The Martins Still Rock:
If comedy legends like Steve Martin and Martin Short are in a series together, it is undoubtedly worth a look; and a glimpse of the trailer would lead to clicking on Only Murders In The Building (Disney + Hotstar), co-starring Selena Gomez, to pull in young viewers.
Crime serials, even the offbeat ones, have a certain formulaic element to it—spoofed in this series with the fictional cop show, Brazzos—but Only Murders In The Building, created by Steve Martin and John Hoffman, directed by different names, is delightfully goofy and unpredictable.
Though it is set mostly in and around a luxury building complex in New York (gorgeously designed, lit and shot), it gives a feel of life in the city, where people can be lonely, but will still guard their privacy fiercely. Such a building is The Arconia, full of colourful and eccentric characters, many of them elderly. When a young resident, Tim Kono (Julian Cihi) is found dead, the neighbours don’t care as much as they do for another tenant’s dead cat.
Charles-Haden Savage (Steve Martin), in his youth, used to be the star of a hit show about a street smart cop called Brazzos. That remains his only calling card, and he is pathetically grateful when someone recognizes him. Oliver Putnam (Martin Short) used to be a Broadway director, now down on his luck and almost bankrupt. What brings the two of them together with the enigmatic artist Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez) is their love for true crime podcasts.
The cops quickly shut the case as suicide, but these three believe it was murder, and decide to investigate by themselves, not so much to help the cops, but to for the fun of it. Oliver comes up with the idea of creating their own crime podcast, titled, Only Murders In The Building, and they go about snooping and collecting information, merrily stepping over the legal line. The enthusiasm of two lonely oldies is tempered by the stoicism of Mabel, who, it turns out, had a connection with the dead man, and lied about it to her partners.
Every episode adds to the intrigue, it all connects to a murder in the past for which an innocent man was convicted. With the two comedy greats in the series, the humour never dims, even when they find themselves in macabre situations. Or, for that matter, romantic ones, like Charles’ autumn romance with a bassoonist in the apartment across the courtyard—the scene in which they play a duet from the windows of their flats is lovely.
The actors are silly and riotous, and caught up in the spirit of their energetic craziness are music superstar Sting, Tina Fey and Jimmy Fallon appearing in cameos; for those who keep track of PIOs, the music is by Siddhartha Khosla. The good news is that the show has been renewed for a second season.
(This piece first appeared in www.seniorstoday.in, on October 2, 2021)