Everyone loves a fun little murder mystery. They’re a blast, especially when they’re filled with big stars and twists and a handful of goofball hijinks. Who did it? Was it that guy? Or was it the other guy? Or the lady in the fur coat? She seems like she has secrets. Let’s keep an eye on her. Better yet, let’s have a quirky detective – professional and slick or amateur and bumbling, or professional and bumbling or amateur and slick – look into her. Let’s get real weird with it, too. Have everyone on the set crank it all the way up to 10 in any way they see fit: outfits, costumes, motives and/or weapons, all of it. Fun little murder mysteries rarely miss. They’re so much better than actual murder. I think we can all agree on that. I hope we can all agree on that. Please do not murder anyone. Definitely do not murder me. I do not think I would like that very much. But I do love a fun little murder mystery. Please, if you are someone who is in charge of these things or has influence over some who is, just go ahead and make a lot more of them.
We’ve been on such a good run of fun little murder mysteries, too. We went through a dark period for a minute there. Murder mysteries were bleak, man. There was True Detective and Mare of Easttown and another True Detective or two and it was all quite grim and full of detectives who did not seem to bathe often enough and had trouble solving crimes because of their demons. They were good, mostly, and a surprising amount of fun in the moment with all the theories and memes and second life they created online, but yeah, a pretty bleak affair. These things move in waves, though. There’s a kind of snap-back that happens after a while where things shift back the other way. That’s what we have here lately. Murder mysteries got fun again. Do you want some examples? I have some examples.
Knives Out was one good fun little murder mystery. You remember Knives Out. Daniel Craig doing his southern accent, Ana de Armas trying to clear her name, Chris Evans in the most comfortable sweaters you’ve ever seen. That movie was great, like a real-life game of Clue but with a slew of funny and talented people — Don Johnson! Jamie Lee Curtis! Edi Patterson! — all being petty and nasty to each other for a few hours before we found out who did it. (So… kind of like the movie Clue.) That’s a classic formula. Daniel Craig looked like he was in heaven, too, free for a bit from playing a humorless James Bond (make James Bond fun and silly again, too, please, but that’s another rant), just chewing up all the scenery he could find in the best way possible. They’re making another one soon, with his character coming back to investigate a new murder in the Greek islands. I hope he says this exact line of dialogue again.
You know what else was a fun little murder mystery? Only Murders in the Building. This shouldn’t have been a surprise, I guess. All Steve Martin and Martin Short have done for about four or five decades now is make neat stuff that people have enjoyed. We should have looked at this one and said, “Hmm, yeah, I bet a show with these two riffing on the murder podcast genre will be pretty good,” but still, there it was, a hoot from beginning to end. It’s cool that Hulu threw some money at them and told them to go nuts a little bit. It’s cool that they looped in Selena Gomez and let her breathe a bunch of life into the whole affair, in a way that made it all feel fresh and new. It’s cool that Nathan Lane got to show up and be devious as hell and it’s cool that Jane Lynch popped up like halfway through as a character named, I swear to God, Sazz Pataki, who was, I swear to God again, Steve Martin’s character’s old stunt double.
Sazz Pataki. Sorry, I just wanted to type that again. Say it out loud right now, wherever you are, even if there are people around. It’s a good piece of business.
Hey, speaking of good pieces of business, did you watch The Afterparty on Apple TV yet? Man, I hope you did. I ate that sucker up. It started with a simple premise — “What if a pop star played by Dave Franco got murdered on the night of a high school reunion and the suspects were a collection of your favorite comedic actors and actresses from other shows you like?” — and took it to dizzying heights. Each episode was styled like a different genre of storytelling, action movies and rom-coms and animation and all of it. Tiffany Haddish played the detective. Sam Richardson and Ben Schwartz were in there, which was good because they should be in everything. This happened, which I kind of just want to present without context. And I will.
These are just three recent good examples. There have been more out there, too. Adam Sandler literally made a movie titled Murder Mystery for Netflix a few years ago and that wasn’t bad, either. It’s all been really cool for me, a dude who loves fun stuff and has seen every episode of Columbo at least once. But I think it’s cool in general, too, for reasons beyond “because Brian likes it.” People have loved watching whodunnits forever. And reading them. Agatha Christie wrote like 600 murder mysteries many decades ago and people still read them on the beach every summer. They’re captivating when done right, especially in a week-to-week television format, where the communal viewing experience adds to the intrigue, with everyone playing detective on their own between episodes, posting all their weirdo ideas about the proceedings. But movies work, too. There’s something nice about introducing a problem and providing a solution to that problem in about two hours. It’s all great. I love it. Everyone loves it. There are probably enough shows and movies about scammers right now anyway. Let’s kill some people again. I mean, uh, fictionally. Only fictionally. I cannot stress strongly enough how bad actual murder is. The worst.
- Please make more fun little murder mysteries
- Please do not murder me, or anyone else
- Maybe cast Jake Johnson from New Girl and Patti Harrison from I Think You Should Leave as the detectives and/or murderers in one of these, just to see if it works as well as I think it will