For all the award-winning successes and hidden gems littered throughout Netflix’s catalogue, the streaming giant also has a habit for releasing some truly awful misfires. Murderville is unfortunately part of the latter category.
Featuring comedy legend Will Arnett (Lego Batman, BoJack Horseman) as toughened homicide detective caricature Terry Seattle, the show sees its protagonist join forces with a new celebrity partner in each episode to solve a collection of oddball cases. The catch is the celebrity isn’t given a script and must improvise their way to cracking the case. It’s a unique if mismatched hybrid of a reality-gameshow-meets-improvised-comedy-meets-police-procedural. There’s potential for this show to be a quirky and offbeat comedy, but it’s squandered immediately by a tediously formulaic structure and humour that ranges from juvenile to desperately lacking.
Each episode consists of three main sections: there’s the opening scene in which Seattle is reluctantly introduced to his new partner and puts them through their paces before they’re told by the chief – and Seattle’s soon-to-be ex-wife – Rhonda (Haneefah Wood) that there’s been a murder. Next, the pair travel to the scene of the crime and chat to the forensics expert (Lilan Bowden) to learn of the key clues to look out for. Then it’s a matter of interacting with three suspects in bizarre situations to find and name the culprit before Rhonda swoops in to tell the celebrity if their sleuthing was correct. Mainly, though, the show seems like an excuse for Arnett to do his Lego Batman voice and get celebrities to act as ridiculously as he can.
The cases themselves have imaginative premises, though each of the interactions play out like bad amateur theatre that’s based entirely around one joke. Whether the gag is getting Conan O’Brien to eat mouthfuls of a food smothered in hot sauce or ripping off the famous mirror gag from Duck Sound with a former NFL player, the entertainment value just isn’t there.
While Arnett’s energetic performance can generate the odd chuckle here, and there and watching The Eternal’s Kumail Nanijiani making Arnett laugh to the point of breaking character is fantastic comedy. However, none of this is enough of a reason to recommend watching this show. Murdersville is dead on a rival, and it’s no mystery why.
Murderville is released on Netflix on 3rd February 2022.
Watch the trailer for Murderville here: