Murder, She Wrote: Season 2, Episode 8

Dead Heat (24 Nov. 1985)

TV Episode  |   |  Comedy, Crime, Drama
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Jessica goes to the races to watch her niece ride the winning horse but then the horse's disagreeable owner is murdered after a dispute.



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Title: Dead Heat (24 Nov 1985)

Dead Heat (24 Nov 1985) on IMDb 6.8/10

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Vicky Gallegos
Ramon Bieri ...
Pat Phillips
Cliff Carpenter
Lonny Chapman ...
Jack Bowen
Christine Carpenter
Vince Shackman
Linda Grovenor ...
Jockey Tracy McGill
Mike Gann
Carlos Gallegos
Lt. Ted Misko
Derrel Maury ...
Cookie Milford
Alex Rebar ...
Mr. P


Under instructions from big boss Tony, local mobster boss Vince Shackman leans heavily on race horse trainer Mike Gann to settle his gambling debts by fixing a race, which takes quite a lot, including making a Panamese illegal jockey be replaced 'sick' by greenhorn Tracy Macgill, a niece of Jessica, who made a stop-over on the way to San Francisco to see her debut. When Tracey is arrested for the tranquilizer gun murder of Jack Bowen, Jessica fears the police won't solve the case and takes crash courses in betting and running a stable while investigating everybody involved, including unethical betting by the track security chief... Written by KGF Vissers

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Release Date:

24 November 1985 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The title refers to the results of a race where the first two contestants across the finish line are so close together that a winner cannot be determined. See more »


When Jessica leaves the cab, as she arrives at the hippodrome, the cab starts to move on and some movie crew and the camera are seen reflected in the car's windows. See more »

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User Reviews

Why Jessica's Relatives Are Prone to Suspicion
29 October 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This episode marks one of the last appearances of Tony Ballen, who had been acting in film and on television since 1964, and whose last three roles come in the "Murder, She Wrote" series. Ramon Bieri, Lonny Chapman and Norman Fell have also since passed.

Jockey Tracy Macgill (Linda Grovenor) receives a visit from the sister of her father, Martin Macgill, one Aunt Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury), traveling en route from one California city to another, and stopping at Tracy's place of employ, Hybiscus Park horse racing track. (Its sign consists of script letters, which the camera swiftly pans, but it seems to read "Hybiscus Park" upon repeat viewings; the name of the race-track remains unspoken.)

Jockey Carlos Gallegos (Bert Rosario) is also on staff, but suffers severe indigestion on the day of the race, and so Trainer Jack Bowen (Lonny Chapman) assigns novice Jockey Tracy Macgill to ride champion race horse Anchors Ahoy, with the blessing of Carlos and his wife, Vicky Gallegos (Priscilla Barnes), a friend of Tracy, and to the enthusiasm of Aunt Jessica.

Couple Cliff Carpenter (Jack Carter) and Christine Carpenter (Carole Cook), superstitious about her betting, experience the action of the big race from box seats next to Jessica and Vickie, as they discuss betting strategies.

Behind the scenes, Jack Bowen has a run-in with Veternarian Mike Gann (Clu Gulager), while organized mobster Vince Shackman (Norman Fell) argues with his thugs and with Jack Bowen and with Security Chief Pat Phillips (Ramon Bieri), who has him evicted from the premises.

Groomer Cookie Milford (Derrel Maury) overhears a few of these altercations, but when he next encounters Jessica with Vickie on their way to the Infirmary, they discover a body in the stables.

Lieutenant Ted Misko (Roy Thinnes), a reformed gambler, who keeps track of his loses should he waste money on tickets, expresses disappointment when the horse which he picks comes in because he doesn't spend money on tickets.

Ted is assigned to investigate the murder, with Jessica interfering at every turn, because he arrests Tracy even though she was racing Anchors Ahoy in full view of the crowd at the time of the murder, perhaps the primary suspect because she is, of course, Jessica's relative. But the investigation shows clear signs that the race has been fixed, pointing fingers of suspicion back toward the unknowing Tracy.

Jessica continuously finding herself abducted and threatened by Bookies and henchmen and other suspects, which adds to Ted's stress level in this non-friendly environment of horse racing amid endangerment of a "Dead Heat" climax.

The cast is rounded out by Infirmary Nurse (Freddye Chapman), Security Guard (Joe Faust), Mr. P (Robert Ellenstein), Chief Steward (Don Matheson), Ernie, the Taxi Driver (Stu Gilliam), Another Ernie (Tom Dreesen), Guzmann the Bodyguard (Alex Rebar), Bookie #1 (Tony Ballen) and Bookie #2 (Richard Paradise).

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