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Murder, She Wrote

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23 minutes ago, MerBearStare said:

One of my favorite episodes (it may actually be my favorite) is the season 4 episode When Thieves Fall Out. A man who was wrongly convicted of murder and spent 20 years in prison comes to Cabot Cove because he thinks the real murderer is there. He torments the group of people who he thinks is responsible and it turns out the murderer is Jessica's friend, the high school football coach. She also gets pretty sanctimonious with the wrongly convicted man about the way he went about finding the real killer, but he asks her to think about how she would feel if she wrongly spent 20 years in prison. The episode ends on a pretty ambiguous note and, really, Jessica is in the wrong, which doesn't happen a lot.

I also really enjoy the season one episode Lovers and Other Killers, where Jessica gets a male administrative assistant who is accused of murder, but you never actually find out whether he killed the old woman he was dating/using for money. I guess I just love an ambiguous ending here and there.

That is also one of my favorites.

As to the bolded, He TOTALLY killed that older woman. Just the look in Andrew Stevens' eyes...the way his smile faded, and that ominous music. I had NO doubt. I just wish they'd had him return in another episode, where they could have caught him red-handed! And if only to actually get a face to face, scenes with Greg Morris and Peter Graves, which we DID NOT get in "Lovers and Other Killers" dammit!

I actually preferred the Cabot Cove episodes, possibly because I've always wanted to live in a small community like Cabot Cove. Even if it had elements of Peyton Place!

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Yes, Andrew Stevens' character was a total psycho with MILF issues.  One thing this show wasn't good at was following up on old cases (Preston Giles notwithstanding).   That look he gave at the end meant he was totally fixated on Jessica and there's no way he wouldn't have popped back up in her life, especially as she got more famous.  

 I didn't mind the New York setting so much because Jessica still traveled and went home to Cabot Cove.   The guest casting just took a nose dive on later years.   In the beginning it was old Hollywood stars and familiar faces from TV shows.  In the later years the were a bunch of younger randos.  The episodes where she got mixed up with motorcycle racers in Japan or that tree hugger band stand out as particularly bad examples of the the later episodes.   

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Honestly, the only episodes I don't like are the "Jessica tells a story" episodes. Those tended to be annoying.

One I particular like is the one which featured a young Jonathan Brandis as a kid. It isn't even a particular great episodes, but I like that for once they show a poor person who doesn't deserve to be poor. In most episodes you have a bunch of fairly rich people, at best there are some workers around, and if you see a poor person, it is usually some sort of criminal or someone who fell victim to someone else. You rarely saw poor people which were poor because, well, sometimes life just sucks, especially if you are a single mom.

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This is one of my all time favorite shows (if not the favorite) and I love catching up now on Cozi! I also am partial to the CC episodes and when I retire I want to move to a town like that. Glad to have you all to share this with!

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On 8/1/2019 at 10:34 PM, Maverick said:

The guest casting just took a nose dive on later years.   In the beginning it was old Hollywood stars and familiar faces from TV shows.  In the later years the were a bunch of younger randos.

Agreed, but it's fun to catch young actors who went on to be famous like Neil Patrick Harris and George Clooney.

Speaking of MSH actors, I'm happy that Louis Herthum (Deputy Andy) has been popping up in so many interesting projects over the last decade or so. I don't remember him getting a lot to do on the show, but he had a likable presence.

And whenever I see something about the new HBO show Mrs. Fletcher, it takes me a second to remember it's not MSH-related.

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I have a question. I just finished watching the first 5 seasons on Amazon Prime (Sigh, now I will have to buy DVDs, since I always miss the COZI reruns because work) and I'm wondering. Is there a list somewhere of all the murders that took place in Cabot Cove? I'm deeply curious about whether it was truly the murder capital of the world and need to do some math. 

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On 8/10/2019 at 11:36 AM, krankydoodle said:

Agreed, but it's fun to catch young actors who went on to be famous like Neil Patrick Harris and George Clooney.

And whenever I see something about the new HBO show Mrs. Fletcher, it takes me a second to remember it's not MSH-related.

Yeah, there were a ton of future stars that came through MSW, plus a lot of “hey, it’s that guy” casting. Every time I say out loud, “ I know them from somewhere”, people always roll their eyes and go “yeah, we know, it’s murder she wrote” lol. And that usually IS where I’ve seen them.

i was reading up on the Battle of Midway in case I decide to go see the movie and I noticed that one of the American commanders was named Frank Fletcher. We know Frank was a military man thanks to the Last Flight of the Dixie Damsel episode, perhaps he was a hero of the Midway too! 😛

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I posted this in the "Faux Life" forum, but it's relevant here so I'm bringing this here:

I didn't really watch much of Murder, She Wrote, but my mother and my grandmother (who have both sadly passed) loved the show. So I'm intrigued by the Jessica Fletcher murder theory, so much so I wrote a short fic where she gets arrested.

