TL;DR – This special shows that they have learned from performing the first season and put those lessons into designing one of the funniest things I have seen in a while.
Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix service that viewed this show.
Who Killed Santa? A Murderville Murder Mystery Title Review –
Earlier in 2022, there was the odd show that dropped on Netflix. It was a bunch of comedians being dropped in a murder mystery, but they don’t have a script. I thought the first season of Murderville was fine, but you could feel the story wrenching people in one direction rather than organically developing. I didn’t think much of it after I watched it. However, when I saw there was a Christmas special, well, I had to give it a look.
So to set the scene, Detective Terry Seattle (Will Arnett) is home alone, feeling bad about Christmas. Still, Mayor Palmer (Tawny Newsome) needed security at a Christmas event, and Chief Rhonda Jenkins-Seattle (Haneefah Wood) ain’t gonna do it because she is on holiday. But Seattle can’t do this by himself, bring on his new trainee Jason Bateman (Jason Bateman). Everything was going fine until lights went out, and when they came back, Santa, aka John ‘Johnny’ Blaze, aka Sean Hayes, was dead with a candy cane sticking out of his chest. They need to find out who the killer is, but they have to do it before the Sun comes up, or the orphans will not get their presents.
As I sit here, I wonder what about the special worked better than the show for me, and I think the first thing was that they had more than a comedian in the scenes. Having two people who are clueless in the scene gives the comedians someone else to bounce off who is not attached to the plot. Even before Maya Rudolph came onto the scene, they had Sean Hayes playing a dead Santa who desperately tries not to laugh, which heightened the entire scene. The next strength is that this was a longer episode, which meant that they didn’t need to rush through the story giving them the space to be a bit looser around the edges, which is what this show needed.
There are still worldbuilding elements that, once again, are the weakest parts of the show. However, thankfully they are mostly shoehorned into bookending the special at the start and end, which lets the comedy in the middle have the space it needs without as much of the shoehorned plot forcing things in one direction. Though I will say that if you like murder mysteries and working them out, this might not be for you because it is relatively easy to determine who the murderer is.
In the end, do we recommend Who Killed Santa? A Murderville Murder Mystery? Yes, we do. Look, I had a blast with Jason Bateman and Maya Rudolph stumbling around this city hall trying to find a murderer, and I would have recommended it just for that. But then the ending happened, and I think I was laughing my arse off for a solid five minutes.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Who Killed Santa? A Murderville Murder Mystery
Directed by – Laura Murphy
Written by – Owen Burke, Marina Cockenberg, Krister Johnson & Kerry O’Neill
Created by – Krister Johnson
Based On – Murder in Successville by Tiger Aspect Productions
Production/Distribution Companies – Electric Avenue, Abominable Pictures, Artists First, Sony Pictures Television & Netflix
Starring – Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, Maya Rudolph & Pete Davidson with Sean Hayes, Haneefah Wood, Lilan Bowden, Kurt Braunohler, Dennice Cisneros, Eliza Coupe, Jessica Elaina Eason, Alex Jayne Go, Marshawn Lynch, Liam Martinez, Tawny Newsome, Courtney Parchman & Steven Zirnkilton