MURDERVILLE: An Improv Show That Will Have You Guessing Who the Murderer Is Between Laughs
Directed by Iain Morris
Stars: Will Arnett, Haneefah Wood, Lilan Bowden and Philip Smithey
Guest Stars: Annie Murphy, Conan O’Brien, Ken Jeong, Kumail Nanjiani, Marshawn Lynch, and Sharon Stone
Murderville may not work for everyone because of its reliance on the guest stars improv skills for the bits to really hit and a formulaic way of each episode playing out. That being said, for myself personally this was a really fun time and I truly hope that we get a second season with a bunch of new celebrities testing out their detective skills. There were episodes that hit more than others, but to varying degrees I left off laughing and enjoy myself through the ridiculousness of the skits and Will Arnett himself.
Eccentric detective Terry Seattle teams up with clueless celebrity guest stars to investigate a series of murders in this improvisational crime comedy.
Based on the British series Murder in Successville, the series stars the ever brilliant Will Arnett as Terry Seattle. Arnett is able to carefully lend a hand in leading his guest stars through their detective work, while also not over taking the spotlight from majority of his guests. There are certain celebrities that were able to take the cues from Arnett and run with the gags better than others, and it came down to the chemistry between them and Will. In the end though, no matter if Arnett had to lead the jokes or his guest stars were able to take things into their own hands- the end result was mostly hilarity. One would get so sucked into the hijinks of him and the likes of Kumail Nanjiani or Sharon Stone- that you’d forget to follow the clues of the three suspects. Other times, you’d be going along with the celebs trying to deduce who the guilty party truly was. I think for the main cast as well, Lilan Bowden deserves a ton of appreciation for what she brought to every episode- as the forensic investigator she not only provided all the clues for the viewer and the celebrities to follow, but she also had some of the best comedic back and forths with Arnett. Without a hesitation, she was able to go between delivering clues and not breaking character to deliver remarks to the guests or Arnett.
Lastly, the celebrity guests are who makes this show what it is. If you enjoy the improv that they bring, no matter the varying level of skill that they have in the field- then you will enjoy this series. Each one is so different, you have some of the best comedic back and forths between the aforementioned Kumail and Stone. While Annie Murphy played the show much more straight forward and was just so eager to solve the crime- something that comes off endearing if you go in not expecting her to just hammer off jokes 24/7. Each one brings their own bit of flavour and chemistry to the show and to the character Terry Seattle, and by the end of the show- each one of them have a bond with the erratic detective that pushed their boundaries constantly that could never break.
What could break though? Was every celebrity, constantly throughout the improv. Constantly no matter their comedic background or experience in improv, none were able to make it the entire way through without breaking character and cracking up from something that Terry Seattle has them do or say. I’d laugh hard, and laugh even harder as the celebs mostly struggled to hold in their laughter and stay focus on the skit on hand- though Ken Jeong was unable to make it thirty seconds without laughing at everything that was said between him and the Seattle character.
Murderville is a fun new entry into the Murder Mystery genre, and I think that there is so many people out there that will enjoy the product- it’s the perfect six episode binge for a Saturday or Sunday. I’d add it to the watchlist, and when you have the time to spare and want some laughs- give this one ago.