[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for Who Killed Santa? A Murderville Murder Mystery. Do not read until after watching!]
“We wanted the whole thing to feel like a surprise party, where just one thing after another happens,” showrunner Krister Johnson says about the newly released Who Killed Santa? A Murderville Murder Mystery, a special episode of the Netflix improv comedy series where the chaos of Season 1, released last February, gets amplified to a whole new level.
In the special, hard-nosed and mustachioed Detective Terry Seattle (Will Arnett) is joined by not one, not two, but three clueless celebrities as he attempts to solve a murder; there are additional guest stars sprinkled throughout the double-length episode, along with plenty of other surprises.
“The show was really well received when it came out, and I feel like people appreciated it for the same reasons that I did,” Johnson says. “Obviously funny stuff happens, but the world has a very kind of unpredictable kind of chaotic feeling to it, where ideally you feel like you’re on a train that is barely staying on the tracks and occasionally hops right off. Which I enjoy. I like it feeling like you really aren’t sure what’s going to happen. And I think it’s one of the reasons I’m so, so pleased with how the special came out, because it was more than anything we did in Season 1.”
The idea for the special, Johnson tells Consequence, came about earlier this year. “We’re still trying to figure out if we’re doing a second season, but Netflix wanted to do more,” he says. “And so the idea was suggested to us, by them, to maybe do a special. I think we started talking about it at the beginning of the summer and we quickly focused on a Christmas special, just because it felt right for the show.”
Once Johnson and Arnett came up with “sort of the general idea, we pitched that to Netflix and, and they said, yeah, that’s great. And from that point on, it was kind of stomping on the gas pedal because by that point it was mid-summer.” Shooting the special happened at a breakneck pace, Johnson says, because after getting the greenlight in late June 2022, they immediately had to leap into writing, production, and casting — then, after the two-and-a-half day shoot in September, it became a scramble to finish up a cut by early November.
“The timeline was very compressed in order to get it ready for the holidays, and so it was a blur,” Johnson says. “Luckily, I did have a good sense of sort of story-wise how I imagined the special going. And also conceptually, we were all in agreement that wanted to up the stakes a little as far as the chaos, and that it would be fun to have more than one celebrity guest being thrown into the case.”