Review: 'Only Murders In The Building' Starts Out with Promise, Grows Convoluted in Season 2

by Karin McKie

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday June 28, 2022

Review: 'Only Murders In The Building'  Starts Out with Promise, Grows Convoluted in Season 2
  (Source:Hulu/Disney)

When we last left our intrepid amateur sleuths, they had barely solved a mysterious death in their building via a podcast. Series creator, writer, and star Steve Martin returns as old-school TV actor Charles Haden-Savage with his two other amigos, hack Broadway producer and "tiny one" Oliver (Martin Short), plus emerging artist and established smartass Mabel (Selena Gomez), for Season Two of "Only Murders in the Building."

Mabel "needs a life away from death," and just wants to have brunch every once in a while, or watch chess in the park. Oliver is enjoying helping his adult son direct a school production based on "The Wizard of Oz." Charles is back at work on the reboot of his "Brazzos" TV show. The two oldsters continue to have trouble understanding "youth speak," saying "it's like watching 'Squid Game' without subtitles." But just when they thought they were out of the investigation biz, a fresh murder pulls them back in. The meta meditations continue here, as the trio notes that "it's rare for a true crime podcast to have a sequel."

This latest 10-part series launches these Arconiacs (residents of NYC's historic Upper West Side Arconia) into an investigation of another assault. Building president and "New York classic" Bunny Folger (Jayne Houdyshell, hilarious) winds up with a knitting needle in her chest in Mabel's apartment, her lifeblood seeping into her OMITB signature tie-dyed hoodie merch. Bunny had a talking bird, Mrs. Gambolini, who may or may not have seen something, and a valuable pornographic painting of Charles' father and her mother, the daughter of the building's 1908 architect (who created many secret passages behind the walls).

Solid supporting players return, like Jackie Hoffman as busybody neighbor Uma, Nathan Lane as Greek deli tycoon Teddy Dimas, Jane Lynch as the "Brazzos" body double, and Tina Fey as condescending podcast producer Cinda, who chides her assistant for "letting in all the loud air" to her sound booth. Cameos include Amy Schumer at the new owner of Sting's penthouse (and possible purchaser of production rights), Andrea Martin as makeup artist Joy, Shirley MacLaine as Bunny's mother, and Mark Consuelos as Mabel's dad, whose flashbacks show that he led his daughter to her love of solving puzzles and to cos-playing as Scully from "The X-Files."

Mabel now seems to have amnesia, often entering into inexplicable fugue states, like when many soap opera story lines jump the shark. The whodunnit narrative starts as self-acknowledging and promising, but becomes convoluted under its own weight and struggles to justify conclusions from the first series.

Season Two of "Only Murders in the Building" streams on Hulu starting June 28.

Karin McKie is a writer, educator and activist at KarinMcKie.com