A playwright haunted by his wife's suicide loses another family member to murder.



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Episode cast overview:
Officer Joe Collars
Doran Clark ...
Courtney Stoddard
Carol Kendall
Alex Ericson
Lisa Ryder
Martin Tremaine
Barney Gunderson
Sheriff Pat McAllester
Ray Reinhardt ...
General Avery Stark
Philip Stoddard


Jessica travels to Carmel to read the new play of her friend Martin Tremaine, but his real reason is the strange events haunting him after the suicide of his wife, and his fear that he is losing his mind. Someone may be pushing him towards madness, but why? Written by mama.sylvia

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

dog | knife | infidelity | ghost | adultery | See All (5) »


Crime | Drama | Mystery





Release Date:

3 May 1992 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


In addition to his iconic role as the short-tempered dad in the holiday classic A Christmas Story, Darren McGavin (Martin Tremaine in this episode) also played the main character in a mystery series of a decidedly different kind: Kolchak The Night Stalker. See more »

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User Reviews

Mad Dogs and Clay Torsos and Visionaries Impaired by Gaslighting
14 December 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

If we pause for a moment to reflect upon plot devices and recurring themes presented thus far during the "MSW" series, we may begin to observe various elements from earlier seasons recycled, and perhaps refreshed, as we enter into its later seasons, in this case, a loyal daughter and son-in-law who care for an ailing father, an ambitious brother-in-law who handles the family's financial dealings, a belligerent neighbor who threatens anyone crossing his path, eccentric house-guests bearing ulterior motives, and an accommodating victim who has been blinded by the carelessness of an authoritative figure.

Add to this mix the mystique of Episode 6-16, "The Big Show of 1965," in which we discover "The Lady in Black," a haunting, hatted and veiled figure, who points an accusing finger to generate emotional abuse and manipulation of false guilt; here, an "Angel of Death," adorned in similar attire, albeit "off white," is employed for psychological intimidation of the one individual ever to take notice of her sightings.

"Angel of Death" also serves as the title of the latest manuscript penned by ailing Playwright Martin Tremaine (Darren McGavin), who considers this his swan song of authorship, as he dwells in misery and isolation amid very few trusted associates in his Carmel, California, residence beneath the ivory-clad portrait of his late wife, Vivian Ericson Tremaine, who has recently taken her own life, foreshadowing the notions of desperation and hopelessness.

Courtney Stoddard (Doran Clark) and her devoted husband, Philip Stoddard (Michael Canavan), care for Martin, as they share a room at her father's residence. Attorney Alex Ericson (Ken Kercheval), brother of Vivian and uncle and confidante to Courtney, assists his niece and brother-in-law, by helping with errands, and handling household financial obligations.

Lisa Ryder (Maria Mayenzet), former typist for Martin, has been blinded by a freak accident at the hand of a family member, thereby given accommodations in the Tremaine guest cottage, at which she hones her skills at sculpting. Currently, her work in process consists of creating a human male torso from Terra-cotta clay.

Agent Barney Gunderson (Austin Pendleton) and actress Lisa Ryder (Maria Mayenzet) arrive as Martin's house guests, each eager to read his new Play, which he shares with no one before showing his manuscript to Martin and Vivian's dear old friend Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury), who arrives at his invitation.

When Jessica decides her old friend's manuscript very dark and dismal, he remarks that it must be so, before lapsing into and out of states of disorientation and fatigue, generated in the immediate aftermath of "Angel of Death" sitings, which Jessica nor Courtney are able to notice, before stepping to his aid.

General Avery Stark (Ray Reinhardt), the eccentric neighbor, and his pet Doberman Pinscher halt Jessica in her tracks as she crosses from the Tremaine residence by daylight toward the guest cottage to visit Lisa Ryder. After an awkward exchange of "Please, call off your dog," and "Keep off my property," "The General" purports that his property projects into the Tremaine yard although no sign of a boundary line is evident.

But by night, in the midst of a power outage, when Jessica is visiting Lisa, who functions equally well in darkness, a body is discovered on the Tremaine premises, causing additional hostilities to erupt.

Sheriff Pat McAllester (Noble Willingham) and Officer Joe Collars (Stephen Bogardus) handle the investigation, in which the finger of suspicion for the crime seems to point toward Martin Tremaine, who continues to doubt his own sanity amid a series of confusing events although he claims no motive.

Jessica considers the possibility that because no one seems to harbor any real motive for the stabbing, at which the murder weapon is missing, perhaps Martin has been the intended victim all along.

During the course of the investigation, Sheriff McAllester discovers the knife embedded inside the back of the clay sculpture, which appears somewhat rubbery, as the clay snaps back into place, but it is clay, just the same, and Jessica realizes this when she discovers Terra-cotta stained hand-prints upon the window sill, leading to her theory regarding the "Angel of Death."

Darren McGavin, a major star of classic television and film, who has been acting since 1945, and Noble Willingham, acting in film and on television since 1970, have unfortunately since passed.

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