*TV SERIES RECAP: ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING (Season 1)

First, I have to get something off my chest. I think that it should not be allowed for streaming platforms to release episodes of their shows on a week-to-week basis…… Okay, there I said it.

After watching the first two episodes, I really wanted to binge the fuck out of this series in one or two sittings, but I made the mistake of starting this series right smack in the middle of its initial week-to-week release back in September. As a result, I had to suffer and wait every week for a new episode to drop.

Anyhow, this is a charming murder-crime mystery type of show with lots of whimsical comedy. Two great comedy legends, Steve Martin and Martin Short reunite for some brilliant stuff here. The chemistry between Steve Martin and Martin Short has always been pure fire, case in point, the Father of the Bride series, Three Amigos, Broadway shows, and a few other things along the way.

The story takes place at the Arconia apartment building, an upscale NYC co-op in the Upper West Side. Steve Martin is Charles Haden-Savage, an actor best known for playing a TV detective in the 90s. Charles lives alone; he seems lonely and bored. Martin Short is Oliver Putnam, a washed-up broadway director, and producer— Oliver is struggling to keep up with his UWS lifestyle and is in desperate need of money. Also, Selena Gomez joins our legendary duo as Mabel Mora, a mysterious young girl living in the same building.

The central premise here surrounds the murder of Tim Kono (Julian Cihi), a resident of the Arconia who is found dead in his apartment. The circumstances of his murder are highly suspicious. At the same time, Charles, Oliver, and Mabel share an interest and passion for true crime podcasts, and they decide to join forces to solve the murder of their fellow neighbor.

Armed with a handful of clues, the three of them start their own investigation and their own podcast chronicling their investigation. There are layers and layers of intrigue sprinkled throughout the entire 10 episodes of the first season.

Sometimes, the performances are a bit over the top — somewhat typical of Martin and Short, but it all works nicely. Surprisingly, Selena Gomez steps into this already established chemistry and holds her own. The generational gap between them is what drives things here. There is a sense of sadness and loneliness from these three characters — which pulls them towards each other.

The Arconia building is a crucial component of the series; it is a character by itself with many moving parts. The building residents are also important characters; they are all pretty weird and eccentric. Nathan Lane is outstanding here; his scenes with Martin and Short are remarkable. Sting playing a fictionalized version of himself is hilarious.

I liked how the show focused on the recent growth of true-crime podcast culture and made it part of the actual amateur crime-solving storyline. Even the Hardy Boys young adult mystery series is featured prominently in the show.

Only Murders in the Building is a delightful and entertaining show. It is a very New York-driven show, especially if you live in NYC. It is diverse, progressive, and although exaggerated at times, it still comes off as realistic enough. You can’t help rooting for these characters and their delusional detective skills. I cannot wait for season 2 — spoiler alert, the final episode sets up next season’s murder mystery. It is definitely one of the best and most satisfying shows of 2021.

Four out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿🍿

Only Murders in the Building (2021). Streaming on HULU.

*TV SERIES RECAP: HIGH FIDELITY (Season 1)

First of all, I am a purist when it comes to original content, so it is essential to emphasize how much I dislike reboots or remakes…. I get the sense sometimes that Hollywood is hitting rock bottom when it comes to creating original content; however, this TV version of High Fidelity was a pleasant surprise. Based on the High Fidelity novel by Nick Hornby, which was released in 1995 and made into a well-received film in 2000 starring John Cusack.

Gender roles are reversed for the TV version: The main character Rob is now short for Robyn, played by Zoe Kravitz. Rob owns Championship Vinyl in Crown Heights Brooklyn, a small but well-curated record store with only two employees. The story revolves around Rob revisiting her top 5 heartbreaks while tracking down her former lovers and attempting to make sense of where things went wrong in those past relationships. Zoe Kravitz shines here; in terms of owning this character — in her scenes, she comes across as natural, organic, and very charismatic —Which is a significant difference from John Cusack’s Rob.

In the movie version, Rob is not as likable as the TV version of Rob. Kravitz plays a more empathetic, warm, and down-to-earth version of this character that feels more grounded in reality. She is a hell of a lot more open-minded and less judgmental than the movie Rob…. and although TV Rob has an eclectic and well-cultivated music taste — she doesn’t care about how well curated your music collection is. She is open to different types of musical tastes. Zoe Kravitz’s mom Lisa Bonet was also one of the stars of the movie version, which is a cool connection here.

The loud, opinionated, and annoying Championship Vinyl employee Jack Black played in the movie version is now Cherise, played by Da’Vine Joy Randolph. Both versions share similar characteristics, but Cherise’s character development was a bit slow…there is an air of mystery about her, which I am sure will be further explored in the second season. The other record store employee Simon is played by David H. Holmes, who is more reserved and thoughtful about his opinions. The chemistry between the two Championship Vinyl employees and Rob is excellent.

Brooklyn hipster life is depicted beautifully here. The vibe and tone of Crown heights feel lively, with people walking around in the background, things happening all over. The whole place is teeming with life. The local Bodega and the local dive bar are both featured prominently, which are essential staples of New York City living. Rob’s state of mind is often displayed through music, showing us where she stands emotionally at that particular moment. The scene when she is walking home from the club after her birthday celebration while Frank Ocean’s Nikes play in the background fits perfectly with Rob’s emotional state. Also, showing her messy apartment as a projection of the disorder in her personal life complemented the narrative well — Rob eating cereal like a broke college student is another display of the emotional chaos in her life — she is supposed to be a business owner, and her surroundings do not really scream serious small business owner.

Considered just on its terms, High Fidelity is a well-made music-centric, progressive love story that is both moving and entertaining. As I binged on this show, I could not help getting a bit nostalgic and appreciate the small things this lockdown has taken from all of us who live, work, and play in New York City.

Four out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿🍿

High Fidelity (Season 1). Streaming on HULU

%d bloggers like this: