head for Season 2
Lindsey, Cris, Kam
ABC's murder mystery show Whodunnit? hasn't officially been picked up for a second season yet, but co-executive producer Anthony Zuiker is already looking ahead.
"I definitely have about nine more murders in my head for Season 2," Zuiker tells TVGuide.com.
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Zuiker is feeling confident about a renewal, especially after the show saw a 27 percent jump in its ratings for Sunday's finale — which aired opposite Breaking Bad and Lindsay Lohan's interview with Oprah. Whodunnit? has also garnered a massive Twitter following (Zuiker calls the most devoted fans "Youdunnits"), with thousands of people dissecting evidence and providing theories every week — as well as some unfortunate folks who wondered whether contestants were actually being murdered.
TVGuide.com chatted with Zuiker, who also created CSI, after Sunday's finale. (Fun facts: Zuiker was not only the voice of The Killer in the finale, but also played one of the policeman who arrested Cris at the end of the episode after she was revealed to be The Killer. The other cop was played by Zuiker's producing partner, Cris Abrego.) Read the interview below to find out which contestant he thinks played the best overall game and what murders he's saving for Season 2:
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Were you surprised at the reaction to Whodunnit?
Anthony Zuiker: We're very excited. I was more proud of this show than anything I've done in my career, just because I knew we were doing something different. ... I think the critics were sort of quick to write it off as something silly and hokey, which was sort of offensive to all of us in the beginning, because we felt like we've had such great success, Chris Abrego and myself, in the industry, and to give us the benefit of the doubt that we wouldn't be doing something that was hokey. ... And then that [ratings] jump was just really great. It was great validation that we did something special.
Do you have any plans for Season 2, if the show gets picked up?
Zuiker: Obviously we've been pushing all season for Season 2. ... We're definitely preparing to keep this thing going. There's been talk about possibly celebrities, been talk about doing it all over again. But everybody concurs at ABC, the show's not broken. It was just something new. ... Are reality viewers interested in seeing stuff that feels more story-driven? We did a very interesting mash-up of both. ... I was just so overly pleased at the level of commitment that Twitter's had in this entire campaign, and also fascinat[ed] as to why young people love the show so much. I think that maybe young people finally got a chance to watch CSI. Because it's a game, I think we've given families permission to watch it with their kids.
Were you surprised that some people on Twitter took it so seriously, to the point that they questioned whether people were actually getting murdered on the show?
Zuiker: I was surprised to the point where I kept reminding myself not to insult anybody by reacting to that. I just don't know what planet anybody would be on to think that we were actually killing people and putting them in graves and committing murder every week. ... [Now] I don't think anybody really believes we're doing that, but I think we did such a great job producing the show that it looked really, really real and people had a lot of questions.
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The finale was very close between Kam and Lindsey.
Zuiker: Kam, who won, missed that challenge of the mountain lion. He missed that seven straight times. Almost cost him the entire competition. He just could not figure it out. We're sitting there in the control room and it's just like, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.' We're like, 'Oh, my God, you're going to lose. It was a very small differential between him and Lindsey to win the competition. It was super exciting.
Some people were upset that Lindsey lost since she had guessed Cris was The Killer from the very beginning.
Zuiker: I just think Lindsey just latched onto something with Cris. I had no idea who The Killer was until Episode 8. I was completely clueless. So I think Lindsey just grabbed onto something and just went with it the entire time. At the end of the day, it just came down to that final challenge between Kam and Lindsey. So it was fair and square. It just mattered who got those things done. Because all Cris was doing at the very end was just sort of going through the motions just for television. It was really a two-horse race in the finale.
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Do you think Kam played the best overall game?
Zuiker: I think so. I think like Survivor, he did all the right things. He didn't really back-stab anybody. He didn't mislead information. He didn't play the game shyst-y like the other guys did. And if you look at the season retrospectively, it feels like the people who didn't play the game very well were the ones to go first. Dontae, Don, Dana — they didn't play the game very well, so they were out early. Lindsey slid in there back and forth, but she played both sides. But Kam was the guy who just had a very level head and didn't necessarily need to play any extra games to get ahead. And he pretty much dominated the game top to bottom. He really did. He was the obvious winner. But Lindsey was very, very close to slipping in there. It was very exciting. I was kind of pulling for Lindsey myself because she was a really interesting character.
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So how did you find out Cris was The Killer?
Zuiker: I had to know if The Killer could drag Geno's heavy body to underneath the chandelier. That was the main thing, because I didn't know. And if it was going to be Cris or Lindsey, I had to ask my other partner, Chris Abrego,"Is it possible that the killer could drag Geno's 220-pound body 10 feet?" And then he had to tell me. Once he told me, then the stress really began because I had to keep it quiet. I had to not mention the word "Cris." I had to keep referring to the person as "The Killer, The Killer, The Killer," until [Sunday] night. At 10:01, I was like, thank God. It was too stressful to keep the secret. I don't want to know next year at all either. It's too much on my mind. I wrote the scripts not knowing who The Killer was, and guessing wrong all season. I mean, I was there with the cast, in the shoot, behind the scenes, writing the scripts, talking to The Butler (Gildart Jackson). I had no idea. Absolutely no idea.
Did you purposely plan on Cris never receiving a Scared card or did it just work out that way?
Zuiker: No. It was such a bummer. I was so mad it happened that way. By rule, The Killer can get a Scared card, but by rule The Killer can not get kicked off the show. So I was hoping that Cris would be Scared because then that would really throw a monkey wrench in the situation. But after Giles said, "Have you ever been Scared?" and Cris says "No," and then he says "Interesting," that was a dead giveaway that it was Cris. I talked to the network and said, "No, no, let's not air that." And they wanted to air it. So we gave them that one. ... But nobody really [suspected] Cris from the very beginning. All the chat boards were virtually Cris-less all the way through.
What was your favorite murder to create?
Zuiker: I think my favorite murder was probably "All the World's a Stage," the double murder [of Dana and Sasha]. That was a lot of fun. We shot the horse episode, the cast was exhausted and they walk right into a double murder. They were just completely perplexed. ... And the mountain lion one was always one of my favorites.
Were there any that you wanted to use and didn't get a chance and are saving for Season 2?
Zuiker: Yeah. It's funny. It's very rare that a network does this, but ABC literally gave us pretty much full reign to be as creative as we wanted to be. They really let me and Chris run and do our thing. ... We really came to work every day knowing that we can really aim to the sky and they would do it. We had such a blast. I wanted to do a helicopter crime, but we didn't get a chance to do that. I wanted to do something on the water called "Red Herring." I wanted to have a boa constrictor swallow a body. Couldn't do that. But maybe Season 2 we can do that. I definitely have about nine more murders in my head for Season 2.