Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
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My Johnny Lies Over the Ocean 

When Jessica's recently widowed niece takes a cruise to get away from it all, a would-be murderer follows her.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Diane Shelley
Carla Raymond (as JoAnne Worley)
Dr. Charmichael
Byron Webster ...
Maitre d'
Michael G. Hawkins ...
Dr. Ross


After her husband Johny's suicide over financial difficulties, rich Dr. Marshall Fletcher's heiress Pamela Crane needs psychiatric help, but is allowed to make a cruise with aunt Jessica. After several indications Johny may be alive, even a fake addition of his favorite dish to the menu in his hand-writing, Jessica investigates trying to eliminate from the nearly 700 passengers and crew. Then passenger Andrea Jeffreys Reed, Johny's biological mother, is killed by a barbiturates overdose... Written by KGF Vissers

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Crime | Drama | Mystery





Release Date:

10 February 1985 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The Casting director must have been watching The Posedion Adventure because like that film Both Leslie Nielsen and Bryon Webster play high ranking Cruise ship crew. See more »


References The Love Boat (1977) See more »

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User Reviews

"Oh, Bring Back My Johnny to Flee"
6 January 2010 | by See all my reviews

Fans have often kiddingly dubbed "Murder, She Wrote" as "The Hate Boat" because it parallels the ABC Comedy series "The Love Boat" by casting recognizable experienced talent. While "The Love Boat," which begins its run seven years prior, is still in production at the time of this "MSW" season, its light-hearted theme of instant love may be contrasted with "MSW's" theme of somewhat light-hearted animosity.

Several years prior to "The Love Boat," "Love American Style" developed its episodes around a general formula of three segment sketches with skits dividing the comedy. "The Love Boat" would also generally present three separate story lines per episode, yet intertwining their action with one another to fill out the hour, while these generally involved interaction with series regulars, or the "Pacific Princess'" crew members.

"My Johnny Lies Over the Ocean," the first of three "MSW" episodes set upon an ocean liner, seems to parody "The Love Boat" formula with three story lines cast with passengers, with interaction from crew members, including Captain, Doctor, Purser, Officers and Steward. So, if anything may be subtitled "The Animosity Boat," then this episode stands in contention for that title.

It begins on land, on the campus exteriors of a psychiatric institution, at which one doctor consults another, the other being Marshall MacGill (IMDb bills him as "Dr. Marshall Fletcher, but his relationship within the narrative indicates otherwise). So, let's call him Doctor Marshall MacGill for now, or, better yet, "Marshall."

Marshall (Jason Evers) has been concerned for his daughter, Pamela Crane (Belinda Montgomery), a young widow, whose husband, Johnny Crane, had been adopted as an infant, after being born to an unwed teenage mother. In the back-story, Johnny had been told this information by his adoptive parents, but none had been aware of his biological identity.

But now that Johnny is presumed to have committed suicide by drowning, Pamela has been plagued with recurring nightmares regarding his loss plus her helplessly falling into a pool. The doctors prescribe rest and relaxation with caring company, perhaps a Caribbean cruise with a favorite aunt, such as Marshall's sister, Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury). After all, what could go wrong with a plan as this?

(This marks the only event in which we meet one of Jessica's siblings, her brother Marshall.)

After Marshall escorts Pamela and Jessica to the dock to board ship, another Psychiatrist, Doctor Andrea Jeffreys Reed (Rosemary Forsyth), arrives to sail with her husband, George Reed (Lawrence Pressman), who handles their luggage, while Jessica asks a favor of Andrea, to snap a photograph of Pamela and her with the ship as a backdrop.

As the signal begins to bellow, Phoebe Carroll (Vicki Lawrence) and Carla Raymond (Jo Anne Worley) emerge from a cab to rush toward the ship on foot, they projecting, "Wait for us," as they manage to reach the gang-planks before they are drawn.

Captain Daniels (Leslie Nielsen), Purser Diane Shelley (Lynda Day George), Morley, Ship's Officer (George Marshall Ruge), Ship's 2nd Officer (Mark Pilon) and Ramon, Ship's Steward (Paul Carafotes) comprise a portion of the ship's staff for a cruise booked under capacity to St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands.

Jessica and Pamela meet several passengers along the way, including Russell Tompkins (Andrew Parks), who seems to admire Pamela from afar, as he sneaks around corners, while she and Aunt Jessica stroll about the deck.

At dinner, Pamela becomes alarmed at a menu codicil, describing a mustard and walnut sauce, a part of Johnny's favorite dish, which she claims to have invented. She frantically leaves the table, causing Jessica to question the source of the addition, which Maitre d' (Byron Webster) insists does not belong upon his menu.

Phoebe Carroll and, especially, Carla Raymond seem to experience a wonderful vacation, upon meeting wealthy Oklahoma Cowboy (Don Matheson), an oil tycoon who fancies Carla's charm and enthusiasm for live. But Andrea and George don't seem to share the joy, as Andrea spends most of her time in her cabin.

But as Pamela's apprehension increases, Jessica receives permission from Captain Daniels to question female passengers and crew members who have booked passage after Pamela has, in order to attempt to link one of them with Johnny's birth, as "My Johnny Lies Over the Ocean."

And when a body is discovered in a cabin, a victim of a combination of pills and alcohol, this increases Pamela's fears because she is convinced that this incident is linked to Johnny; and, while it appears a suicide, Jessica is convinced that it's murder.

The cast is rounded out by Kay Freeman as Nurse, Don Dubbins as Doctor Carmichael, and Michael G. Hawkins as Doctor Ross.

This episode marks the first television acting credit for Mark Pilon, the first of two "MSW" guest roles each for Rosemary Forsyth, Don Matheson, Leslie Nielsen, Mark Pilon, Vicki Lawrence, and the first of three "MSW" guest appearances by Lawrence Pressman.

Jason Evers, acting since 1943, Byron Webster, acting since 1951, Don Dubbins, acting since 1953, have unfortunately since passed.

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