Murder, She Wrote: South by Southwest
- TV Movie
- 1h 40m
Jessica Fletcher (Dame Angela Lansbury) is attacked on a train when she investigates the case of a missing passenger.Jessica Fletcher (Dame Angela Lansbury) is attacked on a train when she investigates the case of a missing passenger.Jessica Fletcher (Dame Angela Lansbury) is attacked on a train when she investigates the case of a missing passenger.
Well 80 minutes is very different from 40 minutes, and I personally would have welcomed at least one of these idiot-board updates in the course of this bigger and busier version of 'Murder, She Wrote'. No fewer than 37 characters are listed, and their names flung about like confetti, so we only dimly understand who's who in the zoo. But don't let that put you off; the masterly ending will make the same impact anyhow.
The story takes us by rail into the baking sands of Arizona, about as far as you can get from Cabot Cove, both geographically and spiritually. Trains are always good for murder mysteries, with plenty of enigmatic strangers and chance meetings. And with Jessica on board, it's a safe bet that one or two passengers won't quite make it to their destination.
By about the midpoint, we've learned to mistrust every snarling male, but not, of course, certain gracious females who are so keen to confide in Jessica. (This view takes a bit of a knock in the closing stages.)
We can't reveal much more without giving away some key twists that are vastly superior to anything seen in the standard episodes. As for the murder-motive, this relates to a hi-tech agenda that manages to look just as fresh and topical now as it would have done in 1997 - a singular achievement. There are some pleasing touches, like a wacky hotel receptionist (Susan Blommaert) who turns out to be one of Jessica's most devoted fans. And only the inaudible dialogue at a key moment in the dining-car scene lets down the production values.
At the end, Jessica is pointing out the murderer's careless mistakes in her best schoolmarm style. (But regular viewers may like to know that we're spared the usual spluttering "But that's ridiculous..." protest from the other party this time round!)
- Sep 3, 2013