Murder, She Wrote: Season 5, Episode 13

Fire Burn, Cauldron Bubble (19 Feb. 1989)

TV Episode  -   -  Comedy | Crime | Drama
7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 72 users  
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Jessica is suspicious when the appearance of the ghost of a long-dead witch burned at the stake coincides with the release of a book on the very subject.

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Title: Fire Burn, Cauldron Bubble (19 Feb 1989)

Fire Burn, Cauldron Bubble (19 Feb 1989) on IMDb 7.4/10

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
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Irene Terhune / Annie Gorman (as Juli Donald)
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Russell Nype ...
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Mildred Terhune (as Dee Wallace Stone)
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Will Nye ...
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Patience Cleveland ...
Howard Schechter ...
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Storyline

Doc Hazlitt witnesses a young woman in Salemite dress and perform a witchcraft rite. Author Gordon Fairchild arrives to launch his book on local witch Patience Terhune at her burning's 300th anniversary. His media consultant is desperate to milk it and hires an impersonator, the spitting image of Irene, the sister of librarian Mildred Terhune who has returned after a decade away. Irene is found under a barn set. An inheritance raises more questions. Written by KGF Vissers

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Plot Keywords:

ritual | fire | false identity


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Release Date:

19 February 1989 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The title is based on the three witches' dialog in Shakespeare's 'Macbeth' (Act IV, Scene I): "Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble." See more »

Goofs

Twenty people were accused of witchcraft and put to death. Nineteen people were hanged and one was pressed to death. No one was burned for witchcraft in the USA. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Schemers Yearn for Double Trouble
20 October 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This episode marks one of the last television guest roles for Christopher Stone, who had been acting in film and television since 1968. Classic film and television star Roddy McDowall has also since passed.

Two evenings before Cabot Cove's Tercentenary anniversary of the execution of Patience Terhune, Doctor Seth Hazlitt (William Windom) is sent on a wild goose chase to to vacant residence of Agnes Finney after a prankster summons him to treat her alleged sprained ankle. From across Agnes' property, Seth observes "Patience Terhune's" (Juliana Donald) practicing witchcraft at a stump with lighted candles, wild herbs and archaic pottery. "Patience" flees into the night upon his noticing her, and so Seth collects fragments of her herbs and broken pottery.

Harriet (Patience Cleveland) visits with Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) to review plans for the next evening's Garden Club dinner at the church hall, as Seth arrives to report about the siting. Harriet notes that the anniversary is around the corner and exits to spread the word.

When Jessica visits Librarian Mildred Terhune (Dee Wallace Stone) and her handyman fiancé, Adam Frobisher (Christopher Stone), the next morning to discuss the legend of Patience Terhune, from whom Mildred's family shared kinship, author Gordon Fairchild (Roddy McDowall) and his publicity agent, Rick Rivers (Maher), enter Cabot Cove Library to announce the publication date of Fairchild's latest book, about Petience Terhune, which Mildred had helped him to research.

Gordon Fairchild isn't happy about the lack of publicity, after Rick Rivers had promised him immense media attention to Cabot Cove's purported observance of the tricentennial milestone, coinciding with the release of his publication.

Sheriff Mort Metzger (Ron Masak) really has his hands full this time around, beginning with turning away reporters and cameras from the community, this, in spite of any assistance from Deputy Floyd (Will Nye).

That evening, Irene Terhune (Juliana Donald) then "arrives" in Cabot Cove, to become fast friends with local taxicab driver Jonas Holt (John J. York), who transports Irene to Mildred's, along his way to the potluck dinner at the church hall, which Mildred and Adam prepare to attend with Jessica and Seth on hand, when Irene appears upon Mildred's doorstep, to be warmly received by her elder sister, who lost touch after their mother had passed when Irene was an infant and sent to their aunt's care in Detroit. Mildred receives her long-lost sister without doubting her identity, as others are open to speculation. she invites her to stay and offers to share her meager forthcoming inheritance as joint property.

At the dinner, Jonas asks Adam if he may call upon Irene, while Reverand Fordyce (Russell Nype) learns from other locals about last evening's ceremony at the witch's stump.

One day later, to counter the 300th anniversary hex, Reverand Fordyce summons Doctor Overman (Brad Dourif) to perform an exorcism at the witch's stump, with crowds and reporters gathering, but ignoring Gordon Fairchild, causing Doctor Overton to leave in haste, and threatening Irene Terhune, before Jonas and Jessica rescue her from potential attack.

That night, crowds and reporters again gather around the barn of Simon Greeley (Colin Campbell) as "Prudence" is spotted running inside, before flames erupt to damage the structure. Once fire crews contain the blaze, Jessica and Mort investigate the barn's interior, along with onlookers and reporters at hand, when they uncover the root cellar to reveal a body, as "Fires Burn, Cauldrons Bubble," events turn, creating rubble.

The next day, R. L. Pierson (Bruce Gray), representing Attorneys Cameron, Jefferson and Morgan, arrives at the Sheriff's station and then at the Library to announce that Mildred's uncle's apple orchard has appreciated in value from a couple of thousand dollars to $5,227,000, after a shopping mall and an industrial park had been erected upon it.

The cast is rounded out by Reporter Charlie (Howard Schechter), TV Reporter (Jane Marla Robbins), Dora (Sally Hughes), Man (John Bryant) and the Woman who cries, "Fire!" (Pat Crawford Brown).

This episode reflects at least one particular curiosity when contrasted with "Prediction: Murder," both in Season Five, and a mere five episodes apart from each other. In "Prediction: Murder," Jessica mentions that she's experiencing a bit of "jet lag," arriving in Arizona from California. This naturally reflects the way the term is generally used, that one needs a bit of time to reassess perspective on solid ground after experiencing the motion of being transported, whether by air or otherwise. But in "Fire Burn, Cauldron Bubble," Jessica firmly disclaims the notion that Irene could possibly experience "jet lag" by traveling from Arizona to Boston because "one doesn't get jet lag traveling from west to east, but from east to west," indicating that jet lag is created by the need to adjust to time zone changes. This is probably the only instance in which many of us have ever heard the term used this way, but a matter of a few mere weeks earlier, Jessica uses "jet lag" in its commonly understood sense of the term. Perhaps a viewer had written to the production company to claim that Jessica couldn't have experienced the condition in the prior episode, and this one was used to enlighten viewers? Perhaps viewers were writing in to challenge loose ends often, but yet the term is invariably used to describe the need to adjust from the effects of any sort of motion.


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