Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
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Stage Struck 

The murder of the leading lady's understudy disrupts rehearsals of a play starring two previously married but now warring actors.

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Cast

Episode cast overview:
... Jessica Fletcher
... Larry Matthews
... Eddie Bender (as Bob Hastings)
... T.J. Holt (as Donald Most)
... Julian Lord
... Pru Mattson
... Alexander Preston
... Maggie Tarrow
... Nicky Saperstein
... Chief Merton P. Drock
... Barbara Bennington
Richard Hoyt-Miller ... Young Reporter
Weldon Bleiler ... Doctor
Annie Gagen ... 2nd Reporter
Jeffrey Lippa ... 1st Reporter
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Storyline

Jessica visits a rural revival of a play she was in with her late husband Frank and present stars Julian Lord and Maggie Tarrow. On opening night, something scares Maggie out of performing, and her understudy Barbara Bennington is killed by cyanide poisoning of her red wine on stage. Local chief of police Merton P. Drock, who plays the butler, never solved a real murder, but trusts Jessica will provide him with the 'script', yet keeps on making precipitous conclusions and accusations as the links appear with the breaking off of the productions 30 years ago, when Maggie took a year off by ruse, as now appears to give birth in secret, plausibly to fake reporter T.J. Holt. Julian prevents a second cyanide killing which would murder Maggie. Who knew and resented what exactly? Written by KGF Vissers

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Crime | Drama | Mystery

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TV-PG | See all certifications »
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14 December 1986 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

 
Community theatre murder
4 August 2017 | by See all my reviews

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.

Season 3 has better episodes than "Stage Struck", but it's a decent watch and livened up by many things. The script is an uneven one. Some of it provokes thought and is suitably light-hearted and amiable as well as catty, other parts gets melodramatic and overwrought, even for an episode based in the theatre and featuring a former husband and wife team at war.

Also found the identity of the murderer very easy to figure out. The number of suspects was not a large one in the first place and very quickly narrowed it down to two (it was figuring out who was the intended target that was more a mystery), being the only ones with strong enough motives to kill. The motive is not as foreseeable but what should have been a denouement that should have been serious came over as too serious and melodramatic with the motive itself more something you would find in an episode of 'Dr Phil'.

On the other hand, it was very easy to love the community theatre setting, which was it seemed a really nice nod to Angela Lansbury's extensive theatre backgrounds. That Jessica and Frank flashback was very sweet.

Production values are high in quality as to be expected, with slick photography while the 80s hairstyles and fashions are a hoot (though more glamorous than most episodes of 'Murder She Wrote'). 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.

Story-wise, it is good fun and particularly livened up by the presence and chemistry between Eleanor Parker and Edward Mulhare.

Angela Lansbury is great as always, while a very funny John Schuck steals scenes. It is Parker and Mulhare's show though, they absolutely go for it and seeing them out-act each other and seeing such fiery chemistry between them and everybody else was a huge part of the fun.

In summary, decent if not a favourite by any stretch. 7/10 Bethany Cox


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