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I’m pulling a Channel 9…

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Two week mid-season hiatus gang, while I go forth to Tasmania and rampage in celebration of my brother’s enagement.

Rest assured, unlike any good show Channel 9 ever aired, I will be back the week after next.

 

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S01E09 – Death Takes a Curtain Call

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I’m pretty excited guys. This week’s episode contains two of my favourite things in the whole wide world: ballet and Communist plots. Naturally, JB is in the middle of it.

Jess has been invited to a touring Russian ballet production in Boston by fellow Cabot Covian and former Russian, Leo Peterson, but all is not as it seems. (Ethan can’t understand why she’s going to see a Russian ballet. Ethan is more concerned with the application of pie to his belly). While Ethan moans about his lack of pie, Jess flicks on the news to see a large protest going on outside the theatre where the ballet is to be held. Apparently not everyone is excited that the ballet has come to town.

Undeterred, Jess and Leo head to Boston. When they pick up their programs, Jess’s eagle eye notices that the man distributing the programs, Art Director Palmer Eddington (whose real name is Paul Rudd – I nearly had a heart attack in the opening credits) pointedly gives Leo one from the bottom of the pile. MYSTERIOUS.

Backstage, Kerry Armstrong is a Russian ballerina named Irina being hit on by a capitalist pig-dog (American). Yes, THAT Kerry Armstrong. I KNOW!

And the winner of most unexpected actress to appear in an episode of Murder She Wrote goes to….

Before the Americanski can get any ideas, KGB guard and all-around Bond Villan Serge Berensky steps in and sends him on his way. Can’t have that sort of business happening backstage! Irina goes to visit her friends Natalia and Alexander, who have big plans for the curtain call of tonight’s show – they’re defecting the hell out of Russia and coming to live in the West.

In the audience, Jess notices a number scribbled in Leo’s program but before she can ask him about it the ballet montage starts. And you must never interrupt a ballet montage.

While the audience enjoys the montage, there are a-doin’s a-transpirin backstage. Berensky and the capitalist pig-dog, whose name is Skip Fleming, are circling each other spoiling for a fight. Outside, the leader of the protesters, Velma Rodecker, is banging to be let in. She’s about to give up when someone helpfully leaves a window open. Palmer Eddington disappears backstage and spots Berensky looking the worse for wear.

All this mysteriousness is too much for Leo, who wanders off himself, leaving Jess to enjoy the ballet montage on her own. When it finally ends Jess is still on her own, wondering just what it is she’s signed up for. WORST DATE EVER. The dancers come out for the curtain call, but the stars of the show are nowhere to be found. Happy to take their place, Velma Rodecker runs onstage, bellows something about Reds under her bed, and is escorted off by police.

Seriously, you don’t get this in Cabot Cove.

Before Jess has time to think, Leo reappears to drag her out of the theatre, and in the nick of time too. KGB kingpin Anatole Karzof (who bears a little resemblance to the Fatman from Jake and the Fatman), is on the hunt. His two star ballet dancers have disappeared, and his right-hand-man has just turned up dead.

Eventually the penny drops for Jess, when she realises her chauffeur looks just a bit like a certain missing ballet dancer. That, and she’s sitting next to his wife. Leo apologises for involving her in such a dangerous scheme, but JB doesn’t care. They turn the radio on and learn about Berensky’s death. Talk about a spanner in the works. Jess takes charge and sends them back to Cabot Cove to be looked after by Ethan while she pokes about in Boston.

Back in the theatre Jess asks for the man in charge. The FBI man wants her out, but in a conveniently happy twist of fate, Colonel Karzof is a massive JB Fletcher fan and insists she be allowed to help.

FANBOI.

Together they visit the scene of the crime, and while Anatole is convinced Alexander is guilty, JB is quick to point out there were other people with motives. Like Anatole.

Anatole is delighted to be accused of murder! Honestly, the sexual tension between these two is insane.

Jess rents a hotel room for a couple of hours. See! Oh, it’s just so she can call Ethan, who is less than excited about having some Soviet houseguests.

A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do…

She finally gets Ethan to do what he’s damn well told, before an incessant knock at the door. It’s the friendly neighbourhood KGB. Anatole asks JB if she’d like to check out his lab report, if you know what I mean.

LOOK AT THAT FACE.

Down at the local copshop, Jess is hot on the scent and manages to cast doubt over Mr FBI and Mr KGB’s theory that Alexander and Natalia killed Berensky. She does such a good job, that they all agree that it must have been the crazy protestor lady, and go off to prove it. Anatole offers JB a nightcap (and by nightcap, I think you know what I mean), but our gal takes a raincheck, and heads out on the town. She’s got questions for Cornelius Snodgrass III Palmer Eddington. P-Ed admits his involvement in the defection, and tells Jess about how he saw Berensky looking a bit beaten up. Eureka! says Jess (not really, but you know what I mean).

