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S04E08 – Steal Me A Story

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JB is in LA for a book tour this week Fletcherfans, where a young woman named Gayle Yamada would very much like to speak with her. Her new boss, TV producer Avery Stone has rejected her story ideas for his TV show Danger Doctor and has asked instead that she use a story he read a summary of the other week… a summary of the new book by JB Fletcher. Our Heroine, being the kind and beneficent Queen of All Things, thinks the whole thing is hilarious and offers to help Gayle write a new plot line to give to Avery instead.

It looks like it’s going to take a little more than some JB magic to fix the problems on Danger Doctor though. The two leads on the show, Brenda Blake and Gary Patterson (previously seen as the Sheriff here), are getting fed up with the terrible scripts, and director Bert Puzo (previously seen here as Frank) is getting fed up with Avery’s colleague Sid Sharkey (who has already been seen here and here and will be back). To make matters worse, Stone is less than enthusiastic about Gayle’s story when she brings it to him, and less so when he finds out JB had been helping her. JB, always looking out for the little guy, decides to go over Avery’s head and goes to see network bigwig Kate Hollander, who has been trying to secure the rights to one of JB’s books. Kate swears up and down that she was unaware of Avery Stone’s thieving ways and that she’ll put a stop to it. After all, she’s been such a fan of JB’s work for so long and she’s so eager to bring her book to the small screen.

Ah yes, thinks JB. “Murder at the Asylum?”

“I loved every page,” says Kate.

“Oh dear I must be confused.” JB says. ” I think that we’re negotiating Calvin Canterbury’s Revenge”

JB had no time for your crap.

JB had no time for your crap.

Sid Sharkey doesn’t appreciate Kate telling him how to do his job and orders Avery to come into his office immediately. He accuses Avery of stabbing him in the back and fires him. Avery tells him they have a contract and until he hears differently he is going to keep working until he takes Sid for every penny. Things go from bad to worse for Sid when a call comes in from the crew – Gary Patterson has just stormed off the set. Sid marches down to the set and tells Bert to do whatever he has to do to get Gary back on the set or he’s fired. Bert genuinely couldn’t care less until Sid quietly reminds him of the time Sid put Bert in rehab after snorting half of Tijuana and gave him his first directing gig afterwards. Sounds like a threat huh?

Sid’s troubles are far from over. Brenda Blake, one of the stars of the show, had asked to be written out of the next three episodes so she could shoot a movie but Sid’s not having a bar of it, even when Brenda threatens to walk. Sid has two words for her: CON TRACT. His advice? Lay back and enjoy it.

Ugh.

Ugh.

That night, JB goes to pay a visit on Sid Sharkey but finds him out of his office. Instead she finds his secretary Frieda Schmidt (played by Fionnula Flanagan who has been in everything including but not limited to the Murder She Wrote movie Celtic Riddle EVERYTHING MOVES IN CIRCLES). Frieda informs JB, while taking a message for her boss about lunch at the Polo Club with a Mr Perlman, that Sid is out for the night but that she has the messages that JB left and that she will see that he gets them.  To make up for it, Frieda offers to drop JB back at her hotel.

Later that night Avery is alone in the studio working late. Except for the cleaning lady, some footsteps belonging to an unseen high heeled wearing stranger and Sid, who has decided that all of his problems will be fixed if they fire Bert in the morning. Avery goes home, weary, leaving Sid alone in his office with a package, which he excitedly opens. And then it explodes.

That’ll teach him for that “lay back and enjoy it” remark.

JB is summoned to the crime scene, as despite the blowing-upness, the office is almost entirely undamaged, including the note that Frieda left for her boss saying that JB was trying to get in touch. Inside, JB finds that Gayle had also been summoned, because as it turns out Lieutenant Bradshaw has a very important question for them.

[starts aggressively rocking out to the guitar solo in Live and Let Die]

[starts aggressively rocking out to the guitar solo in Live and Let Die]

In the interests of fact, Bradshaw would actually like to know where JB has been for the last three hours. JB, impervious to his tone, would very much like to know why she’s been summoned down here in the middle of the night.  Bradshaw tells her that Sid was blown to bits three hours earlier by a bunch of dynamite “wrapped in pink feminine wrapping paper.” that had presumably been delivered by a woman heard leaving in highheeled shoes. (Just to make sure you got the whole ‘suspect is a woman’ thing).

JB tries to explain that she’d only just met Sid recently, and that she’s a novelist. Bradshaw knows who she is, even read a couple of her books. Frankly they were a waste of his time.

That was unwise, Kananga.

That was unwise, Kananga.

