Television Man | Aidan Morgan | Sept. 9, 2021
Have you, like me, ever wanted a murder mystery series starring Steve Martin and Martin Short? Do you enjoy the kind of Manhattan-set story that is certain to produce the phrase “the city is another character” in reviews? Do you wonder if Selena Gomez’ abilities as a performer would translate well to television? In that case, you’re probably the target market for Only Murders in the Building (Hulu/Disney+), a Manhattan-set murder mystery series starring Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez.
Unfortunately, Only Murders In The Building is an odd mess of a show, mixing tones and ideas in such an off-putting fashion it made me feel like someone was pulling an extremely elaborate and expensive prank on me. The three leads play unlikeable, misfit residents of a Manhattan apartment building who share an obsession with true crime podcasts. When one of the residents is found dead under mysterious circumstances, they take it upon themselves to solve the mystery by starting a true crime podcast.
Maybe I’m not the target market for this after all, because I absolutely hate this premise. Watching two Boomer comedy icons try and turn meta-podcast-based bickering into comedy while Selena Gomez looks on in disbelief gets old instantly. It’s an idea that’s so of the moment that it will be hopelessly dated by the time the second season rolls around. A few creative and poignant moments aside, Only Murders feels like an idea in search of an actual show.
In the sixth-season finale of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Sarah Lance (Caitly Lotz) and Mick Rory (Dominic Purcell) share a valedictory drink and reflect on their shared adventures over the years. As the only original cast members in a show that features at least half a dozen leads, their conversation feels like a commentary on the show itself.
Originally conceived as a holding cell for Arrowverse characters who’d been written off their host series, Legends of Tomorrow began life as a dour and self-serious show whose only saving grace was its talented cast. By the end of season two, the show’s creators leaned into the inherent silliness of its premise (time-travelling D-list heroes try to right historical wrongs, generally creating more problems). The result was a glorious, absurd mess of a series.
Season six introduced an alien abduction storyline and while the results were comparatively subdued compared to earlier seasons (no one turned into a giant demon-fighting blue plushie, for instance), there was still plenty of absurdity and heart to go around. If the cliffhanger finale leaves you wanting more, you won’t have long to wait. Season seven of Legends debuts on Wednesday, Oct. 13.