Back in the Cove, the sheriff is of course making trouble. Poor Ethan is stressed out trying to keep Amos from sticking his nose in and flirting with Natalia.  Amos asks him if he’d seen any Russians lurking around in the shadows, Ethan helpfully points out that he’s not sure he knows what a Russian looks like.

After having breakfast with Anatole (ooer), Our Heroine is on the road back to the Cove. Her spidey senses were telling her that Ethan was in over his head. Everyone wants to hear about the murder in Boston (and by everyone, I mean Amos), but Jess tells him it was Velma-the-protestor. Privately, she tells Ethan that ‘s not entirely true.

That night, she cooks up dinner for everyone to celebrate Defection ’84, but is rudely interrupted by a man at the door looking to buy a part for his boat from Ethan. Ethan tells him to ring someone else, and Jess shows him to the phone. She asks him if he’s from down east, and he replies no, he’s from Maine. Jess and Ethan have a good chuckle over this after he leaves – apparently it’s the same thing. Crazy Maine wit right there.

The next morning, there is a familiar banging on Jess’s door. And by Jess’s door….well, I’m sure you can guess. Anatole, along with Sheriff Amos, were there to see if Jess had any reds under her beds. Well, Anatole was. Amos was more concerned with muffins under the towel, and fair enough too really.

Anatole informs Jess that the missing dancers are back on his radar, and Leo swoops in to take the blame.

And the winner of worst Eastwood impression goes to…

Anatole tells Jess the arrest of Leo was a shot across her bow…and by that I think you know what I mean. The sexual tension has somewhat cooled.

Jess lets them all out, then gets on the blower to Boston – specifically to Irina. JB tells her that all is well with the two runaways, and that maybe she could come up to Cabot Cove and visit them. Seed planted in Irina’s mind (and the mind of the man eavesdropping on the call), Jess goes off on her run, followed by another mystery man.

Anatole is unhappy. Not only can he not find his missing ballerinas, but now Irina has gone missing too. Amos meanwhile is loving life.

Amos, not being browbeaten by Our Heroine.

Irina is closer than he thinks – she’s on her way to the cove with the American pig-dog who was flirting with her at the start of the show. The gang’s all here – someone must be guilty.

Well, whaddya know…

I’ll be honest. I called this one about ten minutes in. Still, WTF!

The things we do for love, kids.

All is well with the world. Alexander and Natalia are safely defecting to America (fuck yeah). Irina does not have to go back to Russia to face trial. Ethan and Amos have both been fed. Alas, JB must say goodbye to Anatole, and like all relationships I invent in my head, this one ends with a freeze frame.

It’s just like James Bond.

Until next time, dear reader.

S01E08 – We’re Off to Kill The Wizard

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After the shenanigans last week – demon car of doom and so on – no one can blame JB for taking a little time away from the Cove. That’s why this week we find Jess in Chicago fixing Joaquin Phoenix’s bike.

Remember that time Joaquin Phoenix went nuts, but it turned out it wasn’t nuts it was art for Casey Affleck’s documentary? Good times.

Fun fact: the little girl in the red hat is Summer Phoenix, who married Casey Affleck, who made Joaquin go nuts for his documentary. Ain’t families great?

Jess’s niece offers to have Jess stay a few more days – presumably she’s got a boatload of things that need fixing, but Jess declines with Life Lesson #22  – “House guests are like Halley’s Comet: enjoyed seldom, and briefly.” Before they can get into a slapdown argument about this, a car pulls up and Michael Gardener appears. He’s a man on a mission – his boss, Horatio Baldwin would like a little chat with her.  This is enough to blow little Joaquin’s fragile little mind…

Little did the boy known as Rain Phoenix know he would one day grow up to be Johnny Cash…

Horrible Horatio, as he is also known, is a purveyor of theme parks, and would like Jess to come check out his latest endeavour – Horatio’s House of Horrors. Jess tries to say no but is talked down by those meddling kids, so off they trot to check it out. They hang out with the local press pack and watch on as Horatio dresses up as a monk and pretends to be hanged. Good clean family fun. Afterwards, he meets with Jess to discuss his latest idea but is constantly interrupted by his employees picking fights with him. Jess asks him to get on with it, and Horatio replies “Mrs Fletcher please! Allow me the seduction before you cry rape!”

I’m not kidding.

