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"Should Fireplace Pokers Be Forgot, and Never Brought to Mind? ~ Or Should They Find Another Use, a Different Murder Kind?"
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30 April 2010
Well, 264 episodes have been produced for the twelve-season "Murder,
She Wrote" television series, and now we're up to the last of these.
During the initial CBS broadcasts of "Death by Demographics," Angela
Lansbury delivers a note of gratitude to share her appreciation to
viewers for tuning into watch the adventures of J.B. Fletcher, whom she
develops well throughout this series.
This makes one wonder how the series may have endured otherwise, had
producers cast one of its original choices for the starring role, as
Angela reportedly had been their fifth choice; some of the other
contenders seem to have had a history of abandoning previous series,
whereas Angela Lansbury goes on to serve as Executive Producer for
"MSW's" last four seasons.
This program's co-creators have reportedly clashed with Angela over the
direction of her character, as we see a somewhat different sleuth
emerging throughout the series. Two aspects which they have all agreed
upon, however, would be that Jessica would never drive an automobile,
and that she would have no lasting romantic interest. So, they have
succeeded on these points and beyond.
And now, the series winding to a somewhat unceremonious close, as
producers have learned their lesson about these "send-off" episodes,
Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) visits her dear old friend Howard
Deans (David Ogden Stiers) in San Francisco. (What begins on the
Atlantic side of Maine climaxes on the Pacific side of California.)
Radio Station KLOY 114.3-FM in San Francisco plans to undergo a format
change, from Classical music to Modern Rock, causing Howard Deans to
face unemployment, as he specializes in presenting recordings composed
by the greats, such as Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture," a rendition of
which Howard broadcasts with Jessica at his side, and Sound Engineer
Eddie Mapes (Paul Linke) in the adjacent control room.
(Jessica arrives to promote her latest Mystery, "A Case and a Half of
KLOY owner Graham Forbes (Robert Pine) welcomes from vacation his son,
Bud Forbes (Robert Curtis Brown), to break the news about the station's
switch from Classical to Rock, a move which Bud finds unsettling, when
someone even more unsettling enters the office, Lauren (Lucinda Weist),
a young lady from Cincinnati who plans to marry Graham, thus causing
reservations on Bud's behalf.
Lauren has convinced Graham to hire Russ Connell (James Acheson) as
youth-oriented program director and T. T. Baines (Christian Bocher) as
disc jockey, beginning next Monday, when Howard's morning program will
leave the airwaves. Russ and T. T. are on hand to adjust the station.
(Lauren, Russ and T. T. share a past in Cincinnati, Chicago and St.
Louis, as they worm their way into radio stations and manage to get the
station owner to propose to Lauren, who was once engaged to Russ, and
then Russ makes the move to have T. T. change the station's format,
while Russ is busy blackmailing personnel, before they move their scam
to another city, which they plan to do after this.) But now, Lauren
claims to have fallen in love with Graham for real, and she wants free
of Russ and T. T.'s scam.
Colleen Sellers (Robin Riker), Annie Lawson (Diana Canova) and Dave
Pittman (Kenneth Tigar) work behind the scenes at KLOY, in sales,
promotions and accounting divisions. Colleen, from Bangor, Maine, has a
history of introducing headline-grabbing gimmicks, while Dave has had
to borrow $45,000 from the till to pay for medical expenses, a
transaction with which Annie has secretly assisted Dave, and now Russ
is blackmailing these three.
One evening when Russ and T. T. emerge from a restaurant to enter their
automobile, someone aims a rifle to shoot through their window, they
emerging unscathed, but SFPD Lieutenant Evans (Seth Jaffe) soon arrives
at KLOY to question Howard Deans, as the prime suspect, whom Jessica
champions as her dear old friend.
But late one other night, someone reaches for a fireplace poker to
murder a victim, not by bludgeoning, but by stabbing, by way of
Jessica joins Lieutenant Evans in the resulting investigation, they
discovering that more than one suspect has entered the apartment that
night, he intending to nail Howard, she standing her ground to defend
Howard against "Death by Demographics."
(This title also reflects the cancellation of "MSW" because of a shift
in the popular direction of television viewing audiences of the day.)
This episode represents the second of two "MSW" appearances each for
Robin Riker, Christian Bocher, and Seth Jaffe (both as SFPD Lieutenant
Evans), the third of three each for Diana Canova, Robert Curtis Brown
and David Ogden Stiers, the fifth of five for Robert Pine, and the
264th of 264 "MSW" series performances for Angela Lansbury, or at least
before the upcoming four "MSW" TV reunion movies (to date).
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