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S01E02 – Deadly Lady

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I am pleased to report that the second episode of MSW takes place in the murderous tranquil surrounds of Cabot Cove. Better yet, it takes place during a hurricane!

 Life Lesson #7: A hurricane is no excuse for missing a deadline.

Jess gets a visit from her crotchety friend Ethan, a local fisherman who would not have been out of place in the ‘Old Gregg’ episode of Mighty Boosh, who tells her that although he’s glad she’s alright, he’s a bit fed up because some clueless city folk have gotten themselves caught out on their boat in the hurricane.

The next morning, Jess goes out for her morning run and comes back to find a hobo in the garden, offering to do jobs in exchange for a plate of bacon and eggs. Life Lesson #7:If a strange man appears in my garden looking like a hobo, offer him a bacon sandwich in exchange for fixing my oven. Totally going to try this lesson out.

Ralph the hobo tells Jess about his life of hobo’in, but gets called out. Well, actually, JB accuses Ralph of being full of clam dip, which I’m going to take as being almost rhyming slang for something else. Ralph admits that he’s new to the hobo scene, but is interrupted by a call from Jess’s pal sheriff Amos Tupper. THERE’S A-DOINS A-TRANSPIRIN.

Many people might stop and question why the town sheriff is calling a widower substitute teacher to come and consult on a possible murder. I call these people Al Quaeda. When there’s something strange in the neighbourhood and Bill Murray’s not available, who are you gonna call?

Life Lesson #8: The best entrance is made on a bicycle.

It transpires that the boat stuck out in the middle of the hurricane contained millionaire Stephen Earle and his four daughters, Grace, Lisa, Nan and Maggie. They tell the sheriff that their father was swept overboard during the hurricane, but Amos just isn’t so sure. Ethan the fisherman accuses him of reading too many JB Fletcher novels, to which Amos says “Shows how much you know, I haven’t read any.”

Ethan the Fisherman: Oracle of Truth.

Regaining her composure after this appalling attack, Jess offers to let the sisters stay at her house. After all, she’s already got a hobo – chuck in some murder suspects and you’ve got the best Pictionary game EVER. The sisters decline, choosing to stay in one of Cabot Cove’s luxurious B&B’s.

Job done, Jess goes home to find her hobo fast asleep in her hammock, listening to Mozart. I’m starting to wonder about this Hire a Hobo business plan… anyway, they bond over a cup of tea before the hobo goes off to do some hobo business, which sounds like a euphemism but I swear it isn’t. As Jess does the washing up she has an epiphany – THE SISTERS ARE LYING.

Ethan,  Jess and the Sheriff pay the sisters (minus Nan who has inexplicably disappeared) and Maggie confesses. She shot her father, dagnabbit! Amos promptly arrests her, but Jess is less than excited. There’s something rotten in the state of Cabot Cove…

Jess’s ruminations are interrupted by the arrival of the press, who have naturally gotten the story completely wrong. Jess notices the picture of the dead man, who was an actor before he was a millionaire. An actor, you say? Could he act a hobo, you ponder?

Ponder no more. Dead millionaire guy is in fact the hobo living in Jess’s garden. WHAT ARE THE ODDS OF THAT. Jess goes home to confront him, but he has yet to return from his hobo business, which is starting to look shadier by the minute.  Ethan accuses Jess of going round and round like a roman candle on the Fourth of July, which I’m choosing to take as a compliment, but reluctantly agrees to help Jess look the next morning.

By the next morning of course, the hobo is less hobo and more dead guy floating in the water, and Jess is MAD. She oversees the interrogation of the guilty sister Maggie, until Maggie is devastated to hear that her father has turned up dead. Turns out, she lied about killing her father (as you do). They cooked up a fiendish plot to try to trap a gold digging so-and-so who was after Maggie’s sister Nan. Jess agrees and explains to Amos that the millionaire was a hobo hanging out in her garden, therefore couldn’t have been shot on the boat.

