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Podcast / Mystery Show

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"I'm Starlee Kine, and this is Mystery Show. Every week, I solve a new mystery. Mysteries that can't be solved online. Mysteries you can't solve yourself. Up until now, there hasn't been anyone to help with this. That person is now me."
Opening Narration

Mystery Show was a podcast created by Starlee Kine and produced by Gimlet Media (one of their first podcasts). In each episode, Kine took on a strange but mundane mystery brought to her, such as investigating the overnight closing of a video store, tracking down the owner of a whimsical belt buckle, or finding out exactly how tall Jake Gyllenhaal is. The only rule is that the answer can't be easily found on the internet. This forces Kine to do plenty of research and legwork, which puts her in the path of numerous interesting characters.

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The show had just one six-episode season in 2015 before going on hiatus. Over a year later, it was announced that Kine had left Gimlet and that the series wouldn't be involved in any future seasons of the show, though they were working with Kine to let her continue with it, leaving the door open for a season two that, as of 2019, has not yet materialized.

Kine later teamed up with her client from episode five, David Rees, to produce Election Profit Makers, a podcast miniseries revolving around the 2016 Presidential Election. You can find it here.


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Mystery Show provides examples of:

  • Adult Fear: Margaret's backstory as explained in episode four: She was living in New York City in 2001 and only missed the 9/11 attacks because she went home to L.A. for her mother's birthday.
    • Earlier in the episode, Starlee talked to a former 911 operator who shared a couple of cases that had stuck with her.
    • A downplayed example in episode one, where Laura, with her account contradicted by the store-owner, jokingly wonders if she's delusional, and defends herself to Starlee, who jokingly accuses her of lying.
    • Hans Jordi had a one-of-a-kind keepsake made for him by his famous employer, only to have it stolen in a robbery, making him think he would never see it again. Not as bad as other examples, but still somewhat heartbreaking.
    • Alan Sacks's story of being held at gunpoint by Phil Spector. Imagine going to someone's house for what should be a routine business meeting, and you end up being held hostage for several hours.
  • Amateur Sleuth: Starlee calls herself this, but it's a borderline case, since she was paid, but by Gimlet to produce a podcast and not by her clients to solve their mysteries.
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  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: In episode five, Jake Gyllenhaal refuses to tell Sloane his height, but his mother is more willing to (try to) help.
  • Americans Are Cowboys: Chef Rene said that when he arrived in America, he landed in Texas and was very disappointed not to be met by someone on horseback.
  • As the Good Book Says...: In episode four, Starlee speculates that the license plate might refer to its owner's favorite bible passage, specifically Psalms 9:11.
    Sing praises to the Lord, which dwelleth in Zion: declare among the people his doings.
  • Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!: In "Source Code," Starlee asks her friend Sloane to approach Jake Gyllenhaal and ask him how tall he is. Then she remembers how that's gone badly in the past, and sends her a follow-up text telling her not to. Unfortunately, Sloane only gets the "Attack Attack" and not the "Retreat Retreat".
  • Audience Participation: Most of the episode outros included Starlee giving a hint about the next mystery and inviting listeners to guess what it might mean. In episode five, she turns to Twitter for help in locating Jake Gyllenhaal, and things get a little out of hand.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: After learning about the concept of "max morning height," David decides Max Morningheight would be a great name for a detective and tries to recruit Jake Gyllenhaal into making a TV series.
    • Starlee calls Hans Jordi and Bob Six "the kind of names that demanded to be etched into silver."
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: Starlee pulls this on David in episode five:
    Starlee: I hope you're not disappointed, but the answer is...yes. Jake Gyllenhaal told me how tall he is.
  • Beat: Episode six has two pretty good ones:
    • When Starlee asks Beverly about the knotted jacket on the lunchbox, all Beverly can offer is "It might be a joke."
    Starlee: Do you think that's a good joke?
    Beverly: [beat] I think it's a joke.
    • Then, Starlee gets to share some interesting information with Elmer's former neighbor:
    Starlee: If I say "professional wrestler"...
    Joe: Yeah.
