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Out of Tune with Suspects, Forks and Pianos
WeatherViolet from United States
18 January 2010
Thirteen of the foureen "Murder, She Wrote" episodes which Jessica
Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) introduces and summarizes (commonly known as
"Bookend Episodes"), but does not participate in the action, occur
during Seasons Six and Seven, but now in Season Three, we're up to the
first of these, as Jessica narrates this enactment of her latest J.B.
Fletcher Mystery, "Murder in a Minor Key."
Set upon a southern California campus, this centers around three
graduate students, Chad Singer (Shaun Cassidy), Jenny Coopersmith
(Dinah Manoff) and Michael 'Mike' Prentice (Paul Clemens), who become
entangled in a web of faculty corruption and adultery, as well as
This begins in an off-campus piano lounge, as Pianist (Brenda Thompson)
performs instrumental selections, including a composition which Mike
Prentice immediately recognizes as his creation from a Music course
assignment. Mike approaches the piano bench to prove by the Pianist's
witness that he knows the score by heart. (This plot device is
coincidently used in one of Jessica's "real life" future "MSW"
episodes, without her reflecting upon having incorporated it into a
storyline from one of her books.)
Mike subsequently grabs the sheet music and storms across campus to
confront Music Professor Tyler Stoneham (George Grizzard) amid one of
his instructional sessions, an intrusion to which the professor
adamantly objects, thus demanding to reprimand Mike in his office after
the class dismisses.
Afterwards, Mike charges Tyler with stealing his property, to publish
for his own profit, without consent from its author, a charge which
Tyler refuses to acknowledge. So, Mike plans to sneak into the office
after hours, to obtain his rightful property.
While biding his time in a storage room, Mike awaits Tyler's exit,
while Professor Harry Papasian (Rene Auberjonois) enters the office
which they share, to confront Tyler amid a disagreement. Music
Publisher Max Hellinger (Herb Edelman) also enters to search for a
folder containing sheet music which he deems rightfully his.
Vice Chancellor Simon (Tom Hallick), meanwhile, walks through the quad
with campus newspaper editor Danny Young (Scott Jacoby), amid a student
protest, which can be heard from the floors of the Music Department.
After Mike believes that the way is clear for him to sneak into the
faculty office, he carries a flashlight to search for his folder in a
cabinet, when a Security Guard Hargrove (Alexander Folk) appears at the
door to catch Mike with the goods, and right beside a body, which has
been stabbed by a tuning fork.
And so, it is up to Chad Singer and Jenny Coopersmith prove Mike's
innocence, by enlisting the assistance of Danny Young to investigate
Chad visits Christine Stoneham (Karen Grassle) under the suspicion that
she has been carrying on with Vice Chancellor Simon, a notion which she
denies to the point of aiming a pistol at Chad, while Jenny traces
Reagan Miller (Jennifer Holmes) in San Diego, who is believed to have
been involved with Tyler as he often disappeared on Christine and left
town to publish students' compositions under his name.
As Lieutenant Perkins (William Hubbard Knight) investigates, Chad then
manages to gather suspects, one and all, to orchestrate a re-enactment
of the night of the "Murder in a Minor Key."
The cast is rounded out by Hope Haves as Young Woman, Paris Vaughan as
Pauline, Alex Henteloff as Raymond Parnell, and Stephen Swofford as
This episode marks the most recent television acting credit to date for
Hope Haves, as well as the only acting credit to date for Producer and
Production Manager Stephen Swofford This also represents the first of
two "MSW" guest roles each for Karen Grassle, Jennifer Holmes, and Rene
Auberjonois, the first of three for Tom Hallick, the second of three
for George Grizzard, and the third of ten "MSW's" for Herb Edelman,
including his upcoming seven episodes in the role of NYPD Lieutenant
George Grizzard, acting on television and in film since 1955, and Herb
Edelman, acting since 1964, have unfortunately since passed.
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