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.
The most unlikely true-crime investigative trio on television is back. This Tuesday, Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez return for season two of Only Murders In The Building on Hulu.
The first season was a huge success right from the start with the legendary Steve Martin on a weekly TV show. Pairing up Steve with another comedy legend Martin Short and pop sensation Selena Gomez worked like a charm. Selena more than held her own, and the plot twists and celebrity cameos made the Hulu show a delight.
With Season 2 comes some lofty expectations. The trio has no one to blame but themselves for this good problem. Get ready for the sophomore jinx reviews (not this one) and criticism of what the show "should have been" in their attempt at a second chapter.
The show revolves around a murder mystery podcast now slated to return for its second season, so there's plenty of self-referential humor about the pitfalls of recapturing that magic. In the style of Martin and Short (and now Gomez), they are more than willing to make themselves the butt of the jokes which adds to the charm of the comedy. No one is safe.
The primary challenge of the first season also carries over into the second — how do you root for people who aren't all that likable? Let's face it, Charles is full of himself as former TV detective Brazzos, Mabel gives off plenty of attitude and proximity to dead bodies, and Oliver is cluelessly dipping everywhere with his failed directing credits and Broadway abrasiveness.
The good news is that the Upper West Side of Manhattan hasn't lost any of its character and remains integral to the plot. Having recently lived in the area, I can tell you that the apartment dwellers that the trio encounters aren't entirely fictional. Narration shifts between multiple characters this season who provide a sense of what living in a building like that is all about.
The guest stars who helped carry season one also appear in this go around. Upper West Side native Tina Fey is back with her competing podcast, Only Murderers In The Building. Martin Short’s long-time SCTV pal Andrea Martin is a fantastic addition. Cara Delevingne gets very close with Selena Gomez, and native New Yorkers Michael Rapaport and Amy Schumer also turn up around The Arconia.
Ironically, the one thing this trio cannot do this season is a podcast about a murder case they're directly involved in. As the season progresses, the writing gets a bit messy, but the charm of the cast keeps us engaged and smiling.
There's mystery in Only Murders In The Building, but more importantly, quality time with brilliant comedians and lots of laughs to go around. Who could ask for anything more?
Here's what else is worth watching this week…
Stranger Things Season 4, Vol 2 (NETFLIX)
Friday, July 1st
Seven episodes down and two big ones to go. When we last left the Upside Down crew, 011 had regained her powers as she relived her destruction of 001 and relegated him to Vecna status. We've got major situations in Indiana and Russia that the cast will be forced to handle, and casualties almost certainly await.
The Duffer Brothers created two epic episodes to wrap up the fourth season. A fifth season has already been announced, but we all know that no one is safe in Hawkins. The show is at its best when the kids join together in the fight, and we are set up for some crazy conflict before this one is done. Watch trailer.
The Terminal List (Prime Video)
Friday, July 1st
Chris Pratt stars as James Reece, a Navy SEAL who returns home after his entire platoon gets ambushed under nefarious circumstances. Dark forces are working against not only him, but also the ones he loves.
Based on The New York Times bestseller written by a Navy SEAL, Chris Pratt in a Rambo-esque role is free from military restrictions to use his unique skills to track down whoever was behind the ambush and get his revenge. The plot, and action, are exactly what you'd expect from a series thriller directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day).
The Split Season 3 (BBC America)
Monday, June 27th 11:00 PM ET
Yes, I recommended the Sundance Now premiere of this last week, so I'm cheating by yet again recommending it as it makes its terrestrial TV debut on a slow week. The show is about family divorce lawyers, so at least cheating on theme. Watch trailer.
THIS WEEK’S STIHTGT!
(Shows That I Hope To Get To!)
We Hunt Together (Showtime) – Two female British detectives with dark checkered pasts track down killers before they can strike again. Sunday at 7:30 PM ET
(Really Good Shows You May Have Missed)
This Week's Pick: Banshee (HBO Max) – Banshee is not for everyone, but this is one entertaining show. A paroled thief assumes the identity of a new sheriff coming to a small Pennsylvania town. His old lover and partner in crime relocated here years ago and has set up a new life. There's plenty of sex, fight scenes and drama with a sharp sense of humor amongst antiheroes and villains galore in Amish country.
Police Squad! (Prime Video)
Party Down (Starz)
The Great (Hulu)
Magic City (Peacock)
For All Mankind (Apple TV+)
Abbott Elementary (ABC)
Luther (HBO Max)
Downton Abbey (Netflix)
The Good Wife (Paramount+)
Freaks & Geeks (Hulu)
Patriot (Prime Video Prime Video)
Battlestar Galactica (Peacock)
The Split (Prime Video)
Halt and Catch Fire (AMC+)
If you love or hate my picks, I'd love to hear from you.
Get vaccinated. Get a booster. Stay healthy and safe!
Jon Hein is the creator of "Jump the Shark" and author of three books. Follow him @jonhein on Twitter.