Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
4 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.



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


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

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Crime | Drama | Mystery





Release Date:

9 December 1984 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Jessica Fletcher is shown autographing one of her books titled "Dirge for a Dead Dachshund." See more »


The check Jessica gives to Laurie Bascomb is in an envelope. When she takes the check out of the envelope, Laurie hugs Bert Donovan then holds the check upside down but visible. The check is blank. 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

Jessica Fletcher goes to the theme park
9 July 2017 | by (United Kingdom) – 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.

As far as Season 1 episodes go (a decent season overall but understandably with a still settling vibe), "We're Off to Kill the Wizard" is not quite as good as "The Murder of Sherlock Holmes" (more the pilot episode), "Lovers and Other Killers" and "Hit, Run and Homicide" of the episodes before it but to me is one of the better episodes up to this point, where the weakest episodes were "Deadly Lady" and "It's a Dog's Life" and even they were still a long way from bad episodes.

"We're Off to Kill the Wizard" isn't quite perfect, with Kristoffer Tabouri being a bit of a dull presence as Carlson and there is an intentionally creepy and quite perverted line from Horatio Baldwin in his scene with Jessica that comes over as pretty cringe-worthy. Admittedly too, it was pretty obvious who the victim was going to be, one of the show's most hated and most loathsome, even Jessica most likely would have been glad to see him offed.

However, "We're Off to Kill the Wizard" is very slickly filmed, especially at the end, and the theme park setting had a real creepiness, especially when we're introduced to Baldwin and the build up to the discovery of the body. The music has presence but also not making the mistake of over-scoring, while it is hard to forget or resist the theme tune.

The writing, apart from one line, is charmingly light-hearted, gently amiable and down to earth but provokes thought too. Really enjoyed the scenes between Jessica and the Donovans, which were both amusing and sweet, and appreciated that the final solution was talky and had lengthy explanations, which usually would bog things down elsewhere but for such a complicated and elaborate murder it was necessary here. The change of pace from Jessica's help being appreciated by the police at this point in the show was nice to see.

Story is absorbing and clever, with a clever and elaborate if more complicated than most 'Murder She Wrote' murders murder and an, for Season 1, ingenious final solution, both in explanation and how it was staged with an illusion influence and due to so many suspects the murderer was not easy to figure out, not resorting to give-away chance remarks or close-ups of something not being quite right with clothes or the appearance of characters. The scene between Jessica and Baldwin was otherwise great and one totally gets Jessica's reaction of shock and disgust, we feel it too.

Angela Lansbury is terrific in one of her best remembered roles (one of the roles that is most closely associated with me at any rate). James Coco enjoys himself wonderfully as Baldwin and the Donovans are charmingly played. Look out for a young Joaquin Phoenix before he became famous and became, from personal opinion, one of the better actors today.

In conclusion, very solid episode. 8/10 Bethany Cox

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