Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
3 user 1 critic

We're Off to Kill the Wizard 

Jessica gets mixed up with a nasty scheme involving a theme park creator whilst visiting relatives.



(created by), (created by) | 4 more credits »

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Erica Baldwin
Horatio Baldwin
Laurie Bascomb
Michael Gardner
Nils Highlander
Arnold Megrim
Capt. Davis
James Stephens ...
Police Det. Lt. Bert Donovan
Kristoffer Tabori ...
Phillip Carlson
Anne Kerry ...
Carol Donovan
Eric Server ...
Ned O'Brien
Billy Donovan (as Leaf Phoenix)
Cindy Donovan

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When Jessica visits her Kansas relatives, police detective Lieutenant Bert Donovan's family, she is invited by theme park magnate Horatio Baldwin and firmly turns down his project for another one based on horror elements from her mystery books. Shortly after Horatio is found dead in his self-locked office, apparently suicide, but actually got a fatal blow on the head before the shot. After Erica Baldwin becomes a rich widow for the fourth time, she hires Jessica to prove it was murder so the life-insurance can be cleared. Horatio's secretary makes a false confession. Almost everybody had some reason to hate Horatio, who was quite dirty in business in various ways. Jessica soon finds out how the killer got in and out while stealing Horatio's secret files and more, while the murder makes another victim, then she sets a trap... Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery





Release Date:

9 December 1984 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


When Richard Sander's character tries to escape from the airport, actor John Mahoney (Frasier) can be seen in the background watching him run past. See more »


When Horatio's head hits the statue in the re-enactment, the base of the stature gives way as if made of foam rubber. See more »


Horatio Baldwin: Don't you go to the movies?
Jessica Fletcher: When Cary Grant bowed out, so did I.
See more »


References The Wizard of Oz (1939) See more »

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User Reviews

Because of the Volatile Strings and Gloves
25 December 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

On occasion through the "MSW" series, an episode may be set in an unidentified American location, but specified in general terms, such as somewhere in New England or somewhere in the U.S. Midwest, and now we've reached the first instance of a generalized U.S. location. (Canadian episodes are pinpointed by Province, whereas foreign locations are generally specified by city, or at least country, with the exception of a couple of exotic island localities, as "somewhere in the Mediterranean," or "somewhere in the Caribbean."

This time around, however, Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) does arrive via Chicago to the residence of her niece and family, so we may safely assume that the action transpires near Chicago, likely in Illinois.

Carol Donovan (Anne Kerry) serves in the capacity of Jessica's latest niece in trouble. Carol's household consists of husband, Police Detective Lieutenant Bert Donovan (James Stephens), and children Billy Donovan (Joaquin Phoenix) and Cindy Donovan (Summer Phoenix), played by real life siblings, with Jessica as Great-Aunt.

While Bert handles his investigating responsibilities, Carol and the children welcome Jessica to visit a local amusement park, at which they enjoy a live adaptation of Victor Hugo's 1831 novel, "Le Bossu de Notre Dame" ("The Hunchback of Notre Dame"), with Horatio Baldwin (James Coco) as Quasimodo.

Proprietor Horatio Baldwin receives Jessica well, for he has designed his theme park around elements from Mystery books and seeks her approval to adapt from J.B. Fletcher, making an offer which Jessica declines.

Partner Michael Gardner (George DiCenzo) also has dealings with Jessica, with a staff including electrician Nils Highlander (Gene Evans), administrator Phillip Carlson (Kristoffer Tabori), and secretary Laurie Bascomb (Kim Darby).

Arnold Megrim (Richard Sanders) also experiences sour dealings with the park moguls, and after he withdraws his funds, he is accused of embezzling and pursued to the airport, where a Clerk (Laura Leyva) presses a button to contact armed guards after noticing a discrepancy in Arnold's identification.

During Jessica's visit, nephew-in-law Lieutenant Bert Donovan is summoned to attend to altercations at the nearby theme park, which also contains a wizardry exhibition designed after Horatio, a house of mirrors, plus secret chambers.

But when a body is discovered behind the door of a locked office, Captain Davis (John Schuck) arrives to investigate and initially considers a suicide, as no one else could have entered nor exited until two security guards (Ivan Saric and Vince Howard) dismantle the door.

As Jessica assists in investigation the office for hidden panels and the like, a second murder occurs from the balcony of a high-rise apartment unit, when the perpetrator places a tape recording of a cat's calling for attention near the railing, and then pushing the victim to land several stories below.

Ned O'Brien (Eric Server) and Skycap (Henry G. Sanders) then abduct Jessica at the airport, by request of Erica Baldwin (Christine Belford), who, while relaxing inside her private jet, presents a business proposition for Jessica to prove that the first victim has succumbed to murder rather than suicide, a matter which Jessica tends to agree because she feels certain that the two "suicides" must somehow be related by someone holding firm to the notion that "We're Off to Kill the Wizard."

Jessica then works alongside Bert Donovan and Captain Davis, by questioning Laurie Bascomb as to how the telephone system works, Phillip Carlson, as to how the office operates, and Nils Highlander as to how the wizard exhibition maneuvers, thus where to discover a concealed microfilm, in the house of mirror, before facing the killer in a showdown.

The cast is rounded out by Laura Leyva as Clerk, Ivan Saric as Security Guard, and Vince Howard as Guard #2.

This episode represents the first of two "MSW" guest roles each for Kim Darby, Gene Evans, Richard Sanders, Eric Server and John Schuck, the first of four guest performances each by Christine Belford, James Stephens and Kristoffer Tabori, the first of five series appearances for Vince Howard, and the first of six "MSW" guest roles for George DiCenzo. James Coco, acting in film and on television since 1961, has unfortunately since passed.

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