“Only Murders in the Building” – Episodes 1, 2 & 3

“You Goddamn true crime f*ckin’ numb-nuts.”

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Within the first 10 minutes, Only Murders in the Building makes it abundantly clear that this show is a love letter to true crime fans, podcast lovers, and Broadway enthusiasts. It also has something for comedy as well as mystery fanatics. So yes, this show is basically for everyone.

Starring Steve Martin, Selena Gomez and Martin Short, the show follows three neighbors who find themselves investigating a crime that took place in their apartment building on the Upper West Side. The trio have little to nothing in common, besides a shared interest in Serial-esque podcasts and keeping secrets.

(left to right): Selena Gomez, Martin Short, and Steve Martin

One of the strongest things about Only Murders, at least in the first three episodes (all of which Hulu decided to release at once), is its incredibly fast-paced nature and quick zingers. The premiere in particular wastes no time in setting up the premise of the show–besides a cringeworthy in medais res that we’re all going to pretend didn’t happen–and introducing us to the colorful characters of Arconia, the apartment building in which they all live. Director Jamie Babbit also does some incredible shots of the trio in every elevator shot that we see in the first three episodes (and we see a lot of elevator shots), so credit where credit is due.

Surprising no one, Martin, Short and Gomez are wonderful performances that bring so much nuance to their respective characters. Whether Mabel (Gomez), the archetype Millennial, is correcting Charles (Martin) on how he doesn’t need to sign every text or how she looked up “all of the websites on the Internet”, or whether Oliver (Short) lives every moment as if he is shooting a Broadway play, there’s plenty of meta-commentary on the cultural exchange that occurs, and it’s safe to say this would have easily fumbled with lesser performers. Gomez, who I have not seen in an acting gig since Wizards of Waverly Place, doesn’t quite the kind of hefty material her male counterparts do in the first episode. Luckily, that is slightly rectified by the time the credits rolled over the third episode (no spoilers).

Just when I thought the pilot was going in a very expected trajectory, the episode ends on a brilliant cliffhanger. It’s the kind of ending that is reminiscent of a network TV show closing out their pilot with a bang, forcing people to tune in the following week for more. While the consequent two episodes aren’t quite as meticulously plotted, I’d be damned if I didn’t say I am already hooked and can’t wait for more.

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