Former Red River TV series star Clint Lawson's Wild West show is in town, the prize act in the annual festival, which the sponsoring bookshop is presiding over. He strains a leg due to a ... See full summary »
Former Red River TV series star Clint Lawson's Wild West show is in town, the prize act in the annual festival, which the sponsoring bookshop is presiding over. He strains a leg due to a sabotaged saddle strap. His stand-in, Dogie, is fatally shot while starring in his place, so who was the intended target? Evidence seems to pile up against Clint, so the chief simply jails him without further investigation. However, the bookshop sleuths team digs up dirty secrets from their past and that of other show cast, such as ex-con announcer Jeb Fletcher, Clint's ex-lover Annie whom he promised a movie part like Strother Elam, and Zeke Foster, who secretly deals in illegitimate Red River memorabilia. Written by
Reasonable - all the usual weaknesses but the cowboy gimmick works well to make it feel a bit fresher and livelier than it really is
Typically for her, Samantha Kinsey is the chair of the committee organising a wild west show in town featuring some stars from the big and small screen westerns. It is all going well but when a stunt goes wrong, former TV star Clint Taylor is badly hurt. An accident it is assumed but Philby finds that Clint's saddle was deliberately cut, suggesting a deliberate mistake at best, attempted murder at worst. A bit of investigation reveals that Clint had intended to take a fall all along to drum up media interest in him again and Sam is affronted by the cheek. However at the next show Clint falls again but this time it was his stand-in and the fall is real, because he has been shot. The mystery is set and Sam starts her own investigation while Chief Connors goes down a more formal route.
I first watched the Mystery Woman series and found it to be a bit like cheap toilet paper it isn't anything special but it does what I need it to do and it never pretends to be doing anything other than the basics. However with the last few films I had found the weaknesses were becoming more overwhelming while its value was diminishing as it just churned out the same old ideas and style again and again. With this entry things are a little better than the last few films because it does feel a bit fresher because of the setting. Of course a lick of paint can only do so much and typically the weaknesses are still there. The delivery is so very "safe" with a basic mystery, obvious dialogue, cardboard cut-out characters, annoying incidental music and so on. It is very daytime television but those watching it will probably have forgiven it for that.
The cast deliver the usual collection of characters. Martin continues to be as bland as normal and doesn't seem to have any interest in making her character more than a young version of Jessica Fletcher. Siemaszko is unconvincing as usual and Martin and her have no chemistry. Williams sleepwalks his way through a half-baked character while Sander is as dry and humourless as always. The guest cast features reasonable turns from Boxleitner, Dierkop, Stevens, Niven and others.
A reasonable entry in a series of films where that should be considered to be the standard to be hoped for. All the usual weaknesses are present but, unlike some other MW films I had seen, the cowboy gimmick works well to make a typical mystery feel a bit fresher and livelier than it really is.
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