I think I may be the last of the Geeks to give a shot to Only Murders in the Building, the comedy series starring Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez. Honestly, I thought it was a movie when I saw it advertised, but I made a mental note to check it out at some point and here we are.
Granted, the “last of the Geeks to try something the others all seem to like” could also apply to Ted Lasso, but I still haven’t checked that one out yet.
It’s a clever premise as three strangers, neighbors in the same apartment building, all realize they enjoy the same true crime podcast, and when someone dies under mysterious circumstances, decide to do their own as they investigate the crime. In one of the better jokes in an already solid pilot episode, a rather world-weary police detective, seeing the trio trying to sneak away from the scene of the crime, asks them what podcast they listen to before bemoaning the fact that far too many people like these three do that sort of thing.
However, it is worth looking into who the three of them are.
First, there’s Charles-Haden Savage (co-creator Steve Martin), an actor from a once-popular TV series that aired years earlier who believes he’s better off alone because he took too much after his abusive father in every other way and he didn’t want to go that route. He opens with a monologue about how the really dangerous places are the big city like his New York home but the rural areas where a pile of bodies can be more easily disposed of in someone’s yard.
Then there’s Mabel (Gomez), a young woman renovating her aunt’s apartment for her. She might be a fashion designer, or at least an aspiring one. She seems to hate the city and the attention she gets from men there, getting a good night’s sleep sometimes only after she imagines violently killing one, and this comes after a cold open when her panicky companions find her covered in blood and kneeling over a body she says she didn’t kill.
And finally, there’s Oliver Putnam (Martin Short), an out-of-work Broadway director, forced to beg money from his adult son, and who loves the city so long as no one tries to run him over in the street. I’m not much of a fan of Short’s work in general, but he does manage quite well here, even pulling the heartstrings effectively as he refuses to sell his apartment so he could have enough money to actually live off.
However, during a brief elevator ride with the three, a fourth person, a young man named Tim, boards, ignores them, and leaves. He turns up dead later, something the cops rule a suicide, but nothing about him seemed suicidal to Charles, Oliver, or Mabel. They even find an engagement ring stashed in a package he never received, and if there’s one thing that these three know…it’s true crime podcasts. So, with Oliver as director, Charles as narrator, and Mabel helping with the investigations, the three are going to look into this one unsolved case to start with the podcast titled Only Murders in the Building.
See, everything is out in the open…except Mabel seemed to hold back that Tim was one of a pair of guys, high school friends, that she dubbed the Hardy Boys. Should I ask where the other one went?