Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
2 user

Who Threw the Barbitals in Mrs. Fletcher's Chowder? 

When Amos' sister & her in-laws descend upon Cabot Cove, Jessica hosts a dinner party with homicidal results, leaving the finger pointing at the Sheriff's sister.


(created by), (created by) | 2 more credits »

On Disc

at Amazon


Add Image Add an image

Do you have any images for this title?



Episode cast overview:
Dep. Marigold Feeney
Harold Banner
Kenny Oakes
Winnie Tupper Banner
Flo Oakes
Ed Bellamy
Elmo Banner
Deputy Grover
Joseph V. Perry ...


Sheriff Amos Tupper is just flat out since a deputy gave notice, when his younger sister Winnie Tupper Banner arrives, 'desperate' having left her husband, refusing to give details. He dumps her on Jessica, who is relieved -pressed for a deadline- after checking on Dr. Seth Hazlitt for Winnie's ulcer medicine prescription that the old bachelor-gentleman enjoys her company. Amos first allows overbearing, unqualified Marigold Feeney's "you're no bigot, are you?"" routine to railroad him into hiring her as deputy, later finds himself the last ranking for sleeping accommodation in his own home after the unannounced arrival of brother in law Elmo Banner, manager of a drugstore, his half-brother and business partner pharmacist Harold Banner, sister Flo Oakes and her husband Kenny. Winnie refuses to talk to her in-laws, even announces a divorce, Elmo mumbles 'you'ld have to kill me', she runs off to Seth. Next day Jessica accepts to cook a seafood feast for the unappreciative, grumpy Banner ... Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery





Release Date:

3 January 1988 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The episode title is an allusion to the Irish folk song, Who Threw the Overalls in Mrs. Murphy's Chowder?, written in 1898 by George L. Giefer. See more »


Doc Hazlett arrives at the dinner party and knows all of the Sheriff's relatives, but he had never met them. See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Amos Tupper Really Has His Hands Full This Time
21 January 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Occasionally, the question arises, "Which 'Murder, She Wrote' episode captures the longest title?" Well, quite a few "MSW" episode titles contain at least twenty characters and symbols (excluding spaces), and six of these consist of at least thirty: (#4.07) "If It's Thursday, It Must Be Beverly" = 30; (#8.17) "To the Last Will I Grapple With Thee" = 31; (#2.02) "Joshua Peabody Died Here...Possibly" = 32; (#7.22) "The Skinny According to Nick Cullhane" = 32; (#6.14) "How to Make a Killing Without Really Trying" = 36; (#4.12) "Who Threw the Barbitals in Mrs. Fletcher's Chowder?" = 43 characters. And so, the answer appears to become this episode's setting the record for having the longest title.

Well, this episode represents the eighteenth and penultimate Sheriff Amos Tupper turn, with one final appearance to follow, later during Season Four. With his nineteen, Tom Bosley holds fifth place in the category of acting in the greatest number of "MSW" episodes, after Angela Lansbury, William Windom, Ron Masak and Louis Herthum.

Unlike his successor, Amos rarely has a steady deputy. Last time around (two Cabot Cove episodes prior), his night deputy was suspected of murder. This time around, as he prepares to publish a classified newspaper item to interview candidates for a deputy position, an applicant arrives the day before the advertisement reaches the Cabot Cove Gazette.

Sheriff Amos Tupper (Tom Bosley) has the capable and mild-mannered Deputy Grover (Dennis Bailey) on hand, but when Marigold Feeney (Colleen Camp) shows up to apply for the open position, she informs Amos that she would feel "very disappointed" if he would overlook her because of her gender. He, of course, hires the ambitious Deputy Marigold Feeney, who immediately orders Amos and Deputy Grover to handle the small tasks, while she sets out to nab criminals.

But Amos' troubles are merely beginning, for his sister from Kentucky, Winnie Tupper Banner (Anne Meara), disembarks the Cabot Cove bus, announcing that she has left her husband. Ed Bellamy (Donnelly Rhodes) also appears in Cabot Cove, snooping around without explaining his purposes for visiting the otherwise peaceful community.

Amos requests a favor of Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury), who rushes through her latest manuscript to meet a publisher's deadline, for Jessica to entertain Winnie, while he trains his new deputy, causing Jessica to plead the need for solitude, and so Winnie turns to the reluctant Doctor Seth Hazlitt (William Windom) for company throughout the remainder of the day and night, even though he pleads with Jessica to conduct Winnie's hospitality, but to no avail, the problem compounding by the disturbance of an outdoors "prowler."

Winnie's husband, Elmo Banner (Guy Stockwell), Elmo's sister, Flo Oakes (Barbara Rhoades), Flo's husband, Kenny Oats (Geoffrey Lewis), and Elmo and Flo's half-brother, Harold Banner (Henry Gibson)--who together somehow manage a chain of ten pharmacies inherited from the mother of Elmo, Flo and Harold--follow Winnie's trail from Kentucky to Cabot Cove, and arrive on the doorstep of Amos, who believes Winnie to have found sanctuary at Jessica's.

After an uneasy night, which includes an altercation with Ralph (Joseph V. Perry), and the relatives' usurping the Tupper living quarters, Amos again pleads with Jessica, who announces that she has finished her manuscript by morning, and, as a special favor for her lack of welcoming Amos' family, shall host the gathering for a special Cabot Cove fishing village flavored dinner.

Amos' kin and kith seems to reject the delicacies of the sea, while the potent potables go over well enough, but after Flo refuses to sample the first course, she screams very audibly at the sight of other dinner guests' dropping into a trance-like state.

While Marigold is busy tackling Ed outdoors, Seth loses a patient at the hospital, both facts compounding Amos' dilemma, as he and Jessica attempt to determine, "Who Threw the Barbitals in Mrs. Fletcher's Chowder?"

This episode marks the first of two "MSW" guest roles each for Anne Meara and Henry Gibson, the second of two each for Colleen Camp and Joseph V. Perry, the first of three for Donnelly Rhodes, the second of three for Guy Stockwell, and the second of four "MSW's" for Geoffrey Lewis.

Guy Stockwell, acting in film and on television since 1946, Joseph V. Perry, acting since 1956, and Henry Gibson, acting since 1963, have unfortunately since passed.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: