Murder, She Wrote: Season 3, Episode 16

Death Takes a Dive (22 Feb. 1987)

TV Episode  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery
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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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Title: Death Takes a Dive (22 Feb 1987)

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Doc Penrose
Cosmo Ponzini
Dennis McConnell
Ray Girardin ...
Caren Kaye ...
Sean Shaleen
Lynne Moody ...
Pam Collins
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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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 »

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User Reviews

"She Joins with Harry to See the Spree. And What Does She See? --a Body or Three."
3 March 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Jerry Orbach returns for his third "MSW" outing as Boston P.I. Harry McGraw in this episode centering around professional boxing, featuring numerous familiar guest stars, including John Amos, Ernest Borgnine, LeVar Burton, Bradford Dillman, Ray Girardin, Lynne Moody and Adam West.

At Ponzini's Gymnasium, in Boston, Massachusetts, Cosmo Ponzini (Ernest Borgnine) oversees a practice sparring round between veteran boxer Blaster Boyle (Harold Sylvester) and a rookie boxer who is coached by Trainer Dennis McConnell (Bradford Dillman).

Harry McGraw (Jerry Orbach) stands outside the ring, cheering on Blaster Boyle, with Harry's guest, Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury), at his side. Cosmo Ponzini orders Harry to stop Blaster's fiercely beating the trainee, and so Harry and Blaster escort Jessica to a restaurant, for Harry to explain his reason for inviting Jessica to Ponzini's Gymnasium.

Harry explains that he has acquired Blaster's contract through a $5,000 loan outstanding to Pinky (uncredited actor), who has passed and left Harry in charge of Blaster. But Harry still owes the $5,000 to another unscrupulous creditor, as requests that Jessica purchase into a partnership, by pitching in the same amount.

Jessica says that she doesn't wish to own a boxer's contract, but trusts Harry for a $5,000 loan, and, after Harry steps aside, she tells Blaster that she trusts that he could win the fight.

But Blaster replies that his upcoming bout against Sean Shaleen (Michael McGrady) (who is also trained by Dennis McConnell) must be rigged in order for both contenders to survive the wrath of Sean Shaleen's contract holder, Wade Talmadge (Adam West), who escorts his squeeze, Lois Ames (Caren Kaye), wherever Wade goes, even to Ponzine's Gymnasium, at which Cosmo frowns upon the presence of women.

Cosmo doesn't evict Lois because of the powerful Wade Talmadge, but points to the "No Women Allowed" sign upon Jessica's presence, as well as to the equity-minded Pam Collins (Lynne Moody), who arrives with Reporter Dave Robinson (LeVar Burton) and objects mightily to Cosmo's mistreatment.

When Jessica returns to Cabot Cove, she receives a telephone call from "Boston Evening Post" Sports Reporter Dave Robinson, whom she tells that she has no interest in boxing matches, until he informs her that according the the Massachusetts Boxing Commission, she is listed as Blaster Boyle's contract owner.

An incensed Jessica immediately telephones Harry McGraw to demand an explanation, but Lieutenant Casey (Ray Girardin) answers the call, telling Jessica that his officers are in the process of arresting Harry for murder.

So, Jessica returns to Boston, to hear Harry's account of the incident, as ballistics tests match bullets with Harry's pistol, and he explains that an altercation erupted inside the Gymnasium, in which a perpetrator fired Harry's firearms during a struggle, in order to ward Harry to the floor, at which time nobody was hurt; plus, he was nowhere near the scene of the park, where the body has been discovered in an automobile.

Jessica then decides to investigate Ponzini's Gymnasium, when her taxi driver turns out to be Photographer Pam Collins, who picks up Reporter Dave Robinson along the way, to provide information regarding the murder, for which she suspects ulterior motives to Robinson's investigation.

Blaster and his Trainer, Doc Penrose (John Amos), also meet with Jessica, to provide additional clues, as they announce plans to purchase a Tennessee dairy farm, to leave the boxing world behind, as "Death Takes a Dive."

The cast is rounded out by Marcia Moran as Waitress, Richard Bravo as Sanchez, Bill Capizzi as Doorman, and Richard Balin as TV Sports Commentator.

This episode marks the first of two "MSW" appearances for Richard Balin, the second of three for Ray Girardin, including this, his second of two as Boston P.D. Lieutenant Casey, the first of four for Michael McGrady, the third of six for Jerry Orbach, each in his role as Harry McGraw, and the second of eight "MSW" guest starring roles for Bradford Dillman.

Jerry Orbach, acting in film and on television since 1955, has unfortunately since passed.

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