Hey, lit nerds! Welcome back to another episode of the Modcast. It’s Leigh Ann here, and I will be your host for today. Keep an eye out for solo episodes hosted by my cohorts later this year! Very exciting. Obviously I’m everyone’s favorite Modcaster, but please kindly continue to support the entire team. We appreciate y’all so very much, you don’t even know.
All right! So you might have noticed that today is Halloween, but don’t forget there’s a pandemic on, so please stay safe! And what better way to kick back and relax on a full moonlit night than to listen to my voice? More importantly, I come bearing information about an award-winning web mini-series titled “Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery Invite Only, Casual Dinner Party / Gala for Friends Potluck.” Or just Poe Party for short. I have watched this no fewer than six times, and will be watching it again, and again. And probably again.
This mini-series, divided into 13 episodes of about 10 minutes each, was produced by Shipwrecked Comedy in 2016. It has a total runtime of about 2 hours, so it’s pretty much a feature-length film. If you’re a fan of Clue, you’ll like this series, and all the more you shall enjoy it if you also like famous white Western literary figures. Before we continue, I want to very heavily emphasize the fact that I will include zero spoilers here, so you will have to find out who dies and who murders them by watching the series yourself, or else just google the answer. I’m going to be putting the link to the trailer at the bottom of this transcript, or you can just go to YouTube and type “poe party” into the search bar, and it’ll come right up.
I will say that the acting is phenomenal; all these figures are brought to life, only to die again, with very comedic interpretations of their personalities and how they might interact with one another. Many of the jokes reference the authors’ works, though I’ve been told by non-English major friends that you don’t need to understand all the references to enjoy the show. By now you may be wondering who will be appearing in the series.
I’ll share with you the list of characters (in order of appearance) and the authors’ most famous work. Stay with me! I promise it’s an entertaining commentary as well as a reading list. Okay?
Obviously we have Edgar Allan Poe, the host, whose most famous works are probably his short story “The Tell-Tale Heart” and his poem “The Raven.” I own every story and poem he ever published. Does that say something about me? Probably.
Then Ernest Hemingway shows up, the earliest late guest. He seems to be most famous for having written The Old Man and the Sea, though some critics argue his best novel is For Whom the Bell Tolls. I personally am not a fan of his works. Please, Hemingway, tell us more about the old man and the boat.
Next up we have Louisa May Alcott, best known for her novel Little Women. Which I have never read. I’m so sorry. Not.
Mary Shelley comes in next. She wrote Frankenstein, Or the Modern Prometheus, which she originally published anonymously. I want to emphasize here, as I have elsewhere, that the films are not even close to the masterpiece that is the novel, which she wrote as a teenager. Okay? You gotta read the book. It’s important to me that you do.
And then Charlotte Brontë is the next guest, known for the novel Jane Eyre, which she originally published under the male pen name Currer Bell. It’s–I’m not sure who ever had the name Currer, if it’s even a real person’s name. But it’s her pen name. It’s…She can…You know, you do you, Charlotte. Currer. Yeah.
An Oscar Wilde appears! You’ll probably know him as the author of The Picture of Dorian Gray. I also own everything he ever published. He’s the kind of character I aspire to be, but more safely out of the closet and not in a prison labor camp for homosexuality but yeah.
No murder mystery would be complete without the mysterious author and inventor H.G. Wells, who wrote The War of the Worlds and The Time Machine, among other creepy sci-fi. I’ll let you discover for yourself what H. and G. stand for. It’s not pretty.
The poet Emily Dickinson is also invited to the dinner party, and rightfully so, for her works such as “I’m Nobody, who are you?” and “Because I could not stop for death.” Throughout the entire mini-series she’s basically invisible, with hilarious effects.
Next up is George Eliot, a very interesting persona, especially because her name is actually Mary Ann Evans. She is best known for Middlemarch, which is a novel I had to read for class and thus did not enjoy in the slightest. But obviously she did something right to be so famous. I’ll let you decide for yourself.
Fyodor Dostoevsky is technically an Eastern European writer, but his work Crime and Punishment is so often assigned as a reading in Western courses that he made the cut for this dinner party / gala for friends. And we’re so happy to have him.
There’s also an appearance by the murder mystery writer Agatha Christie, whose many works include Murder on the Orient Express and The ABC Murders. If anyone could solve the murders, it would be Agatha Christie, right?
And now, really quickly so I’m not talking forever, I do want to share some of my absolute favorite things about this mini-series–again, no spoilers!–as an enticement for you guys to watch as well. Aside from the fact that we have some of the most beloved authors of Western literature, the series and actors themselves are what makes it really great.
I love Oscar Wilde in general, and I also love the actor’s interpretation of him, especially when he and George Eliot pair up to search the house. One conversation between the two of them goes something like this: So Oscar finds out that the name of the doctor was Frankenstein, and he wants to know the monster’s name. Eliot says, “Um, I’m pretty sure it was Karen.” Oscar’s like, “I had a cousin named Karen. She was so rude.” It’s just, they’re so before their time, somehow. It’s so funny to me how they are blending contemporary, you know, modern slang with historical figures. It’s–it’s great.
I also love George Eliot’s insistence that she is a man, though everyone except Hemingway knows that she’s not. She tries so hard, it’s so intense. She introduces herself as “George Eliot, it’s two male names, easy to remember.” And throughout her parts, she keeps peppering in the fact that she is a male, like, “Seeing as I have no insight into the mind of a woman…” It’s just so hilarious. For me, at least.
Okay. Last thing here before I let you guys go and enjoy your Halloween, and maybe get started on this, is…You know, am I the only one who likes to watch the credits after films? Like not just wait for the after-credit scene, but actually read the names and the roles in the credits? Because that’s the only reason I noticed that H.G. Wells’ microwave is credited to Rachel DiPillo. For the one line: “Your popcorn is ready.” It never even occurred to me that the microwave was an actor, but there you have it. Those are the kinds of things you notice in the credits. So I definitely recommend that you start reading the credits as well, just for fun.
All right, lit nerds, that’s gonna be it for me today. I hope you guys will go and check out Poe Party, since I think it is a really fun and easy way to learn a little about the authors you get assigned to read in class. And as the bodies start piling up, remember that “It’s just another Friday night at Edgar Allan Poe’s house.”
Stay safe, y’all.
Poe Party trailer link here.