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S09E20 – Ship of Thieves

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Yo Fletcherfans! I know, I said I would be back last week, but a surprise road trip came up and so yes, but YOU GUYS RICHMOND WON THE PREMIERSHIP FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 1980 which is the dark ages before I was born and here is a picture of me after I’d stopped crying about how freaking great everything is.

But I’m back, the blog is back, no one has dropped any nukes or started any wars which apparently is something we should celebrate these days, so let’s get back to business.

Down by the docks one dark night, a woman called Amber shoots another woman called Agnes Lowry and steals her cruise ticket. And guys, wouldn’t you know it, as a reward for finishing hew new manuscript early, JB’s editor has decided to reward with a bit of a cruise around the Carribean which frankly sounds wonderful right about now. This can only be coincidental.

Even more coincidentally over breakfast and the newspaper the next morning (full of news of a drug kingpin’s murder and the escape of their accomplice), Jess bumps into an old friend from school by the name of Leslie Hunter (aka Lee Merriweather, the original Catwoman. Or was Eartha Kitt?) Leslie just so happens to be dating the captain of the cruise ship, Rory O’Neill and invites JB to an exclusive soiree he’s hosting that night.

Side note: THE BIKINIS ARE CUT SO HIGH JESUS CHRIST HOW WAS THIS EVER A THING.

While a woman and a man conspire to fleece an old guy out of his money playing cards inside, Jess watches a ship steward break the land speed record for falling in love with a random woman while spilling champagne over her boyfriend.

JUDGEMENT JESSICA IS ON DECK.

That night, the shady dude that was helping to fleece the old guy spots Fake Agnes and says “Janet! Remember me? Roland Deveraux! Buffalo three years ago?”

Fake Agnes/Janet tells him to shove off and wanders off. Over at the Captain’s shindig Jess and Leslie blame each other for the hot water running out at school, while Captain Rory tells them all about the ship’s hi-tech features like a mainframe, and a fax machine, and a modem. Bless.

Leslie and Rory wander off, leaving JB alone for a minute before a familiar voice says that JB is represented in the ship’s library by two books, both of which he’s already read.

It can only be one person…

YOU KNOW I DID.

Dennis the Menace is back, for one last hurrah. Recently retired from the insurance game, he has decided to take himself on a cruise to enjoy his new-found freedom but is having some trouble adjusting to civilian life, what with all the potential criminals on the boat. He thinks Jess should think about putting the mother and son duo the Sobel’s into her next book

Jess wanders off to powder her nose, and is interrupted first by a couple of old ducks looking for the captain’s reception, and then by Leslie who wants Jess’s opinion on Rory (which seems odd since they haven’t seen each other since school but what would I know?) Leslie is worried that Rory’s retirement plans – a B&B, roses and breeding Weimaraner dogs- don’t seem to include her.

The steward takes everyone’s guesses for what time they will cross the 25th parallel. Alma Sobel entertains everyone with a story about a guy who died on her cruise after guessing the correct time, pinches Jessica’s pen, denies it, and leaves.

God, this is a new low for me. I’m sorry.

Jess heads back to her room for some shut-eye and is slammed into the wall by a shadowy figure running out of her cabin. Back in the bar, Fake Agnes/Janet is hit on by the guy the steward spilt champagne on who is a) weirded out that Fake Agnes/Janet knows his name and b) delighted when she gives him her room number. The whole thing is overheard by Dennis the Menace who frankly has bigger issues.

Ah the whiskey sponsored existential crisis. I know it well.

JB is less than excited to see the steward turn up at her cabin to take down information about the break-in, especially when he calls her missing earrings (given to her by Frank) ‘not the crown jewels’. He tells her the ship’s detective is in the infirmary so the captain gave him the special assignment and he really is on the case.  As he departs Alma Sobel’s son Marvin arrives to return JB’s pen, apologising for his mother’s kleptomania.

In another part of the ship Roland’s sidekick is showing off her newly pinched earrings, but Roland is furious. He’s on to something big, and now she’s gone and got JB Fletcher on their case. Fortunately, Roland’s gig on the boat is as a magician, so he conveniently psychometrically reads JB  and plonks her earrings in a glass of champagne to great effect.

JB declines Dennis’s offer of a dance and instead goes for a promenade around the decks. She gets him to confess that he is the head of security for the Duchess Cruise Line, and he’s on board this particular ship to catch a cat burglar, specifically Fake Agnes/Janet’s new friend whose name it turns out is Lance Brinegar. Dennis suspects Fake Agnes won’t be wearing her splendid diamond pendant for too much longer.

Speaking of Fake Agnes/Janet, she is surprised to find Roland stretched out on her bed when she returns from a morning swim.  Roland apologises for the intrusion, but as she wasn’t answering his calls or texts he had to take matters into his own hands. Whatever scam Fake Agnes is running, he wants in or else he’ll tell the captain all about how Fake Agnes/Janet scammed an old guy in Buffalo three years earlier. Fake Agnes/Janet notes that he will neglect to mention that he was running the same scam on the old duck, but as she’s in a good mood she will let him in on her action.

A new day dawns on the ship and they arrive at their first port, Oldtown. Leslie tells Jess she’s just going to check on Rory but she’ll meet her later and they can head in together. Jess spots Lance fighting with his actual girlfriend, whose name is Molly, and asks her if she’s okay. Molly asks her if she believes in kismet and JB says no, “for my money relationships don’t just happen.” (Life Lesson #72).

Molly explains that she was paying for this cruise and Lance was going to pay for their honeymoon cruise, but he’s changed and yada yada, fortunately, the cruise was cheap, it’s an old boat etc etc.

Everyone’s favourite steward pops up to apologise for the state of the boat and promptly pours coffee everywhere.

The shade JB has thrown at that steward this episode has been a delight.

Jess runs into Rory finalising his last shipment of antiques and Leslie soon joins them with the suggestion that Rory takes them both to lunch in Old Town. Molly runs into the steward again (whose name is Philip) and accepts his invitation to go to Old Town too.

That night everyone settles in for some frankly appalling comedy in the bar. Marvin Sobel excuses himself to take his medication and promises his mother to return with an eclair for her. Fake Agnes/Janet gets a phone call and promises the caller she will meet them. Lance also excuses himself.

Fake Agnes/Janet is prowling around the sup when she cops a whack on the head. A gunshot is heard, and then Roland runs out of the darkness.

Frankly, none of this is surprising.

Dennis appears and sits down next to JB while the world’s worst comedian announces the winners of the parallel time guessing competition or whatever it was. Back in the captain’s cabin, Leslie decides she’s not hungry, a fact I’m sure will be relevant at some point.

Fake Agnes/Janet’s body doesn’t turn up until the next morning, but a few people saw Roland at the scene so he’s hauled in front of the captain and Dennis for questioning. He tells them they were doing business, he followed her to see what the business was but left when he heard the gunshot. Dennis tells him to get out, and the captain mentions that JB was sitting near the victim the night before so she might have seen something.

JB isn’t sure how she can help, but she tells Dennis about the phone call. Dennis tells her that Fake Agnes’s diamond pendant is now missing and they can only guess who had that, Lance Brinegar. After a report comes in showing his fingerprints were all over Fake Agnes’s room and the murder weapon, Dennis thinks it’s open and shut.

Jess and Molly go to talk to Lance, now in the brig, and he swears he didn’t kill Fake Agnes, he stole the pendant because he needed the money to pay for his and Molly’s honeymoon cruise so really it was her fault.

A guy shifting blame onto a woman, I mean really.

Wandering the halls Jess bumps into Marvin Sobel, who has been looking for her. One of his mother’s new treasures is a cigarette lighter with J F on it, but Jessica tells him it’s not hers. He continues on his quest and Dennis appears with news – the body of an undercover agent by the name of Agnes Lowry has just turned up in Miami and wouldn’t you know it, the same gun was used to kill her.

