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Hein’s Picks: Steve Martin and Martin Short Don't Disappoint in Hulu's Only Murders in the Building

PLUS: Dug Days, Bitchin': The Sound and Fury of Rick James, and Billions.
  • Martin Short and Steve Martin play true crime-obsessed sleuths in Hulu's new comedy series. (Photo: Hulu)
    Martin Short and Steve Martin play true crime-obsessed sleuths in Hulu's new comedy series. (Photo: Hulu)

    Jon Hein knows TV. In the late 1990s, he coined the phrase "Jump the Shark" when he founded the site of the same name. Since then, he's written about television everywhere from The New York Times to TV Guide. In his column for Primetimer, he shares his thoughts on what's new and good on TV and the shows on his radar for the coming week.

    There's nothing better than a bankable star. You see the name, you know the project is worth checking out. Bryan Cranston. Tom Hanks. Regina King.

    When I see the names Steve Martin and Martin Short, there's no question that I’m going to be cracking up. And it won't be easy laughs, either.

    The legendary comedic duo was last seen together on the small screen three years ago in Netflix's An Evening You'll Forget For The Rest Of Your Life. If you couldn't see them live on stage, this concert performance was the next best thing.

    Now they've teamed for the new Hulu mystery/comedy series Only Murders In The Building which premieres this Tuesday. Steve Martin co-created the ten-episode series which takes place on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

    When it comes to comedy, it doesn't get any funnier or more original than Steve Martin and Martin Short. Steve has been making me laugh since his early stand-up and wild and crazy guy days on Saturday Night Live. Martin was cracking me up at SCTV well before his one-year stint at SNL.

    These two first worked together teaming with Chevy Chase for Three Amigos and haven't been all that far apart ever since. On the big screen, Martin played Frank (pronounced “Frahnk”) when Steve was Father of the Bride (twice). They have been touring the country with a hilarious stage show for the past few years.

    Originality is what makes Steve Martin and Martin Short so special. It's never the same old thing. Their creativity always leads to more than just a punch line, and neither is afraid to make themselves the butt of the joke.

    True-crime podcasts are at the heart of this new Hulu series. Steve stars as Charles, a somewhat forgotten 90's TV tough-guy cop, and Martin plays failed Broadway stage director, Oliver. The two cross paths in their building, The Arconia, and their obsessive knowledge of an Oklahoma murder podcast brings them together when someone is killed at their residence. Joining these two is fellow podcast obsessive Mabel (Selena Gomez), the third member of this comedy trio and the antithesis of Chevy Chase.

    You read that right. Selena Gomez is part of the team, and she more than holds her own in the series. She teaches the elder comedy statesmen what makes sense in today's world, but Mabel is just as obsessed with true-crime as Charles and Oliver are. She is the perfect foil to these two wannabe sleuths who are dealing with their own personal crises.

    Most of the show’s action takes place in their posh New York City apartment building which feels overcrowded and is starting to show its age. Upper West Siders Tina Fey, Nathan Lane and Sting are along for the ride as the trio decides it's their time to make a podcast of their very own.

    The series mocks the true-crime podcast universe as it slips more deeply into it. There are plenty of unexpected twists and turns as we get to know the other residents and others close to our leads. The episode “The Boy From 6B” is told from a truly unique perspective (it's killing me not to spoil it for you) as the mystery continues to unravel.

    The seemingly simple premise goes places where only Steve Martin can go. Expect the unexpected until the final minutes of the final episode. The laughs and intrigue are consistent throughout, and the show gets better as it progresses. Just like a good podcast.

    Bank on it.

    THIS WEEK’S SPTINAFOBYMB!
    (Shows Premiering That I'm Not A Fan Of But You Might Be!)

    Sparking Joy with Marie Kondo (NETFLIX) – Who's ready to fold? Sparks Tuesday.

    How To Be A Cowboy (NETFLIX) – Dale Brisby leads the way on the Radiator Ranch. Mounts up Wednesday.

    What We Do In The Shadows (FX) – Two new eps of a show everyone has told me to watch but I haven't gotten to yet. Creeps Thursday at 10 on FX.

    Cinderella (AMAZON) – Live-action musical with a star studded cast - what could possibly go wrong? Charms Friday.

    Happier Than Ever: A Love Letter To Los Angeles (DISNEY+) – Billie Eilish at the Hollywood Bowl with the LA Philharmonic. Pops Friday.

    Money Heist (NETFLIX) – The first half of the fifth and final season stuck in the Bank of Spain. Unmasks Sunday.

    THIS WEEK'S PICKS
    Talking dogs, super freaks and Axe Capital…

    Pixar's Dug Days (DISNEY+)
    Wednesday, September 1st

    We all remember Dug, the talking dog from the classic Pixar film Up!. Dug was the comic relief in an uplifting animated classic that deals with loneliness and death. Now he's got his very own series.

    Dug Days is precisely what you want it to be – witty scenarios involving a talking dog and plenty of cuteness. The series is cleverly centered around puppies, fireworks, and other issues that drive dogs crazy. If you’ve always wondered what your dog is thinking, this is the show for you.

    Bitchin': The Sound and Fury of Rick James (SHOWTIME)
    Friday, September 3rd 9pm

    Give it to me, baby. Dave Chappelle immortalized Rick James in his Comedy Central show, but this talented musician was much more than a punch line.

    This documentary pulls no punches as it explores how this soul singer did things his way, as outlandish as that might have been. The life of the talented James is well worth the trip into his complicated and rebellious soul. Watch trailer.

    Billions (SHOWTIME)
    Sunday, September 5th 9pm Season 5, Part 2

    More than a year is a long time to wait for the second part of a season. But hey, this is the COVID world we all live in today. No need to go back – Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis) continues to battle new foe Mike Prince (Corey Stoll) with Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) waiting to make the right move.

    Alliances will be formed and broken, lives will be destroyed and resurrected, vocabulary no one uses in real life will be omnipresent, good tunes will be heard, cool Manhattan locations will be on display, and money will be everywhere. Can't wait.

    If you love or hate my picks, I'd love to hear from you.

    Get vaccinated. Stay healthy and safe!

    Jon Hein is the creator of "Jump the Shark" and author of three books. Follow him @jonhein on Twitter.

    TOPICS: Only Murders In The Building , Hulu, Martin Short, Steve Martin