My wife is a regular viewer of Fox's procedural investigation series Bones. For those who are not familiar with the series, the show is inspired by the life of best-selling novelist and forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs, in the form of Dr. Temperance Brennan, played by Emily Deschanel.
What draws my wife in, I have no doubt, is the presence of favored Joss Whedon actor David Boreanaz, who played the character of Angel on both Buffy and Angel and who plays FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth on Bones.
She told me last week that the show was launching a particularly interesting storyline and running a series of ads that this week's mystery would provide viewers the chance to begin solving the case before the show ever aired. The primary characters involved in this particular case would have their own MySpace pages that would contain some relative information and which would allow viewers the chance to start investigating the case prior to the show's beginning.
More information is available through the site Searching Bones. (There was info up on the show's official site, but it has been moved out of a prominent position now that the episode has passed.)
The episode centered around a restaurant and introduced the various characters who would play a role: a hot new chef whose husband manages the restaurant and a variety of employees at the restaurant. The episode is directed by Deschanel's father, Oscar-nominated cinematographer Cabel Deschanel. A body is found that ends up potentially radioactive, and the team of Bones investigate, discovering that one of the employees/friends is the killer.
I know that this particular post by Lynn speculating about the case didn't get any comments, but there was only a day turnaround between her post and the airing of the show. According to TV Guide, there were a total of 18 characters featured in the MySpace pages.
Here is another fan collection of links and resources regarding the murder mystery. The key was that some of the profiles were given to the audience and others were friends linked on there that they had to figure out, and the characters made comments to one another on a daily basis. Here's another discussion thread from TV.com.
Some of the profiles appear to be deleted now, and Chef Carly's has been set to private (the main character of interest), but a cached version of 04 May revealed that she had 1,010 friends at that point.
I have seen some fans who were interested in the campaign, and I think it was a great idea, but I'm not sure how successful it was. I think that it's hard to have this involving of a process take place for a murder mystery that only lasts for one show. I can't help but wonder what it would have been like if something like this played out in real time for a show with a season-long mystery arc like Veronica Mars, a show which has so many supporting characters that a complex MySpace campaign with 20 or 30 characters to give clues to a mystery might be able to play out. Nevertheless, I think it's a great idea and hope to see more of these types of interactive stories in the future.
Here is the cached version of the MySpace page for Chef Carly.