Bradshaw  thinks it’s highly suspicious that JB came to visit someone she barely knew (but who was trying to steal her story idea), and left without alerting the night guard even when Jess points out the entirely unsuspicious reason – she left with Sid’s secretary. Kanaga will see about that!

On the way home, Gayle swears that she had nothing to do with the Great Explosion That Surprisingly Did Almost No Structural Damage; she was home alone writing. She hasn’t been in Hollywood long, she confides to JB, but she’s learned one thing: you’ve got to protect your fanny at all costs.

BUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA sorry.

BUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA sorry.

Gayle asks JB if she has an alibi for 8:45 and JB tells her she was soaking in a hot tub.

“Anyone with you?” Asks Gayle.

Word.

Word.

The next morning JB visits the set of Danger Doctor to find Avery has assumed the role of Bossman rather effortlessly. JB tries to ask him about the Great Explosion That Surprisingly Did Almost No Damage and in response he tells her to get off the studio grounds but before she can, Diane the “close personal friend” of Gary Patterson rushes over to tell her that Gary is hanging out in his trailer and would very much like to meet her.

Turns out Gary has a million dollar proposal for JB. No, not that kind, he wants her to get to work fixing the terrible scripts. In fact, he himself was working on polishing them up from 8:30 til 9:30 the night before. (See how smoothly he worked that in there?)

“Oh? Alone?” Asks JB.

“Well, no. The little lady was here with me.”

“Gary likes to bounce his ideas off of me.” Says Diane.

I feel like this episode has taken a turn...

I feel like this episode has taken a turn…

Excuse me just a sec…

Someone got into the chocolates a bit early this year...

Someone got into the chocolates a bit early this year…

Oh God. What’s happening? Oh right. So Avery turns up at the trailer eager to throw JB out but JB informs him that Gary has just offered her a job developing scripts and she’s just decided to accept. SUCKER.

JB is shown to her office by Frieda, who reveals she’s not exactly mourning for her late lamented boss. Jess asks her if she noticed anything unusual the day Sid died but Frieda remembers nothing except that she noticed that one of the file drawers had been rummaged through in between her leaving the office with JB and her arriving back after the Great Explosion That Surprisingly Did Almost No Damage. Jess asks her to see if anything was missing and goes to see her pal Avery who is tearing Bert and some other crew a new one. He is delighted to see JB and tells her how wonderful it is to have her on the show. Outside, while Bert drives off in his Jeep (I’m guessing this is important), JB bumps into Diane again, who begs her to take a look at the newest script and polish it. In response, JB asks why they lied about being together the night of the Great Explosion That Surprisingly Did Almost No Damage. Diane admits she left the set to go and get some medication for Gary from home, but that was it. JB urges her to tell Lieutenant Bradshaw, as she believes that while Bradshaw doesn’t have all the facts, he doesn’t seem likely to do anything impulsive.

Cut to Bradshaw trying to arrest Kate Hollander. Her minions think it will make for excellent press coverage but her secretary is outraged. Bradshaw won’t give up, until Kate informs him that she was in bed reading scripts. With her secretary. Who was taking notes. She is then interrupted by one of her minions informing her that USA Today wants to do a spread on her and she tells him to set it up. “Now, where were we?” She asks Bradshaw.

“I believe we were discussing dictation.” Says Bradshaw.

Dictation.

DIC. TATION.

DIC! TATION!

DIC! TATION!

Bloody hell I hope she solves this soon, I’m in serious danger of losing the plot completely. Back at JB’s office Gayle wanders in to say goodbye – she’s decided to chuck her TV writing career in for writing a novel. Bless. Meanwhile, Frieda has worked out what’s missing from the file she noticed open the night of the Great Explosion That Did Almost No Damage – the contract belonging to Brenda Blake. JB goes to confront her about it and Brenda pleads ignorance, until Bradshaw turns up with a warrant. After much bellyaching, Brenda finally admits to stealing her contract out of the drawer, but says that she had no motivation to kill Sid since he was meeting with the producer of the movie she was trying to get cast in the next day. She does however remember seeing the package on the table when she stole the contract.

Bradshaw is a bit miffed, but it’s okay! JB has worked it out! In the absence of proof, JB stages an elaborate plot involving Frieda, some lies and when that doesn’t work a fake kidnapping but she finally gets him to admit in the end.

 

 

 

Not gonna lie, I'm not sure I care.

Not gonna lie, I’m not sure I care.

Afterwards, Bradshaw grudgingly admits that she’s not much of a writer but she’d make a damn fine policeman. Whatever dude. Then, as JB is finally making her escape Kate Hollander reappears with an idea – the JB Fletcher Mystery Hour! A weekly show devoted to the crime busting adventures of a mystery writer!