Dennis wonders whether Fake Agnes/Janet/Amber are the same person, but Jessica thinks its unlikely for reasons I can’t quite remember. The only thing Dennis knows for certain is that Fake Agnes’s real name actually was Janet. Janet Fiske.

This sets off the old mindbox and Jess goes to see Agnes Sopol but she can’t find her. Instead, she finds Marvin, who is also looking for his mother. He tells JB that Agnes pinched the lighter from the captain’s cabin before they went to Old Town. This seals it for JB and so she leaves a message for Dennis and goes investigating below decks, while Philp stands guard.

 

Ah yes.

So I’m a little hazy on this still, but I think Captain Rory was smuggling drugs and skimming money or something, and then Fake Agnes found out about it so Leslie killed her because she really wanted those Weimaramas, you guys.

So she was Amber? Wait Rory was Amber? What just happened?

While I sit here and try to work this out, please rest assured that Molly and Philip are now totes in love and Agnes is still pinching things wherever she can. More to the point, it’s bon voyage to Dennis Stanton, who is off to cruise the world as a ships detective, never to grace another episode of Murder, She Wrote. I’m a little bit bummed you guys.

Until next week.

Oh Dennis. You were the gift that kept on giving.

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S07E12 – Suspicion of Murder

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So this happened.

I can't help but feel responsible for this.

I can’t help but feel responsible for this.

JB is taking time out from her meth lab gardening to tell us a story about everyone’s favourite reformed cat burglar, who is out at a divorce party for his friend, former pro tennis player and Warwick Capper impersonator Ryan Donavan. Dennis is distracted when he sees his friend Christina Hellinger, flying solo without her husband Ben, and they begin to dance.

At the end of the night, Dennis drives Christina home like the chivalrous gentleman that he is, and Christina confesses that she has split up with her husband. She tells Dennis he couldn’t understand how it felt to try and make a marriage work and he informs her that he made his work for 24 years – until the cancer claimed his wife.

Dennis thinks it’s time he should be hitting the road but Christina has other plans for him. Nudge nudge wink wink.

The next day, Rhoda arrives back from her lunch break to find Dennis surprisingly hard at work. He announces he has to go interview an antique dealer but makes a quick call to Christina before he goes. There’s no answer at her house so he goes over there and convinces the doorman to check on her. The apartment is empty but Dennis spots a blinking light on the answering machine – a message from Ben’s son telling him that he fobbed them off but the tax people are coming back tomorrow.

Dennis calls into the office

Basically a shoe phone

Basically a shoe phone

…and Rhoda informs him that Christina has been looking for him. He finds her at a hotel outside town, looking the worse for wear. Christina says after their little something something the night before she went to tell Ben it was over and he mistook her for a punching bag.

Dennis offers to escort her to the police station, but as they leave the hotel he spots a car following a short distance behind.  Dennis gets on his batphone to call the closest police station, but the car behind comes up and runs them off the road, wrecking the Dennis-mobile.

MAD DENNIS IS MAD

MAD DENNIS IS MAD

Dennis and Christina go to see Dennis’s old pal Lieutenant Catalano who promises Christina he will look into it – then berates Dennis for mistaking him for a social worker once Christina leaves his office. Ever the gentleman, Dennis gets Christina settled in a hotel under an assumed name, and gives her strict instructions not to call anyone or leave the room for anything. That done, he heads home for a chat with his late wife’s photo before switching off the light and sitting in the dark, gun in hand.

The next morning Dennis gets a phone call from Catalano, who ended up being awake all night worrying that he’d be done for dereliction of duty should Dennis happen to be bumped off. He tells Dennis no trace of Ben was found at his home or at work. Dennis decided to take a gander for himself and heads out to the house where Ben has been staying. He finds the car responsible for smashing up the Dennismobile in the garage. With a little help from the umbrella of justice, Dennis picks the lock on the door and goes inside to take a look around. Apart from an abandoned glass of whisky, and the discovery that Ben has some sort of steamroom set up in his bathroom, Dennis comes away empty handed. He calls Christina to see how she’s getting on, and tells her his next move is to check Ben’s office.

Dennis finds Ben’s sons Joe and Danny in the office in a heated argument over Joe’s life failures. When they realise Dennis was the man who reported their father missing, Joe gets uppity but Danny throws him out of the office before informing Dennis that he saw his father the previous Sunday, he wasn’t missing and that he should basically just jog on.

Dennis’s next visit is to his friend Ryan, the host of the party that set off this whole business. He tells Dennis that Ben was a bit rough around the edges and was never really welcomed into the San Francisco social scene, which upset Christina who was desperate for the love. He and Christina had a fling the previous year but he ended it when she got too serious.

Listening to Ride of the Valkyries on the way home, a police car pulls Dennis over to inform him he is wanted for questioning for the murder of Ben Dellinger.

Really Dennis, how did you not see this coming?

Really Dennis, how did you not see this coming?

Naturally Catalano has no opinion about this at all.

Clearly no response to this development

No. Opinion.

While they await the San Rafael police who are taking Dennis in to be processed, Catalano outlines his triumphant victory – that a phone tip said Dennis had been seen hanging around Ben Dellinger’s house, and that when police went to investigate Ben’s body was found in the shower at 4pm that afternoon with an icepick through the heart and a whole lot of unidentified fingerprints around the house. Dennis agrees that the fingerprints are his, but swears he wouldn’t commit such a stupid and obvious murder.

Catalano disagrees.

Nor, Dennis adds, is he brave enough to stab someone front on with an icepick.

Catalano couldn’t make sense of that either, but he’ll live with it.

The San Rafael police arrive to escort Dennis back to their jurisdiction, but Dennis is already 10 steps ahead – he busts out of the handcuffs and escapes. He goes to see Christina, but AMAZINGLY she’s checked out of the hotel. The desk clerk informs him that she checked out earlier that evening, and why yes she did make a phone cal to San Rafael. Dennis tests out a theory and confirms the number Christina dialed was the San Rafael Police Department. Meanwhile, Christina is back at home and telling Catalano just how terrified she is now that her husband is dead and Dennis is on the run.

Dennis decides to pay an afterhours visit to Ben’s lawyers to see just what tax trouble he might be into, and is nearly busted by a silent alarm and two cops.

The next day Rhoda is in the office reading all about her boss’s escapades in the paper while listening to Robert lose his mind when Dennis calls in asking for a favour – he needs Rhoda to track down the other call that Christina must have made from the hotel. Dennis’s next call is to Catalano, who demands he turn himself in at once. Dennis suggests that instead Catalano find out whether the freezer in the garage was padlocked, and whether Ben’s organs showed signs of frozen tissue.

Rhoda picks Dennis up later that afternoon and delivers the news that Christina did make another phone call – to Joey Dellinger. Dennis decides it’s time to fill Catalano in and goes to the police station. Catalano concedes that it does appear that Ben Dellinger was kept in the freezer and then moved to the steam to thaw out and that he no longer considers Dennis a suspect.

He's so delighted!

He’s so delighted!

Dennis has it all figured out. Joey Dellinger got cut out of the will and so offered to help Christina in exchange for a chunk of inheritance, and Christina did it because she wanted to get back with Ryan – and was a bit put out when she discovered Ryan wasn’t so wild about the idea.

So, to conclude:

What a surprise. Wait, that's not the right word.

What a surprise. Wait, that’s not the right word.

But I think we really need to focus on the really important part of this episode:

 

Later gang

Later Fletcherfans!

 

S07E10 – Murder in F Sharp

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That awkward moment when your nephew puts the wrong LP in the wrong cover.

That's right kids. In the 80s Spotify was called records.

That’s right kids. In the 80s Spotify was called records.

So I just googled the album that Ben accidentally played and it’s called Head On Collision, which is a New Found Glory song so can we just take a minute to ponder the fact that New Found Glory have apparently discovered how to time travel? Yeah, I know right!

