Dennis Stanton investigates when a prominent pianist's wife is murdered shortly after the pianist's hands are badly burnt.

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Episode cast overview:
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Jessica Fletcher
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Dennis Stanton
Stephen Caffrey ...
Alex Seletz
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Nicole Gary
Joe Dorsey ...
Ben Devlin
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Milena Maryska
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Robert Butler
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Lt. Catalano
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Rhoda Markowitz
Dean R. Miller ...
Charlie
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Widow
Aaron Heyman ...
Mr. Morris
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Security Guard
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Storyline

In San Francisco, insurance investigator and one-time jewel thief Dennis Stanton investigates the case of classical pianist Vaacclav Maryska whose hands were severely burned in a fire in his posh apartment. Those hands were insured for $10 million and Dennis' boss desperately wants him to find a way to have the payment canceled. Maryska's marriage to his wife Milena is strained and she in turn is alienated from her son from a previous marriage, Alex Seletz. When Milena is found dead, Alex is arrested for his mother's murder but Dennis isn't sure they have the right man in custody and suspects Maryska of the crime. A medical diagnosis seems to confirm his theory but how he will prove it is another matter. He sets a trap for him. Written by garykmcd

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Crime | Drama | Mystery

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16 December 1990 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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"Maryska" or "Mariska" is an eastern European diminutive, meaning "little Mary". (Hence e.g. Mariska Hargitay whose father was Hungarian.) It doesn't work as a family name. See more »

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User Reviews

 
The case of the classical pianist
13 October 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.

Personally like the character of Dennis Stanton, if more with Jessica than on his own and mostly because his chemistry with Jessica is so great and the episodes are much better. He is a fun and compelling lead character, love how distinguished, sophisticated and suave he is, it is easy to be as charmed by me as Jessica is in her too few collaborations. Plus it is hard to not like a character who dresses dapper, drives a cool car and loves classical music and opera, sounds shallow but couldn't resist.

Can definitely understand why fans malign his solo bookend episodes, a few of them are good, others not so good to put it lightly. To me, despite misgivings, "Murder in F Sharp" is one of his better episodes and one of the better bookend episodes overall, if not one of the very best 'Murder She Wrote' episodes.

Not sure what the general consensus of "Murder in F Sharp" is among fans, but if there are those that dislike it it is understandable. The biggest problem is that it is a mystery with far too few suspects and it is obvious straightaway who the killer is and why, it's the how for obvious reasons needing to be proved.

This time Rhonda is not the annoying one, actually she contributes to the plot here, has charming chemistry with Dennis and Hallie Todd is the most likable by far of all her appearances playing her. The annoying character here is Ben Devlin, this is his third of three episodes and neither of the episodes gave any reasons for the viewer to invest anything in him and his pushiness just grates. Joe Dorsey is not much better in the acting stakes either, and quite a lot of the supporting cast while never amateurish don't register that much.

On the other hand, Keith Michell is terrific as Dennis, he oozes charm and charisma, really love his distinguished and suave air that he does better than any other bookend lead character. Ken Swofford is great fun and Stephen Caffrey is an appealingly sweet presence.

In support, there are two standouts. One is a delicious Patricia Neal. The other, and particularly so, is a superbly conniving Ricardo Montalban, giving not just the single best guest supporting performance in a 'Murder She Wrote' bookend episode but one of the best guest supporting performances of the show. Todd as said is surprisingly good. While nobody else stands out, the only bad performance here is by Dorsey.

Apart from having too few suspects and a too obvious murderer, the mystery is still very diverting and cleverly plotted, even if heavier in tone to usual which for some fans may be a strike against it. Of the episode, the doctor profession impersonation between Dennis and Rhonda (by far the best Dennis/Rhonda moment ever) is a standout, as is the character of Charlie the doorman, and it is hard to forget the scalded hands image.

'Murder She Wrote' has always been good in the production values and gets better with each season. Here they're slick and stylish with nostalgia-inducing fashions. 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. The writing is thoughtful and amiable, with some levity amongst the heaviness of the mystery.

Overall, not one of the best episodes of the show but one of the better Dennis Stanton episodes and one of the better bookends in general. 7/10 Bethany Cox


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