    Starlee: Do you think of Elmer?
    Joe: [beat] When you say professional wrestler?
    Starlee: Yes.
    Joe: [beat] I do not.
  • Big Applesauce: The main setting for episodes one (the mysterious video store was located in Tribeca) and five (most of the Jake Gyllenhaal sightings take place in New York).
  • Big Little Brother: This is the only hint that Jake Gyllenhaal will give Starlee.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Episode four, "Vanity Plate". Starlee finds the plate's owner and learns that it does refer to September 11th, which is the woman's mother's birthday, an occasion that saved her from being in New York on 9/11. The plate is a tribute to her mother and to the friends that she lost.
    Starlee: Do you think the case is solved?
    Miranda: Deeply. Profoundly.
  • Black Comedy Animal Cruelty: In "Kotter," lunchbox illustrator Dan talks about the lengthy approval process involved with Micky and Minnie lunchboxes and how one year, he got so fed up that he submitted a picture where Pluto had been run over by a car.
  • Blatant Lies: According to Sloane, this is how her encounter with Jake Gyllenhaal goes in episode five:
    Sloane: So you're six feet tall?
    Jake: I'm six-eight.
    Sloane: Oh, come on!
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: In episode two, Starlee eventually realizes that the best way to get to Britney is to fork over the money for a V.I.P meet-and-greet pass.
  • The Cameo: Alan Sacks, co-creator of Welcome Back, Kotter appears in episode six. He doesn't have much to offer in the mystery-solving department, but he does get to tell a great story about Phil Spector.
  • Celebrity Resemblance: Donna describes Hans Jordi to Starlee by comparing him to Armin Mueller Stahl.
  • Comically Missing the Point: In episode five, Starlee's friend is about to approach Jake Gyllenhaal when another woman gets to him first. Starlee's concern is that that woman is going to after the same information and is gonna get it first.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Parodied in episode six.
    Starlee: "There's nothing behind the grassy knoll. Gabe." Which means definitely, there's definitely something behind the grassy knoll.
  • Constantly Curious: Starlee
  • Cool Old Guy: Hans Jordi and Chef Rene from "Belt Buckle".
  • Cowboy: Hans Jordi, Chef Rene, and Bob Six.
  • Cozy Mystery
  • Crazy Enough to Work: In "Video Store," Starlee uses some questionable logic to choose a children's clothing store to go into and question the clerk about the titular store.
    Clerk: I was their first customer.
    Starlee: [voiceover] I can't believe that worked.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Most of Starlee's clients. Starlee also gets in on it occasionally.
    Starlee: David is a former political cartoonist who runs an Artisanal Pencil Sharpening company out of his home in the country. You send him your unsharpened pencils and he sends them back to you sharpened. I am telling you this so you'll understand that David is both a man who appreciates the more nuanced details of life and a man with a lot of time on his hands.
  • Determinator: Starlee again. David teases her about it.
    David: Maybe this is just your update where it's like, "I have no idea who Jake Gyllenhaal is, or how to measure human height. Just wanted to let you know I'm still plugging away!"
  • Didn't Think This Through: One of the reasons the attempted stakeout in episode four doesn't work out is because Starlee didn't think about how dark it would be when they got there. At 8:30 at night.
    • A little while later, she finds herself unprepared to explain the situation when she's standing at the house's front door.
  • Do Wrong, Right: In episode four, Starlee talks to a former 911 operator, who mentions a call about a man letting a dog drive his car.
    Carol: We cited him for allowing an unlicensed driver to drive the vehicle.
    Starlee: Wait a minute! If the dog got a license would it then be legal?
    Carol: Probably.
    Starlee: This is probably not the lesson I'm supposed to be learning from this, but I want to teach my dog to drive as soon as I get off the phone.
    Carol: Well, don't do it on a busy road. That's all I have to say.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: As mentioned above, Starlee would reunite with David, her client in episode five, to co-create Election Profit Makers.
  • Exact Words: What led to trouble between Alan Sacks and Phil Spector. Sacks told Spector's assistant that he was "coming himself," then invited a colleague at the last minute. When Spector saw two people there, he freaked out. Sacks is careful to ask Starlee to specify who she means when she says "We."
