In Los Angeles, to research an animal park, Jessica finds the employees trying to protect themselves in the middle of a skimmed-funds scandal. Then an amoral publicist turns up dead.

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(as Anthony Shaw)

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Cast

Episode credited cast:
...
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Joe Gandolph
David Beecroft ...
Mark Atwater
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Joyce Hacker
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Bea Huffington
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Kelly Michaels
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Dr. Ray Stinson
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Norman Gilford
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Ted Fraley
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Jimmy Russell
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Sergeant Nutley
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Docent
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Tony Felice ...
Zoo Keeper
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Storyline

Jessica does zoo research in LA's Animal Park. Director Norman Gilford is the center of a web of corruption, embezzlement, secrets and bribery. City councilor Joe Gandolph's plan to close the park is helped by a warped animal rights movement, Earthspeak, who tip off a newspaper journalist. Employee Mark Atwater dies from mambo snake venom, which Jesscia works out wasn't just a bite. She helps her friend LAPD lieutenant Gabriel Caceras clear Ted Fraley and uncovers the sordid truth. Written by KGF Vissers

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Crime | Drama | Mystery

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25 September 1994 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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The exterior "Los Angeles Animal Park" shots were filmed at the San Diego Zoo. See more »

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Opening credits prologue: LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA See more »

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Psssssst, What's the Scoop Around Animal Park?
4 May 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Season Eleven opens with this Rick Mittleman-penned episode about power struggles, graft and corruption, infidelity, blackmail, venomous creatures and murder set in Los Angeles Animal Park. Rick Mittleman has been writing television scripts since 1960, and authors two screenplays for the "Murder, She Wrote" series (his most recent to date).

Los Angeles, California, Chronicle Newpaper reporter Jimmy Russell (Glenn Taranto) has been trying to scoop television reporter Joyce Hacker (Susan Blakely) for information leading to a possible breaking story about City Councilman Joe Gandolph's (Dion Anderson) investigation into corruption at Animal Park (and what to do about it).

Norman Gilford (Jerry Hardin), chief officer who operates Animal Park, has reportedly been accepting bribes and payoffs to embezzle Animal Park funds, a factor for which Mark Atwater (David Beecroft) blackmails Norman Gilford for half of his take.

Kelly Michaels (Lisa Darr) serves as Los Angeles Animal Park operations Assistant and also as the fiancée of Mark Atwater. Bea Huffington (Corinne Bohrer) also works in Norman Gilford's office as a secretary/receptionist.

Doctor Ray Stinson (John Dye) serves as Animal Park Veterinarian, at its Veterinary Medical Clinic facility, with Ted Fraley (Taylor Nichols) at his side, as animal caretaker.

While Ray likes Bea, Bea likes Ted, and Ted likes Kelly, while Kelly likes Mark, and Mark likes Joyce, who agrees with Norman, who disagrees with Mark's "Earth Speak" organization, which campaigns to discharge ailing animals and endangered species from captivity.

And so, while everyone takes different sides regarding the preservation of unfortunate animals, tempers begin to flare over romantic infidelity and also the preservation of Norman's position, which Joe Gandolph seeks to abolish...or maybe to close down Animal Park altogether, while someone secretly slips Joe Gandolph secret information for the Chronicle, while wearing a disguise.

Kelly welcomes Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) to tour the facility a year after Jessica has become acquainted with Ray and Ted, who have invited her to visit Animal Park. So, now that she plans to set her next manuscript to a murder in the zoo type of mystery with animals as suspects, she has come to the right place.

One evening when Jessica types upon her laptop in an Animal Park office, Joe Gandolph sneaks into the snake chamber to meet his secret contact, when he stumbles across a body, which has been injected with "Black Mambo" snake venom, while the victim squirms and perishes before his eyes.

Jessica emerges from the next room once the murder has been committed, and so she and Joe are questioned as witnesses by LAPD Lieutenant Gabriel Caceras (Gregory Sierra), who investigates with old acquaintance Jessica at his side.

(This may be incorrectly interpreted as a goof, as the character of Lieutenant Gabriel Caceras makes his first "MSW" appearance in a dream sequence, but Jessica is widely known to renew acquaintances with many characters who have not appeared before their series' introduction. She may have known him before the dream and seems to have met him since, as he says that it's been a year, rather than two years.)

At any rate, a rather wide geometric figure of unrequited romance gone sour needs to be sorted through, as well as the trail of secret dealings around Animal Park, for Jessica to figure whodunit amid "A Nest of Vipers."

The cast is rounded out by Meadow Williams as Docent, and Billy Mayo as Sergeant Nutley.

This episode represents the first television role by Billy Mayo, as well as the second of two MSW" appearances each for Meadow Williams, John Dye and Glenn Taranto, the second of three each for Corinne Bohrer, Lisa Darr and Jerry Hardin, the third of four for Taylor Nichols, the fourth of four for Susan Blakely, and the fifth of six for Gregory Sierra (and his second of three as LAPD Lieutenant Gabriel Caceras).


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