Alright Fletcherfans? This week starts off on a little bit of a downer, but hang in there because I’m going to make your day.
This week, Jess goes to the aid of her niece Pamela, in a sanotarium and recently widowed after her husband Johnny committed suicide. We also get to meet JB’s brother Marshall, who is a surgeon. (Fun fact – JB’s maiden name is McGill. You’ll thank me when this comes up in a pub trivia night). I am pleased to report neither Marshall nor Pamela are as lame as Grady.
To take Pamela’s mind off her troubles, Jess books them on a cruise. What could possibly go wrong? Along with JB and her niece on the cruise are a husband and wife team and two crazy ladies in their forties, both of whom I will no doubt turn out to be like.
About five minutes into the cruise and Pam is in tears again over her husband – she tells Jess that she never knew her husband’s secrets; his money troubles or the fact that he was adopted. Ever the sensible one, Jess calms her down. Pam gives her Johnny’s suicide note to read but before she can do so, there’s a knock at the door.
(I know, this is all very serious. Stick with me kids okay?)
Right, so, knock at the door – it’s Ramone the steward bearing an outrageous Italian accent and a bottle of champagne. The accent is for Our Heroine, the champagne is for Pamela with a note from her dead husband wishing ‘Pepper’ bon voyage.
At dinner time, and the two forty-something ladies are bribing maitre d’s so that they can sit near an Oklahoma Cattle King (which I’m assuming is some sort of code for Sex God).
While they hustle in on the cattle dude, Jess and Pam are about to have a quiet dinner, despite the interruption of the husband half of the husband and wife team I mentioned earlier. Despatching them with aplomb (as opposed to a plum, which would have been amazingly awesome and a little weird), Jess eyes off the local hot nerd as potential fodder for her niece.
Life Lesson #26, there is never a bad time to hook your niece up with a hot nerd. Pamela accuses her aunt of trying to fix her up, to which Jess is horribly affronted/distracted by the hot nerd.
Matchmaking to the side, JB ready to order some grub before Pam freaks out again. Someone has slipped an added dish onto the menu – her late husband’s favourite and a dish Pam invented.
While Pam goes to lie down, the Fletch gets on the case and goes to see the bursar, to find out who sent the champagne. The bursar, who looks like she’s auditioning for The Love Boat, tells her that the champagne was ordered anonymously by someone on board the boat. JB takes a look at the note, and the handwriting is almost match Johnny’s suicide note. Could it be that a Murder She Wrote/X-Files crossover special isn’t just a figment of my imagination. Jess goes back to the cabin to make sure the champagne isn’t poisoned.
Meanwhile, Pam is out on deck taking in the air, when she starts to hear the voice of her dead husband. She goes to investigate, and is pushed down the stairs. I hate it when ghosts do that. Superman comes to her rescue and takes her to the ships doctor for a checkup, and to be interrogated by the ship’s captain.
Interogated? Surely you can’t be serious?
LESLIE NIELSEN IS RUNNING THIS MOFO! LESLIE! NIELSEN!
Alright, I’m calm. Even though all I want to do now is watch Airplane, and Dracula Dead and Loving It, and Naked Gun, I’ll continue.
Jess fills The Captain in on the shenanigans taking place on his ship. He is aghast, but JB has a plan. Because she only booked the cruise at the last minute, they can narrow down the list of suspects to people who booked after she did. BRILLIANT. The Captain fishes out his list, and discovers that narrows the field to just 12 suspects. Handy! Fortunately for everyone on board, Leslie Nielsen is much better at taking orders from Jess than every other person in the history of the show, and so he agrees to have one of his men keep a close eye on Pamela for the rest of the voyage.
And by keep a close eye, I think you know what I mean…
Pamela doesn’t greet this news with the excitement
I would Jess hoped for. “Relax!” She tells her niece. “Enjoy him!”
JESSICA FLETCHER YOU ARE MY HERO.
