The premise for Netflix’s new semi-unscripted comedy Murderville isn’t actually that hard to explain, on the surface: Each episode, shot in the style of a classic police procedural, features a new mystery being investigated by a tough mustachioed cop (Will Arnett) and his trainee partner. The catch is that said trainee is a celebrity, and they don’t have any idea what’s going on, because only Arnett and the other actors have the script.
This leaves famous folks like Season 1 guest stars Conan O’Brien, Marshawn Lynch, Kumail Nanjiani, Annie Murphy, Sharon Stone, and Ken Jeong to improv their way towards solving the case — which they may or may not do correctly. If that sounds complicated to you, showrunner Krister Johnson (Medical Police) would agree.
“I certainly had never figured this out before how to pull something like this off. Everyone was flying by the seat of their pants, which was terrifying, but also fun,” he tells Consequence.
The six-episode season is a whole lot of shows in one, with a tone that Johnson hopes conveys the fun of the filming. “We tried to create a fun warm, exciting, immersive experience for this person,” says Johnson. “It’s like they were truly the star of a new reality that had been created just for them. And we wanted them to leave the experience, whether they got the suspect who did it right or wrong in the end, feeling like that was unlike anything they’ve ever done before.”
In the interview below, transcribed and edited for clarity, Johnson details how Murderville came to be, from its origins as a British series, to Arnett’s involvement as both producer and star, to how exactly the two-day shooting process worked. He also explains why, of the guest stars, Marshawn Lynch was the biggest surprise, and why keeping in the moments when someone broke character was essential to the show.