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Mystery Show is a show about solving mysteries.
  • Extremely Overdue Library Book: A variation. Laura rents a movie and wants to return it the next day, but can't because the store has shut down. A decade later, Starlee finds the store owner and gives him a different copy of the movie, which is a double-feature with another film that she "threw in as a late fee."
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • In episode two, after having no luck at Paradise Cove, Starlee becomes uncomfortable with the lengths she's gone to to find Britney Spears.
    • From episode five:
    David: So many ways of finding out the objective truth of this information would have been unethical. You can't go to his doctor and find out. That's not the type of people we are. Unless that's what you did, in which case, that is the type of people we are.
  • Failed a Spot Check: In "Video Store," Jon the store-owner claims that Laura must have missed weeks of sale signs and the fact that they sold most of their inventory. Laura disputes this and, for what it's worth, the woman who introduced Starlee to Jon also claims that there was no notice of the store's closing.
    • In "Kotter," one of Starlee's investigators is paranoid that he watched episodes so closely he missed what he was looking for.
  • Failure Montage: Episode two has Starlee calling at least four different bookstores trying to find a copy of her client's book. It's just as impossible as she was told.
  • Fangirl: Andrea, the client from episode two, was a Britney Spears fangirl even before Britney was spotted carrying her book.
  • Free-Range Children: Jimmy Turk, the kid who found the mysterious belt buckle.
  • Friend on the Force: Starlee doesn't have one, but her friend Darren does, and he's willing to ask for help on her behalf in episode four.
  • Gasp!: Starlee gives one when she sees the miniature toaster on the belt buckle in action for the first time.
  • Gut Feeling: In episode four, Margaret explains that she had a feeling about visiting her mother for her mother's birthday in 2001. Her mother's birthday was September 11th, and making that trip got Margaret out of New York City when the attacks happened.
  • Happily Married: A witness from episode three claims to be this, and calls his wife his soulmate.
    • The couple that Starlee meets in Vegas in episode two.
  • Hidden Depths: Starlee and Andrea are surprised by the amount, and type, of books that Britney's been seen with.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: Near the end of "Video Store," Starlee learns that the store's owner is still living above his former storefront, in the same neighborhood that Starlee had been searching.
  • Hilarity Ensues: When assigning her investigators to watch the first two seasons of "Kotter," Starlee tells them to keep an eye out for "pranks, hijinks, escapades, capers, antics or larks."
  • Human-Interest Story
  • Implausible Deniability: Starlee's interview with the staff of Paradise Cove verges into this. No one's ever seen Britney there? Okay, sure. It's been a few years. One waiter who doesn't work Tuesdays? Fair enough. An entire staff of busboys who have never worked a Tuesday? ...Okay.
  • Insane Troll Logic: In episode five, someone notes that Jake Gyllenhaal must be six-foot-three because he was (allegedly) supposed to play the Joker, who is six-foot-three. Others point out that that doesn't make sense because they can't confirm that the Joker is six-foot-three. Starlee suggests (probably jokingly) that the discrepancy might be why Jake didn't get the part.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Starlee, at least in spirit. Also Darren, her investigative reporter friend who helps out in episode four.
  • Ironic Name: Starlee and Carson agree that Bob Bland is a terrible name for a chef.
  • It's Personal: Episode four has Starlee solving a mystery for herself, and for her friend Miranda.
  • Knows a Guy Who Knows a Guy: In episode four, Starlee knows a guy who knows a cop who is willing to run the license plate.
    • In episode two, she goes through a few people who have alleged tenuous connections to Britney.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: In episode six, Starlee jokes about a conspiracy working against her, complete with witnesses having their memories altered.
  • Large Ham: David
  • Large and in Charge: Sated paints a vivid picture of Hans Jordi, who he puts at 6'6", and the no-nonsense way he ran his kitchen.
  • Lighter and Softer: Mystery Show could be considered a Lighter and Softer cousin to Serial.
