Matt Houston (1982–1985)
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Recipe for Murder 

Restaurant critic Roger Marsden's severed head is served in aspic to his snooty partner J Hamilton Goodfellow. The cops suspect a restaurant owner whose eatery the critics panned. And then attempts are made on Goodfellow's life.


Hy Averback


Lawrence Gordon (creator), Skip Webster


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Episode complete credited cast:
Lee Horsley ... Matt Houston
Pamela Hensley ... C.J. Parsons
John Aprea ... Lt. Vince Novelli
Paul Brinegar ... Lamar Pettybone
Dennis Fimple ... Bo
Penny Santon Penny Santon ... Mama Rosa Novelli
Sid Caesar ... Prince Sergei Polansky
James Coco ... J. Hamilton Goodfellow
David Hedison ... Pierre Cerdan
Hope Lange ... Kate Riley
Misty Rowe ... Terri Anton
George Wyner ... Murray Chase
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Alex Donnelley ... Secretary Alex
Sue Fish Sue Fish ... Kelly
Paula Jones Paula Jones ... Secretary


A restaurant critic is killed and placed in gelatin and served to his partner who was visiting another restaurant. Now the police suspect that the restaurant owner whom the critic gave a bad review. The man is a friend of Houston's so he tries to prove it. He starts by talking to the man's partner who's very difficult. Written by

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Crime | Drama | Mystery

User Reviews

Not To My Taste
15 August 2011 | by JasonDanielBakerSee all my reviews

An acid-tongued TV food critic J.Hamilton Goodfellow (James Coco) attempts to pay a surprise visit to the French eatery of a restaurateur Pierre Cerdan (David Hedison) whom he loathes before giving it a scathing review. He is greeted as though he was expected and presented with an orange gelatin which contains the severed head of his partner Roger Marsden in perhaps the most macabre murder of the entire series.

Houston's old buddy Prince Polansky (Sid Caesar - whose immigrant father ran a restaurant in real life), the top restaurateur in town and evident owner of a giant Russian jello mould the is arrested for the murder and Houston sets out to prove his innocence by catching the real killer who could be anyone of the guest-stars.

This one is a little different than other first season episodes in the respect that the murder victim is never shown alive. The murders of the most irritating and talentless celebrities who appeared as guest stars on this show were generally calculated to please crowds like in a Roman arena. Here they could have bumped off Sid Caesar or James Coco. Sadly they never got around to that or killing Pia Zadora, Geraldo Rivera or Bruce Vilanch.

The killer generally ends up being a more glamorous celebrity if only because they have to be part of the on screen mystery until the end and for that you need to have actors the audience is not grossed out by and in fact want to revisit in a family reunion/"Where are they now?" kind of way. If the real killer or suspects were not intriguing or attractive the audience might not bother to watch Houston interact with them and channel surf perhaps to tune in at the end or even perhaps not.

Compared with other campy episodes of the first season of the show, one which was lampooning itself practically during pre-production and very nearly up until the 1982-83 season finale, this one has even more lame humour than usual. There is also the apparent inability to find an ending without cutting the show short roughly a dozen minutes from its actual end time. As a result you get a lot more Sid Caesar and James Coco than anyone should have to sit through.

Paul Brinegar and Dennis Fimple who played Houston's comic relief ranch-hands Lamar and Bo are actually in this episode. In several episodes they would be credited with appearing but were only seen in the opening montage. Their appearance here, served little purpose beyond backing up Houston's absurd interpretation of the "Cowboy Code" at the end. It would soon become clear their presence was counterproductive.

If you think the suggestive "Better cock yer pistols" line of Pamela Hensley near the end of the opening montage sounds different in earlier episodes it is because they have clearly had her do the line again with a throatier, raunchier delivery for later ones. This early episode offers the softer, less assertive version they originally went with.

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Release Date:

7 November 1982 (USA) See more »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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