Outside of the Marvel shows, Disney Plus has so far been a one-stop shop for all the intellectual properties and studio back catalogues it has bought up. So it is a genuine delight for the non-franchise-based show Only Murders In The Building to be gaining traction, thanks to a fine combination of performances, writing, mystery, and comedy.
What Is Only Murders In The Building About?
Only Murders In The Building is co-created by and co-starring Steve Martin. Along with Martin Short and Selena Gomez, our main cast play a collection of true-crime podcast fans who, upon discovering that an actual murder has taken place in their upmarket NYC apartment building, decide to put together their own podcast whilst trying to track down the culprit.
A pompous washed-up TV detective (Charles Haden-Savage – Steve Martin), a flamboyant but failed Broadway director (Oliver Putnam – Martin Short) and a sullen apartment renovator (Mabel Mora – Selena Gomez) make for a surprisingly effective team.
The show works best when all three cast members are together, alternating between collective excitement at their own investigations and bickering as their personalities clash.
Martin and Short's long-running friendship clearly provides great fodder here, although Gomez brings in the youthful cynicism to balance them out nicely.
Central investigation into the apparently universally disliked murder victim aside, Only Murders In The Building queues up sub-plots for each of our main cast.
Martin gets a tentative romance, Short gets ducking from financial ruin, whilst Gomez may know more about the victim, Tim Kono, than she is letting on.
These plots are all equally compelling, although Gomez takes a few episodes to warm up. In the beginning, she succumbs to such an excess of Gen Z sarcasm that she virtually forgets to move her face.
Doling out little slices of information at a time – either through clues discovered or flashbacks highlighted – Only Murders In The Building mirrors the pacing of the true crime podcasts it affectionally sends up.
Indeed, the show delights in placing a fictional hosting titan of the genre in their own building, hammed up with all due sincerity by an on form Tina Fey who plays Cinda Canning.
The comedic stylings of the show are borne out by character archetypes and crafted dialogue, with no need to lean on feed line/punch line writing that would be a distracting clash from the other genres at work.
OMITB Official Trailer
Is Only Murders In The Building Worth Watching?
Whilst most true crime podcasts take you on a journey both narratively and geographically, Only Murders In The Building makes good use of its eponymous setting.
We rarely leave the Arconia apartment building, and several plot points hinge on knowing and exploiting the insular politics of staffing and running such a complex.
Cue gorgeously decorated apartments, wide-angled shots drinking in the set design. And maybe even the odd rich and famous celebrity cameo.
Disney (and Hulu in the U.S.) are also sticking to their ‘once a week' release schedule, rather than dropping a whole series at once like most of Netflix and Amazon shows.
Remember that itching feeling when you want to watch the next episode of a show and are prevented by more than just the need to go to bed?
It's annoying but inarguably an effective way of sticking a life buoy onto a show out in the sea of ‘all at once' released competitors.
This is doubly so in a murder mystery show, yet triply annoying when the U.S. appears to be one episode ahead of us in the U.K. Unfair!
Only Murders In The Building had a bit of a slow start that suffers from typical first episode jitters. Good character work needs you to get to know the characters first.
But once you allow the soothing balm of a reassuring narrator to clasp your hand, your finger will inexorably extend to press ‘next episode'.
Season 2 Of Only Murders In The Building
The great news was that Disney/Hulu renewed the show after a hugely successful first season.
Only Murders in the Building returned on June 28th 2022, for the second season. All of our favourite characters were back, along with a few new faces, including Amy Schumer and Cara Delevingne.
The central plot revolved picked up where season 1 ended – with Bunny Folger lying dead in Mable's apartment.
So who did kill Bunny? You have to watch to find out. Suffice to say that our intrepid heroes were proven innocent and live to fight another day.
Season 3 of OMITB
With numerous award nominations and a huge fan base, Disney knows it's on to a good thing and has, once again, renewed Only Murders in the Building for a third season.
We left our amateur detectives a year after the last murder with Charles returning to the stage alongside guest star Paul Rudd.
But when Rudd collapses and dies during opening night, all eyes point to Charles Haden Savage. So is he guilty or innocent? Find out in the upcoming season 3.
If you can't wait until then, check out our list of shows like Only Murders in the Building to keep you entertained instead.
Words by Mike Record