icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle


Only a Show Worth Binging…

The last show my wife and I found that was worth binging was Ted Lasso. Before that, The Walking Dead (the first seasons, not the spin-offs). Before that? I honestly can't remember a show we both felt like we just had to watch. Suffice to say, "must see t.v." is a high bar in the Lucas house. Recently, though, we came across one that's got us hooked. Yes, we're a couple years late to the party, but Only Murders in the Building has got us planted on the couch for two episodes a night, every night, and looking forward to the fourth season.


A washed up Broadway director (Martin Short), a washed up small screen actor (Steve Martin), and an enigmatic, out-of-work twenty-something woman (Selena Gomez) all happen to live in the same tony Manhattan apartment building, the Arconia. Strangers at first, each with their own complicated backstories and hang-ups, they share a love for a certain true crime prodcast, which brings them together. When a young man is found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot in the Arconia, the trio believes there may be something more to his death than what it appears. They team up to investigate and, since the elder thespians have nothing better to do, decide to record their endeavor as a podcast of their own (eponymously called, Only Murders in the Building). Somehow the hapless team stumbles onto clues and make more headway in homicide investigations than the NYPD.


Martin Short is delightful as always; and Steve Martin and Selena Gomez round out the trio with solid performances of their own. What unfolds over the course of the first season is wry and witty and, in places, emotional. It's a great blend of twists and turns that dishes out just the right size of revelations at just the right times. 


As to that last point, as a writer, I can only admire how deftly the show paces the reveals--whether it's backstory or new twists or exposition. There's a knack to that kind of pacing, and it's very different than plot pacing. The latter concerns the story's flow (which, ideally, should vary, beat to beat, so that the audience feels compelled to follow along but not exhausted). Revelatory pacing is a trickier thing. A lot of modern fantasy fiction suffers from bad revelatory pacing. So many stories are stuffed to bursting with exposition at the beginning ("Ten thousand generations ago, King Malagascter the Malevolent sallied forth under his dark banner to claim the first of the twelve dragonstones guarded by the Saphire Paladins of Scara Notis, who were captained by the bold Lord Aethelban, sworn to protect it by his family's oath to the Archmage Dzzlbintil'dagon ..."). That's not pacing, it's an info dump. On the other hand, a reader needs enough backdrop and storyline to be able to know who's who and what the stakes are in a scene. Finding the sweet spot where the story unfolds organically and understandably is one of the harder parts of speculative fiction writing.


Though it's neither literature nor fantasy, Only Murders in the Building offers a good glimpse at how to find just the right revelatory pace. I highly recommend the show.



Be the first to comment