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A review of the new star-studded murder mystery podcast, Deadly Manners, starring Kristen Bell, Anna Chlumsky, and LeVar Burton

DEADLY MANNERS is a ten-episode mur­der mys­tery pod­cast in the style of 1940’s hor­ror adven­ture seri­als.

Pro­duced by the Paragon Col­lec­tive (THE NO SLEEP PODCAST, DARKEST NIGHT), DEADLY MANNERS boasts an A-List cast, includ­ing Kris­ten Bell, Anna Chlum­sky, and LeVar Bur­ton. The cre­ators were inspired by the campy com­e­dy CLUE and, of course, the ulti­mate mys­tery writer Agatha Christie.

DEADLY MANNERS cen­ters around the rich, sophis­ti­cat­ed Billings fam­i­ly and their annu­al gala. One snowy night in 1954, Mrs. Billings plays host to a gag­gle of her socialite friends. As the snow­storm wors­ens and the drinks keep pour­ing, ten­sions height­en. One of the guests is found dead. The storm traps all the guests in the house and cuts off all the phones. Will the killer be found? Will the Billings sur­vive? Will the drinks hold out?

Kris­ten Bell (Pho­to Cred­it: Miguel Lopez)

If spine-tin­gling fear is what you’re look­ing for, this is not your pod­cast. DEADLY MANNERS (at least the first episode) has far more in com­mon with DOWNTON ABBEY than DAWN OF THE DEAD.  For ter­ror, you’d do a lot bet­ter to seek out EARBUD THEATER, or even The Paragon Collective’s ear­li­er series, THE NO SLEEP PODCAST.

DEADLY MANNERS is more about hid­den secrets, destruc­tive desires, and deep-seat­ed resent­ments that bub­ble up in the pres­sure of a par­ty that goes on way too long.

Tim Simons

In its effort to recap­ture the nos­tal­gia of the old-school radio plays, the char­ac­ters are larg­er than life: arche­types rather than peo­ple. We have the phi­lan­der­ing hus­band, the neu­rot­ic host­ess, the shrill guest, and the drunk­en busi­ness­man.

LeVar Bur­ton, as the nar­ra­tor, was my per­son­al favorite, shad­ing his tones with a humor and indul­gence that effort­less­ly car­ries us through the sto­ry. I want to make a blan­ket out of LeVar Burton’s voice.

LeVar Bur­ton

Hav­ing only lis­tened to the pre­miere episode, I can’t speak to how the mys­tery deep­ens and unfolds. It is my hope that the sto­ry either dou­bles down on the camp, becom­ing more wacky and fun, or shades its char­ac­ters with more del­i­cate hues, tem­per­ing the car­i­ca­tures with a bit more depth. As it stands, DEADLY MANNERS is not quite one or the oth­er, and suf­fers from that inde­ci­sion.

How­ev­er, with such a cast, I’m def­i­nite­ly will­ing to give the next episode or two a lis­ten. As mys­tery writer G.K. Chester­ton once wrote, the detec­tive sto­ry is unique [in that] the read­er is only hap­py if he feels a fool. And I’m very much hop­ing DEADLY MANNERS daz­zles with a bril­liant, inno­v­a­tive solu­tion to a clas­sic premise.

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