The poisoning deaths of three customers point to the local diner owner.



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Episode cast overview:
Marshall Colt ...
Ross Corman
Laura Corman
Katie Emhardt
Sam Freed ...
Attorney Herb Apple
Dr. John Logan
Sheriff Deloy Hays
Laurie Prange ...
Doris Gerringer
Ellen Wicker (as Dee Wallace Stone)
Edge Potter
Javi Mulero ...
Deputy Ray Gomez
Karen Hensel ...
Deputy Mary Jo Rush
Young Man


Jessica pays bail for her friend Ellen Wicker who is accused of arsenic poisoning in the sleepy town of Dry Wells, where she returned after 15 years to run the diner, but her one time Boston murder acquittal still counts as popularly accepted proof. Ross Corman who, just before had his unrequited intimacy attempts shirked off by Ellen, does the same thing with the domineering sheriff again. Jessica takes an unusual interest in environmental issues and assumes there are two killers. Written by KGF Vissers

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Crime | Drama | Mystery





Release Date:

5 May 1991 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Arsenic and Old Alibis
18 October 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This episode marks one of the most recent appearances by Marshall Colt, who has since earned his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, to switch careers from acting into health and family counseling and life coaching. Nina Foch and Jack Kruschen have since passed.

When Doctor John Logan (Jack Kruschen) receives a late evening call to the residence of Jake Gerringer, to pronounce him dead of an undiagnosed heart ailment, Jake's eccentric daughter, Doris Gerringer (Laurie Prange), is told to get some rest. Initially, they seem to be addressed as Jake and Doris Simpson, but retain the name Gerringer for the duration.

The next day, after Doctor Logan's nurse, Laura Corman (Mary Crosby), sends samples of Jake Gerringer blood to be analyzed, against her employer's decision, evidence mounts that Jake has been poisoned by arsenic.

Meanwhile Laura's husband, Ross Corman (Marshall Colt), visits the diner recently purchased by, and operated by Ellen Wicker (Dee Wallace), who has returned to her native Dry Wells, California, from Boston, where Ross now tries to rekindle and old flame, to which Ellen politely objects, and to which Laura is well aware. The unrefined Edge Potter (Don Swayze) enters the diner to scoff at Ross' attention to Ellen, who sends Edge back to his motorcycle.

Sheriff Deloy Hays (Gary Lockwood) also has a past with Ellen, who rejected his advances fifteen years ago, and now insists upon searching her diner for traces of arsenic, as Jake Gerringer frequently patronized her restaurant. When she willingly leads him to a canister left by the previous owner for use as an insecticide, Sheriff Hays arrests Ellen on suspicion of murder.

Also in the back-story, Ellen Wicker had married in Boston, but lost her husband to murder, for which she had been arrested and may have been convicted save for her "writer friend," who proved Ellen's innocence. Ellen again sends for her "writer friend," Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury), who immediately flies to Barstow, to be chauffeured from the airport and along CA Interstate 40, in San Bernardino County, California, by Ellen's concerned defender, Attorney Herb Apple (Sam Freed). (Note: this is clearly not one of the episodes set in Texas, as some may suggest.)

Jessica investigates the case in spite of Sheriff Hays' strong objections. Deputy Ray Gomez (Javi Mulero) and Deputy Mary Jo Rush (Karen Hensel), however, stand upon the side of upholding the law, and not misusing their positions for power and corruption.

Jessica requests documents concerning the old Dry Wells Tannery of Katie Emhardt (Nina Foch), whose late husband, Wilbur, had managed it before the central California earthquake, which put most of Dry Wells out of business. When Sheriff Hays demands that Wilbur Emhardt's body be exhumed for testing, it is determined that he, too, was poisoned by arsenic.

But when a third victim suddenly perishes, Sheriff Hays again arrests Ellen, and Jessica and Herb Apple now must try to trace the trail of the arsenic. Herb tells Jessica that Deloy Hays was smart to arrest Ellen late at night because now Herb won't be able to ask the county judge for a release order, but they somehow manage to summon volunteers from across the nation to dig the grounds around the old Tannery by morning's light and a television crew to broadcast the event before the judge can be told about Ellen's latest arrest.

So, Jessica now has the proof which she needs to lift the curse of the "Tainted Lady" but must act hastily to expose the culprit of murder.

The cast is rounded out by Young Man (Peter Gregory) and Waiter (Alan Baltes), as well as a host of reporters and Neer-do-wells causing a commotion around the sheriff's office, plus the volunteers from around the country who somehow appear at a moment's notice.

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