Review: Only Murders in the Building – gosh, whodunnit?

Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez in Only Murders in the Building

Only Murders in the Building recently aired its season 1 finale on Hulu. A lot of folks have been watching it week to week and already know it is an awesome series. But I want to go on record here by summing up the entire season with this news: It is an awesome series.

Only Murders in the Building stars Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez as residents of a building in which a murder happens. They are all true crime buffs and decide to do their own true crime podcast about the murder in their building. They solve the case while getting famous as podcasters.

Charles-Haden Savage (Steve Martin) is a former TV star who still knows all the lines from his shows. Oliver Putnam (Martin Short) is a broke Broadway director who is about to be evicted. Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez) is secretly connected to the building, to a long-ago murder, and to the guy killed in episode one, Tim Kono (Julian Cihi).

Every time I heard the name Mabel it made me smile. Such an old-timey name for a character who is hanging around with old-timers like Steve Martin and Martin Short. (#EldersRock)

A good part of the reason the series works so well is the chemistry between Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez. They are terrific together and separately. The contrast in personality and age between the three of them is good for a lot of laughs.

The entire series, created by Steve Martin and John Hoffman, is good for a lot of laughs. It’s clever and fresh. It’s surprising. It’s improbable but feels real. It’s got heart and soul and delicious plot turns.

During season 1, the trio of amateur sleuths suspect almost everyone in their building. This includes their upstairs neighbor Sting. All their neighbors get tried and convicted on the podcast, but wait, oops, that couldn’t have been the murderer after all.

Let’s review some of the important characters.

Selena Gomez and Aaron Dominguez in Only Murders in the Building

Oscar (Aaron Dominguez) is an old friend of Mabel’s who knows her connection to the long ago death. He’s one of the first suspects in Tim Kono’s murder.

Da'Vine Joy Randolph in Only Murders in the Building

Da’Vine Joy Randolph plays Detective Williams the incompetent cop who sometimes shows up to ask a few questions about the murder.

Another reason for the success of this series is guest stars like Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Tina Fey, or Jane Lynch. They walk into a scene and dominate the heck out of it. They twirl through it like a whirlwind and leave you gaping as they blow offstage.

Nathan Lane in Only Murders in the Building

Nathan Lane had a bigger role as a guest star because he lived in the building, became a suspect, and became a financial supporter of the podcast.

Steve Martin, Amy Ryan, and Selena Gomez in Only Murders in the Building

Amy Ryan as Jan was a regular on the series. She played bassoon and charmed the pants (literally) off Charles-Haden Savage. (Old guys having sex – who wrote this wild and crazy stuff?)

The directors were mostly women: Jamie Babbit, Cherien Dabis, Gillian Robespierre, and Don Scardino. My recommendation, if you haven’t seen this series yet, watch it now.

Poster for Only Murders in the Building

Enjoy the teaser.

4 thoughts on “Review: Only Murders in the Building – gosh, whodunnit?”

  1. christopher swaby

    i saw the casting and wondered how Selena Gomez would be able to hang with the comedy legends of Mr. Martin and Mr. Short. well, she did in spades. what a fantastic little series. so much good work done by everyone. loved loved loved this series.

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