JB has had a rough day, Fletcherfans. She spent all day fighting with the power company, got home, and now has to spend all night telling us the story of her new book, Murder in a Minor Key. Even worse, she has to wear the “slippers” that World’s Worst Nephew Grady bought her:
But never mind all that because it’s storytime!
The place is a university in Southern California. Michael Prentiss is a budding film composer. His best friend is a soft spoken law student from the deep south named Chad Singer and a quirky young lady from New York named Jenny Coopersmith. (This is awesome, JB is practically writing this post for me. Booyah!) The gang are at their favourite campus bar, chilling out when the lady at the piano starts playing a song from a upcoming Broadway musical. Michael thinks it sounds familiar, and he’s got good reason: he wrote it. Outraged, he goes to see the only other person who has seen Michael’s music – his professor, Tyler Stoneham.
After Mike crashes his orchestra rehearsal Stoneham agrees to meet him in his office, where he doesn’t deny stealing the music and submitting it under the fake name Alden Gilbert. He tells Michael to do his worst – noone will believe him and Stoneham will see to it that Michael never works in the industry ever again. To conclude, he’s a dick. Just as Michael informs the professor that if he has to, he’ll settle things himself, Professor Papasian comes in. (Fun fact, he’s being played by Rene Auberjonois, whose surname I simply cannot pronounce and so refer to as Rene Aubergine)
The next morning, Professor Dick is kicking back in his Dick Palace with his wife Christine, who has a bone to pick herself. Seems Professor Dick wasn’t in San Diego all these weekends like he said he was, and she’d like an explanation/the other woman’s name.
Professor Dick is amused.
He breaks the record for being a condescending arse, pats her on the head (HE ACTUALLY DOES THIS, UGH WHAT A DICK) and tells her she has nothing to worry about. Meanwhile, across town, Reagan Miller has just discovered courtesy of the newspaper that the Alden Gilbert she was working with was actually Professor Dick.
That night, a protest breaks out at the campus for reasons. (Like most campus protests in my experience). The Vice-Chancellor is not pleased and orders the unofficial leader of the protest, campus newspaper editor Danny Young, to shut it down. He doesn’t, for the record.
While the protest rages, Michael goes into the Music building to look for his copy of the music Dick stole. He hears Dick on the phone in his office so decides to wait in the instrument storage room and wait for the light on Dick’s extension to go out. Dick ends the call but tries another number almost immediately. It seems not to connect, so Michael sees his chance but as he opens the door he sees Professor Papasian lurch into Dick’s office. Seems Dick has pissed off another one and forgotten to include Papasian’s name on their music dictionary. DICK MOVE, WHAT A DICK etc.
Michael, waiting patiently in the storage room and watching the protest decides to make his move, and goes into Dick’s office to look for his music. Unfortunately he fails to spot Dick’s corpse lying on the floor. The security guard who comes in to check on the office doesn’t though, and promptly arrests Michael.
JB’s not going easy on this kid. His music’s been stolen and now he’s arrested for a murder he didn’t commit.
Michael’s friend Chad goes to visit him in jail to get the full story. Michael convinces him of his innocence and so Chad, along with his girlfriend Jenny (previously seen in Grease as Marty Maraschino, you know, like the cherry) vow to clear their friend’s name.
Chad goes to see Danny the newspaper editor to get background info on everyone via old copies of the paper. He learns that Dick’s wife Christine used to be rather friendly with the Vice-Chancellor back in the day, and accordingly asks him about it. The Vice-Chancellor tells him they were friends only, and sternly hopes that Chad doesn’t feel the need to query him again.
Next on Chad’s hit list is Professor Papasian, the last person to see Professor Dick alive. He gives Chad the tour of the music department, explaining that the Dickphone would ring in his office and the instrument room. He feels badly about telling the police about Michael’s argument with Dick, but is scandalised when Chad brings up the Professor’s own fight with Dick the night he died.
That night Chad and Jenny compare notes. Jenny tells Chad that she has tracked down the producer of the play containing Michael’s stolen music, but that no one has seen him for a few days. Chad realises that Professor Dick and Alden Gilbert are the same person, and wonders who else knows. The next morning he goes to see the newly widowed Mrs Dick, Christine, who tells him about Dick’s trips to San Diego. She also tells him that she called her husband the night he died, during the commercial break of a show she was watching around 9:45pm, when he told her he was waiting for Professor Papasian and the galley of his book. As Chad takes his leave via the front door, the Vice-Chancellor appears from upstairs, wondering what Chad wanted. Christine almost thinks Chad was accusing her of murder.
I’m not sure what JB thinks of Chad’s detecting skills.
Meanwhile, back on campus, Professor Papasian is celebrating being promoted to the head of the faculty by eating an invisible carrot.
His invisible carrot eating is interrupted by mysterious noises coming from Dick’s office. Upon closer investigation he finds Dick’s Broadway producer pal Max Hellinger looking for the songs Professor Dick owed him. He offers five grand to Professor Papasian to find them in 48 hours.
At home, Chad finds Jenny playing one of the songs and wondering who wrote the lyrics (clearly not Professor Dick). Chad remembers what Mrs Dick said about San Diego and asks Jenny to suss out all the calls made from Dick’s office to San Diego, in the hope that they can flush out the mystery lyricist.
Speaking of Mrs Dick, she’s just got home
from banging the Vice-Chancellor and is completely unaware of Professor Papasian ransacking her late husband’s office looking for the missing music. Until he knocks something over, she shoots wildly with a gun and Papasian smashes through the window.
Chad gets a phone call from Danny the next morning, and has a fairly good guess as to who the man ransacking the house might have been. He confronts Papasian who admits to breaking in to look for the missing music. Chad tracks down Max the producer, who tells him that he didn’t see Dick the night he died, he only spoke to him on the phone around 9:30pm, when Dick said he was waiting for a phone call. They made breakfast plans but Dick never showed, on account of being dead.
Chad goes home and is surprised to find Jenny looking pleased with herself – she’d tracked down the missing lyricist, Reagan. She tells them that she was at the campus that night, but she couldn’t find Professor Dick’s office and then the police were all over the place by ten o’clock so she left. She takes her leave, saying she’s got get home to record a jingle she wrote for a commercial which gives Chad an idea.
Today the role of Chad’s idea will be played by my crappy drawing of a lightbulb.
JB is less enthused with Chad’s breakthrough.
JB has left a massive clue for us to solve this case. I’ll be honest, the first time I watched this I was so c0nfused that JB wasn’t solving it that I didn’t really pay attention to anything else. But, she did in fact leave a clue and thanks to a helpful recreation of the evening’s events Chad proves who the killer is.
Chad’s amazing recreation of events sufficiently proved that Mrs Dick didn’t call her husband, she stabbed him with a tuning fork.
Now, if you’ll excuse JB, she’s just had an idea for a sequel involving Chad, Jenny, a defrocked priest and a professional wrestler who walk into a bar…