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When Will They Ever Learn Not to Watch Television While Bathing?
WeatherViolet7 February 2010
While film fans may well have learned the lesson by now to lock the doors before showering, television continues to teach a seemingly unheeded message to lock the doors when watching a broadcast while bathing.

This episode marks a third occasion on "MSW" alone (and this also occurs upon other detective series) in which a victim admits guests while bathing, only to have one of them to happen to toss the active television set into the tub to electrocute the bather.

At a charity auction in New York City, Griswald (Robert Frank Telfer) and Roger (Ron Recasner) mingle with celebrity author Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury), they discussing her plans, when expose writer Jane Dawson (Jessica Walter) enters, to ignore everyone except Jessica because Jane wants a favor.

Jane Dawson has recently penned a scathing unauthorized biography of Senator Edward Crawford, which would derail his any plans for seeking a nomination to the White House because of his now-publicized misconduct, thanks entirely to Jane and her Research Assistant, Kristy Parrish (Andrea Thompson), who behaves nearly as cruel and manipulative as her employer, Jane, and wheels and deals with her Publisher, Mr. Stearns (Edward Penn), while Kristy claims ownership of her research.

And now Jane Dawson intends to reveal sordid details about the secret life of the now-reclusive Hollywood Actress Ellen Lombard (Barbara Bain), who along with her devoted husband, Arthur Brent (Bradford Dillman), are very dear close friends with Jessica, and occasional vacationers at Cabot Cove.

But Ellen Lombard has shielded herself from her adoring friends and public alike, in the aftermath of a stress-induced breakdown, which has led to a suicide attempt two years back, and a debilitating stroke one year back, which has impaired her ability to walk, causing Arthur Brent great determination to prevent a harsh word to be written about Ellen.

Beth Dawson (Cathy Podewell) remains about the only individual in Jane's life to consider Jane anything but a vulturous viper. Beth is raised as Jane's sister, who has accompanied her to NYC after her humble birth in Tupelo, Mississippi, when Jane was fifteen, and both outcast by her parents.

Steve Lockner (Sam Behrens) stands behind wife, Jane, who turns around and intends to divorce him with no renumeration, under the mandates created by their pre-nuptial agreement, this held by Jane's attorney, Barry McAdams (Edward Bell).

After Jessica stands up to Jane to insist that she'll never hear one negative word about Ellen Lombard from any of Ellen's friends or associates, Jane asserts that she could twist their responses about Ellen, including Jessica's very words. After all, Jane has enough power in this town to usurp another's lunch appointment with Jessica, and so she intends to do anything which she well pleases at the expense of anyone who stands in her way.

When Jessica relates to Arthur Brent her negative experience surrounding Jane's threats to slander Ellen's good name, the protective Arthur insists upon meeting Jane that night, while Steve Lockner and Beth Dawson watch from Steve's automobile, after Steve transports Beth back from her evening class at a local college but fail to identify Arthur.

After a power outage, a body is discovered in the upstairs bath, and the very friendly NYPD Lieutenant Henry Girard (David Spielberg) arrives the next morning to investigate, yielding to the visiting Jessica's willingness to assist with the case, but not to co-author his tentative manuscript compiling information about department case-work.

And so, Jessica sorts through a case involving three other writers, one accommodating, two hostile, plus messy divorce charges, secret pasts, and a devoted husband's concern about his loving wife's "Unauthorized Obituary."

The cast is rounded out by Andrew Brye as Ahmed the Doorman, and Mark Phelan as Policeman.

This episode marks the second of two "MSW" appearances each for Barbara Bain, Sam Behrens, David Spielberg, Edward Penn and Mark Phelan, the second of four for Andrew Brye in his role as Ahmed Shankar, the third of four for Jessica Walter, and the fifth of eight "MSW" guest roles for Bradford Dillman.
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Literary murder
TheLittleSongbird21 October 2017
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 8, generally one of the better and more consistent 'Murder She Wrote' seasons, started off strongly and the high standard continues with "Unauthorised Obituary". It is a fun ride and wildly entertaining, if not quite one of the season's or show's very best (though it is in the better half of the season). The thing that came off least is the ending, still a good one and neatly tied up but a little too easy to predict. Not one of the season's most surprising endings, which is somewhat disappointing considering that the season's first episode "Bite the Big Apple's" ending was one of the latter seasons' most shocking.

Angela Lansbury is terrific as always, and the supporting cast are wholly convincing in being perfect and suitably suspicious suspects. Bradford Dillman is reliably strong but the episode belongs to a truly fabulous Jessica Walter, of all the guest stars who appeared more than once Walter has to be one of the best and most consistently good.

"Unauthorised Obituary" may not end on a surprising note, but it is very lively and intriguing throughout and has enough to keep one guessing. That there are plenty of suspects with actual believable reasons to commit murder helps hugely.

Production values are slick and stylish as ever. 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. The writing is thoughtful, cosy and light-hearted while taking itself seriously as well.

Overall, great fun. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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