Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
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The Skinny According to Nick Cullhane 

A writer is murdered after sending Jessica a manuscript exposing a kidnapping scam.



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Episode cast overview:
Vikki Palumbo
Nick Cullhane (as Pat Harrington)
Ogden Schmesser
Phil Mannix
Sheriff Mort Metzger (as Ron Másak)
Gordon Forbes
Tricia Long ...
Anthony M. Frank ...
The Mailman (as Postmaster General Anthony Frank)


Insignificant writer Nick Cullhane gets congratulations from Jessica for a manuscript he sent her, actually based closely on the staged kidnapping of brewery heir Ogden Schmesser, who tries to get his hands on it with his lawyer Gordon Forbes and ex-cop Phil Mannix. Nick hides in Cabot Cove after his landlady, gambling loan-shark Vikki Palumbo, has him traced by another debtor, P.I. Harry McGraw, who recognized Jessica's voice. Harry, is later found next to Nick's dead body and only Jessica prevents him from being arrested. Vicky's assistant, Richard, is roughed up by Odgen's men and the sheriff finds out a lovers motive, so who is looking for who to get what and cheat who? Written by KGF Vissers

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Plot Keywords:

handcuffs | beating | abuse | See All (3) »


Crime | Drama | Mystery





Release Date:

12 May 1991 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Jerry Orbach's final appearance as Harry McGraw. See more »


References The World According to Garp (1982) See more »

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User Reviews

"And That's All She Wrote"
31 December 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Murder, She Wrote" co-creator (with Richard Levinson and William Link) Peter S. Fischer would also serve as series' executive producer for 154 episodes from the pilot through Season Seven, and we're up to the last of these episodes now.

Back in Season Five, when Peter S. Fischer and company were facing a decision by the CBS network to renew this show, they continuously reworked a "sign-off" episode, facing extensive rewrites upon learning of renewal of an additional two-year run at that time. Similar negotiation are continuing with the network during the production of this episode, and so Executive Director and Writer Fischer decide to conclude it with a wink, after the final line, "That's all she wrote," which could easily be edited without much ado.

Throughout the course of these first seven seasons, series star Angela Lansbury embraced a minor difference of opinion with Executive Director Fischer over the direction of her character, Jessica B. Fletcher. While Mr. Fischer would maintain that Jessica ought to preserve a homespun quality, Miss Lansbury would express notions that Mrs. Fletcher ought to venture onto the international stage with authority, independence and fashion.

Angela does have input early on, suggesting that Jessica jog, bicycle and set aside her frumpy wardrobe for chic designs. But during the course of the series, we see Jessica's development away from the comic touches of meddlesome busybody and more toward an established authoritarian figure. After Peter S. Fischer exits his position voluntarily, David Moessinger serves in the capacity of Executive Director during Season Eight, although Angela Lansbury handles the reigns and becomes "MSW" Executive Director for the program's remaining four seasons.

"The Skinny According to Nick Cullhane" begins in Boston, Massachusetts, at the headquarters of Schmesser Brewery, which has been in the family for generations and is now left in the charge of the irresponsible Ogden Schmesser (Alex Hyde-White), who flings paper airplanes and other objects across the office when meeting with his associates, Phil Mannix (Tony Lo Bianco) and Gordon Forbes (Jameson Parker), who also serve as his brains and his henchmen if there is any way to combine these talents.

Nick Cullhane (Pat Harrington Jr.), a former sports writer, who dresses the part in loud plaid jackets and attire, has also served as spokesperson for Schmesser Brewery, his image appearing in ads and on display signs, until Odgen and company decide to drop him from the promotional campaign. Nick has been strapping financially and initially pleads for his job, but then decides to resort to publishing a "tell all" expose centering around Schmesser Brewery management's involvement in a kidnapping plot, which, if released could force the trio into legal hassles.

Vikki Palumbo (Leslie Easterbrook), an entrepreneur and personal manager for boxer Richard (Michael McGrady), he also serving as her bodyguard and love interest, wants "The Skinny According to Nick Cullhane," confidential information which could implement her in the plot.

Private Investigator Harry McGraw (Jerry Orbach) also hits the trail in search of the one copy of Nick Culhane's manuscript known to exist, which, in fact, he has previously mailed to an author whom he had met in convention, in the hopes of proofreading and preserving his research, one Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury), of Cabot Cove, Maine.

Nick Cullhane, sensing danger, sneaks from Boston into Cabot Cove, although trailed by Harry McGraw, Vikki Palumbo and Richard, Ogden Schmesser, Phil Mannix and Gordon Forbes, each after the goods, while Florence (Tricia Long) remains in danger.

Jessica spots Nick's snooping around her residence, as she startles him upon her return from marketing. He asks for his manuscript, which she prepares to retrieve, when he suddenly disappears, and Harry McGraw appears to ask to hold the envelope containing the expose "for safekeeping." Although Jessica is surprised to see her old friend Harry and trusts his honesty if not his better judgment, Deputy Floyd McCallum (Will Nye) and, especially, Sheriff Mort Metzger (Ron Masak) reach completely different perceptions about this "sleezeball" and all of these other shady characters looming around the community.

This time, it's Leslie Easterbrook's turn to refer to Jessica as "That Fletcher woman," a recurring appositive of these first seven seasons, which quickly vanishes during the remaining ones.

Vikki Palumbo, Richard and Harry McGraw also have an altercation, after they consider joining forces against the Schmesser heavies, but when Richard orders Harry not to try anything fresh with Vikki, Harry quickly responds, "Everything I do should be that easy," to Vikki's feigned laughter with a "Ha!" Indeed, this "sign-off" episode purports to lace itself with plenty of comic relief, employing performers proficient in comedy, but....

When Harry breaks into a hotel room that night to search for that concealed manuscript on a hunch that he figures that he knows who possesses it, Sheriff Metzgar and Deputy Floyd arrive behind him, to turn on the lights and ask him to explain the body on the floor beside him. "What body?" Jessica must sort through the clues, to prove her old friend innocent, while continuing to search for "The Skinny According to Nick Cullhane."

The cast is rounded out by Mailman (Anthony M. Frank) (as Postmaster General Anthony Frank), Postmaster General under the U.S. Postal Service, yes, its actual Chief Executive Officer 1988-92, in his one acting role other than portraying himself in a different television production.

This episode marks the first of two "MSW" guest starring roles each for Tony Lo Bianco, Alex Hyde-White, and Jameson Parker, the third of four appearances each by Leslie Easterbrook and Michael McGrady, the fourth of four for Pat Harrington Jr., the sixth and final appearance of Jerry Orbach in his role as Boston Private Investigator Harry McGraw, and the fourteenth and final appearance of Will Nye in his role of Cabot Cove Deputy Floyd McCallum. Jerry Orbach, who began his film and acting career in 1955, has unfortunately since passed.

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