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Because of the Volatile Strings and Gloves
WeatherViolet from United States
25 December 2009
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
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
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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