“Murderville” provides puzzles, laughs

Daniel Graham, Staff Writer

“Murderville” is a comedic show that parodies murder mysteries that debuted on Netflix earlier this year. The show is a quick, light watch that is often funny and clever.

“Munderville” has one season that is six episodes long. Each episode lasts about half an hour, and each one is self-contained, except for a secondary plotline that links them together and comes to fruition in the final episode.

The show is based on a British show called “Murder in Successville,” and has a similar plot to it, wherein each episode features a different celebrity guest who has no knowledge of what is going to happen. The show’s main character, Tony Seattle—played by Will Arnett—leads the guest through a murder investigation, and at the end, the guest must decide which of the suspects they believe is the perpetrator.

Though Arnett and the supporting actors on the show have a script, everything the guest does on the show is improvised. This requires Arnett and the supporting actors to do some improv of their own, which sometimes leads to them breaking character during scenes. This adds to the overall appeal of the show, because it emphasizes how unscripted and off-the-cuff it is.

Arnett’s role in the show is performed well. His character is a down-on-his-luck eccentric detective who has recently divorced his boss, the police chief, after seventeen years of marriage. His partner was killed years before the show takes place, and each new guest is supposed to be a possible replacement for her.

Arnett does a great job in each episode of working with the guest, providing them with as much support and direction as they need. He has a good feel for which guests need more help getting off the ground, and which ones don’t. He maintains control without getting in the way; his role is crucial to the show running as smooth as it does.

The show’s first guest is comedian Conan O’Brien, and he is the best of the series. O’Brien has a lot of experience in comedy and is a great improviser, so it is no surprise that he gets comfortable on the show right out of the gate and finds the role he wants to play.

The show’s second guest is NFL player Marshawn Lynch, and he takes second-best of the series. Though Lynch is not a comedian or improviser by profession, he is known to be a funny personality, and he does not disappoint in this appearance. Arnett guides him through the show a little bit more than he does with O’Brien, but Lynch is never at a loss for what to do when presented with an opportunity for a joke.

The rest of the guests are comedian Kumail Nanjiani, actress Annie Murphy, actress Sharon Stone, and actor Ken Jeong. They range, in order, from good to mediocre. There is a good variety of celebrities in the show’s guest list, with Lynch and Stone standing out as the most unexpected (Stone’s performance doesn’t measure up to Lynch’s, but it has its moments).

The only real disappointing guest is Jeong, who, despite his experience as a comedic actor, never seems to have a clear idea of what kind of character he wants to play. His main trait for most of the show seems to be that he finds everything funny and laughs constantly. This makes him seem unnatural and detracts from the chemistry Arnett tries to build with him.

Beyond its comedy, the show also provides its audience with a puzzle to solve. Because the guest has no prior knowledge of what is going on, all of the clues for them to solve the mystery have to appear in the show itself, meaning that the audience can play along as well.

Each mystery can be solved, and they are all somewhat challenging. They are simple mysteries, based on clues that must be followed throughout the whole show. Usually, focusing in on one or two of the clues the guest is given at the start can lead to the correct perpetrator.

The main problem the show faces is that it follows a rigid formula. Each episode goes through the exact same progression of events, starting with an introduction to the guest, then a visit to the crime scene, then an interview with each of the three suspects, and then an accusation scene.

This repetition is not horrible for six episodes, but it will get dull if the show continues. Each episode does have a unique mystery in a unique setting, but that can only last for so long. Hopefully, the show ends with these six episodes, or the following seasons find some way for it to evolve.

Overall, “Murderville” is a high quality show that provides humor and fun. It peaks in the first couple of episodes, but the rest of the series manages to stay afloat. It is a quick watch that is well worth the time.