I also found this article from the Waterford Whisperer out of Ireland:

http://waterfordwhispersnews.com/2011/09/25/suspected-serial-killer-jessica-fletcher-arrested-at-east-cork-home/

I guess Jessica is too easy to figure out.

On a more serious note, from what I understand about the show, the reason why I think the murder rate is so high in Cabot Cove and whenever Jessica Fletcher is around has a short and long answer. The short answer is- as has been pointed out before- without a murder, there's no show. I mean, it's not "Kidnapping, She Wrote" or "Robbery, She Wrote", or "Parking Violations, She Wrote".

(Though I guess "Speeding Tickets, She Wrote" could have been a fun series...but I digress)

The long answer is that I believe Murder, She Wrote is supposed to be an '80s version of the classic early 20th century detective tale where there's a huge dinner party and either the host of that party winds up dead or one of the guests. Writing these kinds of stories requires the crimes to have a very personal connection, because the mystery part of the story just doesn't work unless the reader tries to figure out who's got the greatest motivation to commit the murder.

Which is pretty much how the cases on Murder, She Wrote worked. We may not have had a literal dinner party in every episode, but the style was still very much the same- Jessica encounters a group of people, one of those people wind up dead, and the murderer is the one who had the greatest reason to want that person dead. I may be wrong about this, but I'm not sure Jessica solved many of her crimes via great forensic work or even via simple detective work, i.e. clearing someone simply because they had a reasonable alibi. I'm sure Jessica solved her crimes by showing that the murderer had the most personal connection to the crime, either via motive or knowing something about the victim that only the victim could know.

Which means, personally, the idea that Jessica Fletcher is a serial killer fails the Occam's Razor test. If she was a serial killer, she'd likely need a lot of help to facilitate the murders, planting evidence to not just throw the police off her trail, but to also frame someone else for the murder and make it so believable that the framed party committed the crime that others are convinced they did it. Oh, and do it so well that the people who were framed would actually get convicted of their crimes, which would likely need the assistance of the prosecutors- perhaps all the way up to the Maine Attorney General.

Ultimately, I just look at this series as a product of its time. In the '60s and '70s, you had the end of the Hays Code and the Comics Code, which meant writers could start exploring darker material- so many did. The "pure mystery" featuring the "wholesome detective hero/heroine" where the story was a literal puzzle and the hero stood tall amidst an adoring crowd at the end would give way to the detective who was so affected by the realities of their job that, while they'd be great at it, their lives were still a complete mess as a result (which would eventually give way to the "almost villainous" crime fighters we see now). Stories focused less on figuring out who committed the crimes and started to focus more on the how and why the crimes were committed. The idea that the hero had to be entirely good and the villain entirely bad eventually fell by the wayside, leading to where we are now where lots of shows blur the lines between who is evil and who is good.

In short, it's weird to think about considering how recent the show is, but Murder, She Wrote was a relic, a throwback to a different time. A lot of the inconsistencies- like Cabot Cove's insane murder rate- can be chalked up to the show's format, as I'm sure the creators wanted a show that was "wholesome" and "morally upright", which meant they couldn't place it in a big city and they couldn't have a heroine who was "too dark". It does make me wonder, in this deluge of detective shows where the cops are practically villains themselves, if we're long overdue for a series like Murder, She Wrote where we just get a straight-up "whodunit" with an actually heroic detective putting away actual villains, maybe with that hero struggling but showing they can overcome their struggles.

It may just be too long since we've had an actual hero on our screens.

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Oh, finding out someone had an Alibi was actually a common feature in the show. Usually the murderer got caught because he or she said something only the murderer could know, or did something which betrayed them. You know, like using a light switch at an odd place in the house despite supposedly having never been there. But yeah, it is pretty much the dinner party concept, but stretched out over a whole town (a lot of the characters were recurring) or focussed on one house/venue (whenever she travelled).

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^^I just saw the Benedict Arnold episode the other night. Another great example is the murderer in the "If It's Thursday, It Must Be Beverly" episode. Everyone suspected the philandering husband, or one of his ladyfriends, & it turned out to be none of them, but it boiled down to the oldest motive in the book. It's so funny, if I'd just pay attention to the randoms that appear, as in that case, I'd probably know who the murderer was off the bat. 

I'm fairly new to watching the show; I never watched it when it was actually airing, but I absolutely love it. For a show where there's at least 1 murder per episode, it's shockingly charming. In fact, my family played "Cards Without Humanity" at Christmas, & I told them that they had to leave a bit early, so I could watch an episode of Murder, She Wrote, before bed, to cleanse my palate from the naughtiness of the game. 

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1 hour ago, nkotb said:

In fact, my family played "Cards Without Humanity" at Christmas,

This is the best game to play with family.

