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"Only Murders in the Building" bridges Boomer and Millennial sensibilities for a comedy that slays

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01.09.2021

Decades will pass before people know whether this pandemic produced a masterpiece on par with William Shakespeare's finest. But in the short term one can certainly say Selena Gomez has used the time well.

It's not as if life was terrible for the pop star before the pandemic. But when sheltering in place made TV more central to our lives, Gomez was among the first to harness the mood and her celebrity into an approachable cooking series, "Selena Chef," that invited people into her kitchen.

That was merely an amuse bouche gleaning entertainment from her marginal cooking skills. Hulu's 10-episode murder mystery "Only Murders in the Building" capitalizes on her strength and dramatic versatility, placing her on equal billing with comedy legends Steve Martin and Martin Short – and better still, equal footing.

Martin and Short share a concord built over decades' worth of performances, including 2018's Emmy-nominated Netflix special "An Evening You Will Forget For The Rest Of Your Life." They've developed a reliable cadence over the years to the point that it's impossible not to see something of each man in the characters they play, including their "Only Murders" reluctant friends Oliver Putnam (Short) and Charles Hayden Savage (Martin).

Few newcomers could easily insinuate themselves into such a classic partnership, let alone match their combined energy signature. And yet where other actors might have come off as a smaller third wheel next to Martin's bursts of lunacy and Short's controlled absurdity, Gomez is the stabilizing force that makes this unlikely crime-solving trio work.

Gomez's Mabel is a mystery unto herself as well as a recent addition to the Arconia, a classic apartment building situated in New York's Upper West Side. Home to an assortment of characters ranging from an anonymous cat enthusiast to, improbably enough, Sting, the residence is the sort of aspirational piece of Manhattan real estate that has a waiting list to get in. It's a close community in the sense that people share walls and overhear each other's business, forming fierce opinions about their neighbors without truly knowing one another.

Charles and Oliver have lived there for decades. When he was in his prime, Charles enjoyed a marginal amount of fame as a Brazzos, the sort of1990s-era TV detective given to overly........

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