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Angela Lansbury IS Jessica Fletcher, a colorful-minded imaginative geriatric
author of best-selling mystery novels who always saves the day by helping
friends and strangers discover who the 'real' killer is.
This show ran for twelve seasons, albeit the last season was pretty crook. Guest stars and friends of Angela Lansbury in the industry from the silver screen would often appear as victims, friends and even the killer throughout the 264 episodes that aired on CBS.
Angela Lansbury, a long time pin-up queen for Disney movies and the like, was the right choice to play television's leading lady of the endless 'who-done-it' mysteries. She plays a kind woman, an unlikely character who would find themselves in the countless situations she got herself into, and someone we didn't mind having in our living room at least once a week.
Funny as it sounds, this show was suitable for the whole family to watch. A show about 'murder' is suitable for the 'family' you ask? It was tasteful in the way it presented the various different deaths of its victims throughout its long run. People died in just about any and every imaginable manner you could think of on MURDER SHE WROTE. The most desirable choice was via a gunshot - but there were certainly plenty of more elaborate set-ups. The poisonings.. the hangings.. the stabbings.. yet, it was about as 'family' as you could get with the different shows that were on at the same time it was aired.
Early in its run, MURDER SHE WROTE had a smart ensemble cast including Tom Bosley who played Sheriff Amos Tupper. The setting was usually Cabot Cove of Maine, a quiet coastal fishing town - the ideal place to raise a family... or so you would think, every other week when a murder didn't take place there! When Tom Bosley left to portray a leading role in FATHER DOWLING MYSTERIES, Jessica Fletcher would often travel to different locations across America, and yes, the world. It is quite amusing to wonder why it never seemed funny to Jessica Fletcher that wherever she went, a murder would occur. Although in one episode, she does refer to herself as the 'Typhoid Mary of Murders', a joke within itself.
A great line-up of guest stars from both the film and television industry would play different characters in each episode. Nearly every episode had at least one 'known' celebrity. The most amazing thing was seeing past-Oscar winners playing various characters. From Martin Landau to Van Johnson. From June Allyson to Jose Ferrer. Stewart Granger, Cyd Charisse, Lurene Tuttle, Glynnis Johns, Claire Trevor, Cornel Wilde, Dorothy Lamour, Ann Blythe, Eleanor Parker, Ernest Borgnine... the list goes on. This show probably sported more famous guest stars than 'THE LOVE BOAT'.
Of course, for every Jean Simmons, June Havoc and James Coburn, there was Charlene Tilton, Barbie Benton and Michael McKean to tickle your fancy.
Unknown stars at the time such as Billy Zane, Courtney Cox, Paul Rudd, Megan Mullally and Bill Maher used this show as a stepping stone to get to where they are now.
Several stars and most likely close friends of Angela Lansbury such as David Ogden Stiers, Fritz Weaver, Pat Hingle, Vera Miles and Larry Wilcox appeared more than three or four times throughout the show's entire run, each time playing a different character.
As 'MURDER SHE WROTE' slowly grinded to a halt during its 12th season in 1996, you couldn't help but notice that the show had lost probably more than half of its original spark. Angela Lansbury herself never looked better, but the story lines were getting a bit tired, and seriously, just how many murders in the last season seemed a little bit 'familiar' to the other episodes earlier in the show's run? The guest actors that were being scraped together was pretty much 'bottom-of-the-barrel' selection - Gerald McRaney, Rosalind Chao and Bo Svenson were about the biggest names during the 12th season that could be scrounged up. On top of that, audiences across the world were getting hooked on newer fare such as 'E.R.', 'FRIENDS' and 'LAW & ORDER'. Who had time for 'MURDER SHE WROTE' anymore?
So when the axe finally fell, it came as no surprise, and Angela Lansbury, or should I say, Jessica Fletcher, made a graceful exit to re-appear in isolated MURDER SHE WROTE telemovie projects that would be produced on an almost yearly annual basis after the series was canceled. Although I do remember that she put up quite a fight to keep her show on the air for one more season, I think it came as a blessing in disguise when the show left the broadcast airwaves.
Angela Lansbury was what made this show work. Her character was inspirational. She wasn't some young attractive lady, or a hot-shot lawyer who was solving all the mysteries. She was a retired English teacher, now writing best-selling novels who was the heroine we came to adore. I used to love it when during the last 15 minutes of each episode, someone would mention a keyword like, "Creosote", or a clue-giving caption like "Hmm, my watch seems to have stopped" which would give her the final piece of the puzzle to solve the murder mystery and her eyes would light up as the pieces clicked together in her head.