While Ben is delighted to think that his nephew is now listening to Mozart courtesy of his Vaacclav Maryska album, he’s sad his nephew won’t get to hear the maestro play live. “You did hear what happened?” He asks JB.

Hear! JB got a blow by blow account. Apparently a certain friend of hers was tied up in the whole thing and just couldn’t wait to tell her about it.

I'm not going to lie. I love Dennis and his umbrella of justic a little bit, by which I mean a lot.

I’m not going to lie. I love Dennis and his umbrella of justice a little bit, by which I mean a lot.

Cut to San Francisco, where Vaacclav Maryska is preparing for a concert.

Seriously though, KHAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNN

Seriously though, KHAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNN

Vaacclav gets a visit backstage from his star pupil Nicole Geary, in from New York to see her teacher play. He’s delighted to see her, and less delighted when his wife Milena turns up. Nicole excuses herself and Milena asks Vaacclav why he didn’t mention Nicole was in town. Vaacclav shrugs, he thought he had. He tells Milena to take her seat, but she tells him she’s going home – this is one concert she’d rather miss.

Ouch.

The concert begins, but it’s clear that something is wrong. Vaacclav slams his hands down on the piano and declares he can’t play a piano that’s out of tune, before storming off the stage. After detouring through every bar in San Francisco he arrives home well sloshed. Milena tells him she heard about the show and she’s sorry. Vaacclav tells her at least it was short, and excuses himself to go into the study to continue his pity party.

The important thing is I make myself laugh.

The important thing is I make myself laugh.

Milena takes herself back to bed, but is woken later that night when the fire alarm goes off. She hears Vaacclav yelling. After some hand-wringing and some door knocking by the building’s security, they managed to break down the study door to find Vraacclav in a pretty bad shape.

Serves you right you Spock-killing bastard. You think I'd forgotten about that?

Serves you right you Spock-killing bastard. You think I’d forgotten about that? 

Now it just so happens that Vaaclav has insured his hands and of course there’s only one man with the mad skillz required to investigate this insurance claim.

Classic Dennis.

Classic Dennis.

Dennis heads straight to the hospital to let Vaacclav and Milena know that the insurance claim will be processed expeditiously. Milena thanks him, but says they aren’t worried about the fire damage, Vaacclav’s recuperation is more important. Dennis apologises for not being clear, he was referring to the policy on Vaacclav’s hands. It’s obvious Milena knew nothing about this, but Vaacclav declares that he won’t be claiming, his hands will recover. There’s a knock on the door – it’s Milena’s son (and Vaacclav’s stepson) Alex. Milena ignores her son, and bids farewell to Dennis before leaving the room.

Dennis goes home with Milena to see the damage. Milena asks him how long Vaacclav has had the policy on his hands, and Dennis says at least 10 years. She tells Dennis Vaacclav was very drunk the night of the accident, and gets so emotional she has to leave the room. Dennis tells her he’ll only be a minute. He does a quick search and finds a challenge but resists the urge.

THE PRECIOUS

MY PRECIOUS!

Back at the hospital, Milena tells Vaacclav about Dennis’s investigation and begs him to tell her if he set the fire on purpose to damage his hands. Vaacclav tells her to leave so he can rest. DUN DUN.

Dennis adjourns to his office to study the footage of Vaacclav’s last show, while his boss Robert demands to know how Dennis can justify a $120 lunch expense. Dennis says he was getting information out of a forensic specialist.

“Oh yeah what was her name?” Says Robert.

Dennis has no time for your crap Robert.

Dennis has no time for your crap Robert.

Dennis, eyes on the prize, stops the recording. He can hear it, Vaacclav  is way out. Robert says doi, the piano wasn’t tuned correctly. Dennis goes to the concert hall and tries the piano out for himself – it’s in tune.

Meanwhile, Nicole goes to see Vaacclav in hospital, who is in fine spirits despite the condition of his hands. He tells Nicole he will start teaching, and has a pupil in mind…they could go to Majorca where Chopin wrote some of his finest…

Nicole laughs and says if she thought he was serious… “But I am!” Insists Vaacclav.

Milena appears to tell Vaacclav  the good news, he’s being discharged. Nicole excuses herself and leaves. Vaacclav  sees Milena’s face and tells her it’s not what she thinks.

Back at home, the doorman announces the arrival of Milena’s son Alex. Milena takes herself off to the bedroom while Vaaclav chats to Alex. Vaaclav tells Alex about a letter he’d like to reply to but you know, hands, so Alex offers to write it for him and gets the stationary out of the desk. Vaacclav  changes his mind and says he’ll go and get Milena – it’s high time their rift was solved. It’s obvious Alex has turned his life around, Milena needs to accept this. He goes into the bedroom and tells her he’s going out for awhile, and that Alex is ready to forgive her. Milena is disgusted. Her! Forgiven!

Vaacclav, after checking the time with the doorman (3:05pm) goes to meet Nicole for coffee, while a neighbour of Milena and Vaacclav hears a fight between Milena and Alex and sees Alex leave. Nicole arrives at 4:15, apologising for being late. Vaacclav  isn’t bothered, he wants to talk more about his Majorca plans. Nicole feels terrible, she thought he was joking – she can’t go to Majorca, she has classes and concerts in New York. Pish tosh, says Vaacclav. Cancel the concerts, he’s a better teacher than anyone etc etc.

After coffee they head back to Vaacclav’s apartment, where he discovers he forgot his key. The doorman lets them in – to discover Milena’s body on the floor. Everyone’s favourite San Francisco detective Lieutenant Catalano is called in, much to Dennis’s delight when he arrives a short time later. Catalano demands to know what Dennis is doing there, and he says he’s there to see an old friend. He gives his condolences to Vaacclav who tells Catalano (and Dennis) what happened. Dennis is interested to hear more about Nicole Geary but Catalano throws him out.

At the office, Dennis gets Rhoda to dig out everything she can find on Vaacclav Maryska. On top of all the houses he owns, and the overheads he has accrued, Rhoda also discovers a life insurance policy on Milena – but before Dennis can get excited she tells him Milena’s son Alex was the beneficiary, not Vaacclav. Dennis goes to see Alex who had no idea about the insurance policy. Dennis tells him he should speak to a lawyer quickly, before Catalano turns up. Later than night Vaacclav  goes to see Alex at his office at the rehab clinic and tells him there’s nothing to worry about. He asks Alex to retrieve his reading glasses from the car, and after Alex goes to get them, stares at the typewriter thoughtfully.

Dennis goes to see Catalano at the police station. Catalano is on the phone, barking orders at someone to search the apartment and the office until they find the gun. Dennis has heard about this mysterious letter, supposedly from Alex to Milena, that has only just conveniently turned up. Catalano doesn’t care, the paper has Alex’s fingerprints on it and the typewriting matches the typewriter in Alex’s office, he’s clearly guilty.

Unconvinced, Dennis goes back to his office to see what else Rhoda has managed to dig up on Vaacclav. She tells him that apart from some trips to New York, Vaaclav’s only other recent trip was to Rochester Minnesota – home of the Mayo Clinic. This only adds to Dennis’s theory that Vaaclav is behind the whole thing, and further demonstrates this by setting fire to some plum brandy.

For science! Is the best reason to do anything. Fact.

For science! Is the best reason to do anything. Fact.

Dennis decides there is only one possible course of action, especially since Vaacclav is out to dinner that night.

Safes are to Dennis what bookshops are to me.

Safes are to Dennis what bookshops are to me.

Unfortunately for Dennis, he is soon interrupted by a visit from the doorman and the aforementioned neighbour who swears she heard noises in the apartment.

Once a cat burglar...

Once a cat burglar…

Back at the office the next day…

ALWAYS FOR SCIENCE.

ALWAYS FOR SCIENCE.

Dennis is trying to prove that Vaacclav was able to write the extortion note. It turns out thatduring his nocturnal sojourn in Vaaclaav Maryska’s apartment Dennis managed to find two tickets to Majorca, booked months earlier departing in a couple of days, in the names of Vaacclav Maryska and Nicole Geary.  Considering Vaacclav was meant to be in Tokyo on his world tour, this would indicate that he knew he wasn’t going to make it. SUSPICIOUS. Rhoda also confirms that Vaacclav went to the Mayo Clinic but couldn’t get any info on his diagnosis – a situation remedied by a call from Doctor Dennis Stanton who discovers Vaacclav was suffering from degenerative arthritis and wouldn’t have been able to play within a year. Dennis is convinced Vaacclav is behind the whole thing but cannot see how to prove it.

That night, Nicole is at Vaacclav’s house where he  bestows the Majorca tickets on her. She tells him she just can’t up and leave to Majorca tomorrow but Vaaclaav won’t have a bar of it. The phone rings – it’s the doorman. Dennis is there with a cheque for Vaaclav. Nicole tells Vaaclaav she’ll call him from New York, and the truth comes out – she’s getting married. To a composer. A talented young composer.

Pun partially intended.

Pun partially intended.

As Nicole departs Dennis arrives with a 10 million dollar cheque and a theory. A correct one, naturally.

Damn right he is. #livelongandprosper

Damn right he is. #livelongandprosper

It happened exactly how you imagine it did. Vaacclav did it all for the girl, not stopping to check whether the girl wanted it done for her. You know, the usual.

Case closed. And only two more Dennis the menace episodes left in the series! Does that mean the bookends are coming to an end?

Stay tuned!

Later gang!

Later gang!

 

S07E08 – The Great Twain Robbery

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Let’s head back to San Francisco Fletcherfans, where our heroine is on a tour promoting her newest book about a gentleman thief. The readers love it, but one person has some complaints.

God I genuinely love Dennis Stanton a little bit.

God I genuinely love Dennis Stanton a little bit.

Dennis has a hell of a story to tell JB, she can tell because he’s flirting outrageously. He points to a book on the shelf – it’s a recently discovered and never previously published story by Mark Twain. Jess remembers it well – the manuscript was stolen, and there was an insurance policy and –

“Who’s story is this anyway?” Says Dennis.

Hashtag bookend.

Once upon a time a while ago, a man named Lawrence Erlich announced that a previously unpublished story of Mark Twain’s had been discovered and authenticated by renowed scholar Professor Chandler Fitzpatrick. The owner, Anna Louise Barlow has generously allowed it to be published for the first time, and Lawrence is simply there to help ensure Anna gets what she is owed.

Naturally there is only one place where such a treasure can be insured, as Dennis discovers when he waltzes into work. He is rather surprised to hear that the person applying for the policy is Lawrence Erlich, and decides to take a closer look at the manuscript by setting a fire in his rubbish bin and filching a page while no one is looking.

*mic drop*

*mic drop*

Dennis decides to head down to the Mark Twain convention where the manuscript is to be unveiled and runs into Lawrence, who it turns out is a master forger and second only to Dennis in the con game (according to Dennis). Lawrence assures him he was better but that he’s been legit for the last 10 years (and is amused to hear that Dennis is now working for an insurance company). Dennis doesn’t believe a word of it, but Lawrence says surely Dennis can appreciate a man turning his life around?

It's pretty great to be fair

It’s pretty great to be fair

Professor Fitzpatrick finds Dennis in the lobby, and informs him that if Dennis doesn’t stop with his insinuations that the manuscript is a fake then there will be consequences.

Undeterred, Dennis takes the filched pages to his friend Konstantin Stavros to get a second opinion regarding the authenticity. Constantin is unsure – recently discredited by Fitzpatrick he tells Dennis his opinion is worthless.

“Not to me,” says Dennis, and tells Constantin that the professor was the one who authenticated the book in the first place.

Heh heh heh

Heh heh heh

Back at the Twain convention Anne and Lawrence are watching people with magnifying glasses examining the book through the glass and Ann is worried. Lawrence shrugs it off and tells her he will see her later. Anne’s daughter Lindsey arrives from London, freshly broken up from her aging rock star boyfriend but coping okay now that a priceless manuscript has turned up in her family’s possession.

At home, Dennis is telling a photo of his late wife Elizabeth everything that’s happened, especially the tearing pages out of a priceless manuscript part. If he’s right, it won’t matter. If he’s wrong he’s sure he can find another job with his qualifications, although what that job might be he’s not sure. He clicks the TV on just in time to see a news report that a fire at the Fairmont Hotel has resulted in the destruction of the Mark Twain manuscript.

DENNIS SASS-TON

DENNIS SASS-TON

Dennis rolls on down to the hotel to suss things out and finds a cop who says the fire was started by an electrical fault. Dennis wonders if it could have been arson and the cop says he hopes so, he hasn’t had a good arson case in months. Lawrence pops up and swears he wasn’t involved – he was at a costume party and still has the giant fig leaf he wore to prove it. Dennis tells Lawrence he’s going to catch him and Lawrence smiles. He believes Dennis is going to try.

At the office, Dennis finds his boss Robert Butler having a breakdown, and casually asks what the reward might be if someone could prove that the manuscript was a fake. Robert blows his stack, but Dennis isn’t after money – he just wants his CD player that Robert confiscated returned to his office so he can blast Mozart at anyone who wanders past.

Dennis goes to check on Constantin’s progress uncovering the fraud and is frustrated. Constantin wonders why Dennis has a bee in his bonnet about Lawrence and what it has to do with Dennis’s late wife. Lawrence, it turns out, made a play for Elizabeth when she and Dennis were going through a rough patch. BOOOOOOOO. Constantin tells Dennis that for now at least, the paper is genuine, the ink is genuine, the writing appears genuine – but not to worry, a warning bell has gone off in Constantin’s mind and until he can work out what that bell is, he can’t be of any more use right now.

Next stop on Dennis’s list is Anne Louise Barlow, but he instead finds her daughter Lindsey at the door, who takes his coat and flirts her little head off. Dennis asks when her mother will be home, and is told she is at the publishers office with Lawrence getting the transcribed manuscript ready for a bidding war with the publishing companies. Ah, so there is a copy, Dennis notes. Lawrence has thought of everything. Lindsey asks Dennis if he’d like something to eat, or drink, or to have dinner with her that evening.

Can't stop won't stop

Can’t stop won’t stop

Anne arrives home and is not entirely pleased to see Dennis, but he assures her he’s just there to confirm that the company will pay out on the policy as long as there is absolutely no chance that the fire was started deliberately. Lindsay tells him she will see him at Otto’s Grotto for dinner at 8:30, but Anne declines Dennis’s invitation to join, saying she has somewhere to be.

That night, Dennis blows a kiss to the photo of his wife and heads out to dinner, unfortunately missing an excited phone message from Constantin, who has worked it out. As he hangs up the phone, a car pulls up outside and Constantin peers through the blinds, worried.  At the restaurant, Dennis is about to declare himself stood up when Lindsay and Anne both appear in the restaurant, Lindsay having convinced Anne to come, and Anne taking ages to get ready.

After a presumably successful dinner, Dennis goes home, hears the message from Constantin and heads around to his house only to find the place crawling with police led by Lieutenant Catalano who figured Dennis had to be involved with a rare book dealer being shot. Inside, Catalano tells Dennis that Constantin was shot at his desk but managed to crawl over to his bookshelf and retrieve a copy of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Catalano’s theory – it’s got something to do with *whispers* adultery. Dennis examines the book but finds nothing.

Back at his office, Rhoda fills Dennis in on large discoveries of old paper – the most recent of which occurred in London earlier that year, but doesn’t know how they will ever prove that the book is a forgery, or if/how it is connected to Constantin’s murder. Dennis decides the only thing he can do is say ‘The Scarlet Letter’ to himself over and over until inspiration hits.

Life Lesson #60  - Just keep repeating yourself until it makes sense.

