Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
3 user

A Virtual Murder 

Jessica happens on a computerized clue to a murder while writing a mystery story for a friend's interactive video game company.


Lee Smith


Peter S. Fischer (created by), Richard Levinson (created by) | 2 more credits »

On Disc

at Amazon




Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Angela Lansbury ... Jessica Fletcher
Julia Campbell ... Sharon Baskin
Kate McNeil ... Kate Walden
Allan Miller ... John Crowley / Charles Kroll
Phil Morris ... David Salt
Shawn Phelan Shawn Phelan ... Alex Porter
Thomas Ryan Thomas Ryan ... Dan Porter, P.I.
Kevin Sorbo ... Michael Burke
William Windom ... Dr. Seth Hazlitt
Richard Yniguez ... Sgt. Ignacio Delcanto (as Richard Yñiguez)
Ramy Zada ... James Lindstrom
Sherman Augustus ... Officer Rossi
Art Cohan Art Cohan ... Jeremy Hastings (as Arthur Cohan)
Danny Woodburn ... Mr. Townsend
Wayne Bolton Wayne Bolton ... Colonel Fleming


Cabot Cove's own youngster Alex Hooper, who got his first job with virtual reality-video game expert Michael Burke, has got Jessica to write a murder script 'A Killing at Hastings Rock' for their firm Marathon to design one about. The test version has grave program flaws, which may sink the firm by missing a nearby press presentation deadline- Jessica promises to rewrite the script so the failing character is no longer needed. Two partners secretly go to Redwood Concepts where James Lindstrom tells its CEO John/Charles Crowe he demands a bonus for dealing with him now he knows about his criminal past and name change, while his partner David Salt promises 'another solution'. It works, but programing out a confusing set of pointless doors would take too long. During the reception Michael gets called by his P.I., Dan Porter, and confronts James about his contacting Crowe, who is there too; shortly after James' corps is discovered, presumably found out stealing essential source codes. ... Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

scolding | party | fingerprints | See All (3) »


Crime | Drama | Mystery


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

31 October 1993 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The building and exterior used for the software company, Marathon Images, is the same building and exterior used as the location of the Bio-Dome in Bio-Dome (1996). See more »


The 2nd time Jessica is playing the game she sees two battle axes hanging on a wall and asks that they be changed to sabers. Even though a tech says the axes are now changed to sabers, what actually appears are scimitars, which have a more pronounced curve to their blades than do sabers. See more »

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User Reviews

If Door #1 Is Locked, Then Door #2 Must Hold the Prize Body
8 October 2009 | by WeatherVioletSee all my reviews

This episode marks the last appearance of Shawn Phelan, after a very brief six-year acting career in film and television.

Doctor Seth Hazlitt (William Windom) appears briefly, he questioning Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) about the development of video gaming, before transporting her to Boston Airport, her to travel to Silicon Valley, California, to prepare for a reception honoring the adaptation of her mystery "A Killing at Hastings' Rock" to a 3-dimentional participatory game.

The son of her friend Kylie, Michael Burke (Kevin Sorbo) heads Marathon Images operations, along with developers James Lindstrom (Ramy Zada), Kate Walden (Kate McNeil), Sharon Baskin (Julia Campbell), Alex Hooper (Shawn Phelan), and David Salt (Phil Morris) as developer/business manager.

As the team explains technical methods, Jessica applies her electronic goggles and gloves to experience her book's coming to life, with characters providing clues to a murder mystery, intended for the participant to solve.

Often in film and television, we observe the plot structure of "a play within a play," with characters portraying performers, who assume the identity of a stage character. Here, we find a video game within an episode, with performers' portraying animated figures, such as Jeremy Hastings (Art Cohan), Mr. Townsend (Danny Woodburn), Colonel Fleming (Wayne Bolton), Carrie Brandeis (Shoshana Henri), Servant Girl (Heaven Brooke) and Man in Restaurant (Ryal Haakenson).

But the program contains a glitch, causing Servant Girl to skip and repeat in place, along the lines of a broken record. James and Kate begin to cast blame around the room, each pointing to Sharon, Kate especially because of jealousy over shared designs on Michael Burke.

Young Alex volunteers to assist the agreeable Jessica in a script rewrite, thus providing the easiest resolution to amend the program in time for tomorrow's open house reception. However, one of the doors inside the virtual reality room remains locked, and Jessica asks for it to be remedied, lest tentative participants believe it to remain a shelled clue and, therefore, a rip-off.

That evening, Dan Porter, P.I. (Thomas Ryan) trails James Lindstrom to the offices of John Crowley / Charles Crowe (Allan Miller), at Redwood Concepts, a rival company of Marathon Images, with David Salt's following James to join in the meeting with John Crowley, to wheel and deal over the source codes which provide the basis for the video game. When he reports back to Michael Burke, Dan Porter ups the fees instead of revealing the identity of a new file (on David Salt).

Alex and Jessica rise to the challenge, as the team amends the game's problems in the nick of time for the reception unveiling. Everyone attempts to locate James Lindstrom's source codes' diskette, but as Michael Burke searches through James' desk, he handles a 22-calibre pistol beneath pages in the top drawer of the desk, when James enters his office to confront him.

When John Crowley shows up as an uninvited guest at the reception, Michael Burke has him ushered away from the premises. But, back inside the institute, when Kate ushers guest into virtual reality booths, the second door doesn't open. Alex Hooper, succeeds to unjam it, to reveal a body, which falls into the presence of the gathering.

Sergeant Ignacio Delcanto (Richard Yniguez) and Officer Rossi (Sherman Augustus) investigate the murder, with Sergeant Delcanto's expressed delight to meet a famous author-now-turned-video-scriptwriter, whom he encourages to assist in the investigation, but who has a plane to catch back to Boston, before she hears that Michael Burke has been arrested because the murder weapon contains his fingerprints.

Jessica, again, enlists young Alex's capable assistance in studying the institute's pager system and program for clues, by trying to unlock the virtual door, to identify virtually any suspect of "A Virtual Murder."

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