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Seeing Peter Mark Richman go up against Tim O'Connor in season 3's "Deadline For Murder" is like the TV regular guest star version of the DeNiro vs Pacino diner scene in the movie HEAT.

Edited by VCRTracking
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 Are you effing kidding me?   Hallmark has gone Christmas 24/7 again?    Which of these events during which these movies air make me feel festive:  a) Christmas  b) Thanksgiving  c) New Years  d) Halloween  e) Pandemic Quarantine   f) None of the Above   g) Never, ever under any circumstances, ever 

 I don't need to see snow and frozen breath.  I need my nightly dose of MSW.

Edited by Maverick
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35 minutes ago, Maverick said:

 Are you effing kidding me?   Hallmark has gone Christmas 24/7 again?    Which of these events during which these movies air make me feel festive:  a) Christmas  b) Thanksgiving  c) New Years  d) Halloween  e) Pandemic Quarantine   f) None of the Above   g) Never, ever under any circumstances, ever 

 I don't need to see snow and frozen breath.  I need my nightly dose of MSW.

Agree completely!!!! Uggggghhhhh no Christmas movies right now.  They seem false enough when they start in October.  I want MSW episodes every night before bed.  So mad 😞

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Hopefully, like the virus - this too shall pass. They could at least be showing the Gold Crown movies and not the mass produced  drivel.

A-nnoy-ing...

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23 hours ago, Maverick said:

 Are you effing kidding me?   Hallmark has gone Christmas 24/7 again?    Which of these events during which these movies air make me feel festive:  a) Christmas  b) Thanksgiving  c) New Years  d) Halloween  e) Pandemic Quarantine   f) None of the Above   g) Never, ever under any circumstances, ever 

 I don't need to see snow and frozen breath.  I need my nightly dose of MSW.

Ugh, I heard Christmas music on the radio this morning, is this really what  programmers think will help people in this time?? Super dumb idea.

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On 3/28/2020 at 1:09 AM, Maverick said:

 Are you effing kidding me?   Hallmark has gone Christmas 24/7 again?    Which of these events during which these movies air make me feel festive:  a) Christmas  b) Thanksgiving  c) New Years  d) Halloween  e) Pandemic Quarantine   f) None of the Above   g) Never, ever under any circumstances, ever 

 I don't need to see snow and frozen breath.  I need my nightly dose of MSW.

Looks like MSW is back tonight at 11:00. Yay!  I have a weird habit of falling asleep to it. I listen and see how quickly I can identify the episode by the first few moments without looking. Lol. 

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 Thank goodness.  I ran across some channel today running a marathon of Life After People.   I mean, seriously?   Talk about one extreme to another.   Can we just have some simple old shows, please?   

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I just finished reading the 50th book in the Murder, She Wrote series, A Time for Murder. I spotted it in the library last month and picked it up on a whim. The story is split between Jessica's first investigation when Frank was still alive and they were raising Grady together and a present-day murder. Reading about Jessica in 2020 with her first case set in 1995 was weird. Anyway, the character in the book isn't entirely consistent with the TV version, but it was kind of fun to see her first encounters w/Seth and Amos, and bonus cameos from Harry McGraw and Eve Simpson. There are some nods to Jessica seeming to attract crime and Cabot Cove being America's murder capital, but I was surprised they didn't spend more time on her relationship with Frank. The ending was bonkers, but it was a very fast and entertaining enough read if anyone needs a MSW fix and can get past the issues I mentioned.

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On 8/1/2019 at 7:34 PM, Maverick said:

Yes, Andrew Stevens' character was a total psycho with MILF issues.  One thing this show wasn't good at was following up on old cases (Preston Giles notwithstanding).   That look he gave at the end meant he was totally fixated on Jessica and there's no way he wouldn't have popped back up in her life, especially as she got more famous.  

I had seen this episode filmed on my campus, and caught the rerun this week to get a lot of screen shots of the interiors—few people here anymore know that Angela Lansbury and Peter Graves had spent so much time here.  There were so many establishing shots and interior shots, on campus and Seattle of the old days (decades before Amazon!).  And I totally agree that Andrew Stevens killed the opening older woman—otherwise, why include that scene with no resolution? That final look he gave a Jessica at the airport was totally chilling.  
But then I caught the next episode on Hallmark, and now am watching one or two a night.  The plots are ridiculous, but it is so comforting to watch the Cabot Cove episodes!  
 

On 8/1/2019 at 12:26 PM, GHScorpiosRule said:

As to the bolded, He TOTALLY killed that older woman. Just the look in Andrew Stevens' eyes...the way his smile faded, and that ominous music. I had NO doubt. I just wish they'd had him return in another episode, where they could have caught him red-handed! 

I actually preferred the Cabot Cove episodes, possibly because I've always wanted to live in a small community like Cabot Cove. Even if it had elements of Peyton Place!

 

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