Review: Netflix’s ‘Murderville’ is unscripted, unexpected

Photo courtesy of IMDb

By Emma Weidmann | Staff Writer

Netflix’s “Murderville” is a brand new comedy series, each episode focusing on a new murder case to be solved by a rookie detective. Every new episode features a different guest star as the trainee, who plays themselves. Guest stars include a diverse cast of football players, Emmy winners and primetime comedy hosts, making for an unexpected 30 minutes of television each time.

The show’s most interesting twist is that the guest stars are not given a script, yet are tasked with the sole responsibility of solving the crime. At the end of the episode, the police chief inexplicably bursts into the room wherever the detectives happen to be and demands an explanation from the guest star, who will have to defend their decision of who is guilty.

The best of these guest stars include former NFL player Marshawn Lynch, comedian Conan O’Brien and actors Kumail Nanjiani and Annie Murphy, who recently won an Emmy for her role on “Schitt’s Creek.” Marshawn Lynch’s cool, laid-back acting is a perfect contrast to the high-strung and insecure head homicide detective Terry Seattle, played by Will Arnett. Murphy and Nanjiani also lend their award-winning comedic timing generously.

“Death — It’s part of the job when you’re a homicide detective. You learn to live with it,” detective Seattle said dryly. Seattle is one of the few permanent characters on “Murderville,” besides his estranged wife who is the chief of police.

All of the murder mysteries on “Murderville” are hilariously cartoonish and absurd, but the suspects and the evidence are straightforward enough that audiences are capable of solving the crime alongside Seattle and his revolving door of partners.

The most nonsensical of crimes on “Murderville” is episode two, “Triplet Homicide,” in which Marshawn Lynch must decipher which identical triplet has killed their mother over a disagreement over their failing doll business. The triplets, a doomsday prepper, a magician and a gambler, are all played by Rob Huebel.

The least entertaining part of the entire show is its main character, Terry Seattle. Despite being one of only a few permanent characters, Seattle’s personality is abrasive and immature to the point of being truly obnoxious. Obviously, this is all purposeful. Nobody could watch Seattle’s character and think he had many redeeming qualities. The ridiculousness of Seattle allows for the guest stars to seem like shimmering beacons of rationality and normalcy in comparison.

For those who are looking to watch something new on Netflix this spring, “Murderville” is a good choice. At just six 30-minute episodes, “Murderville” is short and sweet, but long enough for viewers to get a feel for the dynamics of Seattle and his partners, but not too long that the cases become too predictable and the cast of characters becomes boring.