It's been years since she left our television sets, but she will forever live on in syndicated re-runs, a blessing in disguise perhaps, but something for the younger generation to surely appreciate.
You don't have to be an old lady to like this show; I'm sixteen years old
and a male to boot. I am a big fan of whodunits, and always have been.
This is one of the best. In the first few seasons, several episodes
featured creative and delightful gimmicks. Although creatively the series
sagged a bit in the "middle years," the last two seasons showed a
in quality. Throughout the series' twelve years, however, very few
failed to deliver in terms of the mystery itself: it's always fun to try to
find the clues and deduce their meaning before the detective does, but if
you don't, it's also fun to hear the explanation.
Although there are several lovable recurring characters, the only real regular in the series is Angela Lansbury. Consequently, the format is refreshingly free, and the writers aren't forced to bog the stories down for a boatload of regulars. However, there are always plenty of interesting characters acting as suspects. Frequently there are famous beloved older guest stars, especially in the first few seasons, but the special guest star is not always the killer; the mystery always comes first! This is an old-fashioned mystery series, unmarred by an overdose of violence or melodrama. Plus, Jessica Fletcher is a character that one can't help but love, and Angela Lansbury plays it to charming perfection.
There is, of course, the obvious creative license: that Jessica Fletcher always accidentally stumbles across a murder. If you are willing to put this aside, this is a show one can really enjoy. (Note: The show pokes fun at itself on occasion, including one where Jessica reveals that she is nicknamed "the Bloody Mary of murder.")
Jessica is the best. I love her. She makes me feel good. Every time the music comes on it is always uplifting! I wish she hadn't gone off the air. When I tell people how much I love her they make fun of me since I'm a guy but I tell you it was a hell of a show. I wonder when they'll come out with a DVD on all the seasons. I can't say there are any shows like this one on the air now. The closest thing is to watch A & E. They have some shows. She, however, was the original that all other mystery shows are trying to be. The interesting thing is that she was born in England but i never picked up on that. It's not like she had an accent or anything. The only bad thing about the show was that Jessica and Frank didn't have any kids but she seemed to have an awful lot of cousins, niece's and nephews.
Murder, She Wrote ranks #1 in the drama series category, and around #4 in
the greatest shows of all time, right behind M*A*S*H*, All in the Family and
Maude. I liked Jessica Fletcher, but also the antics of her crusty doctor
friend, Seth Hazlitt, and the Sheriff. The sheer greatness of this show
explains its long TV life of 12 seasons.
Angela Lansbury and William Windom both play the part to a T. I still enjoy watching seemingly endless reruns daily of the show on A&E.
I'm not quite sure why Murder She Wrote isn't still running. I'm
willing to bet that Angela Lansbury could command any kind of deal she
could have if she wanted to do more episodes of this wonderful series.
Angela Lansbury is maybe one of the kindest and most unselfish of players ever to grace the big screen, the small screen and the legitimate theater. Let's not forget she's a star in all three mediums. What I like best about her is the fact that she used her star power to give lots of work to her fellow performers from the golden age of Hollywood's studio system who weren't as lucky with their careers as she. Just look at the cast list of any random selection of Murder, She Wrote episodes.
For twelve years she got every weekend to show up the police in every corner of the globe that they had the wrong solution to a given murder. The amazing thing is that most of them simply went with the flow as far as her interference with their investigation. It was part of her charm for them and for us.
About half the episodes took place in the little New England coastal town of Cabot Cove where William Windom as the town doctor and first sheriff Tom Bosley and then sheriff Ron Masak got assistance from Jessica Fletcher every time she was in town at her home. I liked the Cabot Cove shows best and I suspect most viewers did. Though that presents a problem in that Cabot Cove given the percentage of the population might just have the highest murder rate in the country. Good thing she WAS around. But even there she never embarrassed Bosley or Masak in solving the cases.
Her best scenes are with William Windom, the crusty old town doctor, Seth Hazlitt. I suspect that back in their youth Jessic and Seth were an item and the way Lansbury and Windom are with each other, you can see the bonds are strong. The writers in Murder, She Wrote very wisely never made Dr. Hazlett any kind of buffoon the way Nigel Bruce was as Doctor Watson to Basil Rathbone's Sherlock Holmes. Windom played it absolutely straight and his medical knowledge occasionally helped Lansbury solve the case. I think it's a shame that William Windom never got an Emmy for playing Dr. Hazlitt.
