Murder, She Wrote: Season 6, Episode 20

Shear Madness (29 Apr. 1990)

TV Episode  -   -  Comedy | Crime | Drama
7.7
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When a murder is committed shortly after the release of a mentally handicapped man, Jessica helps the man's sister prove his innocence.

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Title: Shear Madness (29 Apr 1990)

Shear Madness (29 Apr 1990) on IMDb 7.7/10

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Rosemary Taylor
...
Dr. Henry Carlson
Linda Grovenor ...
Meg Taylor
...
Ann Owens Arden
...
Sheriff Barnes
Sandy McPeak ...
Bill Spenser
...
Helen Owens
...
George Owens (as Robert Walker)
Bryan O'Byrne ...
Reverend Simmons
Yolanda Lloyd ...
Caterer
...
Nathan Rollins
Cody Glenn ...
Policeman
Freyda Thomas ...
Coquette
Ann Marie Gillis ...
Mother (as Anne Marie Gillis)
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Storyline

Jessica arrives in the Texan small town Fairville for the wedding of her cousin Ann Owens Arden to former town rebel Bill Spenser, who made his fortune in Alaska. Brother, George Owens, also has the same idea and unexpectedly arrives in Fairville. George was just released from long-term institutional therapy after the murder of Ann's first fiancé, professor Nathan Rollins. Shortly after, Bill is stabbed to death exactly as Nathan was, and George is missing, so sheriff Barnes assumes a reenactment. Since George couldn't remember the traumatic first killing Jessica believes he's being framed, maybe for both deaths, and finds the key to the first with his therapist, Dr. Henry Carlson, who was against his release as he was hoping for a breakthrough. Then she goes after the real murderer. Written by KGF Vissers

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29 April 1990 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Child star Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Theatre star Freyda Thomas, television actor Loren Blackwell, actress Yolanda Lloyd, and veteran film and television star Bryan O'Byrne are some of the performers each making his/her one "MSW" appearance in this episode, in which Doris Roberts, Shirley Jones and Robert Walker Jr. play siblings and Texas cousins of Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury).

The sisters have their hands full on the eve of a scheduled wedding when another body turns up in their basement, reminiscent of a similar stabbing fifteen years earlier, for which their brother, George Owens (Robert Walker Jr.) was considered the prime suspect and incarcerated in an institution for the criminally insane.

This time around, Fairville, Texas, sisters Ann Owens Arden (Shirley Jones) and Helen Owens (Doris Roberts) plan Ann's forthcoming marriage to fiancé Bill Spenser (Sandy McPeak), and invite their dear cousin Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) to the festivities, a factor which sometimes indicates that another murder is soon to follow.

Reverend Simmons (Bryan O'Byrne) pays a visit to the residence shared by Helen and Ann, as Bill and Jessica also welcome him to rehearse for the ceremony.

When Fairville newspaper feature reporter Rosemary Taylor (Barbara Babcock) and her daughter, Meg Taylor (Linda Grovenor), the news photographer arrive, to obtain the scoop for the social event of the season, Jessica tells Meg that she appears familiar.

(This exchange may initially appear an inside joke, as Linda Grovenor has played Jessica's niece-in-danger in a previous episode, but the scene rather plays in conducive fashion with this episode's plot.)

(Shirley Jones also appears in an earlier episode as a dear old friend to Jessica, and Doris Roberts appears in a later episode as another such dear old friend, neither a cousin, as in this case.)

Festivities are soon interrupted by the returns of brother George Owens, who travels by bus to Fairville after his parole from the institution. The family receives him with open arms, laced with various ounces of caution, as George has no clear memory of the murder of Ann's former fiancé, Nathan Rollins (Loren Blackwell), a victim of a stabbing with garden shears.

After guests exodus the rehearsal reception, Jessica remains with her cousins, who suddenly realize that George is missing during a storm. Helen volunteers to search for him outdoors but misses his hiding behind the shrubbery near the porch, he later returning with a trail of blood.

The next morning, the wedding is interrupted when another body is discovered in the basement, near the refrigerator which Helen and Ann had installed after purchasing a new one for the kitchen. The murder weapon, once again, is found to be a blade of a pair of gardening clippers, thus indicating "Shear Madness."

Sheriff Barnes (William Lucking in his third of five "MSW" roles) and Policeman (Cody Glenn) put out an all points bulletin (APB) for the apprehension of George, whom they discover at the Owens' residence, which is marked by the arrival of eccentric Psychiatry practitioner Doctor Henry Carlson (Dennis Christopher), who insists that George has been nearing a break-through before all of this commotion has led to a relapse, and he adamantly maintains that George be given room for understanding.

Meanwhile, as Helen and Ann welcome Doctor Carlson's techniques to restore their brother's memory, Jessica maintains his innocence and investigates Fairville to prove it.

When Jessica visits the newspaper office to request archive reports of the fifteen-year-old case, she realizes the reason as to why Meg appears familiar although Rosemary insists upon shielding her daughter from scandal's way, or at least until Jessica discovers Meg's snooping around the Owens' basement with a camera, a fact which daughter and mother each deny.

Doctor Henry Carlson finally manages a breakthrough with George, as he focuses upon a shiny object, reminiscent of the day when he had last seen Nathan Rollins, and the "Shear Madness" of it all.

The cast is rounded out by Freyda Thomas as Coquette, Yolanda Lloyd as Caterer, Ann Marie Gillis as Mother on Bus, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Boy #1, Ben Ryan Ganger as Boy #2, Daniel Bryan Cartwell as Bus Driver, and Jon Huffman as Hearty Male.

Bryan O'Byrne, acting since 1958, and Sandy McPeak, acting since 1976, and appearing in three "MSW" episodes, have unfortunately since passed.


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