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When one of Jessica's former students brings a play based on her novel to Broadway, she finds herself in the middle of a war between two rival critics.


(as E. W. Swackhamer)


(created by), (created by) | 4 more credits »


Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Lloyd Bochner ...
Jason Richards
Miles Chapin ...
Walter Knapf
Shayne Grant
Marilyn Hassett ...
Barbara Blair
Barney Mapost
Christopher Norris ...
Denise Quinlan
Lt. Aloyius Jarvis
Eliot Easterbrook
Ed Cullen
John DiSanti ...
Danny O'Mara
Penny Santon ...
Mrs. Rizzo
Don Correia ...
Shayne's Assistant
R.J. Arterburn ...
Sergeant (as R. J. Arterburn)
Robert Rigamonti ...
Maitre D'


Producer Shayne Grant mounts Walter Knapf's reworking 'Mainely Murder' of one of his former teacher JB Fletcher's mystery plays. Only after the pre-Broadway-premiere-interviews Walter admits he was railroaded into appalling changes. The critics do a damned destructive job on the play, worst of all ever-condescending TV columnist Eliot Easterbrook. Shortly after, the Chronicle newspaper critic Danny O'Mara, who gave the only glowing review attacking Elliot's, is found murdered after Easterbrook shouted he should be permanently silenced. Jessica and the NYPD work their way through suspects among cast, crew and critical body, starting with Eliot who was found there holding a gun but has a TV alibi, only to find the killer after examining notes and computer files. Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery





Release Date:

1 May 1988 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Rich Little's character says that he has an ability to mimic the writing styles of various critics. Little is a professional impressionist, performing impressions of, among others, every U.S. president since Kennedy and several celebrities. See more »


Though the Play based on JB Fletcher's book is stated several times to be opening on Broadway, outside the theatre after the starting credits, you can clearly see the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Also, the interior of the theatre matches no Broadway house of the period. See more »

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User Reviews

Destructive Criticism Meets Static Reception
19 September 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

New York City's Woolcott Theatre welcomes "Mainely Murder," the first attempt by playwright Walter Knapf (Miles Chapin), which he bases upon a novel, "A Murder Comes to Maine," by his former schoolteacher Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury), who attends dress rehearsals, after lending her endorsement based upon Walter's first draft.

Producer Shayne Grant (pronouned "Shay-nah") (Carole Cook), with playwright and author on hand, receives condescending theatre critic Eliot Easterbrook (Dean Stockwell), to interview the trio on stage for his "Live at Five" television commentary. Eliot also presents theatre reviews during his 11 PM telecast.

Director Jason Richards (Lloyd Bochner) and publicist Barney Mapost (Rich Little) add their respective professional touches to the production, as Shayne and Walter attempt to convince Jessica that inferior edits may be corrected but probably not in time for tomorrow's opening night.

Newspaper theatre critic Danny O'Mara (John DiSanti) and his assistant, Denise Quinlan (Christopher Norris) attempt a more open mind than does the television theatre critic, as they prepare to attend opening night.

While the "Deadpan" audience sees none of the "Play within a Play" performance beyond dress rehearsals, the theatre audience is told that Craig Donner substitutes for Tony Jasper in the role of the Woodsman. At least one cast member is seen beyond the stage: Barbara Blair (playing Prudence) (Marilyn Hassett), who attends the cast and crew reception, to await television and newspaper reviews.

But after reviews of "Mainely Murder" differ considerably, a body is discovered to complicate matters. A frustrated Lieutenant Aloyius Jarvis (Eugene Roche) conducts the subsequent investigation, to what appears an "open and shut case" -- if not for Jessica's determination to disprove the officer's theory.

Newspaper editor Ed Cullen (Philip Abbott), Shayne's Assistant (Don Correia), and several other survivors provide Jessica with information regarding a case of "Deadpan" theatre reviews.

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