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"Murder, She Wrote" Showdown in Saskatchewan (1988)

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

X Marks the Exposed Ex-con's X-Ray

7/10
Author: WeatherViolet from United States
4 October 2009

During a book tour, Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) makes one of her three trips into Canada as she now takes an excursion into Saskatchewan to check upon her cousin's daughter Jill Morton (Kristy McNichol), who has taken up with rodeo rider Marty Reed (Patrick Houser).

Although eager to visit with Jessica, Jill informs her that she is busy with the rodeo and ready to pursue a future with Marty even though she know that her mother wouldn't approve, and Marty, for some unexplained reason, treats the concept of a potential future with Jill reluctantly.

Marty and rider Boone Talbott (Larry Wilcox) and Wally Bryce the Rodeo Clown (Terry Kiser) are some of the performers bossed around by Luke Perdue (Paul LeMat), who demands that riders perform dangerous stunts. Boone's wife, Carla Talbott (Cassie Yates), also joins in the protests of Luke to protect their safety.

Boone, Marty and Luke receive separate injuries from attempting to handle a bucking bronco; yet, while the others refuse treatment, Luke is sent to resident medic, Doc Schaefer's (Joe A. Dorsey) trailer with his leg fitted for a cast.

During the night, as flames erupt from inside a trailer, the rodeo crowd gathers to carrying victims away from the smoke and flames. Consuela Schaefer (Rosana DeSoto) explains to Jessica that she and her husband reside in separate quarters.

The next day, upon helping RCMP Inspector Roger McCabe (Lance LeGault) with the investigation, Jessica suspects that the perpetrator tossed a burning cigarette embedded into a book of matches into the open window to ignite the couch, before s/he closed the window and fled.

While Jessica continues to listen to Jill's problems about Marty's not committing, the rodeo secretary (Eileen T'Kaye) receives a call for someone not available to answer, and she asks the gathering what to say.

Jessica tells her that she'd better take the call, from Warden Burris (Thomas Middleton) at an Oregon penitentiary. Warden Burris relates the purpose of the message, for the Warden to look up an X-ray for a prisoner he had treated in Oregon, a Carl Mattson. But is there a Carl Mattson around the rodeo? When Jessica asks an inspector whether the oxygen tank found near the trailer door was nearly empty or full, and he answers, "empty," she realizes that she has been looking at this investigation all wrong.

Meanwhile, Jill catches Marty's embracing Mona (Devon Williams) with a young child, who calls Marty "Daddy." Jill decides that Marty has been stringing her along and insists that Jessica take her away on the next airplane.

But Marty has to ride after Boone takes his fall, and when he stands up to Luke to express his terms, Jill decides that Marty isn't all that cowardly after all and decides to stay to watch his show and for Jessica to figure the murder puzzle.

An unsuspecting Mona befriends Jill, as one of Marty's good friends, who doesn't let on about her relationship with Marty, to allow Mona to explain that she watches the ranch back in Montana and takes care of their son, while Marty earns a living on the rodeo circuit. (Rounding out the cast are Ed McCready as the Bartender, Ron Troncatty as the P.A. Announcer, Michael Frederic as the Medic in his only acting appearance, Lisa Long as the Flirtatious Girl, Richard Molnar as the Intern, and Gerry Okuneff as the Man.)

Jessica then pieces together the puzzle to figure the intended victim, and uncovers the disguise of the murderer, by retracing the steps, while Jill decides what to do about Marty, the rodeo and the "Showdown in Saskatchewan."

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