The Sheriff takes advice well.

While the Sheriff licks his wounds, Jess is hot on the scent of a lead – but she’s not too busy to take the time to verbally bitch slap the husband of one of the sisters:

Douchebag: You know, Mrs Fletcher, you seem like a very sweet old gal. This is a family affair. We don’t need strangers poking their noses where they don’t belong.

Our Hero: I beg your pardon Mr Shelby, but Mr Earle was no stranger, not to me. And as for my nose, it’s right where it belongs!

YOU GOT SCHOOLED, FOOL.

On a roll, she drops another bomb on the gold digging wannabe husband of Nan Earle, who proclaims his innocence. He knew about the murder because someone pretending to be a reporter (but who was actually the millionaire hobo) rang him up to get a quote. He tells Jess he gave him a quote alright, but as she is a lady he won’t repeat it – to which JB says “I am familiar with most Anglo-Saxon words.”

BANG.  Humbled, the Golddigger tells Jess what really happened – he flew up to see his beloved, who met him at the airport after being filled in on the Fiendish Plot put together by the fake millionaire hobo journalist and his daughter. NOTHING SUSS.

Fuelled with this new information, Jess goes to visit the Sheriff, but is stalled by the Demonic Deputy of Doom…

***Deleted scene from The Expendables***

…but defeats her through the cunning use of eavesdropping. She finds the Sheriff on the beach with Ethan hunting for a clue. He gets handed one, in the form of a pair of shoes, but it takes Jess to work out that “if you find a heelless shoe, the heel is bound to be somewhere. (Life Lesson #9). The Sheriff wonders who they belong to, but Jess is naturally fifty million steps ahead – the shoes belong to Nan. The plot, as they say, thickens.

The Sheriff and Jess visit Nan at the hotel, and after a bit of Cinderella work on the part of Amos, he arrests Nan for murder, much to Jess’s chagrin. Despite this, she plays along – she’s a lady with a plan. Not only can she trap the killer, she can rid Nan of this pesky gold-digger once and for all.

Terry, the One True Love of Nan’s life comes to see the Sheriff at the police station to protest loudly her innocence – until Amos wonders if they were in on it together, at which point Loverboy heads for the hills. Meanwhile, Jess pays a visit to Nan’s siblings who have just pitched in drunk as lords and plants the seed – the police have found the heel of a shoe, but no shoe.

The trap set, Jess goes home to wait. And sure enough, the killer arrives.

Life Lesson #10: Black clothes and a beanie = culprit.

Guys, it was the sister all along! Not only did she hatch a Fiendish Plot with her father, she hatched an Even More Fiendish Plot on her own! Unfortunately for Maggie, there is no Plot too Fiendish for our heroine to solve.

Case over, and another win to the good guys, JB celebrates by going fishing with her pal Ethan. And that, dear reader, is the end of another epic episode of Murder She Wrote.

Catch you next week.

S01E01 The Death of Sherlock Holmes (Part Two)

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And now, the thrilling conclusion. Hold on to your hats!

JB Fletcher is in (to quote Ned Flanders) a dilly of a pickle. Her dopey loser nephew Grady is under suspicion of murder, and now she’s starting to fall in love with her publisher. AWKWARD. Her publisher, Cornelius Snodgrass III Preston Giles, puts the moves on her but JB is a STRONG INDEPENDENT WOMAN and busts out the Cabot Cove motto:

Life Lesson #4: “Flowers that bloom too quickly are fair game for a late frost.”

You know it’s serious when someone is busting out the gardening metaphor. Stung by this blow, the Gilester leaves Jess in the cab and tells the driver to see her home.

Screw that. Fletcher is on the case! Jess goes to see Grady’s boss who was mistakenly thought to be shot in the face in the last episode. Unhappy with that, Jess decides that it’s time to do a little snooping of her own and enlists the help of Grady to snoop around his office.