JB tells her it’s the worst idea she’s ever heard. OH THE LOLZ. But never mind that, because Twitter has just informed me that Angela Lansbury is being made a Dame today. So, by the power vested in me by me I hearby declare April 15 to be World Angela Lansbury Day. Now go! Hurl sass around and be the fabulous Fletcherfans I know you all are!

Until next time!

DIC! TATION!

DIC! TATION!

S03E15 – The Bottom Line is Murder

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JB is in Denver this week gang, visiting her old friend Jayne and her husband Steve, who is a producer on local ‘consumer affairs’ show Bottom Line, hosted by resident douchebag Kenneth Chambers.

Just so we're clear, he's a douchebag.

Just so we’re clear, he’s a douchebag.

Steve isn’t the only one hating his job at the moment. Fellow producers Lynette Bryant (previously seen here) is feeling the wrath of Khan Chambers, his assistant Ryan Munroe is fired for spilling coffee on his chair and failing to fix the TV in Chambers’s office, Joe Rinaldi has found himself a target of one of Kenneth’s special reports and it’s only Jayne and Steve’s friend Robert, the station manager, who seems to be in a good mood.

Douchey McDoucherson is, unsurprisingly, delighted to see JB. And he should be because I have a funny feeling this dude is going to be an ex-douche before too long.

Steve, Rob, Jayne and JB all go out to dinner but Steve is called back in to work. As Rob leaves, he tells JB and Jayne that he can commiserate – he’d been working back on his own every night that week. This is news to Jayne, who had been told by her husband that he’d also been working back every night that week. DA DUM.

Meanwhile, at the station, the janitor has just discovered the body of Kevin Chambers. His reaction is appropriate.

BOW DOWN BEFORE TAKEI, LORD OF MEME.

KNEEL BEFORE TAKEI, LORD OF MEME.

The next morning Jayne and JB head to the studio and discover the place crawling with police and reporters. Inside, police lieutenant and Kenneth Chambers’s “expert witness” Lou Flannagan is holding court, mostly about how his awesomeness is dwarfed by the legacy Chambers has left behind. He informs JB of the time of death, between ten and midnight, and is most interested to learn where Jayne’s husband Steve was at the time. Steve bobs up just at the right time and Flannagan takes him off for questioning. After some sweet talking from Our Heroine, he allows her to sit in on the interview, provided that she clear any final story with him.

Fun fact: the actor playing Lieutenant Flannagan has basically been in every TV show in history. Including ones that haven't even begun filming yet.

Fun fact: the actor playing Lieutenant Flannagan has basically been in every TV show in history. Including ones that haven’t even begun filming yet.

In Steve’s office the lieutenant interrogates him about his alibi for the night before – unfortunately for Steve he had a fight with Chambers, then drove off for a couple of hours to cool down before going home. One of Flannagan’s minions appears with the murder weapon. It was found in the back seat of Steve’s car. Flannagan is quick to put Steve under arrest, despite JB’s protestations of the bleeding obvious.

“Maam, you’re just an observer here.” Says Flannagan.

“Yes. And what I’ve observed is a complete lack of common sense!” Says JB.

Heh heh heh

Heh heh heh

While Jayne and JB hold a war meeting at home to think of people who might want to murder Chambers (everyone) and set Steve up (noone), Lynette the producer has her eyes on the prize – completely revamping the show including its new host, Chambers’s former assistant Clare.

The next morning, Robert thinks they must accept the fact that Steve might have done it but JB shoots that down. He is happy to give her some alternate suspects – Joe Rinaldi, the dodgy toy king, and the aforementioned former assistant Clare. JB goes looking for Clare and finds Lynette in full takeover mode. She tells JB that Steve never even wanted to be producer, so it’s totally okay that she’s jumping into his shoes. In reality Steve wanted to be station manager, but Lord Doucheface gave the job to Robert instead.

JB finds Clare backstage, not entirely happy with the new direction her life has taken. She agrees with JB’s certainty that Steve didn’t kill Chambers, and fills her in on the dodgy toy king Rinaldi. When they go to watch the footage Chambers had compiled, it’s missing.

Ugh. I’m starting to not care. I want to hear more from Lord Takei. Anyway, JB confronts Rinaldi about the missing tapes and he freaks out, saying that he paid Chambers to kill the story the night before. A search of Chamber’s previously-undiscovered-sitting-in-plain-view safe reveals Rinaldi’s tapes and money, along with a few other stories Chambers had been paid to quash.

