Will Arnett in Netflix’s Improv Detective Comedy

As the puzzle unfolds, Murderville looks like an explosion to deal with. Each episode, a different celebrity guest is invited to team up with Detective Terry Seattle (Will Arnett) to solve a murder, the difference is that although Arnett and the rest of the cast know the where the story is going, but not the famous guest. Instead, celebrities are left to improvise on a case-by-case basis, trying to find the killer through any clues they can find along the way.

It’s part improv, part immersive experience, and part scripted crime comedy – and if you’re thinking two-thirds of that sounds more fun to watch, you’ve got it. correct. It is not Murderville was a bad time. Blessed with a lovable cast, the game’s guest stars, and sufficiently challenging mysteries, the six episodes range from light-hearted fun to sensible redirects. It’s never as exciting as it seems – or as the people on screen seem to think it is.


Key point

Clever puzzles are buried in faded comedy.

Release date: Thursday, February 3 (Netflix)
Cast: Will Arnett, Haneefah Wood, Lilan Bowden, Phillip Smithey
Production operator: Krister Johnson, Will Arnett, Marc Forman, Jonathan Stern, Peter Principato, Brian Steinberg

All episodes follow the same core beat: Sheriff Rhonda (Haneefah Wood) introduces Terry to his new partner; medical examiner Amber (Lilan Bowden) for Terry and his partner around the crime scene; Terry and his partner interrogate three suspects; partners indicate possible killers; Rhonda reveals the correct solution. A never-ending string of distractions adds another layer of difficulty and humour. For example, Terry dipped Conan O’Brien’s meal with sauce in one interview, while one suspect asked Annie Murphy to assemble elaborate pastries in another.

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Murderville Ruggedly designed to be played from home. Each case is solvable based on hints scattered throughout the episodes, and directors Iain Morris and Brennan Shroff strike a delicate balance that makes them noticeable but not dazzling eye. I can only crack the case about half the time – you’ll use your powers of deduction – and I look forward to Rhonda’s detailed explanations at the end of each episode, whether to pat yourself on the back. for subtle signs no. ‘ d lift or smack my forehead at the obvious ones I’d missed.

The series also does a great job of building the entire universe around these instances. Arnett is hilariously committed as Terry Seattle, able to maintain his personality and composure even as he describes a murder case as “a classic Humpty Dumpty” or warns Sharon Stone not to fall in love with him. ta. (On the rare occasions when his lips twitch, his Ron Swanson-style mustache helps to hide it.) Ongoing stories about Terry’s divorce from Rhonda or the murder of his previous partner. he is unresolved that is intertwined throughout the series, set in the generic “big city” that Terry describes as a place “where only the strong survive and the ruthless thrive”; In a bold twist, the actual image of the city leans closer to the clear blue sky of Parks and Recreation than the shadow of Mare of Easttown.

In that carefully crafted setting, celebrities seem just about anything. Terry tells Marshawn Lynch to mirror the actions of a suspect in the interrogation room, and Ken Jeong affects the goofy Irish accent. He can convince Kumail Nanjiani to assume a strange walk and Murphy wear a fake beard, or push O’Brien into a situation where he has to explain a bloody murder to a small child. Stone even closely follows Terry’s lead in editing the nipples of a corpse (or rather, an actor with a dramatic face playing a corpse), simply for laughs.

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The problem is that most of these clips don’t really bring much laughter, or at least not enough to justify the episodes’ half-hour run time. Some filling nonsense is to be expected from a show that attempts to blend improv comedy and murder mystery. Arguably, it’s even necessary: Murderville can be too easy to deal with, and it certainly doesn’t deliver on the promise of watching celebrities happily do stupid things for themselves. Meaning, a very tight edit would make Murderville feel hard Murderville at all.

But Murderville because it’s like something smaller than the sum of its parts. It states that there is no difference in quality between episodes starring celebrities who are professional comedians and those who do not star; all rendered equally amused only by Terry’s quirky instructions and the demands of these meticulously constructed plots. Celebrities may not get scripts to follow, but they also aren’t allowed to create their own characters or direct their own cases.

And it turns out there are only so many comedies that even an experienced actor like Jeong can try to adjust the timbre and volume of his voice at Terry’s behest, and there are only so many, even a single character. charismatic way like Lynch can do his lines. Terry through the headset feels like his own. Murdervilleunit of broadly pleasing people, ending with neat, easy-to-understand responses. The bigger mystery they left behind was why they weren’t more fun to watch the game.

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