Life Lesson #5: Vigilante justice is socially acceptable if you're a woman in your mid 60s. (Let's all agree now not to tell my mother about this okay?)

Jess overhears a phone conversation with The Wicked Witch (see above helpful screenshot) and decides to tail her. Like I said folks, there ain’t no justice like vigilante justice.

The Wicked Witch (whose real name is Ashley, but let’s face it, who cares right?) nicks onto a bus, leaving The Fletch stranded. After many failed attempts to catch a taxi, she jumps on a bus that conveniently follows the same route. Regularly running public transport at night? Clearly this episode was not filmed in Melbourne.

Now here comes my favourite part. Jess sees Ashley get off the bus in front and immediately tells Tom to stop. (Jess knows the name of every public transportation worker in New York. The woman is amazing).

As she gets off, so does this guy.

I'm not kidding, the music they played for this part was the definition of ominous.

Hot on the tail of a suspect, Jess is walking the streets of Manhattan when SHE IS ALMOST MUGGED BY ANDY GARCIA.

Andy Garcia, looking suspiciously like a Backstreet Boy Gone Bad

I KNOW. Jess tries to bash them over the head with her handbag, (which I’m assuming was this lady’s inspiration) but she’s dragged into an alleyway. Andy Garcia tells her (and I’m not kidding) that he’s gonna give her a free blood test.

ENTER HER HERO.

TAKE THAT, 1984 AUDIENCE STEREOTYPES.

Saved by a black man. That must have blown everyone’s mind in 1984. Someone should build a time machine and go tell them who the president is. Wait, I’m getting sidetracked.

Crisis totally averted, Jess is sure she’s got proof to get Grady off the hook. She confronts The Wicked Witch and her accomplice (remember that Broadway producer at the party last week? Yeah, that guy). They admit to stealing financial info from the Captain, Grady’s boss, but not the murders.

Murders? Hell yeah! While JB is trying to get Grady off the hook, her buddy the police chief goes to visit the Captain on his boat but discovers that the Captain is no more. He has ceased to be. He is in fact, an ex-captain. Happily for some, this gets Grady off the hook, and also means that the Wicked Witch and her Broadway pal are off the hook too.

Having got Grady off the hook is enough for Jess though, and she decides to head back to Cabot Cove. But not before a little publisher love.

Grady and his bit of fluff see our heroine off on the train. Jess is, frankly, stoked to be getting the hell out of NYC and back to her small town ways.

But it’s not to be. Because just before the train departs, she realises who the murderer is.

Have you guessed it?

Life Lesson #6 : Be careful who you kiss, because they may turn out to have done it.

Jess is gutted, and after a brief moment where the audience can’t decided whether Preston is going to push her into the pool or not, he confesses. Motives are irrelevant. Bastard! He turns himself into police and the story is wrapped up in a neat little bow.

Victory hers, Jess finally manages to get on the train and head home to her beloved Cabot Cove. Just before the train leaves, Grady’s bit of fluff turns up. The police need Jess’s help. Two wrestlers were found dead at Madison Square Garden, one stabbed the other drowned.

Spoiler alert: the next episode doesn’t contain any wrestlers. I know, I’m gutted too.

Until next time, dear reader.

S01E01 – The Death of Sherlock Holmes (Part One)

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Of all my brilliant ideas (MacGyver the Musical and the Spock Slap just to name the other two), blogging my thoughts on watching every single episode of Murder She Wrote is definitely in the top three. I thought I was alone in my adoration of the work of JB Fletcher, but then one of my best friends bashfully admitted to me that when she was pregnant her favourite thing to do was to sit down in front  of the TV with a cuppa and watch Murder She Wrote.

“Pregnant?” I exclaimed. “I once considered chucking a sickie so I could stay home and watch it with the neighbours cat!” (True story).