Life Lesson #60 – Just keep repeating yourself until it makes sense.

Armed with inspiration and his umbrella (which has a lockpick in it, he has Macgyvered the hell out of his umbrella), Dennis returns to Constantin’s house. He sees a figure searching the shelves and turns on a light – it’s Lawrence. Dennis tells him he’s looking in the wrong section and Lawrence pulls out a gun. He swears he didn’t kill Constantin but figures it doesn’t matter now.

And then the truth comes out – Lawrence has always hated Dennis for marrying Elizabeth, and for being rejected by Elizabeth even when she and Dennis were having problems. Dennis smirks, Lawrence goes to pull the trigger and Dennis shoots him with a dart from his umbrella. YES. They struggle and Lawrence manages to get away.

Dennis calls in the cavalry and Lieutenant Catalano is delighted to think that he is finally putting Dennis under arrest. He’s unconvinced by Dennis’s story that he didn’t know the page was still missing until Lawrence turned up looking for it, or that Dennis has only just worked out where the missing page is thanks to the clue left by Constantin. (It was hidden in Gone With The Wind – the Scarlet Letter was actually the Scarlett letter and was to do with a case Constantin worked on something something moving on).

Dennis goes to see Professor Fitzpatrick and tells him everything he knows about Constantin’s research. Fitzpatrick tells him he can’t see anything dodgy about the page. Catalano arrives to tell Dennis they found Lawrence at the hotel and points out the window. Dennis peers out and sees Lawrence’s body on top of an air conditioning unit.

Cut to Dennis clearing out his office on account of being fired. Rhoda is heartbroken but Dennis tells her as soon as he finds another job he’ll send for her, he won’t be sent back to prison. While he’s waiting for the lift he takes a closer look at one of the books in his box – the pages have red binding on them.

Dennis goes back to Professor Fitzpatrick and tells him he knows all – that Lawrence bought the paper from the people in London and forged the book, that Fitzpatrick authenticated it so it would appear genuine. Dennis doesn’t care about that though, he wants the professor’s help to catch Constantin’s murderer, Anne Barlow, the reward for Fitzpatrick being avoiding having his name attached to the scandal. All he needs to do is go to Anne’s house and find the gun that was used to kill Constantin.

Fitzpatrick has lunch with the Barlows and tells them they need to steal the manuscript page back from Dennis. Anne is horrified, does he expect her to go over and seduce Dennis? God no, Fitzpatrick says, Lindsay should do it. Lindsay sighs and says she’ll take one for the team.

That night, Lindsay drives away from her mother’s house and someone breaks in. The gun is retrieved from the pocket of the killer…

Plot twist!

Plot twist!

The police swarm in and Fitzpatrick puts a gun to Dennis’s head.

OH DENNIS

OH DENNIS YOU MENACE

Fitzpatrick’s escape is foiled by a well executed thrust of the umbrella that sends he and Dennis tumbling down the stairs, but Dennis is pleased to report that rumours of his death are greatly exaggerated.

Newly reinstated back at the insurance company, Dennis sets off for a date with Anne Barlow, who agreed to withdraw her claim for the definitely faked manuscript.

And they all lived happily ever after.

Later gang!

Later gang!

 

 

S07E03 – See You In Court, Baby

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It’s a dark dark night in San Francisco (probably) and a man is breaking into a large expensive house to steal a very expensive car from his (presumably) soon to be ex-wife.

Why does this matter, I hear you ask? Because Our Heroine would like to take some time out of her busy day to talk to you about the sanctity of marriage, to wit: young people just don’t take it seriously any more.

*coughs* Elizabeth Taylor but *coughs*

This whole pep talk, is Jess’s way of saying STORYTIME KIDS, I’M TAKING A WEEK OFF. It’s time to talk about Truman Calloway, aka this guy:

IMDB says this is Roebt Reed, aka Mike Brady. I say it's lying.

IMDB says this is Robert Reed, aka Mike Brady. I say it’s lying.

As it so happens Truman is on the phone to the woman I mentioned earlier whose ex-husband made off with her car and (as it turns out) pushed it off a cliff. Oh, rich people problems. Truman advises her not to go to the police, instead contact her insurance company directly. He’s actually in the middle of a very important meeting with a new client, a man who wants to divorce his wife (a Greenleaf of the Wisconsin Greenleafs for those playing along) but only wants a lump sum of about 3-5 million, of which he’d give Truman about 10%. Truman tells him he mispronouncing a third, and says he’s not sure he wants to take the case. It’s a lot easier to put neglected wives on the stand than fortune-hunting beach bums.

Meanwhile, the woman, Amy Sue, has taken Truman’s advice and gone straight to her insurance company, where she sits in the office of the claims investigator and bawls her eyes out, much to the claims investigator’s confusion.

Oh Dennis.

Oh Dennis.

Dennis promises to take a look at the case, mainly to get the crying woman (who has confessed to only taking the car in the divorce settlement to try and make her ex husband Ed not want the divorce any more) out of his office. He goes to have a chat with Ed the car thief, who has a lot to say on the subject of divorce lawyers but agrees to write a cheque covering the cost of the car for his ex-wife. Job done.

Back at Truman’s office, Truman is just ducking out for a lunch meeting when he bumps into his newest fiancee, Joyce, back from an acting audition and demanding to talk. He tells her he is late for his lunch meeting so she hops into his limo while from up in the office, Truman’s secretary Karen watches it all unfold. In the car, Joyce is unhappy about signing a pre-nup, but Truman tells her it’s the same pre-nup all his ex-wives get – 10 grand a month and a million dollar insurance policy. All his ex-wives except his first one, Charmaine, who only got 250 grand but Truman was poor then. Joyce thinks Truman doesn’t love anything except his money, but Truman tells her he was in love, once, though he didn’t know it at the time.

Cold.

At lunch, Truman goes over the divorce settlement of a couple of actors with the lawyer for the husband, former cop Joe Briscoe. It’s Joe’s first big settlement and he’s concerned that Truman is trying to screw him out of a big payday. He tells Truman that if the settlement doesn’t go through, he’s coming for Truman. Truman is unconcerned, he’s heard it all before.

“Not from me,” says Joe, who storms off.

Before Truman can call for the cheque, a woman sits down in Joe’s seat. It’s his first ex-wife, Charmaine.

Still refuse to believe that's Mike Brady though

Still refuse to believe that’s Mike Brady though

Charmaine tells him she’s been going to phone for some time, but it was too important. She needs to talk to Truman about Jason.

Later that night, a security guard patrolling Truman’s law office sees an open door, goes to investigate and finds Truman on the floor stabbed to death.

There’s a shock.

The next morning, Dennis the menace is on his way to work when he hears news of the murder on the radio. At his office, his secretary Rhoda tells him Amy Sue is waiting for him in his office. Amy Sue is worried – Ed turned up drunk at the house the previous night, telling her he still loved her and that they only weren’t together because of Truman Calloway and declares he is going to find Truman Calloway and kill him. Amy Sue called Ed at work that morning but the police had already been and arrested him and Dennis did say if there was anything he could do…

“Yes I did say that.” Says Dennis, thoughtfully. “In an offhand sort of way.”

Down at the police station, Lieutenant Catalano (previously seen here) is outlining the case to a claims investigator from New York, Marcia McPhee (aka Kira from Star Trek Deep Space Nine). As Marcia leaves, Dennis’ presence is announced to Catalano, who informs the desk sergeant that he doesn’t have time for insurance investigators and to tell Dennis to write him a letter.

Downstairs, Marcia bumps into Dennis who is delighted to see her – Marcia assumes Dennis is there to hand himself in for a theft and is flabbergasted when he informs her that he’s a claims investigator now (as part of his probation). He’s keen to drill Marcia for information but she’s not having a bar of it – though she does tell him that she doesn’t think Ed killed Truman, her money is on the first ex-wife Charmaine.

