Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
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Who Threw the Barbitals in Mrs. Fletcher's Chowder? 

When Amos' sister & her in-laws descend upon Cabot Cove, Jessica hosts a dinner party with homicidal results, leaving the finger pointing at the Sheriff's sister.


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

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Episode cast overview:
Angela Lansbury ... Jessica Fletcher
Tom Bosley ... Sheriff Amos Tupper
Colleen Camp ... Dep. Marigold Feeney
Henry Gibson ... Harold Banner
Geoffrey Lewis ... Kenny Oakes
Anne Meara ... Winnie Tupper Banner
Barbara Rhoades ... Flo Oakes
Donnelly Rhodes ... Ed Bellamy
Guy Stockwell ... Elmo Banner
William Windom ... Dr. Seth Hazlitt
Dennis Bailey ... Deputy Grover
Joseph V. Perry Joseph V. Perry ... Ralph


Sheriff Amos Tupper is just working flat out since a deputy gave notice when his younger sister, Winnie Tupper Banner, arrives, having left her husband. He dumps her on Jessica, who is fighting a deadline. When she takes her to Dr. Seth Hazlitt for ulcer medicine prescription, she is relieved that the old bachelor-gentleman enjoys her company and leave Winnie with him. Amos allows overbearing Marigold Feeney's "you're no bigot, are you?"" routine to railroad him into hiring her as deputy. Later, he finds himself the last in line for sleeping accommodation in his own home after the unannounced arrival of brother-in-law Elmo Banner, manager of a drugstore, his half-brother and business partner, pharmacist Harold Banner, sister Flo Oakes and her husband, Kenny. Winnie refuses to talk to her in-laws, even announces a divorce, Elmo mumbles 'you'd have to kill me', then she runs off to Seth. Next day, Jessica offers to cook a seafood feast for the unappreciative, grumpy Banner bunch, who ... Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

3 January 1988 (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?


The title is an allusion to the Irish folk song "Who Threw the Overalls in Mrs. Murphy's Chowder?" written in 1898 by George L. Giefer. See more »


Doc Hazlett arrives at the dinner party and knows all of the Sheriff's relatives, but he had never met them. See more »


[first lines]
Winnie Tupper Banner: Taxi?
Ralph: Uh, yeah. Where to?
Winnie Tupper Banner: The sheriff's office, please.
See more »

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User Reviews

Homicidal dinner
24 August 2017 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee 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.

"Who Threw the Barbitals in Mrs Fletcher's Chowder?" stands out among the rest, in that it has the longest title of all the 'Murder She Wrote' episodes put together and it is certainly an unforgettable one, no matter how slightly generic it is. Is it one of my favourites of Season 4? No. Is it one of my favourites of the show in general? Again no. Is it a good episode? Yes, a very good one in fact.

Colleen Camp's character doesn't really go anywhere in terms of character direction, Camp does play her quite well but the character isn't particularly interesting. Also the writers maybe could have done better in knowing what to do and what direction to take with Winnie and kept it consistent. Then again that may be just me.

On the other hand, the production values are slick and stylish as ever with 'Murder She Wrote'. Loved the rustic Cabot Cove setting and the strong sense of close knit community, a huge part of the charm of the Cabot Cove episodes. 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 thought-provoking, light-hearted and amiable and the story doesn't have a dull moment and entertains and shocks with a clever solution, even though one is amazed at Jessica's life not being jeopardised considering what she does at the end.

Angela Lansbury delights as usual in one of her justifiably best-remembered roles. Tom Bosley and William Windom are reliably solid as more-than-just-bumbling-sheriff-cliché Amos and curmudgeonly Seth, and the supporting cast, particularly a very likable Anne Meara, a love-to-hate Donnelly Rhodes and Henry Gibson likewise.

In summation, very good episode. 8/10 Bethany Cox

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