Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
3 user

Southern Double-Cross 

In Australia, Jessica may be the legal owner of a valley that the sheepherders and miners are arguing over, and may be the cause of the disappearance of Jessica's lawyer.


Walter Grauman


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

On Disc

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Episode cast overview:
Angela Lansbury ... Jessica Fletcher
Briony Behets ... Melba Drummond
Donald Burton ... John Molen
Lisa Darr ... Rhonda Brock
Alastair Duncan ... Sgt. Colin Baxter
Sofie Formica ... Linda Molen
Spencer Garrett ... Nicholas Derby
Trevor Goddard ... Boyd Hendricks
Kendrick Hughes ... Donald Jarvis
Peter Lavin ... Roo Drummond
Nick Tate ... Tim Jarvis
Adam Wylie ... Boy
John Garwood ... Bartender


All Kookaburra Downs, Australia awaits Jessica, the heiress of her great uncle Eamonn McGill's trust, about to expire a century after his death. The land (the whole valley) is what the sheep farmers want to continue leasing. Her lawyer was killed in an attempt to make her miss the deadline. Mayor Tim Jarvis is blackmailed by a bauxite mining company eager to buy it via the town council. Tim's son Donald Jarvis, who embezzled town funds in his name to pay gambling debts to a loan shark, calls a meeting with Jessica. Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

4 April 1996 (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?


Trevor Goddard plays Australian Boyd Hendricks and later goes on to play an ongoing Australian character Mic Brumby on JAG (1995). See more »


Jessica tells Kookaburra's local historian that her great-uncle Eamonn McGill was her grandmother's brother. "Brother-in-law" would be more genealogically accurate, as "McGill" would only be the grandmother's surname by marriage. See more »


[first lines]
Tim Jarvis: So, the bauxite mine will not only get some of you layabouts jobs, it's gonna put Kookaburra Downs on the map so to speak.
Melba Drummond: And to hell with our sheep, right? Sheep-men have been supporting Kookaburra Downs for two centuries, Jarvis!
See more »

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User Reviews

"Who Can It Be Knocking Kookaburra Downs?"
12 February 2010 | by WeatherVioletSee all my reviews

This episode marks the last appearance by British actor Donald Burton, an Associate Artiste of the Royal Shakespeare Company for many years, who began his television career in 1962.

Kookaburra Downs, Queensland, Australia, a wild frontier settlement on the edge of mineral-wealthy sheep-grazing pastures of McGill Valley, which contains a long history of conflict with age-old feuds between miners and sheep-herders, plans its celebration of the 100th anniversary of the passing of Irish ex-patriot-turned-landowner Eamonn McGill.

Social conflict heightens when the daughter of a protective widowed father becomes entangled with the romantic advances of the son of a widowed mother, who must become "the man of the house," and the son of a widowed father, who considers him irresponsible for gambling and slacking on the family business. (Yet once again in the "MSW" series, what is needed would be someone to champion young love and to solve a mystery of a vanishing attaché case once bodies begin to pop up around Kookaburra Downs.)

John Marlin (Donald Burton) serves in the capacity of town librarian, while his young adult daughter, Linda Marlin (Sofie Formica), cares for a young female kangaroo joey, who has been abandoned along a road and arrives in very ill health.

Attorney Simon Caftcart (uncredited actor) enlists John Marlin's support to research the legend of Eamonn McGill, for any possible heirs, to establish the rightful ownership of neighboring McGill Valley, before the claim expires, on the upcoming 100th anniversary observance. (...which brings us to your assignment for the week, Question #1: to discover whether or not any McGill relatives have been introduced during the twelve seasons of "MSW." Now, let's see....)

Tim Jarvis (Nick Tate) serves as Mayor of Kookaburra Downs, and also its busy hotel owner, as citizens and visitors alike frequent the lobby tavern. Tim's son, Donald Jarvis (Kendrick Hughes), has been linked with Linda Marlin in the past and attempts to rekindle the flames of unrequited romance, while he is being hounded by freelance loan shark Boyd Hendrix (Trevor Goddard), from nearby Brisbane, which would set Kookaburra Downs somewhere around southeastern Queensland.

Melba Drummond (Briony Behets), rarely seen without her glass of spirits and cigar, serves as Deputy Mayor and supports the shepherds' movement to claim McGill Valley for the grazers once it moves into the public domain for want of property claimants. Melba's son, Roo Drummond (Peter Lavin), maintains a timid distance from Linda Marlin, as they pleasantly give one another credit for rescuing the baby female joey.

Ronda Brock (Lisa Darr) and her legal assistant, Tim Darby (Spencer Garrett), operate for Orbit Mining Company, which seeks McGill Valley for its mineral rights, and, therefore, opposes the sheep-herders with legal action.

Sergeant Colin Baxter (Alastair Duncan), a young widower who lost his child in the accident which claimed his late wife, relates well to the other widows and widowers of Kookaburra Downs, especially those who have lost their only child. A very responsible law enforcement agent, Colin rises to the occasion when altercations erupt around the community, which largely centers around Jarvis's Hotel and stable, and the library and kangaroo clinic.

The action begins after Simon Caftcart manages to locate one McGill descendant, an American author who, coincidentally, plans a book tour in Sydney, New South Wales, during the week of the expiration of the land claim, one Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury), who arrives after a perpetrator chases Simon Caftcart across the rocky terrain, causing his to lose his attaché, containing the necessary forms of protocol.

Jessica arrives in the lobby of Jarvis' Hotel to a quieting gathering of miners and shepherds, whose futures and livelihoods may rest in her hands. Tim Jarvis, Melba Drummond and John Marlin welcome her amid the troubles with their children, and when John gives Jessica a tour of the library, to her chagrin, he shows her the one known photograph of her grandmother's brother, Eamonn McGill, taken at the gallows on the day 100 years back, when he was hanged for bank robbery. (...which raises Question #2: if he were the brother of Mrs. McGill, would Eamonn's surname also have been McGill?)

The bewilderment continues, as John guides Jessica on a tour to the edge of McGill Valley, at which they stumble across the first body, which lies beneath a brush of shrubbery.

Later, in the tavern, Jessica receives a telephone call at the bar from a resident who claims to have found the attaché in the adjoining stables; when she steps back to locate the caller, she discovers a second body, suspending from the rafters on the noose of a rope. (...which brings us to Question #3: how could the killer utilize split-second timing to slay the second victim and to hang the body and escape by the time Jessica steps from one building to the next?)

After dealing with various resulting altercations, Jessica assists the hospitable Sergeant Colin Baxter in linking the murders, recovering the legal materials, figuring a workable solution for the opposing sides, and patching up young love, maladies resulting from a "Southern Double-Cross."

The cast is rounded out by Adam Wylie as Boy who announces Jessica's arrival, and John Garwood as Bartender at Jarvis' Hotel.

This episode reflects the most recent appearances to date by Sofie Formica, and by John Garwood, acting since 1964. (Adam Wylie was born in 1984, the year which the series begins.)

This also represents the second of two "MSW" guest roles each for Spencer Garrett and Nick Tate, and the third of three "MSW's" for Lisa Darr.

In addition to Donald Burton, Trevor Goddard, acting since 1989, has since passed, at the young age of 40.

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