Netflix had a series recently called Murderville, where celebrities joined Will Arnett’s character Detective Terry Seattle as homicide detective trainees, trying to solve a murder. The twist was that the celebrities did not receive a script and everything was straight improvisation.
The series had some moments to it, and it was always better when the celebrity had some improv skill. However, some of the moments were pretty painful.
A special Murderville arrived on Netflix this weekend, with a Christmas theme and a cast including Jason Bateman, Maya Rudolph, Pete Davison and Sean Hayes.
At a gathering at City Hall, Santa (Sean Hayes) is stabbed through the heart with a sharpened candy cane and Terry Seattle and his trainees looked to figure out the culprit.
I love improv, but the problem with Murderville is that the people they recruit are not improv experts and so it can become very messy. Both Maya Rudolph and Jason Bateman are funny, but they were constantly stepping on each other and none of it helped while Will Arnett was screaming and being too loud. Improv requires listening and working together, but there are just too many moments when everyone was trying to get their line in.
They would also toss some improv games into the mix. The Good Cop, Bad Cop bit was my favorite of these. One of the staples of this show was sending the celebrities undercover with Terry Seattle providing lines to them via headset. That always felt too forced, as it did here too.
The reveal of who the killer was was an entertaining stretch, but still felt too out of control.
These actors were also just cracking themselves up. Some laughing is understandable, but when the dead body is laughing hysterically, there may be a problem.
Overall, this is a harmless special, but it was really messy and could have been funnier. I would love to see a Colin Mochrie or a Ryan Styles on the case to show how season veteran improv performers handle the case.