The more I investigated, I realised I wasn’t alone. There were plenty of others just like me who secretly loved the adventures of Jessica Fletcher ! It turned out I had nothing to be ashamed of, apart from walking down Bourke St at 2am humming the theme song of Murder She Wrote just to prove a point I’d already forgotten.

So with that, let’s begin. And a good place to do that is Episode 1, The Phantom Menace The Murder of Sherlock Holmes.

The first ever episode of Murder She Wrote was a two part special, and brought an end to the dark days when Cabot Cove was just a little dot on the Maine coast, and not the crime capital of the universe (until Mount Thomas overthrew it in the late 90s).

This episode is barely set in Cabot Cove though. Instead, our heroine is thrust into Big Bad New York City after her wimpy nephew Grady shows her book to his piece of fluff, and she manages to get it published. (This is the view I have formed of Grady after one episode, and is in no way due to him being an accountant).

After the book is published, and (naturally) becomes an overnight sensation, JB is off to NYC to meet with publishers and journalists. But not before a makeover montage.

Life Lesson #1: There will always be people who think smearing mud on your face will solve your problem.

While in NYC, JB gives a whole bunch of interviews, and shows those uppity journos just who’s boss. Our heroine is then invited by her publisher to a fancy party, conveniently hosted by Grady’s boss, to apologise for the behaviour of those big city media types who have been so terribly rude. Only on arriving at the house for the weekend is she informed that it is a fancy dress party.

Life Lesson #2: There will always be a spare 1980s Godmother Costume for those who dare to seek it.

At this point, I would have been happy for just about everyone at the fancy dress party to get bumped off, but my particular favourite was Humpty Dumpty who was introduced to JB as a ‘master punner’ and carried around a pot of ‘wallflowers’. If any character deserves to be killed off, it’s a punner. Later I discovered that Humpty Dumpty was actually Leonard from Community and all the kings horses and all the kings men couldn’t put my mind back together again.

What it is, soul brother! (If you don’t watch Community, then I can’t help you)

Whilst at this soiree, the Evil Stepmother from Snow White spills champagne down her dress and JB insists she help to clean her up. Life Lesson #3:  Lemons, milk, soda and eggs “will get the spots out of a leopard.” I don’t know about you, but the next time I see someone spill champagne I’m going to be ALL OVER IT. Thanks Mrs Fletcher! Crisis completely averted, the guests beg the token musical friend (a wannabe Broadway producer) to serenade them while they dance the night away.

Cut to a convenient shot of a clock, and it’s 6:30 in the morning. Humpty is passed out on the couch (typical), and our heroine is out on her morning run again (no hangover for JB Fletcher!) before the serenity is destroyed by an inconsiderate corpse floating in the pool, completely ruining the morning of Grady’s girlfriend. The police are called, and the chief has THE AUDACITY to snark her book and then ask for her help.

JB Fletcher gives the Chief of Police a Care Bear Stare.

Jess gently sets the chief on the right direction, but then bales back to New York. The big city has left a sour taste in her mouth and she’s eager to get back to Cabot Cove, although she’s sorry to leave her publisher. LOVE IS IN THE AIR.

Or at least it is,until Jess is boarding her train and Grady’s bit off fluff turns up to inform her that Grady has been arrested. Now me, I would have said “Serves him right, wimpy git,” and gone back to Cabot Cove to have a quiet shandy with the Chief. Not our heroine though. She bolts from the station, goes straight to the police and shows them how it’s done.

Even from Episode 1, JB Fletcher has to wrangle the police into line…

Grady unfortunately gets bailed, and they go off to have a council of war to plan their next move. At this point I think the New York detectives are giving Grady WAY TOO MUCH CREDIT, but that’s just me. If you ask me, they should have arrested his bit of fluff Kit for referring to sex as ‘bedroom Olympics’. Mrs Fletcher, on the other hand, has other ideas. She’s just spotted the Evil Stepmother across the room…

And with that, the To Be Continued sign appears. And so it will, dear reader. So it will.