Film Reviews
'Only Murders in the Building' continues its spree

Its continued strength is one of many reasons to watch the third season of "Only Murders in the Building." Another is to observe Meryl Streep. The award-winning actor joins the cast to model how to slide into an ensemble without shooting out as a star -- while still being very much one.

This series goes behind the scenes of a Broadway production. Of course, the director Oliver Putnam, played appropriately over the top by Martin Short, is whisking about like a bee with its stinger triggered. The star of the stage show, Ben Glenroy, is played by the irrepressible Paul Rudd; he's an action hero in films who is about to make his Broadway debut in a musical, as dubious as that sounds. He died at the end of the second series.

That death calls the intrepid trio of podcasters into action, only this time the trio seems to have subtracted to just Mabel Mora, played charmingly with old lady traits by Selena Gomez. Mabel, though almost 30, has nothing figured out but remains the glue in the older men's sandwich. Charles-Haden Savage, the old tv star, is left at loose ends, which leaves the actor Steve Martin to wallow in Savage's self-production.

The Broadway cast that Oliver auditions includes Streep as Loretta Durkin, an actor with St. Louis history. "Where have you been?" Oliver demands of this amazing woman as he invests in a classic spit take. We know where she -- Meryl Streep! -- has been, so this is just one of the many inside theater jokes coined by the dozens of writers, principally Steve Martin and John Hoffman. Hoffman's credits include "Grace and Frankie"; Martin's include "Roxanne" and "The Jerk," and a couple of novels -- plus shticks with an arrow through his head and a banjo on his knee. Episode 3 is especially well-written -- listen to Howard's sweater speech, as delivered by Michael Cyril Creighton. 

The cast in the series has always been good -- as if they're there because they know they're going to have fun. Returning are Tina Fey, Jackie Hoffman, and Jane Lynch. Da'Vine Joy Randolph continues to be excellent as the detective. Ashley Park brings her lovely voice from "Emily in Paris."

The dozen directors not only highlight New York and the "safe and stable" and titular Arconia building but also exploit three-way screens when appropriate. The lovable music includes Charles' patter song. Series 3 of "Only Murders in the Building" delights in every frame.

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