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Leaping Leprechaun, Rumbling Roustabout, Tumbling Acrobat, Fleeing Clown

Author: WeatherViolet from United States
8 September 2009

As the Washington, DC, branch of the Fletcher family prepares for the wedding of granddaughter Carol Bannister (Courteney Cox), Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) arrives three days earlier than expected to visit with her great niece.

Carol stands up to the demands of her socially-conscious Grandmother Constance Fletcher (Laraine Day) and Mother Audrey Bannister (Susan Brown) to insist that she and her husband-to-be not follow their traditional demand. Father Howard Bannister (Dennis Howard) stands in his daughter's corner, along with Aunt Jessica.

Carol confides to Jessica that she believes Grandfather Neil Fletcher (Jackie Cooper) is still alive especially upon receiving the gift of a leprechaun figurine. "Grandfather always said that a leprechaun would visit on my wedding day," Carol informs her, causing Jessica to reminisce that her late husband, Frank, never believed that his brother perished in that event of ten years ago. Frank himself has been gone for five years at this point in time.

Jessica reviews the parcel's postmark: "Catlinburg, Arkansas. Well, that's a start. One way or the other, I'll be back in time for your wedding," she bids, before boarding a bus for Catlinburg (not to be confused with Gatlinburg).

When a shoppe owner recall the gentleman's purchasing the leprechaun as a stranger, who stopped in three times before returning to buy it, and hadn't been seen since. On the sidewalk, Jessica notices a banner for Carmody Circus, which had just left town. "Do you know where they went from here?" she asks a passerby.

The trail leads Jessica to Pullman City, Arkansas, outside of which Carmody Circus presents a run of performances. She picks up a clue that Neil, the man in her photograph, may be using the pseudonym Carl Schulman, a fact dismissed by circus owner Edgar Carmody (Martin Balsam), who ushers Jessica from the premises.

Edgar Carmody is having a rough time in keeping the operation afloat. A series of unexplained accidents have increased expenses and have caused tension among his family and employees.

Son Raymond Carmody (Mark Shera) and his wife, Daniella Morgana Carmody (Barbara Stock), remain determined, she with reservation, to stay with Edgar, while Daniella's fashion designer mother, Maria Morgana (Florence Henderson) arrives from NYC with her secretary, Mark (Robin Bach), she to convince Daniella and Raymond to return to her business even if she has to pay off Edgar with a handsome sum, for him to avoid shutting down the circus.

Rival circus owner Harry Kingman (Joe Dorsey) also propositions Edgar to purchase his circus, in the hopes of easing competition on the circuit. Several of Edgar's employees have worked with Kingman Circus in the past, including the bullying Roustabout Hank Sutter (Charles Napier), his wife Maylene Sutter (Lee Purcell), Trapeze artist Katie McCallum (Pamela Susan Shoop), whose husband had lost his life in a mishap while performing, their son Charlie McCallum (Joey Cramer), his father figure Brad Kaneally (Greg Evigan), and Ringmaster Preston Bartholomew (Alex Cord).

And when "Carl Schulman" recognizes Jessica, who returns to snoop around the circus the next morning, he tells Edgar that he'd really like to see her, but he mustn't. When Edgar approaches Jessica to tell her that she's wasting her time, they follow the screams toward the elephant stable, where a body has been discovered, badly beaten, as "Death Stalks the Big Top."

Jessica naturally volunteers to assist Sheriff Lynn Childs (Gregg Henry) in the ensuing investigation, overrun by the ever-politicking Pullman City Mayor Powers (Ronny Cox). who decides the prime suspect to be this Carl Schulman, who has fled the scene of the murder.

Angela Lansbury delivers one of her must compelling performances of this series in a jail house scene with Jackie Cooper and Ronny Cox.

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