Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
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Murder in F Sharp 

Dennis Stanton investigates when a prominent pianist's wife is murdered shortly after the pianist's hands are badly burnt.


Kevin G. Cremin


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

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Episode cast overview:
Angela Lansbury ... Jessica Fletcher
Keith Michell ... Dennis Stanton
Stephen Caffrey ... Alex Seletz
Melinda Culea ... Nicole Gary
Joe Dorsey ... Ben Devlin
Ricardo Montalban ... Vaacclav Maryska
Patricia Neal ... Milena Maryska
James Sloyan ... Robert Butler
Ken Swofford ... Lt. Catalano
Hallie Todd ... Rhoda Markowitz
Dean R. Miller Dean R. Miller ... Charlie
Anne Gee Byrd ... Widow
Aaron Heyman Aaron Heyman ... Mr. Morris
John Kerry ... Security Guard


In San Francisco, insurance investigator and one-time jewel thief Dennis Stanton investigates the case of classical pianist Vaclav Maryska whose hands were severely burned in a fire in his posh apartment. Those hands were insured for $10 million and Dennis' boss desperately wants him to find a way to have the payment canceled. Maryska's marriage to his wife, Milena, is strained and she in turn is alienated from her son from a previous marriage, Alex Seletz. When Milena is found dead, Alex is arrested for his mother's murder but Dennis isn't sure they have the right man in custody and suspects Maryska of the crime. A medical diagnosis seems to confirm his theory but how he will prove it is another matter. He sets a trap for him. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

16 December 1990 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


When Dennis was summarizing Vaclav's mistakes, he referred to the step-son but called him Vaclav's son-in-law. See more »


[first lines]
Ben Devlin: Nobody, but nobody plays Mozart like Vaclav Maryska did in hsi heyday. You're in for a rare treat, Jess.
See more »

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User Reviews

Give That Maestro a Hand
20 April 2010 | by WeatherVioletSee all my reviews

Cabot Cove Gazette Publisher Bennett J. "Ben" Devlin (Joe Dorsey) visits the residence of Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) with a record album of a Mozart performance by Vaacclav Maryska (pronounced Vas'lav Mah-ris'kah).

But Ben's nephew Bill has mistakingly inserted a hard rock album into the Maryska sleeve and the Maryska into his album jacket, and so Jessica and Ben discuss the pianist/conductor, who has been involved in a brutal murder case, which Dennis Stanton has been investigating, and Dennis, coincidentally, reports to Jessica via an audio-cassette tape, which she and Ben listen to instead of the concert recording....

One night in San Francisco, California, Vaacclav Maryska (Ricardo Montalban) prepares for a concert with his former student and current romantic interest, Nicole Gary (Melinda Culea), at his side although she admires his talent above his appeal.

Milena Maryska (Patricia Neal) approaches husband, Vaacclav, backstage with his assistant, Mr. Fritz Morris (Aaron Heyman), at her side to inform Vaacclav that Milena has no intention of staying to hear his performance.

When Vaacclav enters the stage, he begins his piano performance and abruptly ends it, canceling his concert before a stunned audience. From here, he returns to his apartment under the influence of alcohol and carries another bottle into his study after another confrontation with Milena, and before a fire erupts to scald his hands.

Robert Butler (James Sloyan) becomes hysterical upon learning the news the next day because Vaacclav Maryska holds a $ten million policy from his Consolodated Casualty Insurance Company to protect Vaacclav's hands from injury, and so agent Dennis Stanton (Keith Michell) promises to investigate matters completely.

While Dennis visits Vaacclav at the Maryska suite, Alex Seletz (Stephen Caffrey), the son of Milena from a former marriage, enters to see Vaacclav even though Alex has been estranged from his mother for several years because authorities have charged him with illegal chemical substance abuse although he has served his time and has also been cured of addiction through rehabilitation.

And so, besides the Stanton "Bookend" regulars, we are left with a small cast and an even smaller number of suspects once the body is discovered, the victim of a gunshot wound, which Lieutenant Catalano (Ken Swofford) investigates and questions Dennis Stanton once again about his purpose at the scene of the crime in this downbeat episode centering around marital and family strife, hopeless stations in life, and graphic depiction of human suffering.

Catalano nabs his suspect, and Stanton immediately names his primary suspect and continues his investigation behind Catalano's back, and without the Lieutenant's blessing.

For reasons as these, "Murder in F Sharp" may slip into your "MSW's" bin of "Bottom of the Barrel Week, Worst Episode #4 or so" although, of course, some may rate this otherwise, which is fine because it does have its moments.

One bright spot here would have to be the scene at Consolodated Casualty Insurance Company among Stanton, Butler and Rhoda Markowitz (Hallie Todd), who also reads Dennis like a book while serving as his right-hand receptionist.

This time, when Dennis asks Rhoda to telephone a certain doctor, she asks which profession Dennis will be impersonating and from where he'll be calling. When he answers "a doctor in a hospital," she immediately retrieves a hospital sound-effects tape from her cache to insert into an audio-cassette player so that "Doctor Dennis" may telephone from a "hospital."

A second bright spot comes from the character of Charlie (Dean R. Miller), a fast-talking doorman, who lightens this heavy episode and conducts an investigation of his own once Widow (Anne Gee Byrd) spots Stanton's snooping around the apartment building.

And a third plus would have to be that it's very nice to see Patricia Neal and Ricardo Montalban on this series. (Extra points for their appearances.)

Nicole Gary and Alex Seletz add plot twists of their own, while Dennis Stanton faces the barrel of a pistol upon confronting his primary suspect in a "Murder in F Sharp."

The cast is rounded out by John Kerry as Security Guard, and Alan Baltes as Waiter.

This episode represents the most recent appearance to date by Dean R. Miller, as well as the first of two "MSW" appearances each for Melinda Culea, Alan Baltes and Stephen Caffrey, the sixth of six for Joe Dorsey (and his third of three as Cabot Cove Newspaper Editor Bennett J. Devlin), the fifth of seven for Hallie Todd (and her fourth of six as Rhoda Markowitz), the fifth of seven for James Sloyan (and his third of five as Robert Butler), the sixth of nine for Keith Michell (each in his role as Dennis Stanton), and the eighth of eleven "MSW's" for Ken Swofford (and his fourth of six as Lieutenant Catalano).

Ricardo Montalban, acting in film and on television since 1942, and Aaron Heyman, acting since 1987, have unfortunately since passed.

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