Murderville is now streaming on Netflix.
By Greg Wheeler
Murderville is a US remake of the original UK show, Murder in Successville. While Murderville is likely to get more eyeballs on it, especially given the international release, it doesn’t quite live up to the brilliance of the original UK show.
For those unaware, Murderville is a partly improvised comedy murder-mystery mash-up. Each episode introduces senior homicide detective Terry Seattle (Will Arnett) who teams up with various celebrity guests in order to solve a murder. While the actors around the celebrity in question have lines and read from a script, the celebrity themselves completely improvise their way through the episode, making for a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to the quality and comedy of each chapter.
You see, a master at improv like Conan O’Brien slickly works his way through the material, delivering a slew of funny and witty one-liners that give Arnett a run for his money. However, there are other times when certain guests try a little too hard or don’t quite hit the same comedic level. Sometimes it’s charming and endearing while other times it just falls flat. This one’s going to be an acquired taste but if you’re sold after two episodes, you’re in for a rip-roaring ride.
Murderville is undeniably quirky and there’s a really nice energy to a lot of the episodes, allowing you to actually get involved in the cases alongside the script to try and figure out who the killer is.
Each chapter sees three suspects interviewed, and one of them is the killer. Through their dialogue, stories and mannerisms, there are little clues along the way to point to the real suspect. If you intend to watch these in quick succession, by the halfway point of the show you’ll have figured out a pattern and easily pick who the killer is every time if you’re savvy enough to spot that. No spoilers here of course, but it is a pretty big deterrent.
Most of the episodes run through a number of different improv scenarios, ranging from interview questions and physical comedy to slapstick and quick-thinking gags. Not all the episodes are trailblazers, and it really depends on who the celebrity guest is as to how enjoyable and free-flowing these chapters are.
However, despite those gripes you’re likely to have a blast with this one – but only if you don’t compare it to the UK version. This remake is nowhere near as endearing or clever. Despite that, there are a lot of silly jokes and enough gags and incredulous scenarios to keep you entertained, with classic zingers like “I only murdered her because I wanted her dead!” perfectly exemplifying the level of humor we’re playing with here.
Murderville is a bit of a mixed bag at times but how much you get out of this depends on how enamored you are with the UK version. There are some genuine laugh-out-loud moments here and taking it on its own merit, Murderville is good value for its six episodes. It’s not perfect, but it is a fun way to kill a few hours.
I give Murderville a B-.