Monday, August 11, 2014

Season 4: Witness for the Defense

I TRIED to watch Outlander. And the whole time I be like, "when will the time travel start?" Or more importantly, "why watch this when MSW is avails?" #tragicallyunhip.

Synopsis
Jess is in Quebec City testifying on behalf of her novelist friend, Jim Harlan. Jim’s wife, Patricia, died in a fire at the "country house" and he’s about to swing for it. Why don't I have friends with country houses? I feel left out. Ok, back to murder. It looks bad for poor Jim. But Jessica won't let a fellow author get framed for murder.

The Suspects?

Monica Blaine— Former roommate of Patricia's who was blackmailing her about an inconvenient prison sentence. 

Jim Harlan—A witness overheard Jim telling Patricia that he would "kill her" rather than grant her a divorce. Did he?

Judith Harlan— Mommy dearest had to pay a pretty penny to keep revelations about Patricia's past a secret. Did she get tired of the charade?

Famous Actors

Claire Trevor, film noir queen and wearer of awesome sequined garments. 

80’s Baby


Exhibit A is what I wanted to look like in the 80’s. And you know what, I still kinda want to look like that. So sue me.

The End?

Jessica thinks Patricia was dead before the fire consumed the country house. Of course, her logic is pooh-poohed by the defense attorney, a prickly fellow by the name of Oliver Quayle. After he trounces her on the witness stand, Jess is at a dead end. She confronts Jim about his marriage. He admits things weren't great, and that Patricia took out $20k on the day of her murder. Jim also confesses that he had a relationship with Patricia's old roommate, Monica. Jess wants to help but is annoyed with his evasiveness.

Someone else is annoyed, Jim’s mom, Judith Harlan. She comes to Jessica’s hotel room, begging her to leave Quebec City. Of course, this just intrigues Jessica more. She learns Monica was blackmailing Patricia over her sordid past. How did Patricia pay her? Why, mommy dearest, of course. Judith is devoted to her son, Jim, and would do anything to keep him safe.  But it’s not working, because when Monica takes the stand, she further incriminates Jim.

Jess doesn't think it adds up, and when Quayle’s secretary loses her earring, she remembers why (by jove, I’ve got it!).  The day Patricia died, she wore a distinctive brooch, one which was not found with her body. Jim explains it was an expensive, family heirloom. Now who would want to keep such an item? 

Mommy would! Jessica arranges a little bait and switch, and who do they catch in the act of retrieving the brooch? Judith Harlan. She confronted Patricia about divorcing her son, Jim. They fought, and Judith struck her down, snatching her family's brooch for safekeeping. How’s that for protecting the family jewels?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Season 6: Dead Letter


Guess what—I’m IN this episode! Not me, like really me. Me in MSW land me. Never mind, you’ll see.

Synopsis

Jessica finds a letter in a bureau she bought at the Cabot Cove rummage sale. Being an upstanding citizen, she delivers it to Bud Fricksey. Proving that no good deed goes unpunished, Bud is later found dead in a local fire. Everyone assumes that smoke inhalation is the cause of death, but Jessica isn’t “everyone.” And when the corner determines that Bud Fricksey died of blunt force trauma, Jessica gives the town the raspberry.  

The Suspects?

Lois Fricksey- Woe-begotten wife of Bud, who perhaps got fed up with his quick temper and killed him dead. Cabot Cove has a lot of these poor wives, makes me want to set up a hotline or something.  

Stanley Holmes- Owner of the furniture store Bud was found in. Stanley recently increased the insurance on his business. Did Bud get in the way of his scheme to defraud the company?

Carl Wilson- Book keeper of the furniture store, Carl got jumpy when asked about the company’s financial health. Maybe HE set the fire, and Bud got in the way.

Famous Actors

Not really, but how much do I want to read Robin Riker’s book on “How to Survive Hollywood?”  Do you guys think I should write one about DC? Maybe I would call it, “Soul for Sale: How to Tank Top your Way to the Senate.” Sound off in the comments.

80’s Baby

Remember that glossy/nude lip? Lois Fricksey does.

The End?

Jessica knows the letter might shed some light on Bud's death. So she confronts the original owner of the bureau, who tells her she stashed the letter away at the behest of the writer—none other than Lois Fricksey.

Jessica confronts Lois (they don’t drink any tea or coffee—which is notable). Lois tells her she wrote the letter when her marriage was crumbling. It was written from the heart—a searing denunciation of Bud and a declaration of the marriage as “over.” But after writing it, Lois had a change of heart. With a little help from a subversive post office employee, the letter was “lost.” Jessica, obviously embarrassed, hastens to tell Lois she delivered the letter. Good one, Jess.

Back at the Cabot Cove police station, an uppity career woman named Connie Kowalski (ME) strolls in on the investigation. Armed with teased hair and a snazzy suit (my signature look)—Connie declares the scene was arson, “plain and simple.” After berating Sheriff Metzger, (I berate men daily) she accuses Stanley Holmes of fraud. Stanley hems and haws, claiming the business was doing well. Putting that aside, Connie expertly concludes her investigation, declaring that benzene was the accelerant used to start the fire.

Jessica thinks back to the day she bought the bureau. There was one person who offered up his “special stripping formula” to Jess. And GUESS what the main ingredient is? Benzene! Sorry, Carl Wilson. Jessica tag team’s Carl with Stanley Holmes. She confronts him on the benzene, while Stanley details the extent of Carl’s book keeping fraud. Apparently, Carl wrote bad checks with the company money.  Bud was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time.  

Friday, June 6, 2014

Season 5: Weave a Tangled Web

WHAT a pleasure to review this epi. Seriously, Anna Ruth was right on the money in selecting this one. We have Jessica fakey-drunk dancing AND a bizarre impression of a "low-class" accent. