Centering on Charlie Nickels (Dean Lemont), a private detective more adept at ordering a Manhattan than doing his job, is the first problem. Lemont lacks the machismo necessary to work as an exaggerated version of characters such as Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe. In order to solve the murder of a rich client, he's thrust into a world full of mobsters like Bugsy Siegel (Joe Mantegna) and femmes fatales like Mona Livingston (Kirsten Vangsness). The actors are more than game, yet their performances feel either too arch or not enough so. Despite the brisk runtime, jokes last too long or run out of steam even before they've started.
The one, minor storyline that works involves Charlie's put-upon secretary, Ida (Lynn Odell), who is clearly the better detective. She hunts for clues, takes on disguises and uses her wits to solve the murder before her boss does. He's too busy slapping, condescending to or flirting with women to see Ida's strengths — a clever nod to the sexism that runs through the genre. Unfortunately, this isn't enough. Unlike the great work it's referencing, Kill Me, Deadly is ultimately forgettable.