Review by Sean Boelman
There may not have ever been a show with as wide of an appeal as Only Murders in the Building, a true crime-inspired comedy starring Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez. Genuinely funny and featuring a surprisingly well-written mystery, this is sure to be the next series to set the internet ablaze.
The series follows three residents of a luxurious apartment building who start a podcast investigating the mysterious death of one of their neighbors. It’s definitely very of-the-moment in the way it pokes fun at the phenomenon that true crime podcasts have become, but the timelessness of the Martin/Short duo will allow it to outlive the trend upon which it is based.
Each thirty minute episode follows our amateur detectives as they go down a new path, be it a red herring or a shocking twist that pushes it in an entirely different direction. The result is an unpredictable ride that will keep the viewer guessing, pulling the rug out from under them as soon as they think they have it all figured out.
It does take a bit of time for the show to find its footing as the first few episodes must set up the mystery and all of the players before we get to watch the trio of bumbling investigators find their way around a murder scene. However, once the series stops trying to hook viewers and instead sticks to being itself, it’s a lot of fun to watch.
The characterization in the series works very well, especially as one gets into the later episodes of the season. Although everyone (including the three leads) comes off a tad on the archetypal side in the first few times we see them after they are introduced, the characters soon quickly come into their own and feel lived in.
Of course, the comedic duo of Steve Martin and Martin Short is absolutely iconic, and they deliver on the same charm they always have. They are both lovably goofy in their roles. Selena Gomez adds a nice bit of modern flair to the mix as well. In the supporting cast, there are some amazing cameos best left unspoiled, but one major player who gives a particularly notable turn is Nathan Lane.
The series also does some exceptional things on a technical level. The production design and score are some of the best of the year so far. And there is one really ambitious episode shot primarily from the perspective of a deaf character in which the story is told without spoken dialogue.
Only Murders in the Building is a delightful new comedy, but no one would expect any less from the people involved. It’s sure to be a hit among audiences young and old, as there is plenty to enjoy all-around.
Only Murders in the Building streams on Hulu beginning August 31 with new episodes releasing subsequent Tuesdays. Eight out of ten episodes reviewed.