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  1. #16
    Custom Title jon-el87's Avatar
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    Season 9, episode 5: "The Dead File".

    Co-creator Peter S. Fischer departed the show, at the end of season 8. Angela Lansbury was now in control. Bruce Lansbury (her brother) was brought in as supervising producer and writer. Her son, Anthony Shaw, was already a director on this series (and directed this episode).

    Plot revolves around controversy over a comic strip, which features a parody of Jessica named "Jessica Fox". Really highlights that Jessica, and her tendency to solve real murders, have risen to a degree of note. Even outside of solving actual crimes, Jessica is a celebrated novelist. So "Jessica Fox" highlights that she's achived a lot of fame over the past eight seasons. Famous people get parodied.

    Though, I think that the stellar guest cast is more notable, than the plot. Jon Polito, Patrick Macnee and Harvey Fierstein. Thought it was overkill to give Fierstein's character five ex-wives. 1-2 is one thing, but five feels like a weak attempt at comedy.

    I don't know what Susan Kellermann was doing with her eyebrows.

  2. #17
    Custom Title jon-el87's Avatar
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    Season 12, episode 16: "Murder Among Friends".

    Features a parody of the show Friends, which I think was in the same timeslot as Murder, She Wrote. Would've be interesting to see how accurate they got the show behind the scenes. Granted, it was made by a different network and studio, but stories might have passed around Hollywood. Not sure if there was much of a point to them parodying Friends, if it was in the same timeslot. This was 1996. Unless you used a VCR, you had to make a choice, if two shows aired at once. So the viewers watching this, either didn't watch or didn't like (possibly both) Friends. Parody of specific TV shows and behind the scenes drama, might be more suitable for short comedy sketches, than hour long murder mystery shows. Here they try to parody Friends, but it deals with the actors playing the roles on the fictional Buds, not the characters. So I'm left a bit unsure of what they're parodying. The show or the actors? Which character is then supposed to be an analogue to which actor?

    I've seen some episodes of Friends, ages ago, but didn't care for it. So I'm not an expert on either the show or the actors. Maybe this episode would've had more of an impact on me, had I watched it in the 1990s.

    Jessica notes the conflict of interest, with an actor's dad being in charge of the investigation. That is quickly brushed aside (despite the fact that it would be a big deal). Thankfully, he stepped aside, when his son became the prime suspect. Thought that the killer was a bit too obvious.

    Liked that Jessica mentions Sue Grafton and Sara Paretsky. When people often reference female detective writers, in my experinece, it seems that people generally just talk about Agatha Christie (and fictional characters clearly based on her). Now, I like a lot of Christie's work, but she's neither the start nor the end of female writers in the crime genre. There were others before Christie (ex. Anna K. Green and Carolyn Wells) and after her (ex. Grafton and Paretsky).

  3. #18
    Custom Title jon-el87's Avatar
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    Murder, She Wrote: A Story to Die For (2000).

    That title is false advertising. After the show went off the air, Lansbury returned to play Jessica in four TV movies, with this being the second one. The setting is a conference for motivational speaker (or some rubbish like that). Should've just made it a writers' conference. Of course, if Jessica is at a writers' conference, it would likely be a conference for writers in her specific genre (detective fiction). So you end up with all characters being detective writers (at best: from different subgenres of detective fiction). Rather than one being a gothic romance writer, one being a horror writer, one being a chic lit writer, one being a sci-fi writer, and so on.

    Not sure why an ex-KGB (which is identified as Soviet military intelligence, which I'm pretty sure was the GRU, not KGB) head would be a motivational speaker. One of the best parts was actually when Jessica was reading his first book. It comes across as badly written, but it's supposed to. It's intentionally bad writing.

    Jay Acovone plays a cop on the case, but not as Nick Acosta (who he played in two episodes of the show). Though, I guess that the story would've had to have been based in New York for that.

    Richard Crenna plays Warren Pierce. Really highlighting an issue with whodunnits on TV. Um, the (at the time) highest profile guest star?
    Last edited by jon-el87; 12-31-2020 at 01:42 AM.

  4. #19
    Custom Title jon-el87's Avatar
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    Murder, She Wrote: The Celtic Riddle (2003).

    The last of the four TV movies, and, to date, Lansbury's final appearance as Jessica Fletcher. However, Jessica's adventures have continued in over 50 books.

    At different times, Lansbury's expressed an interest in playing her again, while other times expressing the view that it might be a bad idea to bring her back. I think that I agree with the latter. This TV movie was a great ending for the character. Jessica is still alive, still out there, writing books and solving mysteries. She will never die, never give up being who she is. Thanks to the continued book series, she's never truly been gone for the past 17 years since this movie. And there are still books about her being written. A live-action return would likely be a downer, in one form or another.

    Unlike the previous three TV movies, this was an adaptation of a book by Lyn Hamilton, The Celtic Riddle (2000). Part of Hamilton's series of archaeological mystery novels about antique dealer Lara McClintoch (never read them, so I won't discuss the books). Naturally, Jessica replaces Lara. It being an adaptation of a pre-existing book probably helped it, when you compare it to Murder, She Wrote: A Story to Die For, which appears to have been an original script. It feels like a much richer story. Of course, a book adaptation is not automatically always better, than an original script. There are plenty of movies, based on books, that are terrible. And there are plenty of movies, based on original scripts, that are great. It all comes down to the individual script. With A Story to Die For feeling like a generic (drawn out) episode of the show, that was produced, because Lansbury was contracted to do four TV movies (after the show ended). This felt like a proper mystery movie, even with the limitations of TV movies.

  5. #20
    The artist formerly known as "KryptonSite" KSiteTV's Avatar
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    Have you been watching Murder She Wrote over the pandemic too? I was for a while, before moving on to Dark Shadows.

  6. #21
    Custom Title jon-el87's Avatar
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    Yeah, been taking out a lof of DVDs, from my collection, and rewatching more stuff, now that the movie theaters (and other things) are either closed or adviced against.

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