Jessica investigates the possibility that a recent parolee went to jail for a crime he didn't commit.


(as Michael Lynch)


(created by), (created by) | 2 more credits »

On Disc

at Amazon



Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Sydney Jarvis, Jr.
Dorothy Hearn Davis
Debbie Zipp ...
Emory Bass ...
Russ Marin ...
Lt. Sharp
Mark Pilon ...
Male Secretary
Cynthia Leighton ...


When Jessica is pampered in the luxury suite of a hotel, she's approached shyly by restaurant employee Georgia Wilson, whose husband, accountant Sam, was recently released after 30 years jail, assuring he was framed for the shooting of his boss Richard Jarvis, who actually offered Sam his last $10,000 for help when his firm went bust, to make his suicide look like armed robbery so the insurance would pay the Jarvis family a fortune, only someone else really killed him. Their son Rob Wilson became a cop hoping to help his father, now puts all his experience at her disposal. While she, Rob and the now retired police Lt. Webb re-examine the forensics as well as the means, opportunities and motives of surviving members of both families, someone in the know shoots at Jessica with a matching bullet, but must have missed willingly. At least she puzzles the pieces of both shootings together and traps the perpetrators, but... Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

hotel | flashback | policeman | See All (3) »


Crime | Drama | Mystery





Release Date:

19 April 1987 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


| (flashbacks)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Debbie Zipp would later appear in the recurring role of Donna Mayberry Fletcher, who eventually wed Jessica's nephew Grady after a few romances gone wrong. See more »


Retired Lt. Richard Webb: I thought she was playing bedsheet bingo with the boss.
See more »


Edited from Strange Bargain (1949) See more »

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User Reviews

"Strange Bargain" Revisited
31 August 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

To assemble a stellar roster of guest stars including Jeffrey Lynn, Martha Scott, June Havoc, Gloria Stuart, Harry Morgan, Susan Strasberg, Richard Beymer, Art Hindle and Tom Dressen exhibits greatness in itself, and this episode does not miss a beat to showcase their fine talent wonderfully, intertwining constant action with file footage of the 1949 Universal Classic "Strange Bargain."

The plot of the original film may differ slightly from the back story of "The Days Dwindle Down," but its actions match perfectly with this tale of an innocent murder suspect, who has spent the past thirty years in prison by a corrupt judicial system, which helped to railroad him.

In the current day, Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) travels to Los Angeles, California, to launch a speaking tour on the talk show circuit regarding her mystery books. At lunch with booking agent Peabody (Tom Dreesen), he suggests that she address some of the various murders which she has helped to solve.

Georgia Wilson (Martha Scott), a hostess at the hotel restaurant, overhears this conversation and later timidly visits Jessica upstairs at her room. "I could be fired for coming up here," Georgia says, preparing to turn around, before Jessica encourages her to visit, to learn that her husband, Sam, has served three decades for a crime which he did not commit: murder.

Sam Wilson (Jeffrey Lynn) reluctantly begins to fill Jessica in on the details, as told by archival flashback scenes, as son Rod Wilson (Art Hindle) enters to inform Jessica that they've explored every avenue. Rod has become a police officer in the hopes of finding evidence to clear his father's name. In the film, the Wilson's have a daughter, Hilda, who is briefly mentioned her but not heard from again.

Jessica naturally accepts the challenge of snooping around town for clues as to what happened that fateful evening many years earlier.

She questions Dorothy Hearn-Davis (Susan Strasberg), the granddaughter of the late Timothy Hearn, a business partner of the late Malcolm Jarvis, whose son, Sidney Jarvis (Richard Beymer), informs Jessica that his mother, Edna Jarvis (Gloria Stuart), has passed. Or has she?

Jessica visits with Jarvis' former private secretary, Thelma Vante (June Havoc), and retired police Lieutenant Richard Webb (Harry Morgan), who handed the original investigation, in the hopes of shedding new light on matters.

While hot on the cold trail of guile, blackmail, intrigue and corruption in the ranks, an unsuspecting Jessica is faced in the night by a gunshot in her hotel room as "The Days Dwindle Down." Debbie Zipp, who would become the recurring Donna Mayberry later in the series, has an early role as the expectant Wilson daughter-in-law.

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