Geoffrey Presser's struggling San Francisco company has choreographer Edward Hale recreate the legendary Diabolical Dance, originally created for a czar's mistress. The dance has been performed exactly twice, each time abandoned after the lead ballerina died. (Jessica Fletcher correctly diagnoses a heart attack from a film made during an attempted 2nd production.) Jessica also discovers a curtain 'accident' is staged by Presser for publicity during the first rehearsal, viewed by prospective investors. Presser's wife, Claudia Cameron, is pushed from the lead role by a younger and craftier Lily Roland, to the exasperation of the lead male, Damien Bolo, prefers the mature dancer and barely tolerates the upstart's awkwardness. Lily dies during the premiere; she was poisoned, but not from the real rose that Bolo had substituted for a prop. Jessica examines the company and events with a critically sharper eye for ballet than SFPD detective lieutenant Martin Kinicki. Written by
KGF Vissers (edited by GVP)
The Los Angeles Orpheum theater, originally built as a combination vaudeville and feature film venue, located on the South end of the theatrical Broadway Main Street, has been used for television locations. The Orpheum was where the "Gumm (Garland) Sisters were performing their vaudeville act in 1935 when Busby Berkeley was told by his MGM Boss, "catch their act, report if the kids should get an audition!" .... Berkeley drove from the studio, parking in the lot across the street, buying a ticket at the box office, entering the theater to wait, and then catch their act! Returning to MGM the same afternoon, Berkeley reported to Louis B. Mayer, and arranged with their mother to bring the sisters to the Culver City Studio for a meeting and audition. Afterwards, the sisters were signed to a contract, appearing in a short musical filmed in Santa Barbara, California. "Murder, She Wrote -Danse Diabolical" used the theater because the stage had an under stage with a stage trap opening centered in the stage's middle floor. See more »
The "fast-acting" poison used to kill the victim was Thallium. Thallium is a heavy metal, which takes a long time to kill its victims. See more »
Have always been quite fond of 'Murder She Wrote'. It is a fun and relaxing watch that makes you think as you try to unwind in the evening. If one wants more complex, twisty mysteries with lots of tension and suspense 'Murder She Wrote' may not be for you, but if you want something light-hearted and entertaining but still provide good mysteries 'Murder She Wrote' fits the bill just fine.
"Danse Diabolique" is not just a strong contender for the best episode of Season 8 but is also among my favourite ever 'Murder She Wrote' episodes. Have seen it quite a few times, and it never fails to be so much fun and with its fair share of suspense. It never fails to surprise either, sure the killer wasn't a huge shock to me on first viewing (though it isn't glaringly obvious, it just wasn't quite one of those left-floored ones) but this didn't matter because it was still a clever solution and the suspects list is a long one which always helps not making things obvious.
The mystery is incredibly compelling for all the above reasons, as well as the conflict revolving around one of the show's nastiest ever victims and one of the show's cleverest murders. Loved the incorporation of the ballet, which was beautifully choreographed and the music reminiscent of Tchaikovsky (like a re-do of the "Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture") is outstanding, some of the show's best use of music.
Angela Lansbury can't be faulted and of a great supporting cast Nancy Valen, enjoying herself immensely, and Marisa Berenson, looking gorgeous, are especially excellent.
Production values are high in quality as to be expected, with slick photography and a great setting that has so much colour and fun but also an equal amount of character tension under the surface. The music has energy and has presence but also not making the mistake of over-scoring, while it is hard to forget or resist the theme tune.
Writing is tight, thought-provoking and typically amiable and the characters and chemistry are good fun.
In summation, fantastic and a 'Murder She Wrote' high point. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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