Ben Matlock is a very expensive criminal defense attorney, who charges one hundred thousand dollars to take a case. Fortunately, he's worth every penny, as he and his associates defend his clients by finding the real killer.
Former high school English teacher and famed mystery writer Jessica Fletcher has a gift for solving mysteries. You see, it seems murder follows her around, whether it be to the houses of her seemingly endless number of friends, nieces, and nephews, or right in her hometown of Cabot Cove, Maine. Jessica is sometimes assisted by her friend Dr. Seth Hazlitt or the local sheriff, Amos Tupper and Tupper's successor, Mort Metzger, a former New York City cop. Sometimes, later in the series, Jessica would only serve as narrator. In later seasons, Jessica moved to Manhattan to teach criminology at fictional Manhattan University.Written by
Mike Hatchett <firstname.lastname@example.org>
As part of producing the series, Peter Fischer developed characters and scenarios within the "Murderer, She Wrote" format storyline, with the premise for specific "characters" leading off into another network weekly series. In 1989, two shows, Murder, She Wrote: The Grand Old Lady (1989) (aired October 8, 1989) and Murder, She Wrote: Jack and Bill (1989) (aired October 29, 1989) were potential film series pilots, with Angela introducing each of the shows narrative. The two pilots were filmed at the end of the fifth season, June, 1989, after Angela and Peter Shaw had departed for their summer break. Angela's filming for each of the new show's preliminary introductions and last line wrap-up, were filmed at the start of the new 1989-90 season, filming the intros in September 1989. The "Grand Old Lady" was filmed aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California, with a 1947 era mystery-murder scenario. The leading investigator and his sidekick intended as the basis for another mystery show spin-off, establishing a 1947-50 period environment. The contemporary "Jack and Bill" pilot involved two detectives with a bright pink standard poodle, aiding in sniffing out the criminals. Neither pilot was picked up by CBS, but the two shows were offered, independently, to both ABC, and then NBC, after CBS answered "no thanks". What was unusual with Lansbury's contract with CBS, Angela's "Corymore Production" company had an option for a "movie of the week", which could be filmed during her yearly summer hiatus. She could pick her property, cast and crew the project, producing the movie of the week, each year the series had been contracted. Angela and Peter Shaw's "Corymore Productions" never exercised the movie of the week deal option. When CBS and Les Moonvies axed the Universal-MCA Murder, She Wrote series, the four Murder, She Wrote movies of the week were offered as a contractual settlement. The Jerry Herman "Mrs. Santa Claus" musical "1996 Christmas Special movie of the week" was the whipped cream, cherry on the top, agreement to finalize the cancellation contract. Peter Fisher cut his ties with Universal-MCA and CBS when he departed the Murder, She Wrote series in June, 1992. See more »
This cherished television series will forever be dearly missed... but will always live on in our hearts via syndicated re-runs!
Angela Lansbury IS Jessica Fletcher, a colorful-minded imaginative geriatric author of best-selling mystery novels who always saves the day by helping friends and strangers discover who the 'real' killer is.
This show ran for twelve seasons, albeit the last season was pretty crook. Guest stars and friends of Angela Lansbury in the industry from the silver screen would often appear as victims, friends and even the killer throughout the 264 episodes that aired on CBS.
Angela Lansbury, a long time pin-up queen for Disney movies and the like, was the right choice to play television's leading lady of the endless 'who-done-it' mysteries. She plays a kind woman, an unlikely character who would find themselves in the countless situations she got herself into, and someone we didn't mind having in our living room at least once a week.
Funny as it sounds, this show was suitable for the whole family to watch. A show about 'murder' is suitable for the 'family' you ask? It was tasteful in the way it presented the various different deaths of its victims throughout its long run. People died in just about any and every imaginable manner you could think of on MURDER SHE WROTE. The most desirable choice was via a gunshot - but there were certainly plenty of more elaborate set-ups. The poisonings.. the hangings.. the stabbings.. yet, it was about as 'family' as you could get with the different shows that were on at the same time it was aired.
Early in its run, MURDER SHE WROTE had a smart ensemble cast including Tom Bosley who played Sheriff Amos Tupper. The setting was usually Cabot Cove of Maine, a quiet coastal fishing town - the ideal place to raise a family... or so you would think, every other week when a murder didn't take place there! When Tom Bosley left to portray a leading role in FATHER DOWLING MYSTERIES, Jessica Fletcher would often travel to different locations across America, and yes, the world. It is quite amusing to wonder why it never seemed funny to Jessica Fletcher that wherever she went, a murder would occur. Although in one episode, she does refer to herself as the 'Typhoid Mary of Murders', a joke within itself.
A great line-up of guest stars from both the film and television industry would play different characters in each episode. Nearly every episode had at least one 'known' celebrity. The most amazing thing was seeing past-Oscar winners playing various characters. From Martin Landau to Van Johnson. From June Allyson to Jose Ferrer. Stewart Granger, Cyd Charisse, Lurene Tuttle, Glynnis Johns, Claire Trevor, Cornel Wilde, Dorothy Lamour, Ann Blythe, Eleanor Parker, Ernest Borgnine... the list goes on. This show probably sported more famous guest stars than 'THE LOVE BOAT'.
Of course, for every Jean Simmons, June Havoc and James Coburn, there was Charlene Tilton, Barbie Benton and Michael McKean to tickle your fancy.
Unknown stars at the time such as Billy Zane, Courtney Cox, Paul Rudd, Megan Mullally and Bill Maher used this show as a stepping stone to get to where they are now.
Several stars and most likely close friends of Angela Lansbury such as David Ogden Stiers, Fritz Weaver, Pat Hingle, Vera Miles and Larry Wilcox appeared more than three or four times throughout the show's entire run, each time playing a different character.
As 'MURDER SHE WROTE' slowly grinded to a halt during its 12th season in 1996, you couldn't help but notice that the show had lost probably more than half of its original spark. Angela Lansbury herself never looked better, but the story lines were getting a bit tired, and seriously, just how many murders in the last season seemed a little bit 'familiar' to the other episodes earlier in the show's run? The guest actors that were being scraped together was pretty much 'bottom-of-the-barrel' selection - Gerald McRaney, Rosalind Chao and Bo Svenson were about the biggest names during the 12th season that could be scrounged up. On top of that, audiences across the world were getting hooked on newer fare such as 'E.R.', 'FRIENDS' and 'LAW & ORDER'. Who had time for 'MURDER SHE WROTE' anymore?
So when the axe finally fell, it came as no surprise, and Angela Lansbury, or should I say, Jessica Fletcher, made a graceful exit to re-appear in isolated MURDER SHE WROTE telemovie projects that would be produced on an almost yearly annual basis after the series was canceled. Although I do remember that she put up quite a fight to keep her show on the air for one more season, I think it came as a blessing in disguise when the show left the broadcast airwaves.
Angela Lansbury was what made this show work. Her character was inspirational. She wasn't some young attractive lady, or a hot-shot lawyer who was solving all the mysteries. She was a retired English teacher, now writing best-selling novels who was the heroine we came to adore. I used to love it when during the last 15 minutes of each episode, someone would mention a keyword like, "Creosote", or a clue-giving caption like "Hmm, my watch seems to have stopped" which would give her the final piece of the puzzle to solve the murder mystery and her eyes would light up as the pieces clicked together in her head.
It's been years since she left our television sets, but she will forever live on in syndicated re-runs, a blessing in disguise perhaps, but something for the younger generation to surely appreciate.
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