‘Only Murders in the Building’ Season 2 review: A breathtaking, riotous ride

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Living up to its expectations, season two of this murder-mystery comedy series has clever writing, warm and fleshed-out characters, great acting, and generous doses of humor

What a joy this show is! The second season of the comic mystery, Only Murders in the Building, created by Steve Martin and John Hoffman, is a breathless twisty ride peppered with generous doses of humor. Season one ended with the murder of Bunny Folger (Jayne Houdyshell), the board president of Arconia, a swanky apartment building on the Upper West Side in New York.

Only Murders in the Building

Season: 2

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Episodes: 10

Runtime: 26–35 minutes

Creators: Steve Martin, John Hoffman

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Starring: Steve Martin, Martin Short, Selena Gomez, Cara Delevingne, Amy Ryan, Adina Verson, Shirley MacLaine

Storyline: Who killed Bunny Folger and who is trying to frame our three investigators/podcasters?

Detective podcasters Charles-Haden Savage (Martin), Oliver Putnam (Martin Short), and Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez) are arrested for the crime. With their super fans clamouring for another season of their true crime podcast, also called ‘Only Murders in the Building’, an offer for a streaming series, and a rival podcast, called ‘Only Murderers in the Building by Cinda Canning’ (Tina Fey), the jolly trio have to find Bunny’s murderer and clear their name all while delivering a gripping podcast.

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Naturally, they prove up to the task despite the many obstacles, red herrings (a talking parrot, a missing artist, and a valuable painting), and an ever-expanding list of suspects that includes a corrupt cop (Michael Rapaport), a dedicated fan who might be a serial killer (Daniel Oreskes), and an abused assistant (Adina Version).

Fathers figure prominently in the show, from Charles’ father who seemed to be having affairs with everyone, to the poignant reason for Mabel’s father’s long absences. In between the Brazzos (the cop show Charles was a star of in the ‘90s) reboot and solving the crime, Charles is also trying to be a father to his ex-girlfriend’s daughter, Lucy (Zoe Colletti). Oliver’s son, Will (Ryan Broussard), convinces him that he (Oliver) is the best father he will ever have. There is also the relationship between the deli owner and Oliver’s friend, Teddy Dimas, (Nathan Lane), and his son, Theo (James Caverly).

Mabel might find love with the classy British artist Alice (Cara Delevingne) while Charles still has feelings for his murderous girlfriend Jan (Amy Ryan). Like any good detective story, the Arconia with its gracious proportions and dusty, scary corridors is a character in itself. And like any whodunit worth its salt, the denouement is a piece of theatre. The “killer-reveal party or a reveal party that is killer” as one of the residents describes it, is where like in all those Agatha Christie novels, the suspects are gathered in one place and tricked into confessing their dastardly crime.

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The acting is excellent, as is the writing, creating warm and lived-in characters, such as the new mother and board president (Christine Ko), the talented doorman (Teddy Coluca), the shy yodeller (Michael Cyril Creighton), a detective (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), or Charles’ “stunt and emotional” double (Jane Lynch).

The dialogue is sharp and snappy with Charles saying, ‘“Manhatty’ and ‘hot goss’ — as if one’s watching Squid Games without subtitles — or an artist (Shirley Maclaine) telling Charles, “I hope you charge rent to the people inside your head.” Incidentally, continuing the tradition of artists playing fictionalized versions of themselves, stand-up comic Amy Schumer, playing herself, moves into musician Sting’s apartment.

Season 2 also ends with a murder and with the series being renewed for a third season it looks like Mabel’s desire for “a life away from death” is thankfully some distance away.

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Only Murders in the Building is presently streaming on Disney+ Hotstar

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