Dennis sees Ed, who tells him he did go and see Truman to punch his lights out but when he got there Truman was already dead, face down on the floor. He turned him over, which must have been when he got blood on his hand but he didn’t kill him. He offers to sign the release form for the car, but Dennis tells him that can wait, and that Dennis is there at the request of Amy Sue who firmly believes in Ed’s innocence and that it’s a pity the way their marriage worked out.

Naww.

Dennis’s next stop is Truman’s law office, where he runs into Joe Briscoe coming out. Inside, Truman’s secretary Karen is confused by Dennis’s questions as she’s just given all the information to Marcia McPhee. Dennis concocts a story about Marcia’s purse being stolen and requiring a duplicate copy, and Karen sighs and starts compiling.

The old Stanton charm.

The old Stanton charm.

Dennis puts Rhoda to work on trying to find out who Truman had seen in the 48 hours prior to his death and returns to the restaurant where Truman had lunch with Joe Briscoe. For the price of 2 Andrew Jacksons, Dennis finds out from a waiter that Joe threatened Truman and that Charmaine had sat down to talk to Truman after Joe left. In an amazing coincidence, Charmaine is just leaving the restaurant at that second, so Dennis turns the charm on again helped by a pair of ladies gloves that he borrows from a passing table. The subterfuge doesn’t work but Charmaine does agree to have a coffee with Dennis, much to the annoyance of Marcia who is scoping them out from a phone box nearby.

Later that night, Dennis arrives home to find flashlights moving around in his office. He sneaks inside and catches the culprit.

e1 e2

CRYING. BEST LINE EVER.

CRYING. BEST LINE EVER.

In the true spirit of generosity, Dennis tells Marcia what Charmaine’s conversation with Truman was about – her son, Jason, who needs money to go to medical school. Predictably, Truman shot that down, and Charmaine claims that was the last time she ever saw him. In the spirit of team work Dennis offers to team up with Marcia, since they both have the same goal of proving Ed innocent but Marcia want’s no part of that.

The next morning Dennis is sitting down to breakfast when he gets a visit from Joe Briscoe, who is less than pleased that Dennis has been asking questions about him. He tries to stand up to Dennis who promptly takes his gun off him and wants to know why Joe went to see Truman’s secretary Karen. It would seem that it was to try and poach clients, but as it turns out that Karen was Truman’s between-wives girlfriend.

At work, Rhoda fills Dennis in on her investigations from the list. She’s managed to track everyone down except a ‘Johnny Trixler’ from Wisconsin, who met Truman to divorce his wife, the Greenleaf. Except there is no such person as Johnny Trixler or a family called Greenleaf.

I think we all know where this is going. Cut to Charmaine’s hotel room, where she gets an unexpected visit from her son Jason, aka Johnny Trixler who tells her they didn’t need Truman then and they don’t need him now. He just flew in from O’Hara an hour ago.

Armed with a copy of Jason’s photo, Dennis pays Jason and Charmaine a visit at the hotel and confirms that Karen identified Jason as Johnny Trixler. Jason confesses to going to see Truman but swears he didn’t kill him. The police turn up and take both mother and son away for questioning, thanks to a tip-off from Marcia who considers the case closed.

A chance spotting of a newspaper article at work sends Dennis on the right track. He goes to see Karen the secretary, and tells her he can prove she was at work at the time of the murder. In response, she reaches for her bag but Dennis steps in.

There's nothing that umbrella can't do

There’s nothing that umbrella can’t do

Oh dear.

Oh dear.

The classic tale. Karen got sick of being Truman’s thing on the side, and when he chose Joyce over her she took matters into her own hands.

Stay tuned tomorrow for Murder She Blogged Epic Tweetathon Part The Third: A Story To Die For. Follow the hashtag #MSBStory on Twitter and see what fresh nonsense I can come up with!

But I'll see you tomorrow first!

But I’ll see you tomorrow first!

 

S06E19 – Always a Thief

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We're ba-ack!

We’re ba-ack!

Apologies for the break in transmission Fletcherfans but there was shenanigans a-plenty this summer, including the safe arrival of my nephew Harry  James Williamson as you can see by this incredibly Youtube recreation of our meeting.

On second thoughts, not so accurate. My brother doesn’t have that much hair. I am definitely a hornbill though. And my sister-in-law is basically Nala. And I’m almost certain my brother’s puppies bowed.

I should also mention, the blog appears to have accumulated some new followers so if you’ve just wandered onto this omnishambles of a blog I say welcome! And sorry! And I hope you enjoyed Breaking Bad because that comes up way more often than you think.

But never mind all of that, because we have business to attend to and by business I mean bookends. Our Heroine has just received a cassette tape letter from her old pal Dennis The Menace Stanton and while it was adequate, she can’t help but think of an earlier cassette he sent her about a case he’d worked on. Because as it turns out, Dennis The Menace has retired from being a cat burglar and is now a..er…consultant to insurance companies.

Would you like to hear the tale?

That question was purely rhetorical.

That question was purely rhetorical.

Imagine, if you will, a cafe in San Francisco called the Pepper Pot Cafe. Now imagine that the owner, a Mr Langston ‘Lanny’ Douglas has squandered his family fortune including the cafe.

Also, you probably aren’t imagining Lanny properly, so let me help you out a little:

SO GROSS.

SO GROSS.

Now imagine a mysterious stranger called Mahmoud Amini wanders in offering Lanny a lifeline – 10% of 2 million dollars. $200,000 grand easy money, as long as he convinces his mother to sell Amini a priceless Stuart Silver dollar that Lanny’s father bought not that long ago for a whopping five hundred grand.

(Bless the 80s. You can’t buy an apartment for that in Melbourne).

Lanny’s mother, Monica Douglas, is less impressed, mostly because she already has 2 million dollars and a great deal more besides. In fact, Andrea is furious that these foreigners insist on coming over and buying up her heritage. Her husband loved that coin and she won’t be parted from it.

 

**not code

 

Poor, poor Lanny.

 

Possibly not petunias. But definitely Pedro.

Possibly not petunias. But definitely Pedro.

More on Pedro later.

To make Lanny’s day just that little bit better, his wife Andrea saw the whole failed shambles and is toasting him with a 2pm whiskey.

 

*bah-boom tish*

*bah-boom tish*

Andrea’s got bad news for Lanny – she talked to her father about borrowing more money from him and while it amused him no end, the money ain’t coming. Lanny announces he won’t be home that night, he has to “work” in the city to which Andrea retorts that she knows how to play too. As Lanny departs Andrea realises someone has been eavesdropping.

Later that night, Lanny hatches his DIABOLICAL SCHEME.

Classic Lanny.

Classic Lanny.

Lanny sneaks into the study, opens the safe, steals all the jewelry inside, closes the safe, puts gelignite on the safe and blows up the safe closes the door to the patio, smashes the glass in the door for good measure and is promptly busted by Pedro the gardener, whom Lanny promptly stabs to death with a pitchfork.

Guys, Lanny is an arsehole. Who apparently has access to mild explosives. But apparently we shouldn’t dwell on that.

The next morning, the cavalry arrive in the form of Lieutenant Catalano (being played by Ken Swofford, because always). Catalano gets the low down from Mrs Douglas before noticing a familiar figure gazing at a painting in the next room.

Oh Dennis. I actually have missed you.

Oh Dennis. I actually have missed you.

Dennis informs Catalano that his bosses are the insurers of the magical silver dollar, and he’d like a word with Mrs Douglas if he might. Catalano can’t think of any objections so Dennis heads on in to see Mrs Douglas, now joined by her sister Grace Lambert (aka the woman overhearing arguments the previous day). Dennis gently interrogates them about the other occupants of the house, which Grace sees through in about 5 seconds. She asks him why he’s so interested in the fact that Lanny spent the night at a hotel in the city.