In a rare moment of non-dickness, Lieutenant Flannagan offers to drive JB home, and they discuss the case. Flannagan is still not convinced that Steve didn’t do it. JB looks at the crime scene photos and notices that Chambers was shot in the back. Flannagan tells her that it’s because (in his opinion) Chambers must have been watching the television behind his desk.

As a side note, here’s Lynette’s vision for the new TV show as hosted by Clare.

Although to be fair, if Matt White had worn this getup while hosting Today Tonight I probably would have actually watched it.

Although to be fair, if Matt White had worn this getup while hosting Today Tonight I probably would have watched it.

Enough of that though, because GOOD NEWS. Lord Takei Bert Tanaka has reappeared, to claim JB’s discarded coffee cup for his collection. Bert collects trash from famous people. Bert has a collection of celebrity trash.

And there it is. I'm giving myself a yellow card. That was truly appalling. I apologise,

And there it is. I’m giving myself a yellow card. That was truly appalling. I apologise.

Bert tells JB that absolutely nothing out of the ordinary happened on his rounds that night. Steve fought with Chambers, which meant that Steve wasn’t in his office for the first night that week so he could clean. Then he did the rounds, emptied the ashtrays and cleared the trash.

WAIT A MINUTE. I seem to recall that Steve wasn’t at work that week. Does this mean Robert’s a liar?

In a word, yes.

Huh.

Huh.

This is what happens when you fall in love with your psychiatrist and then she marries your best friend and you go a bit insane and murder your boss when you mistakenly think it’s your best friend so instead you try and set your best friend up for murder but ultimately fail because JB is ALL KNOWING.

Cool story, needs more Takei.

Live long and prosper, Fletcherfans.

Live long and prosper, Fletcherfans.

 

S03E09 – Obituary for a Dead Anchor

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Back in the Cove at last Fletcherfans, where Our Heroine is being asked for an interview with Paula Roman, one of the co-hosts of a TV show called Scrutiny.  She is hesitant to do it, what with the shows tendency to railroad people, but Paula swears that it will simply be a down home chat. JB tells her that she will bring it up at the town meeting, and if everyone agrees then she can do the interview.

Naturally, all of Cabot Cove wants to get their face on the TV, but AMAZINGLY there is a problem almost immediately. At a Scrutiny editorial meeting in New York the show’s producer, Doug Helman announces that Paula is no longer on the story, he’s giving it to Kevin Keats, on account of he pissed off some drug kingpin and could probably do with a trip to the seaside.

Meanwhile, the entire town of Cabot Cove is tarting up in preparation for the arrival of the news crew. All except one cantankerous old doctor we all know, who was the sole dissenting vote and as a result had a sudden urge to go and visit his sister in a place far away from any news crew. Wylie, Seth’s friend and fellow doctor, is not convinced that having a feature done on Cabot Cove is the best idea but JB is sure that it will be harmless.

Until she gets home and finds a news crew trampling her roses,

Hell hath no fury like a gardener with trampled roses

Hell hath no fury like a gardener with trampled roses

Jess thinks she’s got problems? On a lonely road outside town Amos just saw a bald man get out of a helicopter and into a limo.

Poor Amos. Remember that time he tried to retire but his replacement turned out to be a serial killer? Poor guy.

Poor Amos. Remember that time he tried to retire but his replacement turned out to be a serial killer? Poor guy.

Jess and Kevin are walking down the street doing the interview, and Jess is being very nostalgic about her home and her life with Frank but NEVER MIND THAT BECAUSE AMOS JUST SAW A HELICOPTER AND A LIMO AND A BALD GUY.

Appropriate response.

Appropriate response.

Keith is unexpectedly concerned to hear the Sheriff’s story. He suspects said bald guy to be the strongman for the drug kingpin he recently did an expose on. He asks Amos for a boat so he can take off quietly once his interview with JB is over. Amos puffs right up and tells him he will take care of it personally. Back at the hotel that night Keith receives a phone call from a mysterious blonde lady who yells at him a bit, then Keith takes it out on his producer, Helman.

On the dock the next morning Keith goes to inspect the boat that Amos has helpfully found for him. Apparently the owner, Aubrey Dawkins, swears that the boat is yar. Life Lesson #48 – Yar means easy to handle. 

(At this point, I wandered off and muttered yarrrr for about 10 minutes while I made a cup of coffee. True story).

Amos tells Keith that so seriously did he take his boat acquisition mission, he even paid the $100 deposit Aubrey wanted for the boat. “Can’t thank you enough, Sheriff!” Says Keith.

Last time Amos does anything nice for anyone ever again.

Last time Amos does anything nice for anyone ever again.

