Cast: Selena Gomez, Steve Martin, Martin Short, Aaron Dominguez, Amy Ryan, Julian Cihi, and ensemble
Creator: John Hoffman, Steve Martin.
Director: Jamie Babbit, Cherien Debis, Gillian Robespierre, and Don Scardino.
Streaming On: Disney+ Hotstar in India and also on Hulu for rest of the world.
Language: English (with subtitles).
Runtime: Around 35 minutes each episode.
Only Murders In The Building Review: What’s It About:
Three civilians in New York, one in her 20 somethings (Mabel, Selena Gomez) and two having attained their senior citizenship card (Charles and Oliver, Steve and Martin) are obsessed with investigative stories (a podcast in their case). A murder in their building makes them involved in one real-life investigation and the twist and turns to the killer make the show.
Only Murders In The Building Review: What Works:
While inviting Mabel to his apartment for one of their investigative meetings, Charles discusses with Oliver about how he should address the message to her. He first asks whether he should call or drop a text. Oliver says ‘calls bother them for some reason’. Finally, after Charles manages to find a proper way to address the message and sends it, Mabel replies he doesn’t need to do that with the informal texts.
Such is the relationship between the three leads of Only Murders In The Building. They are three parts of three different jigsaw puzzles and just the fact that all the three puzzles are about the same thing is what works as the only common thread. In this case they all love the adventure of solving a murder mystery. Now as one might expect it to be all dark and gory, (come on the title has ‘murders’ in it), the show works in contradiction. You thought the veteran icons Steve Martin & Martin Short will come together and there won’t be brutal digs and jokes?
I am not a fan of the whodunnit genre, but one movie that has managed to impress me for the longest is of course Woody Allen’s 1993 classic Manhattan Murder Mystery. The Selena Gomez starrer series takes inspiration from the same. The opening sequence has the three leads meet in a lift, joined by the man who is going to be murdered just a few moments after. Go back to the 1993 classic and take the reference. Only Murders In The Building is clever to describe it in a word. It knows that it has put the biggest of the stars in strangest of the position and it acknowledges that.
Fourth wall is almost broken through dialogues and they in a way make fun of themselves. ‘Everyone is a podcaster now’ someone on the TV says, and the camera pans to these three who are also creating one. Cut to the next scene, the same criticism brings them a hefty cheque. Nothing is really predictable down here. They are making you laugh at a murder, and that is a tough territory to enter. Finding comedy in misery while being empathetic is the real victory here.
What is not predictable is also the narrator of the show. Every episode has a different narrator, and they explain it in the way they see the world. One episode is narrated by a deaf character with a silent voiceover. Now he has seen the whole scene in silence, you have to adjust your viewing technique with his. Such a refreshing move.
Only Murders In The Building has something to offer for everyone. Steve and Martin in the first 4 episodes sprinkle their magic of gags in full swing. Selena adds the perfect mystery. It is with episode 5 things get more serious and intriguing.
Only Murders In The Building Review: Star Performance:
These three put together are one of the most unique trios. Steve Martin as Charles is a yesteryear TV star who saw a downfall post a period but still living in the glory of the past. He thinks too little of himself, prefers a loner life and his nose bleed due to anxiety of talking to people. Steve is a pro at playing this character makes us laugh at his misery.
Complete opposite is the failed but still behaving like the best, Martin Short’s Oliver. He is the social animal, who has lost everything he had to an ambitious play he directed. He kind of brings them together. Together Charles and Oliver play off of each other’s energy and they are almost married in their arguments.
Balancing the crazy vibe is Selena Gomez’s Mabel who is a fashionista in her own way. She stays in a house under renovation, carries a killing weapon and dreams of killing her killer. Well, doesn’t look sorted, because she is not. Selena has the tough job to act like she doesn’t know anything while knowing everything on the show. She wins.
Only Murders In The Building Review: What Doesn’t Work:
Selena Gomez is introduced as a headstrong woman who talks about harassment and crime against women, but never to be spoken again.
The climax is after a 10 episode build-up but it just passes by in a blink. Now it is obvious the focus post that is setting up a probable season 2. But it looks like they rushed.
Only Murders In The Building Review: Last Words:
It’s not everyday you come across whodunnit shows that you can also laugh at. This is a rare gem that deserves to be seen. Get on board this mystery. I didn’t give any spoilers! Thank me later.
Want to watch something lighthearted, read our Little Things Season 4 review for the same!