Why? Because Dennis smells a rat, that’s why and he says as much to his assistant back in the office. The timeline of the theft is all wrong. If Monica heard the bang and rushed straight downstairs as she claims, there would hardly be time for a thief to ransack the safe, smash the door, kill Pedro and flee the scene. And let’s not forget dear old Lanny’s been harassing his mother to sell the coin.  Dennis gets his assistant to track down the mysterious Mr Amini, while he pays a visit on Lanny.

On arriving at the Pepper Pot, Dennis nearly crashes into a hastily departing vehicle being driven by someone who isn’t Lanny. Dennis receives some resistance from Lanny’s associate on the desk, but after displaying the fact that HIS UMBRELLA HAS A SWORD IN IT (WTF?) Dennis convinces the man to stand aside, leaving the doorway clear. Inside, the office is empty but Dennis notices a small pool of blood, and a photo of Lanny and his wife posed in the office next to a ridiculously over-sized golf trophy, now missing. Dennis bids Lanny’s minion good day and returns to his office to fill Lieutenant Catalano in. Catalano is surprised to hear that Lanny Douglas is almost certainly deceased, and probably at the hand of the mysterious driver of the car. When pressed for more information, Dennis simply says “I’ve given you my pearls, don’t ask me to string them for you too”.

Almost definitely code.

Dennis’s next visit is to Mr Amini, who is Mr Affable until Dennis confronts him about the coin. He denies all knowledge of anything ever in the history of time, but after being informed the likely sentence for murder he comes clean. He did receive a coin from Lanny, paid for in 2 mill in cash, but it was a fake. Amini was outraged, but not as outraged as Lanny was when Amini got him on the phone. They had made plans to meet later that day to sort the matter out, so to hear Dennis’s theory that Lanny is now dead is worrying for Amini.

Later that night, the old guy in the car pulls up beside a ditch, pulls Lanny’s body out of the trunk of the car and throws him in it.

Conclusive.

The next day, Dennis’s expert confirms that the coin is a fake and demands her payment be dinner with Dennis that Friday. Dennis looks unhappy at the prospect.

Dennis is about to out-Hegarty Hegarty.

Dennis is about to out-Hegarty Hegarty.

Dennis’s boss is curious though. Who has the coin? Lanny? Dennis thinks not, and here’s another thing – where’s the 2 million dollars?

Dennis returns to the scene of all the crimes, and on the way in passes the mysterious car driver leaving the Douglas family driveway. Inside, Grace Lambert informs Dennis that Monica is too worried about her son to see him right now. It’s clear that Grace doesn’t like Dennis very much. (Possibly wise.) Dennis asks about the mysterious man in the car, and Grace tells him that that was Lanny’s father -in-law, Ray Bascomb.

THIS PLOT IS THICK FLETCHERFANS.

As Dennis departs he runs into Lieutenant Catalano, who tells him Lanny Douglas’s body has just been discovered. Back at the office Dennis is filled in by his assistant about the body, and that Lanny still had his wallet, cash and ring on him, so it probably wasn’t robbery. Except the silver dollar and the 2 mill are missing so it almost definitely was. Dennis tells his assistant to find out all she can about Grace Lambert while he pays a visit on Ray Bascomb.

Ray is hard at work overseeing a photoshoot involving a model and some pigeons but takes time to inform Dennis he was shocked by the news of his son-in-law’s death.

“Was that before or after you killed him?” Dennis inquires.

Bascomb doesn’t take very kindly to this, and refuses to say another word. Not when Dennis explains that he knows Ray went to see Lanny. Not when Dennis informs him that it’s impossible to remove all evidence of a dead body from a car. Not when Dennis tells him that the police are at the site where the body was dumped taking plaster casts of the car treads. Not even when Dennis takes that back, as the sirens grow louder, and he tells Ray he thinks they’ve finished.

At the police station, Ray tells Dennis and Catalano that he went to see his son-in-law to not give him money to his face, but that he didn’t kill him. Catalano gets called away, but Dennis isn’t done yet. He asks Ray if it’s true that he only went to see Lanny after a hysterical phone call his secretary remembers he got at work. Dennis thinks Andrea killed Lanny and got her father to cover it up but Ray ain’t talkin.

Dennis returns to House Douglas but is refused entry by a super-apologetic housekeeper who tells him Monica is out and Andrea is not to be seen by anyone. Dennis gallantly responds to this news by jumping into the nearest hedge.

I can relate. I have a sneaking suspicion I too have jumped into a hedge yelling FOR SPARTAAAAA at some point. #dejavu

I can relate. I have a sneaking suspicion I too have jumped into a hedge yelling FOR SPARTAAAAA at some point. #dejavu

Dennis might not have quite achieved high level ninja status but he has achieved boss level cat burglar status and so climbs the nearest drainpipe to see Andrea for himself. Inside, Andrea comes clean.

Well, Dennis said it was so, and lo so it was. Or something. Honestly, I'm still wondering whose bush I jumped into.

Well, Dennis said it was so, and lo so it was. Or something. Honestly, I’m still wondering whose bush I jumped into.

She went to see him and they fought. He told her he didn’t need her any more so she lashed out. She doesn’t want her father to go to prison for her crime, and asks Dennis to take her to the police station. Dennis agrees, but has one last question – does she remember seeing a brown briefcase in the office when she was there with Lanny?

Andrea does, but wants to know why that’s important. Dennis tells her it’s terribly important – the briefcase was gone by the time her father went round to move the body.

Oh yeah, that whole burglary business.

Back at the Pepperpot Cafe, Lanny’s minion (whose name, it turns out, is Joey Freeman) has just closed up for the night and is set to kick back in the freezer room with his briefcase full of money when Dennis sneaks up on him. Joey pulls a gun and warns Dennis not to come any closer, he knows about Dennis’s magical umbrella/sword. Dennis informs him is umbrella isn’t also a sword, aims the umbrella AND SHOOTS A TRANQUILIZER DART INTO JOEY’S NECK DENNIS STANTON WHAT EVEN ARE YOU??

Dennis delicately steps over a now comatose Joey, retrieves the money and departs. The next day, Dennis goes to explain the whole story to Monica Douglas who is naturally devastated by the whole situation. Dennis isn’t done though – he thinks he’s worked out why Grace doesn’t like him. He thinks he reminds her of someone she once loved – Jerome Woodward.

Monica is surprised – that was ten years ago, who told him about that? Dennis makes it his business to know who he’s dealing with. Monica says it was a difficult time in their lives, but Grace returns and says it wasn’t for her. It was, for awhile, a wonderful time. She offers to show the grounds to Dennis who cheerfully accepts.

As they stroll, the story comes out. The story about how Grace was wooed by a rogue who went after her money, and how he convinced her to swap the original Stuart silver dollar for a fake, and who ran off with it.

Dennis is outraged and promptly invites himself to lunch to cheer Grace up immediately.

And so ends the Case of the Silver Coin.

Keith Michell passed away just before Christmas so in honour of everyone’s favourite reformed cat burglar:

And if I jumped into your bush yelling FOR SPARTAAA then I apologise.

And if I jumped into your bush yelling FOR SPARTAAA then I apologise.

 

S06E08 – When The Fat Lady Sings

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We’re in San Francisco this week Fletcherfans, where there’s a dead guy on the pavement, another guy looking close to death on the pavement, a gaggle of theatre people looking very sad/hungry

 

Hodor? Hodor.

Hodor? Hodor.

Also at the scene is Jerry Stiller being a cop, Our Heroine being Our Heroine and a ghost from Christmas past who I will get to in a minute.

The gang all adjourn to the nearest hospital to wait for updates on the condition of the not dead guy, while hurling accusations around about who’s fault it is.

HODOR HODOR HODOR HODOR

HODOR HODOR HODOR HODOR

Meanwhile, JB is chatting to Lieutenant Jerry Stiller Birnbaum who wants answers, and since everyone else is hysterical, it’s up to JB to fill in the blanks.

Turns out, the story only begins that morning, when JB is at her hotel having breakfast when she gets a phone call from a mysterious stranger who turns out to be sitting not far from her.

