In this Pilot episode we are introduced to Jessica Fletcher, a recent widow, who lives in Cabot Cove, Maine. Jessica is an English teacher who becomes a mystery book author thanks to her nephew, Grady Fletcher. Grady submits his Aunts manuscript to a publishing company who loves it and publishes it immediately. It is a best-seller and Jessica goes to New York City to promote her new book. While there Jessica gets involved in a murder while at her publishers home for a costume party. When her nephew becomes a suspect of the murder, Jessica must find the real killer. Written by
The pilot art director was Tomas Azzari, and Marry Ann Biddle was his assistant art director. The Mendocino, (Northern California) location stood in for Cabot Cove, Maine. In the heart of the small seaside village, the Jessica Fletcher's Victorian residence was chosen. The Victorian house was actually a doctor's office. The pilot established this exterior as Jessica's home. The interior foyer-living room was filmed in the week on location. A Ranger's office exterior was filmed for the Sheriff's office and jail. Other business store fronts were filmed establishing the newspaper, the beauty shop, the doctor's office, the local hotel became the infamous Hill House hotel and lobby interior. All of these location sites, established throughout the series, return during ensuing location filming in various trips the production company made. When the company returned to Universal Studios, Stage 29, Jessica's kitchen and dining room, the doctor's residence foyer and converted living room, which became his office, were ready for filming. The Sheriff's office had originally been a standing cabin interior with a rustic fireplace. The front wall of the set was replaced, matching the Mendocino Ranger's Station, floor to ceiling glass plate windows and a side entry door. Added to the rectangular floor plan was a jail cell wing. These three sets became the permanent series sets. After the pilot was filmed, Leslie Parsons (art director) added onto Jessica's set, adding the living room and entrance foyer hall (front double door and front window bay matching the Mendocino location). Leslie repeated the use of wallpaper (as the kitchen and dining room) in these set areas. Rob Wingo decorated both the pilot and the series. Azzari and Biddle did not continue with the series' art department after finishing the pilot. See more »
When Jessica is harassed by the two guys on the street, she hits them with her purse and it is obviously a male stunt performer in a wig. See more »
[Police Chief Gunderson questions Preston Giles and his house guests]
Chief Roy Gunderson:
Suppose you tell me what happened here last night, Mr. Giles. Folks don't go 'round gettin' half their heads blown off for no reason. I'm lookin' for motive.
For killing Caleb McCallum? Surely you jest. Half the country had reason to kill him. The other half didn't know him.
Chief Roy Gunderson:
Not funny, friend.
But accurate. The Captain wasn't particularly well loved. Though I doubt that any of us despised him enough to kill him.
Except for me....
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This is the pilot and premiere episode of the program, "Murder, She Wrote" and is a treat to watch. It was nice to have a two hour lead-off episode and was over before I knew it!! Good acting and the pace was brisk. Hard to believe that it was first shown on September 30, 1984!! Man, that seems like a lifetime ago!! LOL. But it is still nice to see on television every now and then. I still miss the show and wish it were still on the air. Oh well, thank goodness for reruns!!
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