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"Murder, She Wrote" Death Takes a Curtain Call (1984)

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Rushing Delivery for Russian Defectors

7/10
Author: WeatherViolet from United States
10 January 2010

And now we're up to the first "Murder, She Wrote" episode centering around the theme of espionage and international intrigue, this produced during the age of Russia's Soviet rule, when would-be defectors sought asylum outside the Iron Curtain Bloc nations.

When Leo Peterson (Hurd Hatfield) invites old friend Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) to a Boston performance of a Russian ballet, she travels into Massachusetts, without knowing the resulting number of visitors who would accompany her or follow her back into Maine.

Nagy (Adam Gregor) greets Leo and Jessica at the theatre, handing them programs, Jessica's from the top, and Leo's from the bottom, his containing a secret message, which causes him to excuse himself from the seating area long enough to meet Skip Fleming (James Carroll Jordan) backstage, and to unlock a window leading onto the fire escape, before returning to accompany Jessica for the performance, or at least part of it....

Alexander Masurov (George De La Pena) serves as male ballet dancer, with six ballerina's at his side, including the brunette Natalia Masurov (Vicki Kriegler) and the blonde Irina Katsa (Kerry Armstrong), in symmetrical formation.

Velma Rodecker (Jessica Nelson), an anti-Communist protester, sneaks through the open window and onto center stage, to interrupt the program with her boisterous political message, when a near riot erupts, and Leo ushers Jessica from the theatre and into an awaiting limousine in the parking area, this chauffeured by Alexander Masurov, with Natalia Masurov at his side, they disguised as servants, thus whisking Jessica and Leo from Boston, to allude Soviet authorities.

Major Anatole Karzof (William Conrad), a KGB agent, arrives at the theatre to investigate the defection, along with Sergeant Kevin Hogan (Read Morgan), and soon FBI Agent O'Farrell (Dane Clark) and FBI Agent Dewey Johnson (Patrick Thomas), by which time a body is discovered in the dressing room.

So, now how to protect the defectors when murder compounds their difficulties? The ever-resourceful Jessica must first figure how to shelter Leo, Alexander and Natalia from spies and authorities alike, and then to try to solve the murder from her long-distance vantage point of Cabot Cove.

Jessica finds it best to confide in Captain Ethan Cragg (Claude Akins), to help to blend Alexander and his thick Russian accent into their New England community, and so Ethan finds Alexander an assistantship position with fellow fisherman Palmer Eddington (Paul Rudd), and even the sharp and observant Sheriff Amos Tupper (Tom Bosley) is initially unable to determine that Alexander is anything but a new Cabot Cove resident.

But soon Cabot Cove and, particularly, Jessica's residence, becomes humming with visitors, in search of Alexander and Natalia. When Serge Berensky (Anthony De Longis) enters under the guise of a telephone repairman, Jessica politely directs him toward the telephone which she secretly deems most optimal to plant the bugging device, which he ultimately uses to transmit signals to a sailboat in the harbor, complete with radio equipment to communicate with the KGB agents.

When Major Anatole Karzof arrives to give the Fletcher residence the once-over, Jessica complies, as Leo and the others remain in sanctuary.

And after watching a Boston television news report, with Steve Arvin as TV Reporter, featuring the ballet scene, Jessica suddenly realizes whodunit, as "Death Takes a Curtain Call." This episode marks the most recent acting roles to date each by Vicki Kriegler and Steve Arvin, the first of two "MSW" performances for Dane Clark, the first of three guest starring roles for Hurd Hatfield, the first of four appearances for James Carroll Jordan, and fourth and final "MSW" appearance of Claude Akins in his roles as Cabot Cove fisherman, Captain Ethan Cragg.

Claude Akins, acting since 1953, Dane Clark, acting since 1940, William Conrad, acting since 1958, and Hurd Hatfield, acting since, 1944, have since passed.

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