"Murder, She Wrote" Southern Double-Cross (TV Episode 1996) Poster

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"Who Can It Be Knocking Kookaburra Downs?"
WeatherViolet12 February 2010
This episode marks the last appearance by British actor Donald Burton, an Associate Artiste of the Royal Shakespeare Company for many years, who began his television career in 1962.

Kookaburra Downs, Queensland, Australia, a wild frontier settlement on the edge of mineral-wealthy sheep-grazing pastures of McGill Valley, which contains a long history of conflict with age-old feuds between miners and sheep-herders, plans its celebration of the 100th anniversary of the passing of Irish ex-patriot-turned-landowner Eamonn McGill.

Social conflict heightens when the daughter of a protective widowed father becomes entangled with the romantic advances of the son of a widowed mother, who must become "the man of the house," and the son of a widowed father, who considers him irresponsible for gambling and slacking on the family business. (Yet once again in the "MSW" series, what is needed would be someone to champion young love and to solve a mystery of a vanishing attaché case once bodies begin to pop up around Kookaburra Downs.)

John Marlin (Donald Burton) serves in the capacity of town librarian, while his young adult daughter, Linda Marlin (Sofie Formica), cares for a young female kangaroo joey, who has been abandoned along a road and arrives in very ill health.

Attorney Simon Caftcart (uncredited actor) enlists John Marlin's support to research the legend of Eamonn McGill, for any possible heirs, to establish the rightful ownership of neighboring McGill Valley, before the claim expires, on the upcoming 100th anniversary observance. (...which brings us to your assignment for the week, Question #1: to discover whether or not any McGill relatives have been introduced during the twelve seasons of "MSW." Now, let's see....)

Tim Jarvis (Nick Tate) serves as Mayor of Kookaburra Downs, and also its busy hotel owner, as citizens and visitors alike frequent the lobby tavern. Tim's son, Donald Jarvis (Kendrick Hughes), has been linked with Linda Marlin in the past and attempts to rekindle the flames of unrequited romance, while he is being hounded by freelance loan shark Boyd Hendrix (Trevor Goddard), from nearby Brisbane, which would set Kookaburra Downs somewhere around southeastern Queensland.

Melba Drummond (Briony Behets), rarely seen without her glass of spirits and cigar, serves as Deputy Mayor and supports the shepherds' movement to claim McGill Valley for the grazers once it moves into the public domain for want of property claimants. Melba's son, Roo Drummond (Peter Lavin), maintains a timid distance from Linda Marlin, as they pleasantly give one another credit for rescuing the baby female joey.

Ronda Brock (Lisa Darr) and her legal assistant, Tim Darby (Spencer Garrett), operate for Orbit Mining Company, which seeks McGill Valley for its mineral rights, and, therefore, opposes the sheep-herders with legal action.

Sergeant Colin Baxter (Alastair Duncan), a young widower who lost his child in the accident which claimed his late wife, relates well to the other widows and widowers of Kookaburra Downs, especially those who have lost their only child. A very responsible law enforcement agent, Colin rises to the occasion when altercations erupt around the community, which largely centers around Jarvis's Hotel and stable, and the library and kangaroo clinic.

The action begins after Simon Caftcart manages to locate one McGill descendant, an American author who, coincidentally, plans a book tour in Sydney, New South Wales, during the week of the expiration of the land claim, one Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury), who arrives after a perpetrator chases Simon Caftcart across the rocky terrain, causing his to lose his attaché, containing the necessary forms of protocol.

Jessica arrives in the lobby of Jarvis' Hotel to a quieting gathering of miners and shepherds, whose futures and livelihoods may rest in her hands. Tim Jarvis, Melba Drummond and John Marlin welcome her amid the troubles with their children, and when John gives Jessica a tour of the library, to her chagrin, he shows her the one known photograph of her grandmother's brother, Eamonn McGill, taken at the gallows on the day 100 years back, when he was hanged for bank robbery. (...which raises Question #2: if he were the brother of Mrs. McGill, would Eamonn's surname also have been McGill?)

The bewilderment continues, as John guides Jessica on a tour to the edge of McGill Valley, at which they stumble across the first body, which lies beneath a brush of shrubbery.

Later, in the tavern, Jessica receives a telephone call at the bar from a resident who claims to have found the attaché in the adjoining stables; when she steps back to locate the caller, she discovers a second body, suspending from the rafters on the noose of a rope. (...which brings us to Question #3: how could the killer utilize split-second timing to slay the second victim and to hang the body and escape by the time Jessica steps from one building to the next?)

After dealing with various resulting altercations, Jessica assists the hospitable Sergeant Colin Baxter in linking the murders, recovering the legal materials, figuring a workable solution for the opposing sides, and patching up young love, maladies resulting from a "Southern Double-Cross."

The cast is rounded out by Adam Wylie as Boy who announces Jessica's arrival, and John Garwood as Bartender at Jarvis' Hotel.

This episode reflects the most recent appearances to date by Sofie Formica, and by John Garwood, acting since 1964. (Adam Wylie was born in 1984, the year which the series begins.)

This also represents the second of two "MSW" guest roles each for Spencer Garrett and Nick Tate, and the third of three "MSW's" for Lisa Darr.

In addition to Donald Burton, Trevor Goddard, acting since 1989, has since passed, at the young age of 40.
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Not Bart vs. Australia
Parker Lewis16 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
In real life Angela Lansbury has an Australian connection - she's related to Malcolm Turnbull, who has been Prime Minister of Australia since 2015. In this episode, Jessica makes her way to Kookaburra Downs, Queensland, as she could be in line to inherit property.

This isn't Bart vs. Australia, a famous (or infamous) Simpsons episode which played on US stereotypes of Aussies, but in this episode some of the US actors sounded rather Cockney to me, like Adam Wylie, who was one of the kids in Picket Fences from 1992 to 1996 (Southern Double-Cross was screened in 1996).

There are three Australian actors in this episode. Firstly Sophie Formica, Nick Tate, and Briony Behets (who is British but came to Australia). Nick Tate is quite famous for being a voice over guy for movie promos. He was also in Space: 1999.

This episode wasn't actually filmed in Australia, but some of the stock footage was I think where you had the kangaroos.
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