Jess decides to overlook that comment, and spends some time hanging out with his secretary instead, much to Horrible Horatio’s annoyance. When he finally tells her his idea – a theme park for kids based on the books of JB Fletcher – Jess shoots him down immediately. For kids? That’s ridiculous.

Baldwin: “Who do you think pays to see this stuff? Don’t you go to the movies?

JB: “When Cary Grant bowed out, so did I.”

Horatio is apoplectic, but JB just smiles demurely and excuses herself. The Horrible One presses a magic button on his desk, and locks the door, saying he’s not used to being refused. Jess turns into the incredible Hulk, and Horatio backs down.

JB Fletcher – getting all teacher on your arse.

Later that night, one of Horatio’s minions is out saving the universe getting coffee, when he hears a gun go off. Startled into action, he gets his sidekick and goes to investigate Baldwin’s office, but it’s locked from the inside. Confused, they ring up the only other person on site – Philip Carlson, right hand of the Horrible One –  for assistance and he helpfully advises them to break down the door. Inside, Horrible Horatio hath shuffled off his mortal coil, with the aid of a gun. They go in for a closer look, joined by Philip Carlson who has turned up for a stickleback.

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, Jess is flipping burgers and correcting Joaquin’s grammar when her nephew-in-law, who just so happens to be a detective, gets a phone call. The Horrible One has killed himself. Jess calls shenanigans, and they troop off back to Horatio’s House of Mysterious Deaths for a closer look. The captain reveals that it certainly wasn’t suicide, it was the perfect murder. He gives JB a sly glance and asks her what her thoughts were on the case. She cheerfully declares she hasn’t a clue.

The end. Kidding.

The next morning on her run, Jess discovers that the police are convinced that the secretary did it. (And lets face it, it’s not a bad assumption.) Curiosity gets the better of her, and she makes plans to take a later flight and return back the same day. Can’t be trusting these local police, even if your niece married one. Back at Horatio’s House of Fun Jess has a chat with Philip Carlson, who still doesn’t believe that the Horrible One was murdered, despite the number of people who wanted him dead. Jess hasn’t got time to dwell on this though, she’s got a plane to catch..

At the airport Jess tries valiantly to catch her flight to Kansas City, but is waylaid by Michael Gardener, who has a gun and some questions, and isn’t afraid to use either of them.

“I’ll go with you,” says our heroine, “not because you’re holding a gun on me, but because my curiosity is aroused.”

WORD.

He escorts Jess to a private jet, where the recently widowed (for the fourth time) Mrs Horatio Baldwin is waiting. Mrs Baldwin asks Jess if it would surprise her to learn that Mrs B loved Mr B very much.

JB’s response is obvious.

A picture paints a thousand words. (I only painted one).

Mrs B reveals that she and Mr Gardener have been making merry behind Horrible Horatio’s back. Jess doesn’t care. If they want her to stop stickybeaking, they’re out of luck. Au contraire, say the lovers. They want JB to prove he was murdered. Ain’t no life insurance policy payout if Horrible H really did take himself off the perch. Mrs B offers a reward of $100,000,000, and JB tells her to stick it. (I’m paraphrasing a bit here).

Later that night JB returns to her family in Chicago. Laurie the secretary has turned up, and needs our heroine’s help. It turns out that Horrible Horatio was blackmailing her, and everyone else who worked for the Horrible One.  Jess and Bert return to the land of Horatio to try to find the dirt, but someone has beaten them to it.

That someone, it turns out, is not one of Horatio’s minions/accountant, who has saved up all his money and is trying to leg it to Mexico but falls at the last hurdle.

GETAWAY FAIL.

At the police station he swears that he didn’t kill anyone, he was just a panicked embezzler who got told to run for it or the police would be after him. Detective Donavan and JB decide he’s too pathetic to be a killer and let him go home to feed his cat. (I’ll be honest, I awwwwed a bit at that). Jess has bigger fish to fry – she knows who was doing Baldwin’s blackmailing. And Baldwin’s wife.

Alas, before anyone can speak to Michael Gardiner about this, a ninja throws him off the balcony. Awkward.

Back to the drawing board, Jess returns to Baldwin’s office to have a think. Inspiration strikes when she gets a phone call from Detective Donavan. She lays a trap in the House of Horrors, and sure enough, the killer is dumb enough to fall into it. A fake microfilm, a strategically placed mirror and BOOM.

Brought down by that new-fangled technology known as call forwarding. Who’da thunk it?

Like the true lady that she is, she lets her nephew-in-law take the credit and explain to his boss how Philip Carlson had ninja skills. Jess gives the cheque she received from Erica Baldwin to Horrible Horatio’s secretary, who promptly freaks out. Job well done, it’s back to the Cove for Jess. God knows what the sheriff has been up to while she’s been gone…