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 ... See full summary »
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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The character of Jessica Fletcher hadn't quite come into focus yet when this pilot episode was written. She seems a bit "folksier," quick to dispense home-remedies for cleaning dress stains or curing corns on feet. She has as yet only a tentative grasp on what it means to be a best-selling author and too often seems a bit bewildered about life in the Big City. The later Jessica Fletcher grew in assurance and seemed to find strength in her Cabot Cove background rather than viewing it simply as a safe retreat from a troubling Outside World. This growth in her character probably helped account for the long-running appeal of the show.
While this pilot episode has the somewhat questionable advantage of greater length, it doesn't rank as one of the show's better offerings, but it certainly has a curiosity value and it does offer a pleasing array of guest stars: Arthur Hill, Brian Keith, Anne Francis, Raymond St. Jacques, Ned Beatty, Burt Convy, etc.
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