DENNIS STANTON WHAT EVEN ARE YOU AND WHAT IS THAT MOUSTACHE

DENNIS STANTON WHAT EVEN ARE YOU AND WHAT IS THAT MOUSTACHE

You may remember Dennis the Catburglaring Menace from such times as this one. He’s back, much reformed, and he has PLANS for JB. No, not those plans, operatic plans.  Renowned opera singer Rosanno Bertolucci is in town and Dennis wants to take JB not only to the performance, but to meet the singer himself.

Rosanno Bertolucci is delighted to meet JB and even more delighted to tell her about how Dennis has helped to raise over $200,000 for orphans from the takings of that night’s performance. I only mention this because it never comes up again and I don’t know whether Dennis Stanton is a reformed cat-burglar or a hallucination. It’s too hard to tell.

Rosanno’s wife and aunt appear from a morning’s shopping with a new jacket for Rosanno and the news that the production’s tenor has been badmouthing Rosanno and his protege Maria in the newspaper. Rosanno, it would seem, can take insults directed at him but is outraged that anyone is having a go at Teresa. JB and Dennis, on the other hand, are more interested in the gun they’ve just spotted tucked into Rosanno’s pants (not code).

He really does have a gun in his pants! #OrDoesHe #NoHeReallyDoes

He really does have a gun in his pants! #OrDoesHe #NoHeReallyDoes

Rosanno explains that while they were on tour in  Japan and Hong Kong an unsavoury  gentleman by the name of Faraday was hanging around with some shifty looking associates, and so he got the gun for protection. Rosanno Bertolucci has no time for American gun laws, despite JB’s friendly advice.

Lieutenant Jerry Stiller Birnbaum is rather interested to hear about the gun and the shifty associates but Jessica’s not done yet. That night, she explains, she got to the theatre an hour before curtain and was backstage with Dennis The Menace. The place was a madhouse, with people and sets and props everywhere. Maria the protege was having her hands full trying to keep fellow singer Giorgio’s hands off her while her actual boyfriend, a journalist named Barry, sneaks out before Rosanno can catch him with Maria in her dressing room. While Jessica and Dennis deal with Hodor launching a tirade against critics, a shady character slinks backstage before being caught in Maria’s dressing room – it’s Lou Faraday. Rosanno hurls him down the stairs and tells him if he’s caught near Maria again, Rosanno will kill him.

DISAPPROVING FACE.

DISAPPROVING FACE.

Lieutenant Jerry Stiller Birnbaum is even more interested to hear this, but JB still ain’t done. The show went ahead with everyone performing brilliantly, except Maria. After the performance, JB and Dennis went backstage to congratulate everyone, but are cut short by screaming coming from Maria’s dressing room. Rosanno breaks down the door and finds Maria freaking out that Lou Faraday had been in her room, and had just left via the fire escape. Dennis the Menace orders someone to call the police and goes down the fire escape after them. JB and Rosanno’s wife Sylvana rush to the alley, they hear two gunshots and find  Rosanno on the ground, having a heart attack. He tells them Lou Faraday shot at him so he fired back in self defence.

That’s all well and good, says Birnbaum, except that Faraday was almost certainly shot while he was lying face down, there was no gun found on Faraday, but there were two spent cartridges in Rosanno’s gun. A kerfuffle outside erupts when the doctor informs them that Rosanno wants to speak to his aunt Teresa and that’s it – not his wife and certainly not the cops.

The next morning JB pays a visit to Lieutenant Jerry Stiller Birnbaum to ask him what happened to Lou Faraday’s windbreaker – he was wearing it when he first went to the theatre, but wasn’t when his body was found. Fun fact – some outrageously awful overdubbing happens in this scene, I had to skip back about 5 times to see whether I was going nuts or not. But that’s neither here nor there. JB also asks about the angle of the gunshot – a 45 degree angle. Lieutenant Jerry Stiller Birnbaum is unconcerned about all of that though – he’s got the case pretty much locked down, he just needs proof. He’s keen to find out what Rosanno told her in the hospital the night before but Teresa ain’t talking.

A call comes in for JB – it’s Dennis the Menace, offering to chauffeur her around for the day. He makes plans to meet her at the opera house, hangs up and grunts (trust me, watch the episode). As he leaves, he notices a car tailing him and tries to evade them in a car chase through San Francisco but never mind that because I’VE WORKED IT OUT DENNIS STANTON IS A SHAPESHIFTER.

g2a

I mean what other possible explanation could there be????

I mean what other possible explanation could there be????

Dennis Stanton. Dennis Stand-in. Something something funny.

Over at the theatre JB is filling in Maria and her boyfriend Barry on Rosanno’s condition – he’s much better, but won’t be performing for awhile. JB wonders how Lou Faraday got into Maria’s dressing room again, but Barry tells her the stage guard always watches the performance, so it wouldn’t have been difficult. JB also asks Maria about the windbreaker, but Maria knows nothing, just that he must have changed his clothes – he wasn’t wearing it when he was in her dressing room that night. Jess thinks that’s odd considering Rosanno’s threat. Rosanno made no effort to hid his jealousy. Hint hint.

Maria informs JB that Rosanno is only a friend, nothing more.

 

DISBELIEVING JESS IS DISBELIEVING

DISBELIEVING JESS IS DISBELIEVING

Dennis arrives with the news he’s being tailed and offers to take Jess over to the hospital to chat to Rossano, who has just woken up and is expected to make a full recovery. She runs into Birnbaum and tells him her new theory – that someone dressed as Faraday, shot the real Faraday and made Rossano think he was shooting at Faraday. Birnbaum thanks her kindly for passing her theories along, and that she has an enjoyable flight back home to Vermont.

The sass is strong in this one.

The sass is strong in this one.

Back at his apartment, Dennis has just discovered his home trashed and a customs agent with a gun pointed at him. It turns out that there are some missing emeralds that he believes were smuggled into the country via the opera company, and since Dennis’s record was – noteworthy – he became the target of the investigation, although they are keeping tabs on everyone hoping that the emeralds will be recovered.

Over at the hospital, Sylvana and Rossano are arguing about Maria when the phone rings – and it’s Maria. Sylvana listens in but only hears Rossano say he will take care of it. He tells her he is tired and bids her goodnight. As soon as she leaves, he sneaks out of the hospital (after clocking his police guard on the head and stealing his uniform) and heads to Maria’s boyfriend Barry Sanderson’s apartment. Inside, he finds the apartment trashed, Maria unconcious and Barry lying dead in the courtyard below the fire escape. He goes to Maria just as the police arrive.

My GOD the melodrama.

Down at the police station Birnbaum won’t let JB near him or Rossano, but Dennis has been able to ferret out some information, the most interesting of which is that the missing emeralds were found in Barry’s pockets. The new theory is that Rossano found out Barry was double crossing him and so killed him, which seems plausible until Rossano’s aunt butts in – Rossano, she says, is only guilty of being a devoted father.

UGH SO DRAMA.

Long story short, Rossano had an affair, found out later that a baby resulted, and when that baby turned up on his doorstep with letter from her now dead mother asking for Rossano to put the girl in the company how could Rossano say no? So he didn’t.  Teresa swears Sylvana knows nothing about it.

Birnbaum still doesn’t buy it, but he has time to tell JB and Dennis that they found the missing windbreaker before kicking them out of his office. That seals it for JB as to who the killer is, but hasn’t got a clue how to prove it.

Cue suitably melodramatic trap.

Naturally

Naturally

Through a cunning use of Sylvana being jealous of her husband’s daughter, they get her to reveal she’s not really Rossano’s daughter, she and her boyfriend Lou Faraday had to get the emeralds into the country, blah blah double cross etc.

What I want to know is, when are we going to talk about Dennis Stanton’s shapeshifting ways?

Such drama, very sleepy.

Such drama, very sleepy.

 

 

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