You won’t find any swear words in this post, either, because I’m going to substitute asterisks for the naughty words. Which brings us to Murderville on Netflix. Because the program’s not on network television, the actors have some leeway in how they speak. Cursing can occur and sometimes does. In episode #2, it happened frequently.
If you’re not familiar with the show, it’s roughly a comedy-murder mystery. In each episode, the middle-aged and eccentric police detective Terry Seattle (played by Will Arnett) is teamed with a different celebrity as his partner. Terry and the show’s regular cast have a script to follow. The celebrity does not. He or she enters the situation as Terry’s newest partner, expected to improv his or her way through the half-hour show. During the show, silliness reigns supreme while a few scattered clues and red herrings are thrown into the mix. At the end of each episode, there’s an entire Agatha Christie thing going on, with all the suspects brought into the room. At that point, the celebrity is asked to identify the murderer.
Of the four episodes I’ve watched, the guest stars have done a pretty good job of finding the guilty party. Those of us who play along at home can try to solve the murder, too. So far, I’m four for four.
No brag, just fact, as Walter Brennan used to say on The Guns of Will Sonnett. If you don’t know Walter Brennan or The Guns of Will Sonnett, you can find episodes on YouTube.
As I was saying, Murderville, episode 2, leaned a little heavily on the profanity. Not in the scripted passages, mind you, but in those that were improvised by former football player and Detective-in-Training, Marshawn Lynch. Marshawn didn’t mean anything by it, it’s just the way he speaks, but my, was his speech colorful. How do I know this? In an interview with Hollywood Reporter, he recounted his reply when asked what kind of role he wanted when acting. “I told ‘em, ‘Well, I don’t want to talk too much. I want to blow **** up. I want to shoot ****. Basically, I just want to **** **** up.”
In his appearance on Murderville, Marshawn didn’t blow **** up, didn’t shoot **** up, and he talked a lot. For a man who’d never done improv, I thought he had a powerful presence and did an interesting job… but he used the same four-letter words too frequently. After the fifth use of the same curse word, I decided the man needed some new swear words.
The problem is, there haven’t been any great new swear words for about 200 years. Today’s current favorites were among in the favorites in the 1800s, too. Our ancestors, the Victoria lords and ladies, used the same S-word, F-word, C-word, and B-word that we hear today.
The M-F word? It dropped in at the beginning of the 20th century. Being a progressive guy, Marshawn threw a couple of them on the show.
The Victorian Era had other curse words that have fallen by the wayside. Words like “blazes” and “dratted” and “bootlicker.” These are pretty weak tea in the 21st century. But wouldn’t it have been fun if Marshawn used a few of those words? “The dratted bootlicker who killed our victim is that strumpet, Mary Agnes! May she go to blazes!”
If you haven’t guessed, “bootlicker” and “strumpet” were also popular swear words back in the day.
As much as I admire some originality while swearing, it’s escaped me so far. While packing my gourd art for the upcoming Big Show, I lightly nudged a figure on my mermaid sculpture. It immediately broke off.
“****!” I said. “****!” Distraught, I went with two of this century’s standards. It turns out, me and Marshawn both need new swear words.
Before I go: If you aren’t a Netflix subscriber, or if you’ve already burned through the six episodes of Murderville, I’m told you can get your comedy-murder mystery hit by trying Murder in Successville, instead. A BBC production, Successville ran for three seasons and was the inspiration for the creation of Murderville. In Northern America, there’s no one streaming the series, there’s no Region 1 DVDs, and it’s not even on BritBox (USA). The only place you can find it is YouTube (here).