Jessica visits her old friend Harry McGraw (Orbach) in New York who has become wrangled in the high stakes game of boxing.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Jessica Fletcher
Doc Penrose
Cosmo Ponzini
Reporter Dave Robinson
Dennis McConnell
Ray Girardin ...
Lt. Casey
Caren Kaye ...
Lois Ames
Sean Shaleen
Pam Collins
Harry McGraw
Blaster Boyle
Wade Talmadge
Bill Capizzi ...
Richard Balin ...


Jessica isn't amused to find she was asked 'urgently' to come help San Francisco PI Harry McGraw, in fact to invest in black has-been boxer Blaster Boyle, the sole legacy of Harry's just deceased friend Pinky, who knew mobster Benny Falcone demands a $5,000 advance back for not finding his daughter's lover the saxophonist before the couple move in with Falcone. Harry accepted to field Blaster as last-minute replacement in a TV fight against Wade Talmadge's prize-fighter Sean Shaleen, not to win, but needs an investor to advance the expenses; rather then go 50-50, Jessica lends him $5,000. She learns from Boston Tribune sports reporter Dave Robinson she was listed as Blaster's manager by Henry, who was just arrested by SFPD Lieutenant Casey for the murder of Talmadge, who was found shot in his car parked under a bridge where they are believed to have an appointment, Harry ignores why- alas as forensics prove with Harry's gun, which he admits was never out of his sight. Jessica snoops, ... Written by KGF Vissers

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Plot Keywords:

fight | boxer | boxing | gym | See All (4) »


Crime | Drama | Mystery





Release Date:

22 February 1987 (USA)  »

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Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This was an extended episode, and served as a sort of "backdoor pilot" for Jerry Orbach's spin-off series, The Law and Harry McGraw. See more »


After Ponzini (Ernest Borgnine) tells Jessica about the sign "No Women Allowed", McConnell (Bradford Dillman) calls out to her. The shadow of the mic is visible on the wall. See more »

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User Reviews

The dark side of boxing
8 August 2017 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Have always been quite fond of 'Murder She Wrote'. It is a fun and relaxing watch that makes you think as you try to unwind in the evening. If one wants more complex, twisty mysteries with lots of tension and suspense 'Murder She Wrote' may not be for you, but if you want something light-hearted and entertaining but still provide good mysteries 'Murder She Wrote' fits the bill just fine.

"Death Takes a Dive" was something of a disappointment. By all means, it is not the first underwhelming episode of Season 3 (didn't care for "Dead Man's Gold", "Murder in a Minor Key" and "Night of the Headless Horseman" either), but considering that it had a great actor like Ernest Borgnine, the recurring character of Harry McGraw (one of the show's better recurring characters) and the magic chemistry between Angela Lansbury and Jerry Orbach it could have been much more.

It is certainly a watchable episode and has its merits. The cast are the best thing. Angela Lansbury is terrific as is Jerry Orbach. Those two and their chemistry were the two main things "Death Takes a Dive" had going for it, and their chemistry is simply magical and what stops the viewer from bailing. Borgnine and Bradford Dillman do do very well too in their roles, which are agreed rather too small, while LeVar Burton and Lynne Moody spice things up.

Production values are slick and stylish as ever with 'Murder She Wrote'. The music has energy and has presence but also not making the mistake of over-scoring, while it is hard to forget or resist the theme tune. There are a few good ideas here and it is always interesting to see the dark, not so glamorous side of something that is often depicted as exciting and passionate (if brutal).

Adam West however was rather bland as Wade. The episode could have done more with the character, giving more development to make him other than the typical uniformly disliked "victim stamped over his forehead" sort of character. West does little with the character and doesn't look comfortable stepping out of his comfort zone, which immediately sucks the juice out of a role that, considering the show's record with other uniformly disliked characters, should have been juicy.

While the dialogue has some thoughtful and amiable moments, a lot of it is both overblown and under-cooked. Likewise with the story, which is often very dull (at times in a deadly sense) and sometimes far-fetched. The ending underwhelms, being handled so indifferently and staged in a static and completely lacking in energy or tension way, the identity of the perpetrator also seemed random and last minutes. And yeah, even the least demanding viewer will find themselves questioning the forensics here, am a fairly relaxed viewer myself in this regard especially when viewing 'Murder She Wrote' as escapist relaxing fun but that left me perplexed too.

In summation, watchable for Lansbury, Orbach and their chemistry but disappointing. 5/10 Bethany Cox

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