My hope is that somebody gets the bright idea to have a reunion episode and maybe finally marry Jessica Fletcher and Dr. Seth Hazlitt. It would be the highest rated show of a given season.
I love this show. Angela Lansbury shines in the role of her career as the delightful mystery novelist,Jessica Fletcher. She never recieved an Emmy for the role, but should have. The writing is top notch, and the mysteries are engrossing. This is one of my all-time favorite shows,and is so much fun to watch.The many guest stars are great too.A wonderful show.Catch the reruns!
I like the series! Jessica Fletcher, played by Angela Lansbury (The
Picture of Dorian Gray ) is adorable, refined, well read, has a sixth
insightful, witty, elegant and fun. I love the fact that she bikes
everywhere she goes on her cute bike with a wicker basket, I have a basket
on my bike just like hers and I also write. I have not resolved a murder
case yet but I love forensic medicine, the legal issues. She is always
outsmarting the sheriff. I like to see shows that portray that type of
woman. It is good for women. Angela Lansbury is so talented: she can
dance, produce, yet she looks so vulnerable. I have probably watched the
entire series because I made a point in hanging around the house when it
I have heard people say that the plot is repetitive. I do not care, I
always have fun watching it. Things got more interesting when she
the doctor. He loves to eat.
Although there is always a murder, there are no gory scenes. Just the
mystery. Too bad they stopped making the series, but still runs in
syndication. I love Angela Lansbury.
This series is one of my all time favourites, and I still eagerly catch
it on re runs. Angela Lansbury is surely one of the greatest of all the
entertainment world's ladies, growing simply more graceful, dignified,
and endearing as the years pass. She made a superb Miss Marple in some
of the Agatha Christie movies, but her role as Jessica Fletcher, Cabot
Cove's retired high school English teacher and current mystery novelist
sleuth, is the one she was born to play.
True, the series isn't very realistic, as Jessica invariably stumbles upon a murder each week and manages to ferret out the killer quite single handedly, while local law enforcement remains stumped. However, this is fairly typical of all fictional sleuths; look at Miss Marple herself. Certainly Cabot Cove has an astonishing murder rate! Some episodes are of course more captivating than others, but even when a situation is predictable, it's always a joy watching this lovely, clever, & kind lady in action as she uses her charm, wits, imagination, and instincts about human nature. Of course it's always fun to try figuring out the killer before she does.
Jessica's travels take her around the USA and indeed the world, as she makes frequent trips to her New York City publisher, visits friends & relatives around the country (ranches, ski resorts, Las Vegas etc.), and even travels abroad, for example to Hong Kong, Ireland, Rome, Athens, and Monte Carlo. However, my favourite episodes are set in her small Maine hometown of Cabot Cove. I always enjoy the depiction of her lovely old fashioned white house and small town New England life, her traveling about on her bicycle (like myself, Jessica does not drive a car), and especially her relationships with other townsfolk, notably series regulars Dr. Seth Hazlitt and Sheriff Amos Tupper. As Jessica is a widow, it's always interesting to watch her with her good friend, Seth; one is tempted to look for a glimmer of romance. Quite often Jessica's young nephew, Grady, appears with her as she tackles the solution to a case.
The guest list throughout the long running series does indeed read like a veritable 'Who's who' of Hollywood, including Hayley Mills, Shelley Fabares, Van Johnson, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Polly Bergen, Wayne Rogers, Lucie Arnaz, and David Ogden Stiers...to name but a few.
I'm thrilled that the series continues to live on in re runs and tip my hat to Angela Lansbury's twelve season stint as the mystery writer sleuth. Personally, I wish Jessica Fletcher had taught my son English in high school, would love to read one of her mystery novels, and think she would make a fabulous & interesting next door neighbour...except that I'd be a teeny bit afraid I might just turn up murdered!
This has to be one of the best shows that ever came out. Angela Lansbury truly created one of the great detectives that ever graced the small screen. However, the best episodes actually took place in her hometown of Cabot Cove where she had a fine supporting cast. Doc Hazlett proved to be the Watson to Jessica's Holmes and Sheriffs Tupper and Metzger couldn't get along without her. This show is truly a classic.
Murder She Wrote is a very suspenseful and entertaining show. Angela Lansbury is a wonderful actress and i wish that she would do television again. This show will be missed and i hope they keep on playing the re-runs...if you like this show then i think you should read Dame Agatha Christies books...which some of the episodes were based on.
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