Once upon a time in Buffalo, New York, a man gets strangled at a bus stop.

Once upon another time, a production company is set to film an infomercial under the watchful eye of director Tom Powell (aka Kernickie from Grease). Powell is mostly keeping a watchful eye on his girlfriend, production assistant Sara SoIrrelevantSheHasNoLastName. Producer Larry Shields keeps a longing eye on Sara while trying to run the show, and Tom’s wife Gina has an angry eye on the whole thing. She knows what’s going on with Tom and Sara and she’s not going to take it any more.

The infomercial is being hosted by Hollywood Hasbeen Wade Foster who is going through a messy divorce and hasn’t been able to meditate in weeks the poor dear and is featuring Our Heroine, new talent Joellen Waller and once-legendary author Matt Matthews (did the writers just give up at this point or what?)

She works hard for the money.

While JB and Joellen load up on coffee, Matt Matthews loads up on gin and goes for a wander. Apparently, he hasn’t written a new book for a while and both Larry and JB hope that his presence in the Murder of the Month Book Club will inspire him to keep writing. Later, Wade wanders into the green room and orders Matt to make him a drink and ends up nearly being punched out for his trouble.

The call comes over the PA for the authors to head to the stage and as Jessica is about to leave she bumps into Detective Henderson and Lieutenant Fogel. They’re investigating a lead for a colleague up in Buffalo – a man by the name of Stuart Murphy was found strangled after a suspected mugging, but the name of the production company Telesales Media was found scribbled on a notepad in his apartment so they’re checking it out just in case. Jess tells them she doesn’t know anything about it but she’ll get back to them if she thinks of anything.

On the soundstage, infomercials are explained to Wade while Matt goes hunting for gin. A phone call comes in – we don’t see who it’s for, but we know it’s from the guy who killed Stuart Murphy. He tells whoever is on the other end of the line that he’s a friend of Jason Bayer Saxon and they need to meet immediately. The other person hangs up, and the guy smashes the phone box up.

Jess, Matt and Joellen adjourn for lunch, and Matt explains to Joellen that until this Murder of the Month situation came up all of his books had been out of print for years. He orders another gin and tonic which JB sneakily changes to a coffee. Mr Phonebox Smashing Guy wanders up to the table and introduces himself as crime superfan Arnold Wynn. He hasn’t read Joellen’s book yet but is a big fan of JB and was actually in Matt’s creative writing class up in Buffalo, a fact Matt does not remember (can relate. I retain about 20% of all information fed to me unless it’s Simpsons quotes. Alcohol is not my friend.) Matt orders himself a gin and tonic and one for Albert but Albert quickly declines because gin and tonic is disgusting and a waste of gin.

Back at the studio, Arnold has gotten himself on the list of extras playing audience members for the infomercial taping. He gets his name checked off and then goes for a poke about the studio, where he runs into Tom and Sara having a tiff. He plays dumb and asks where the audience is supposed to be and Tom sends him to studio B.

On stage, things aren’t going great. An audience member (coincidentally sitting next to Arnold Wynn) asks an unscripted question about Joellen’s background and Matt succumbs to the gin. Tom calls time on the whole thing and says they’ll pick it up tomorrow, at which point Matt announces he won’t be there. Larry reminds him of his contract, but Matt says it will never hold up in court, the contract refers to him as an author.

Later that night Jess finds Matt in a bar drowning his sorrows…

Of all the gin joints, and so on and so forth

…and she says she knows she can’t talk him out of his behaviour so she won’t. And that’s that.

The next day Albert sees Wade on the phone to his lawyer and loiters uncomfortably close. Wade hollers for Larry who moves Albert on, despite Albert insisting he was only after an autograph. Meanwhile, Gina informs Tom that unless he agrees to a new contract, she will take sole ownership of the company and both he and Sara will be out of a job.

Gina’s done (and she’s not the only woman).

Over lunch, everyone tries to disentangle their lunch orders. Jessica receives an invitation via sandwich from Jason Bayer Saxon, which she assumes was meant for someone else but no one knows who it is.  Wade asks Gina to be paid in cash and swears he’s not trying to hide his income from his ex-wife, he’s hiding it from his manager. Gina doesn’t believe him but will see what she can do. Jess and Matt toast the end of filming but are interrupted by Lieutenant Fogel and Detective Henderson. Apparently, Stuart Murphy was in Matt’s creative writing course in Buffalo too, but Matt doesn’t remember a thing. He does helpfully remember where he was the night of the murder, and the police tell him they’ll check it out.

Tom delivers a bag full of cash to Wade with a request to be introduced to all the players in LA to which Wade brushes him off with a yeah sure, call me. Tom leaves and Wade discovers Albert was hiding in the next room the whole time and would like to discuss Wade’s efforts in hiding money from his ex-wife.

Cut to Larry, Joellen, Gina and JB walking past just as Wade punches Albert through the door and onto the floor. Gina escorts ALbet to her office for some first aid while Wade confirms his dinner date with Joellen.

2018 in a nutshell tbh

Later that night Ernie the guard is making his rounds, runs into Larry and Sara heading out for the night, and then rushes back as Sara starts screaming over the corpse of Albert Wynn. The next morning, Fogel and Henderson are on the case, despite the lack of signs of murder. Fogel has a theory that Albert died from being whacked by Wade, but Wade protests his innocence and JB doesn’t think the punch was that severe.

Fogel is outraged that Jessica didn’t tell him that Albert was in the same creative writing course that Stuart Murphy was in but Jessica thought it was a coincidence (until Albert turned up dead). She shows them the sandwich note and they tell her they’ll look into it. Jess snoops through the things found on Albert’s body and notes that a weird key, his medi-bracelet and the 200 bucks that were sticking out of his pocket when he got punched are all missing. Jess later finds the medi-bracelet in the hallway – it turns out Albert was allergic to quinine. Which is fair, tonic water tastes like sadness. Down at the precinct Jess shares her discovery with Fogel and Henderson and remembers how reluctant Albert was to have a gin and tonic with Matt. She’s convinced Albert was murdered.

That night Jess and Matt adjourn to the nearest bar to talk the case over but don’t get very far. Fogel and Henderson turn up to arrest Matt, and by the next day have learned that the missing $200 that was in Albert’s pocket has turned up in Matt’s apartment and that Albert had been staying with his aunt in Yonkers. Jess gets more bad news from the publisher boss – he is pulling the pin on the murder of the month book club. Larry is disappointed, and wonders if they can film around Matt and Jess suddenly has a thought about the script for the infomercial. They watch the girl sitting next to Albert ask the unscripted question about Joellen’s book and Jessica suddenly realises who the killer is.

I mean I might be biased, because I’m writing this on Grand Final day and not only did my team not make it but my two least favourite teams did, but this is another mehpisode. Mostly because I hate infomercials and refuse to believe that JB would go within 2 feet of one.

Anyway, Jess knows who the killer is and they spring a trap at a Yonkers bus station to catch them.

More like plagiariser of death

Joellen, it turns out, stole the story she was about to become famous for from Stuart Murphy. Arnold knew and was blackmailing her so she killed him. The reasons for Albert killing Stuart were drowned out by the sound of GC howling at my feet for a sustained five minutes.

Onwards, Fletcherfans.

Next week will be better.