Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
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Trial by Error 

It's a bad day for the jurors when Jessica is the foreperson of the jury hearing the case of a man claiming self-defense in the death of an enraged husband.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Jessica Fletcher
David Ackroyd ...
Prosecutor Tom Casselli
Mark Lee Reynolds
Margo Webster
Defense Atty. Oscar Ramsey
Doran Clark ...
Becky Anderson
Defense Atty. Max Flynn
Otto Fry
Josh Corbin
Lee Callahan
Sally Conover
Fenton Harris (as Alan Hale)
Lenore Kasdorf ...
Ally Collins
Jackie MacKay
Frank Lord


After Mark Lee Reynolds's wife, Stephanie, is in a car accident, which at best could leave her disabled for life but at worst could kill her, while he is wounded in the shoulder, criminal John Detweiler sees Reynolds pick up a woman in a bar where he tries to drink some courage. Detweiler calls the woman's jealous husband, goon Cliff Anderson, who knows his wife is serially unfaithful. Jessica is the foreperson of the jury that must decide if Reynolds committed the murder of Cliff Anderson or only killed in self-defense. She makes everyone go over the crucial witness and expert testimonies during the trial and slowly makes them shift focus from prejudices to evidence and logical deduction concerning premeditation, motive and material facts, pondering both theories, till she comes up with a crucial twist. Written by KGF Vissers

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Plot Keywords:

jury | bar | trial | hospital | jury room | See All (11) »


Crime | Drama | Mystery


TV-PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

12 January 1986 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Basic EMT protocol is to never move a victim of trauma without first installing a cervical collar (neck brace). This is always done before placing victims on a backboard. See more »

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User Reviews

Mystery and courtroom genius
24 July 2017 | by See all my reviews

Have always been quite fond of 'Murder She Wrote'. It is a fun and relaxing watch that makes you think as you try to unwind in the evening. If one wants more complex, twisty mysteries with lots of tension and suspense 'Murder She Wrote' may not be for you, but if you want something light-hearted and entertaining but still provide good mysteries 'Murder She Wrote' fits the bill just fine.

"Trial By Error" is an absolutely brilliant episode. It is a very strong contender for the best episode of Season 2 and certainly has always been among my favourites of 'Murder She Wrote'. It is an episode that is never dull and never descends into silliness, in fact both the mystery and courtroom aspects are delivered with real maturity and have a real suspenseful edge.

Its mystery has all the twists and turns of the finest work of Agatha Christie, the courtroom scenes are just fascinating and just as thought-provoking and compelling of an episode of 'Law and Order' and the scenes with the jury together have the intelligence, blazing intensity and fun of '12 Angry Men'. When making these comparisons they are meant in a very good way, Christie has always been one of my favourite authors, am a fan of 'Law and Order' in its golden years (the Lennie Briscoe years) and '12 Angry Men' is a fantastic film and the king of courtroom dramas. The final solution is one of the cleverest and surprising of 'Murder She Wrote', didn't see it coming despite it being like a classic Agatha Christie ending and it is second only to "Sticks and Stones" when it comes to shocking reveals of Season 2. Wasn't expecting the jury's decision either.

Even in a confined setting, the production values are high with slick photography. The music has energy and has presence but also not making the mistake of over-scoring, while it is hard to forget or resist the theme tune.

The writing is tight, thought-provoking and typically amiable, while the characters are very well written and while Jessica may seem smug at the end somewhat this is a case of her having every right to be.

Angela Lansbury is as always impeccable. "Trial and Error" has some of the show's best ever guest work in what often feels like an ensemble episode. Even Alan Hale's cameo is terrific.

Overall, classic 'Murder She Wrote' and pure genius. 10/10 Bethany Cox

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