Will Arnett is Senior Detective Terry Seattle – a cop with some personal problems, including a divorce and an ex-partner whose murder was never solved. On Murderville, a new semi-scripted comedy series on Netflix, Terry teams up with a new celebrity guest star as his partner-in-training in each episode. The catch? The guest star never gets a script, and has to improvise their way through some silly situations and try to solve a murder.
Murderville is adapted from a BAFTA winning BBC3 series Murder in Successville, and each of the six episodes follows the same simple structure: The duo discover a body, notes a couple of clues, and interviews three possible suspects. At the end, the guest detective has to make a guess about who the killer is – and either gets congratulated… or humiliated.
Part of the fun of the show is that each celebrity guest approaches things differently: Marshawn Lynch constantly seems in over his head, Sharon Stone maybe takes things too seriously (especially the part about not falling in love with Terry Seattle), and Ken Jeong can’t stop laughing through most of his episode. The cast of guests are filled out with Annie Murphy, Conan O’Brien, and Kumail Nanjiani.
While improv comedy can be hit-or-miss, Murderville’s controlled structure keeps things headed in the right direction. With six episodes, it also doesn’t overstay its welcome or allow the formula to wear you out, and the different guests keep things fresh. The scenarios are extremely silly, but the structure keeps it simple, and while just sitting back and laughing at the characters’ undercover antics is entertaining enough, playing along and trying to identify the murderer adds an extra layer of viewing fun.