Murderville is Netflix’s latest murder/comedy series. The first season of Murderville has 6 episodes and each of them are approximately 35 minutes long. Based on the British show, Murder in Successville, Murderville is an amalgamation of murder/mystery comedy and an onscreen improv series. The synopsis of the show on Netflix reads, “Eccentric detective Terry Seattle teams up with clueless celebrity guest stars to investigate a series of murders in this improvisational crime comedy.” The series stars quite a few big names like Conan O’Brien, Marshawn Lynch, Kumail Nanjiani, Annie Murphy, Sharon Stone, Haneefah Wood, Lilan Bowden and others. The original audio of the series is in English.
-Murderville review does not contain any spoilers-
The series revolves around an investigator called Terry Seattle (played by Will Arnett) and his hilarious attempts to pair up with celebrities and guide them through a murder mystery, to help them figure out who the killer is. “These celebrities have no scripts and no idea what’s going to happen”, the opening scenes of every episode makes Murderville part improv comedy too. All episodes follow quite a similar format – police chief Rhonda (who is also Terry’s ex-wife) introduces the guest celebrity and thus begins Terry’s and the celebrity’s comical journey towards discovering who the probable killer might be.
Part of the reason why Murderville works so well is that it almost feels like an online simulation game. Terry is the annoyed boss who has to deal with incompetent trainees and try to guide them through the layers, much like a video game. As a viewer this gets interesting since all the clues are shown to them too, challenging them to also find out who the probable killer is. It’s almost like an open challenge that tests the viewer’s logical, rational and deductive capabilities. The guests might not get the name of the killer correct but the viewer sure can.
Secondly, Murderville also lets us observe first-hand the improv skills of the guest stars and how comfortably they can handle scenarios when they do not have a script. The series has its fair share of amusing, smart, silly and occasionally awkward scenes. Solving a murder while trying to maintain the comic element is not quite an easy task. However, there is no way out from this incredibly crafted universe of Terry Seattle for whom every new day means a new murder case.
Murderville is however not as funny as it wants to be. It features a great cast, cleverly crafted puzzling mysteries but sometimes forgets to enjoy the moments of sheer awkwardness. The fact that it is trying too hard to be funny is very obvious which sometimes turns out to be quite a downer. The viewer can easily pinpoint the moments that were specifically crafted to draw in a few laughs but failed to do so. Will Arnett is a well-oiled veteran when it comes to handling comedies and it shows. He keeps the viewers hooked to the screen, and keeps things flowing when his trainees have a hard time putting the clues together.
Summing up, Murderville
Imagine a video game where you are competing with players to figure out mysteries and get points every time you correctly guess who the killer is. Murderville is exactly that, except the fact that the reward here is this one “Aha, I figured it out” moment that you are most likely to have. If you want to engage in some silly banter, whilst observing and figuring out the clues, Murderville is your best choice. It does try too hard at times, but so do we, when we realise that we might have misconstrued our own deductive abilities.
Murderville is now streaming on Netflix.
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