I’ve had Disney+ for a couple of months now and I know I’ve only scratched the surface of what the streaming service has to offer. The biggest issue isn’t finding something good on it as I’ve already perused through Disney+’s library of content for the Philippines and it is still rather substantial. However, I have been sticking to the things that I know I’ve already enjoyed in the past. Things like Gargoyles and revised Duck Tales have already made it so the service is worth my money. But there came a time when I wanted to try something new.
That’s when I realized I was concentrating too much on the Disney side of Disney+. Why not take a look see at the non-Disney stuff? I’m not talking about things like Star Wars or the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I’m talking more about the movies and programs on the Star branch of Disney+. They had some really odd programs like reruns of Castle, starring Nathan Fillion, and movies like Predator, with Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime. No, I wanted something new.
That’s when I laid eyes on Only Murders in the Building. I have heard of the show as, when the first season was being aired, it was getting some good buzz for Hulu and was getting a good number of nominations for the cast. So I decided to go try out Only Murders in the Building to see what all the hoopla was about.
I loved it. I binged all of the episodes of the available seasons in a week. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let me get to what I like about Only Murders in the Building later after I give a brief summary of the show.
Only Murders in the Building mostly takes place in the Arconia, a high-class apartment building in New York that is filled with rather eccentric residents. One of them mysteriously dies and, when the building is evacuated for the police to investigate, three of the residents meet for the first time and become quick friends thanks to their shared love of murder mystery podcasts. One is a washed up television actor. The other is a failed Broadway producer and the last member is a young and struggling artist. The police clear the scene and allow the residents to return to the Arconia as they’ve ruled the death to be a suicide. The trio feel like the detectives may have missed something so they decide to join forces to look into it themselves… and they might as well make a podcast while they investigate.
Probably the best thing about Only Murders in the Building are actually the characters and the performances. The show has veteran funnymen in Steve Martin and Martin Short and, as the two have acted together a lot previously, you know they have the chemistry down pat. What’s really amazing is how they integrated Selena Gomez into the group and, while there is a massive age difference, she never comes off as out of place in the trio. Selena Gomez is able to bounce off her lines to Steve Martin and Martin Short with a more brash and generally apathetic delivery but it still comes off as authentic.
It certainly helps that all of the characters in the show are pretty well written and likable in their own way. Steve Martin’s Charles-Haden Savage, the aging thespian who lives a rather lonely life, shows a lot of growth as he gets to know the others in his murder investigation podcast group. Martin Short’s Oliver Putnam, the down-on-his-luck Broadway producer, always seems to try to have an angle to spice up the podcast and sees this as an opportunity to get back some of the spotlight he lost. Last but not least, there’s Selena Gomez’s Mabel Mora, the struggling artist who does seem out of place in the high-class setting of the Arconia, making her both the most down-to-earth as well as the street smart one of the group. Throughout both seasons, you get to know a lot about their backstories and they’re given a lot of character growth, which is always nice.
The supporting cast is also no slouch as well as they all make their characters their own. From Lester, the very elderly and friendly doorman of the Arconia, Howard, the very mild and seemingly timid cat owner, to Cinda Canning, the podcast producer who makes the trio’s current favorite murder podcast, they all pull their weight here. They’re all unusual in their own right but that really helps to distinguish them from one another and makes it feel you can’t replace one of them with another.
Strangely enough, I will say the biggest weakness of Only Murders in the Building are, well, the actual murder mysteries. I usually expect shows like this to be solvable for the viewer. I would think the producers and the writers already figured out who the murderer is and would sprinkle in clues throughout the season. This doesn’t seem to be the case as each season seems to rely mostly on throwing in different twists and turns as well as a whole bunch of red herrings just for good measure.
Without spoiling anything, I will admit the first season’s central murder can actually be solved but you would need some specific obscure knowledge as the clue is in plain sight for a brief second. But otherwise, normal whodunnit fans wouldn’t know until it’s explained. The problem is only exacerbated as there are literally no clues to be seen and, when the solution is presented, things don’t really seem to make a whole lot of sense.
Normally, I would be very upset because, well, a murder mystery series where you can’t solve the murder doesn’t seem right to me. However, for Only Murders in the Building, I don’t really mind it that much. Oh, I still get rather upset, especially during the end of the second season as there were literally no clues given. But I did give it a pass as the journey to get to that point was a blast. Besides, at a certain point, I did start finding myself caring more about what was going to happen next to Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez’s characters rather than me trying to figure out who the killer was. But I still felt rather cheated as the actual mystery didn’t feel satisfying.
Even with this issue I have with Only Murders in the Building, I do wish the murders were better written but this problem is could be overlooked thanks to the brilliant acting of Steve Martin, Martin Short, Selena Gomez and the rest of the cast. I also have to say I enjoyed the first season more than the second season because the actual murder could be figured out if you have the right trivia knowledge. I do hope Hulu does a better job with the third season regarding the clues but I do know I’ll still be watching it when it pops on my Disney+ service.
Have you seen Only Murders in the Building? What did you think of the show? Let me know in the comments section below!