Despite the constant temptations of Officer Morely and Superman, Jess has a case to solve. Smoothly leaving Pamela in the care of Superman, with Officer Morely tagging along behind, Jess goes to make some enquiries. It turns out that Johnny’s birth mother made contact right before he died, but they never met. She calls her brother and gets him on the trail.
Working on this theory, Jess has four suspects on board the ship – the two women I mentioned earlier, the wife in the husband-and-wife team, and the purser who is auditioning to be on the Love Boat. With a narrow suspect list, our heroine should be able to wrap this one up in no time, leaving me to go and You Tube clips from Airplane! right?
Well, maybe, if she hadn’t been accosted by Ramone the steward, who was very disappointed not to see JB at the dance the previous night. He begs her for a dance tonight, and offers to show Our Heroine his hoochie-cooch.
Not to be distracted by Ramone and his hoochie-cooch, JB barrels on. Pamela is still doing laps of the boat with Superman, but their romantic stroll is cut short with a page for ‘Pepper’ to go to the bursar’s office coming over the loudspeaker. This is the final straw for Pam, who marches into the office and demands
satisfaction an explanation. Instead, she receives a telex from Johnny, saying ’til death do us part’.
Her response I think is a fair one. She passes out. (I thought about it, actually. I’d forgotten telexes even existed. Yay 80s technology!)
Putting Pam safely in the hospital bay, JB and the Captain decide to play Good Cop/Bad Cop on the bursar to see if she’s Johnny’s birth mother. It all comes to nothing, as it turns out that she was trying to get on the cruise to get away from her boyfriend and his wife.
It wasn’t a total waste, actually. Ramon informs the Good Cop/Bad Cop that the secretaries (and my fashion heroes) are having lunch, but Doctor Reed, the fourth suspect is not in her room. As he leaves, he rubs his moustache at Jess. Is that his hoochie-cooch?
Drunk on his role as Bad Cop, The Captain is pumped to go and interrogate the two ladies having lunch, but after some ego stroking and downright flattery, JB manages to go alone. Alas, the secretaries are a bust too – they are only on the cruise after their boss threatened to take their leave away if they didn’t use some up. Now there’s a story I recognise…wait, where was I?
Right, so, with the secretaries striking out, Jess is left with Doctor Reed. After running into her husband George in the dining room, they go back to the cabin – only to find her full of booze and sleeping pills. Also full of death.
Case closed? I can go and watch Naked Gun right? Doctor Reed had all the incriminating evidence in her suitcase, and a phone call from Marshall confirms that she was Johnny’s birth mother.
Case not closed. Jess has her suspicions about this George fellow. And when she catches him in a lie, about his wife’s photographic ability, her suspicions are confirmed. This was no suicide. And with absolutely no help from The Captain, she’s got to go it alone.
Later that night, George gets a knock on the door…
Our Heroine, apparently after testing all the champagne on the boat for poison, goes and confronts George directly. (Seriously guys, I have tried to find this scene on YouTube, but it’s not there. Trust me when I tell you that this is THE MOST AMAZING THING IN THE HISTORY OF TELEVISION).
Jess tells George that in the morning she is going to give police proof that his wife wasn’t behind Pamela’s stalking. PHWOAR THIS IS GETTING EXCITING. She slams the door on him and staggers off into the night, George in pursuit. I’m not entirely sure his intentions are noble…
After chasing Our Heroine along the deck, George finally makes his move. But, in a move The Rock would be proud of, JB flips him over her head and stands on his chest. Out of nowhere Pam appears and takes some photos, closely followed by…Jess? But then who is in the Dick Tracey outfit?
Like the true boss that she is, JB FAKED drunk in order to obtain information (addendum to Life Lesson #27), then swapped with Superman to get the proof that she needed that George killed his wife.
Another case neatly tied up by Our Heroine. I can’t believe I wanted this episode wrapped up so I could go and watch Airplane!
Speaking of which…