  • Manly Tears: Hans Jordi at the end of episode three.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: Episode one starts with a monologue from Starlee about how she and her sister found an old safe as kids, and how that sparked her love of mysteries.
    • Subverted in "Kotter," when Jonathan asks if he should start from the beginning, and Starlee asks if "beginning" means childhood.
    Jonathan: Not that beginning.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    David: Your field agent really went over to him? Oh my god. What did I put in motion?
  • Needle in a Stack of Needles: When Starlee goes to a meeting of chefs in Arizona looking for Hans Jordi, she finds herself surrounded by "elegant European chefs."
  • Never Speak Ill of the Dead: Starlee jokingly calls Elmer Lenhardt a "dilettante," then quickly takes it back when she finds out that he's dead.
  • New Media Are Evil: Starlee calls the Internet "every amateur sleuth's jealous, undermining best friend."
  • Nice to the Waiter: Starlee has a habit of striking up conversations with everybody she encounters and makes quite a few helpful allies that way.
    • In "Britney," Starlee encounters a cab driver who once drove Britney and he speaks glowingly of her.
    • In "Belt Buckle," it's revealed that the titular belt buckle was a gift to Hans Jordi, a chef, from Bob Six, a powerful businessman who he worked for each summer for a decade.
  • No Name Given: A woman in episode four is referred to only by the alias "Margaret," presumably to protect her identity.
    • In episode three, Starlee finds a blog called Sated Epicure and refers to the blogger only as "Sated."
  • Noodle Incident: In episode five, Starlee mentions her friend Jeb, a movie producer who she met on top of a mountain in Utah. But that's a story for another time.
    • In episode one, Laura mentions that the video store is the second biggest mystery of her life.
  • No Pronunciation Guide: A variant in episode four, where the lack of punctuation on the titular Vanity Plate (ILUV 911) causes endless confusion as to what it means. 9-11? 911? 91.1?
  • Obstacle Exposition: A downplayed version in "Britney":
    Starlee: So this case boiled down to two things: a book and a person who was seen carrying that book. The person was one of the most notoriously unreachable celebrities on the planet. I decided to start with the book.
  • Once per Episode:
    • Each episode begins with Starlee meeting with her client to get a run-down of the case.
    • Each episode contains creative commercials for the show's sponsors, Kind Snacks and Square Space.
    • Each episode ends with Starlee giving a cryptic clue about the next episode, except for the last one, where she gave an explanation for the previous one.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome In episode five, Starlee convincing Jake Gyllenhaal to do an interview.
  • One Steve Limit: Starlee assumes that Bob Bland and Bob Six are the same person. They're not.
    • Also subverted in episode six with Starlee's client Jonathan and John, an author that she meets during her investigation.
  • Opening Narration: Quoted at the top of the page.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: David says that celebheights.com has "the Infinite Jest of Jake-Gyllenhaal-height-related discourse."
  • Plucky Girl: Starlee
  • Police are Useless: Justified in episode four, where Starlee goes to a police station and meets a lieutenant who tells her that no, he's not allowed to run a stranger's license plate and give Starlee her personal information just because Starlee is curious. Then subverted when Starlee's friend Darren has a police contact who is willing to help.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Sloane's awkward encounter in episode five happened because her phone died and she couldn't see Starlee's message to back down.
  • Posthumous Character: Episode six has Elmer Lenhardt, the creator of the Welcome Back, Kotter lunchbox that the episode revolves around. The audience gets to know him through his friends.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: In episode six, wrestler Colt Cabana admits that he makes his own costumes.
  • Red Herring: A few:
    • In episode one, Starlee finds herself in a neighborhood bar, surrounded by locals fondly reminiscing about a neighborhood video store that had suddenly shut down due to a flood. Case closed, right? Except the store in question closed about 20 years before, long before the movie that Laura rented had even been released.
    • In episode three, Starlee convinces herself that Bob Six is a pseudonym for Bob Bland. It isn't.
    • Starlee spends a good chunk of episode four trying to figure out what the 911 in "ILUV 911" could mean, not believing that it could mean September 11th as she first believed. Turns out that's exactly what it referred to, but not for the reasons you might think.
