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Murder in Small Town X

From Academic Kids

Murder in Small Town X was an American reality television series that aired on FOX from July through September 2001. The show is noteworthy for the macabre and ironic fate of its eventual winner.

The premise of the show was to bring 10 contestants from around the United States to a small fishing village (called "Sunrise" in the show) on the coast of Maine to act as amateur detectives to solve a series of fictional murders.

Initially, the contestants were given a list of 16 suspects who were "townspeople" played by actors. Each week, the contestants were sent out on varying missions in order to discover clues to eliminate suspects. Additionally, the murderer would strike again, eliminating suspects as well.

At the end of each episode, two contestants would be sent out to a two different remote locations completely alone, with their movements recorded only by a head-mounted camera. One of the contestants would discover a further clue to the mystery, whereas the other one would be claimed as a murder victim, with their last seconds seen through the eyes of the "killer" in the manner of classical slasher films like Psycho.

The game started out with the mysterious murder of a family known as the Flints, which the contestants would base their invesigation on. It soon turned out there was much more to this case as soon some suspects were starting to turn up dead. The solution to the mystery involved the discovery that the members of local family had been murdered together in 1941 just after the Pearl Harbor Attack because they had stumbled onto a town's secret involving illegal liquor smuggling from Canada. The murder had been committed with the assent of many of the town's leaders, who met in a secret lodge, a society called "The Order of the Scarlet Lupin". The family had been bound in a room together, and the room was set on fire.

The "murders" were being committed by a descendant of one of the family members who escaped the fire and who was gaining his revenge against the descendants of the town leaders who had condoned the burning of the family in 1941. This survivor, known as the "Burnt Face Man" left several recordings of himself as clues for the contestants. As it turned out, he murdered one of the people responsible for the killings, but overwhelmed with guilt, he committed suicide. The burnt man's son decided to take up his father's work, attacking those responsible or decendants of those responsible for his family's death. Using a bangstick, a close range rifle-like weapon used to kill fish, he did not get overwhlemed with guilt like his father, but instead found it exciting, and decided to make a game of it.

He turned out to be suspect William Lambert, a business partner of the late Nate Flint and a common target of suspicion (although all initial theories about him turned out to be irrelevant). At the end of the series, the contestants chased him down before he was able to complete his final murder. The fictional chief of police chased him up a flight of stairs and shot him, sending him falling to his "death" out a window.

The final episode aired on Tuesday, September 4, 2001. The contestant who solved the final mystery by identifying the "murderer", and therefore won the prize money, was Angel Juarbe, a firefighter from New York City. He was later killed in the World Trade Center Collapse on September 11, 2001.

Although critically acclaimed, the series did not achieve strong ratings and was not renewed by FOX. The format was sold to the BBC who made a British version (with slight amendments to the rules) in 2003 under the name The Murder Game. Ratings were judged poor and the programme was not a critical success.

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