Steve Martin, Martin Short Take Comedic Aim at Crime Podcasts in Only Murders in the Building
Only Murders in the Building. Available Tuesday, August 31, on Hulu.
When I was a little kid, we lived on a U.S. Army base in Germany, right in the middle of the Fulda Gap, the place where Soviet armor was expected to come roaring into the West when World War III broke out. My dad, an Army counterintelligence officer, spent his days (and, more often, his nights) breaking into Eastern Bloc diplomatic posts, cracking the safes and photographing their contents. And I spent mine listening to the Armed Forces Radio Network, the only English-language entertainment around in those days.
Except for an afternoon show called Bavarian Bandstand featuring American rock ‘n’ roll records, the radio mostly ran scripted dramas and comedies. There were radio versions of American TV shows (Gunsmoke), made-for-radio comedies (Fibber McGee and Molly), soap operas (I can’t remember the name, but my mom loved one in which the bad guy seemed to be corn whiskey), and—late at night when kids weren’t supposed to be awake—crime melodramas.
For three years, these shows were the daily highlight of my life. Then we went home, got a TV and were once again able to embrace American fine art. The radio was where you went to hear Elvis Presley and—just to remind us that the Fulda Gap was a happenin’ place—the occasional CONELRAD alert.
Sixty years later, I’m amazed to report that the radio culture of my pre-school years has gloriously resurfaced in digital form. No, Molly isn’t harping at Fibber again. But cell phones bristle with so many true-crime podcasts that it won’t be long before we’re listening to breathless accounts of steamy shoplifting and mask-evasion cases. Yes, yes, television has its own glut of true-crime shows, but they generally lack all those pretentiously sonorous baritones and perfect-diction sopranos that sprout among the podcasts like, well, public-radio pod people.
Happily, Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building is here to lam
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