  • Running Gag: In episode six, everybody can tell Starlee what the knotted-jacket prank is, but not where it came from or why it's funny.
  • Serious Business: The debate over Jake Gyllenhaal's height is this to the folks on celebheights.com. David mocks them while also becoming overly invested himself.
  • Shout-Out: Quite a few, including:
    • Episode one, "Video Store," includes shout-outs to You've Got Mail, The Money Pit and Frida Kahlo. Starlee also stops at a diner that has pictures of Law & Order cast members on the wall.
    • In epsiode two, "Britney," buying V.I.P. passes from Ticketmaster involves completing a Robert Frost quote.
    • In episode five, "Source Code," David shouts out the theater where he saw the titular film. Starlee also mentions Peter Sarsgaard and The Dark Knight. (Specifically, the rumor that Jake Gyllenhaal was supposed to play The Joker.)
    • Episode six, "Kotter," naturally contains a number of shout-outs to the show's cast, and also mentioned "John Travolta, dealing with the release of Going Clear on HBO." It also goes into depth discussing the lunchbox industry and the many properties that had lunchboxes made.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Starlee invokes this jokingly in "Kotter":
    Starlee: As someone who's been in the mystery business for weeks, this case frankly seemed a little beneath my experience level.
  • The Stakeout: Discussed, then averted, in episode four. Starlee and a friend prepare for a stakeout, but can't find any good spots to park for it. They don't go away empty-handed, though.
  • Stern Teacher: How Sated describes Hans Jordi, which made the sight of him in his "Swiss cowboy" attire quite the surprise, not to mention the A grade
  • Stock Unsolved Mysteries: In the opening of episode one, Starlee mentions Amelia Earhart and D.B. Cooper as mysteries that intrigue her. She admits that she'll have to work her way up to them.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: Both Chef Rene and Bob Bland describe Hans Jordi as a "typical Swiss." Justified because they were all friends and it might be an inside joke.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: In one of the Square Space ads, Starlee advises letting someone else listen to your voicemails and sugarcoat the contents for you to relieve stress. Including how your mother just called to say she was proud of you and didn't mention, three times, that you haven't called in a while.
  • Take That!: Episode one's client gets in a few shots at Must Love Dogs, the film that she rented from the titular video store and was unable to return. Starlee tries to be a little more diplomatic.
  • Time Passes Montage: In episode five, Starlee just describes everything that happens as time passes, in a somewhat hyperbolic way. She also suggests that we picture a calender with the pages falling off.
  • Title Drop: Episode three begins with Starlee and her client naming the episode:
    Carson: Okay, so, what two words do you know about my mystery?
    Starlee: Belt Buckle.
    Carson: That is a good title for it.
  • The Un-Reveal: Episode one, "Video Store," ends with the titular store's owner blatantly contradicting this client's version of events, leaving the truth of the matter unclear.
  • Verbal Backspace: Episode five has two from the same person:
    • Some helpful career advice:
    Jake: One thing I have learned: when you try to destroy your career, it only brings wonderful things. Don't ever use that advice. That's the worse piece of advice anyone has ever given.
    • And a few minutes later:
    Jake: Maybe we can all go out to dinner, and then you can measure me, and you can make sure.
    Starlee: [beat] Okay. I mean...
    Jake: Or not. Forget about it.
    Starlee: No, my pause was not that that was a bad idea.
    Jake: No, never mind. I didn't want to anyway.
  • Viva Las Vegas!: Starlee goes to Vegas in episode two, but if she hit any casinos or got married, it's not mentioned. She does mention that her hotel lobby doesn't even have slot machines.
  • Waxing Lyrical: Dennis, the customer service rep in episode two, quotes Gotye:
    Dennis: You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness.
  • Wham Line: Downplayed, because it actually has no impact on the mystery, but it sure does pack a wallop and change the course of the conversation:
    Alan Sacks: I was held at gun point by Phil Spector for like 5 hours.
  • Worthy Opponent: David comes to admire how adamant Jake Gyllenhaal is about not revealing his height.
  • You Are Not Alone: Starlee to Dennis.
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