Jessica visits a women's prison and is held captive when an uprising occurs because of abuse and murder at the facility.


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Deputy Warden Amanda Debs
Miss Springer (as Yvonne DeCarlo)
Mary Stamm
Dr. Irene Matthews
Warden Elizabeth Gates
Head Guard
Gay Hagen ...
First Guard


During Jessica's lecture in a woman's prison with an all-female staff, the doctor is found, killed by a morphine injection, with convict Mary's fingerprints on, but this is proven not to be the murder weapon. Next there is a revolt, which takes Jessica hostage but is ill-prepared: even the demands are a matter for debate. Jessica is now asked to investigate, and while she digs into malpractices apparently involving warden Gates, who has political ambition, and conflicts involving staff as well as prisoners, another staff member is killed. Jessica discovers things are not as they appear. Written by KGF Vissers

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Crime | Drama | Mystery





Release Date:

1 December 1985 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This the only episode with an all-female cast. The only men are police officers seen at the very end. See more »


Jessica had stated the cook was selling the kitchen supplies because the truck had arrived empty and Jessica had seen the prisoners unloaded it to use the kitchen stuff as a barricade. At the end the guards are seen reloading the truck instead of returning the items to the kitchen dock behind them as the warden and Jessica walk by. See more »


Louise: Mrs. Fletcher, come quick! Kathryn says she's got it all figured out, and I don't like the way she's saying it!
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User Reviews

"We're in the Slammer. Who's Got that Hammer? Let's Fling It, Spring It, Wing It; Bring Them Along."
2 March 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

West Barrington Institute for Women (in an unidentified U.S. state) sets the stage for the one and only "MSW" episode containing an all-female cast.

In addition to its star, ten guest stars and ten supporting actresses supplying roles of prison staff, guards, inmates and delivery drivers, its state has a female Lieutenant Governor, addressed as "Mrs. Campbell" (uncredited actress), whose voice is heard in four telephone conversations. No males, therefore, appear in any scenes.

Warden Elizabeth Gates (Vera Miles) operates West Barrington, as she aspires to announce her candidacy for potential nomination and election to the state senate.

During Warden Gates' campaign absences, Deputy Warden Amanda Debs (Barbara Baxley), who has been serving at the Institution for twenty years, much longer than Warden Gates, handles the prison charge.

Doctor Irene Matthews (Janet MacLachlan) also has served in her position as prison physician for about twenty years, at which she has now been treating Warden Gates for fainting spells and, against her employer's requests, promises to report her condition to the press, thereby creating an obstacle toward her state senate campaign.

Miss Springer (Yvonne De Carlo) serves as head cook at the prison, at which she is often addressed as "Cookie." She also has been employed here for some twenty years and often conducts dealings with Mrs. Mims (Darlene Conley), a grocery delivery driver, as inmates complain about the poor quality of their meals.

Several principle inmate roles are performed by actresses also very familiar to television audiences of the day: Mary Stamm (Linda Kelsey), who assists the prison Infirmary in a nursing capacity; Kathryn (Adrienne Barbeau), who rules the roost as she calls the shots around the inmate populace; Louise (Susan Oliver), who assists in the prison library; and Tug (Eve Plumb), who's serving time for robbery.

Other inmates include Dixie (Margaret Avery), with the long dark hair; Bertha (Susan Peretz), with the short dark hair; Jamie (Donna Ponterotto), with the curly dark hair; and Susie (Aimée Eccles), also with dark hair, but Susie is confined to the Infirmary in dire medical condition, which Mary attempts to comfort, by sneaking into the pharmacy cabinet.

It is into this environment that Margaret (unseen character) arrives to instruct a writing course, but because of illness, Margaret sends stories which the inmates have written for their assignment, to her substitute instructor, Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury), who arrives at West Barrington Institute to conduct the lesson.

After meeting staff members, Jessica sets up her class with the lesson on the chalkboard, "How to create the perfect murder." (Why she would conduct such a project before a volatile audience would be anyone's guess, but the class is interrupted by murder anyway).

Brady the Infirmary Guard (Mary Woronov), attempting to enter the health care offices, becomes snagged in a lock-up as sirens peel, alarms glisten, and gates lower across the corridors, setting the stage for chaos, as she, the Warden and Deputy Warden, Miss Springer and Jessica discover Mary Stamm's hovering over the body.

Warden Gates accuses Mary of the murder, but Jessica has her doubts because even though Mary is already serving her sentence for murder, Mary is a good writer, in Jessica's estimation; plus it was probably committed in self-defense anyhow.

When Kathryn and her rowdy lot take over the prison, the much-nicer Louise suggests for Jessica to solve the crime, a challenge with Jessica reluctantly accepts on the condition that the inmates turn over the guilty party to authorities.

But, as inmates continue to hold the Institute hostage with their demands for justice and edibles, Jessica suddenly figures that there's going to be another murder, but she arrives at the location too late, as a second body is discovered, the victim of a stabbing.

Jessica convinces the reluctant inmates to give her time for the Lieutenant Governor to identify two sets of fingerprints this evening, and to analyze the Morphine and pharmaceuticals as watered down, and to determine that pilfering has also affected the food supply, as the evening proceeds with her crash course in "Jessica Behind Bars."

The cast is rounded out by Kristall Eklund as Prisoner, Diana Bellamy as Head Guard, Gay Hagen as Guard #1, Faith Minton as Guard #2, Linda L. Rand as Reception Guard, and Jan Stratton as Gate Guard.

This episode represents the only acting credit to date by Kristall Eklund, and the most recent acting credit to date by Aimée Eccles, as well as the first of two "MSW" appearances each for Adrienne Barbeau, Diana Bellamy and Janet MacLachlan, the second of two each for Gay Hagen and Susan Oliver, the first of three for Vera Miles, and the second of three "MSW's" for Linda Kelsey.

Yvonne De Carlo, acting in film and on television since 1941; Barbara Baxley, acting since 1952; Susan Oliver, acting since 1956; Darlene Conley, acting since 1963; Susan Peretz, acting since 1973; and Diana Bellamy, acting since 1982, have unfortunately since passed.

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