Poor Amos. He turns to trudge away but spots the mystery bald man, who promptly legs it. Ruing the one that got away, Amos turns back to watch Keith’s journey out of the harbour, which is stalled when the boat blows up.

#sorrynotsorry

#sorrynotsorry

A crowd gathers, including a Scrutiny crew led by Paula Roman who has inexplicably turned up rather quickly from Nebraska to cover the death of her colleague. She and Jess return to the hotel to find Paula’s other co-anchor, Nick Brody. Paula admits, after some gentle Fletcher interrogation, that she didn’t fly up to Maine that morning, she flew up the previous night with Doug Helman, to continue her affair with Keith. How scandalous. Apparently his wife thought so, she rang him the night before he died to threaten him.

Cabot Cove is flooded with reporters, and no one likes it one bit. After the mayor blames Jess for everything she decides to take matters into her own hands and asks the hotel clerk for the number in California for Keith’s wife. It turns out she called from a hotel near Cabot Cove. DA DUM. Meanwhile, Amos points out the ugly bald man on old news footage to Brody and Paula, who confirm it is the henchman of Ross, the drug lord.

The now widowed Mrs Keats has very little to say on the subject of her late husband, but plenty to say on the subject of his assets. She swears, however, that she didn’t kill him. Jess gets a phone call from Doc Wylie, who asks her to confirm with Mrs Keats how many toes her husband had. Keith Keats having ten toes excludes him from being the mutilated corpse fished out of the harbour after the explosion.

Doc Wylie, who is possibly second to Our Heroine in the having a clue stakes, puts a call in to Doc Hazlitt to confirm that the mystery corpse is not any one from the cove. Having ruled out a local, they suspect the corpse is someone from out of town. Moreover, as JB points out, if the body isn’t Keith Keats, then where the bloody hell is Keith Keats?

The answer, it turns out, is holed up in a hotel room eating chips and watching the mayor of Cabot Cove get torn a new one by the snarling media pack. But I digress, because when JB goes back to inform Nick Brody and the rest of the crew that Keith Keats is still alive they are all speechless. Except, that is, for Paula Roman who barely bats an eyelid. JB notices this and pounces. Paula admits to her that he called her and JB orders her to tell him to come to her house to speak to the Sheriff to clear his name.

That night, Keith tells the Sheriff and JB the whole story. Keith and Doug contrived to have Keith moved onto the Cabot Cove piece so that he could go and interview a key witness in his drugs story who lived not far away. The plan, apparently, was to make everyone think Keith was out in the harbour fishing when actually he was away doing his journalistic business or whatnot. The arrival of the ugly bald man (why do they keep pointing out how ugly he is?) was a spanner in the works that meant they had to move their plans up by a lot.

And then Sheriff Amos Tupper has a brainwave. The bomb couldn’t have been set by the ugly bald man. Keats and Helman didn’t know what boat they would be taking until 8 o’clock that night, and they were the only two people who knew about the plan, apart from Amos. Therefore, the murderer was someone else…like Kevin Keats!

He asks Our Heroine if she’s got a problem with any of that to which she replies “Actually Amos…..I haven’t.”

Again, appropriate response.

Again, appropriate response.

Paula Roman refuses to believe it, but Amos has a point – either Doug set the bomb to blow himself up, or Keats did it for him.

While Keith Keats cools his heels in a cell, JB goes to see the now not-widowed Mrs Keats, to ask her if Keats had been hiding out with her. Her derisive snorts suggests not. She firmly believes he’s guilty, FYI – apparently there had been some top secret audience market research conducted and she thought Keith was about to be shown the door.

Smelling a lead, JB goes to see the vice president in charge of news, someone-or-other Abbott (ew) who tells her that due to falling ratings there had indeed been a survey conducted, and that he had not discussed it with Doug Helman in front of the three anchors due to potential personnel changes that were about to take place. JB asks him where he was the night the bomb was planted and he tells her he was having dinner with a man from another network, hoping to desert the sinking ship that is Scrutiny. On reflection that’s probably not the best way of putting it. *cough*

While playing chess with Wylie (not code), JB has a brainwave about how someone could have been eavesdropping on Keats and Helman’s plan to fool everyone. A very specific someone, who was about to lose their job if Helman had his way…

Oh yeah, that guy.

Oh yeah, that guy.

And so it was. And so it will be. More to the point, despite the fact that there was a drug lord in this story I haven’t made a single reference. The meth Breaking Bad must be wearing off. Maybe.

Seriously, no Breaking Bad references? The hell is wrong with me?)

Seriously, no Breaking Bad references? The hell is wrong with me?)