ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING (Season 3) -- Not as Snappy or Enjoyable as Past Seasons, but Still Fun
Review by Dan Skip Allen
Only Murders in the Building took the world by storm a few years ago. It was this show that wasn't like anything on television or streaming. It starred two heavyweights of comedy — both alumni of SNL — Steve Martin and Martin Short, and child star turned megastar Selena Gomez. An unlikely trio if I ever heard of one. They made magic together in the first two seasons of this show. I laughed so much while watching it. The third season is a bit different and doesn't have the charm or laugh factor of the first two seasons.
The third season is centered around a production of a new play by Short's character Oliver. He has assembled a new cast of actors for the play, including Martin's, Charles's character, Paul Rudd, and Meryl Streep, who are new members of the show as cast members of the show’s cast. The new cast members bring a fun and entertaining element to the show, but in a good turn, they aren't in every episode, which allows the original three to shine more.
Gomez's character Mabel is again the center of the story. She has a good rapport with the other two guys, and she bounces back between them in the story. Her character is more concise in the story. We, the viewer, live vicariously through her. She finds clues and starts using them to investigate the murder centered in the series. I would call her the emotional support animal within the series. If that makes sense at all. Everybody relies on her to be their stability within the show.
The fourth episode, mostly featuring Martin's character, “The White Room,” was one of my favorites of the series. He is supposed to sing or say a patter song about the supposed murderers in the play, which is now a musical because of the death of a character in the play. Everything he sings while doing the patter song causes him to crack up and ends up in a white room. It's pretty funny.
One of the fun additions to this series is how relationships, or specifically love, play into the show. All the main characters have experienced love at one time or another in the series, but this season love is in the air quite a bit. All our main characters have some kind of love entanglement, which all play a big part in the show, but specifically, episode five shows a lot of this behavior with these characters and their significant others. It's a good diversion from the main storyline in episode 5, “Ah, Love!”
I love a good murder mystery, that's why I love this show so much. There are all these twists and turns that I love so much in this season, as well as the past seasons. The clues are always right there for us to see. Just like the main characters, we have to put them all together so they make sense. The obligatory miscues happen and people are accused without a warrant, but that always happens in this kind of mystery show. Eventually, the clues fall into place, though.
The Arconia is the setting of this series, but in seasons past, it played a bigger part in the murder mystery. This season is more of a glamorous place the showrunners and writers use as a place the characters love and cherish. This is a beautiful building with a fantastic set and production design. These rooms look amazing. Despite my hatred for New York, this seems like a great place to live and mingle with the neighbors upstairs, downstairs, and across the hall. The showrunners have made this a glamorous place.
Season three of Only Murders In the Building starts a bit confusing and clunky, but settles into the usual fun and enjoyment fans of this series have come to know. Episode 6, “Ghost Light” is the best episode of the season. It has multiple stories going on at the same time, but the main characters all have good arcs. The unsung hero of the show is Michael Cyril Creighton as Howard. He has a lot to do this season, and he takes the challenge of that. He is an underrated actor, and I'm glad to see him shine in this role. There are a lot of clues that help everyone solve this mystery murder.
Season 3 of Only Murders in the Building is a mixed bag. There are a handful of episodes that fans of the series will surely enjoy, but lose their way from time to time. The three main actors, Martin, Short, and Gomez, all have various episodes and arcs where they shine as usual. The supporting cast, Streep, Rudd, and especially Cyril Richardson, are all very good in their various roles. The story as a whole isn't of the quality of the first two seasons. And the laughs aren't as frequent either. I'm still a fan of this show, but it lacks the quality all the way around seasons one and two. It's hard for a series to continue to keep up a successful pace, as this one has, so it makes sense it takes a small dip in quality.
Only Murders in the Building streams on Hulu beginning August 8. Eight out of ten episodes reviewed.