Murder, She Wrote: Season 9, Episode 18

Dead to Rights (21 Mar. 1993)

TV Episode  -   -  Comedy | Crime | Drama
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Dana Ballard is a compulsive liar who will apparently say anything to get what she wants. When she applies for a job with stockbroker Ethan Stevens, she gives Jessica as a references and ... See full summary »


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Title: Dead to Rights (21 Mar 1993)

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Episode cast overview:
Ethan Stevens
Christine Belford ...
Missy Stevens
Dana Ballard
Vincent Polaski (as Stephen T. Kay)
Todd Merlin
Lt. Gabriel Rodino
Bruce Hastings
Edward Winter ...
Baker Lawrence
Lorry Goldman ...
Saul Benson
Tom Henschel ...
Terence Gideon
Gloria Jergens
Ruth Anderson ...
Helen McCurdy


Dana Ballard is a compulsive liar who will apparently say anything to get what she wants. When she applies for a job with stockbroker Ethan Stevens, she gives Jessica as a references and manipulates her answering machine to have Stevens call for her for the reference. Needless to say, Dana gives herself a very good one seeing as Jessica, who had caught her out in a lie, wouldn't likely do so. When Dana is arrested for murdering Stevens - she's found unconscious just a few feet from his body with the gun in her hand - apparently having been knocked out in a struggle. Jessica isn't sure what to make of it all but Dana's lawyer, Vincent Polasky, is convinced she is innocent. When it turns out that Stevens had been involved in insider trading, it makes the likelihood of someone else being responsible for the crime far more likely. Written by garykmcd

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Plot Keywords:

prison | jail | embezzlement





Release Date:

21 March 1993 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Final role and last filmed acting performance of Evelyn Keyes. See more »

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User Reviews

"Telling Lies ~ Tell Unsweet Little Lies ~ Telling Lies ~ Telling Telling Lies"
22 April 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This episode marks the final appearance by Evelyn Keyes, who begins her film acting in 1938, and television performances during the 1950's.

Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) edits copy at her Cabot Cove residence with research assistant Dana Ballard (Molly Hagan), who has taken short-cuts and falsifies crucial information necessary to compile inaccuracies for a J.B. Fletcher manuscript about the New Hampshire State Fair.

Jessica bids "good-bye" to Dana, who leaves for her new position in Portland, as Jessica plans her next tour, but first telephones Helen McCurdy (Ruth Anderson) at the New Hampshire State Fairgrounds to compare notes, thus realizing Dana's erroneous research.

Editor Gloria Jergens (Pamela Roylance) visits Jessica from Hartley Publishers to inform Jessica of additional factual mistakes which editors have identified in her manuscript.

Ethan Stevens (Sam Anderson) receives Dana Ballard at his securities exchange brokerage office, in Portland, Maine, at which she has applied for a position, listing Jessica Fletcher as a reference. Dana then alters Jessica's answering machine message with her impersonation of "J.B. Fletcher," and cons Ethan into hiring her by returning his call, again as "Jessica."

Baker Lawrence (Edward Winter), an associate of Ethan Stevens (not to be confused with Lawrence Baker from "MSW" #10.3), questions Ethan on his selection, while Ethan's wife, Missy Stevens (Christine Belford), sees Dana for what she is and gives her an ultimatum to maintain her distance from Ethan.

Todd Merlin (Wallace Langham), also employed at the securities exchange, hails from Vermont, from a neighboring community near Dana's hometown although he claims never to have met her. So, if Dana claims never to have met Todd, then we know that they must have attended school together because Dana doesn't know the truth if she trips over it and may be dragging Todd into her web of lies.

Jessica's tour takes her into Portland, where she meets with Terence Gideon (Tom Henschel) over lunch, in a restaurant into which Ethan and Missy Stevens enter with Baker Lawrence to meet with a client. When Ethan introduces his party to Jessica, he mentions his and "Jessica's" telephone conversation to endorse Dana, causing great suspicion from Jessica's viewpoint.

Jessica visits the brokerage firm, to spot Saul Benson (Lorry Goldman) in the corridor, recognizing him as a former convict charged with securities fraud with an insider trading scheme. She then confronts Dana, who worms her way from Jessica's accusations with additional falsehoods.

This evening, Dana continues to put her schemes in motion, by breaking into an office to lift a pass card, when she is caught by the soon-to-be victim of a shooting in her presence, for which she contorts an alibi to try to pass off as plausible.

Lieutenant Gabriel Rodino (Richard Libertini) investigates the murder, as he and Deputy Prosecutor Bruce Hastings (Jeffrey Nordling) each figures Dana as the prime suspect because of matching fingerprints and blood at the scene of the crime, as well as on the pistol, which has been recovered from a nearby gutter.

Novice Defense Attorney Vincent Polaski (Stephen T. Kay) rises to the challenge of defending Dana, but he, neither, is able to get a straight answer from her, and so he solicits the assistance of a reluctant Jessica, who remarks that Dana has a lot of answering to do if she were ever capable of telling the truth. Vincent then tells Jessica that he thinks that he likes Dana, which may appeal to her tendency to champion forlorn young love and, thereby, join his crusade to defend Dana.

Vincent also solicits the expertise of his hipster Grandmother, Wanda Polaski (Evelyn Keyes), to hack into the security firm's computer files to aid in the investigation, in which Jessica relents to participate providing that Dana tell the truth for once in her life because the law and legal authorities have her "Dead to Rights."

This episode also represents the most recent appearance to date by Ruth Anderson, as well as the the first of two "MSW" appearances each for Molly Hagan, Stephen T. Kay and Jeffrey Nordling, the second of two each for Pamela Roylance and Tom Henschel, the first of three for Richard Libertini, the third of three each for Evelyn Keyes and Edward Winter, the first of four for Sam Anderson, and the fourth of four for Christine Belford.

Evelyn Keyes, acting since 1938, and Edward Winter, acting since 1968, have unfortunately since passed.

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