TV review: Only Murders In The Building
ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING (NC16)
Showing now on Disney+ is the team-up you never knew you wanted: Martin, Short and Gomez?
Yes, Selena Gomez joins Steve Martin and Martin Short for this whodunit that, while poking fun at the modern genre of true crime (and its many podcasts), proves to be an entertaining murder mystery-comedy in itself.
A dead body in a fairly posh New York apartment complex brings together three strangers. They bond over their love of a true crime podcast and then suddenly decide they have what it takes to solve the murder at their doorstep - and get a podcast of their own out of it.
Martin is former TV actor Charles Hayden-Savage, Short is theatre director Oliver Putnam who barely has a bridge left unburned and possesses the anti- Midas touch when picking shows (Hamilton had "no pizzazz").
Lastly, Gomez is Mabel, whose interest in the murder is not all it seems at first.
While Martin gets to play the amiable bumbler, Short has an ability to tap into the tragicomic, switching from comically selfish to vulnerable in a second.
Mabel, despite the 40-plus-year age gap, is the trio's grown-up, and Gomez's dry delivery is a great foil to the sillier aspects of her co-stars.
Loneliness also sits alongside the amateur sleuthing. It does not overpower things, but it is fascinating that all the characters have closed themselves off for various reasons.
It dawns on Charles that his ability to wander around town unhindered has less to do with New Yorkers not caring about fame and more that he stopped being famous years ago.
All three leads seem committed to solving the crime as much for the company than seeking justice.
While there is some occasional melancholy, there is still plenty of silliness that - while not causing many guffaws - is a charming watch that pulls you in.
These are not accomplished crime solvers, and the ineptitude and resulting bickering is a joy to watch. Martin and Short have insulting each other down to a fine art.
Add some occasionally macabre moments (the frozen cat's leg is oddly more off-putting than the murder) and plenty of guest stars - such as Tina Fey as the trio's podcast icon and Sting as himself - and you have an excellent new series worth looking forward to on Disney+ that for once is not Marvel-related. - JONATHAN ROBERTS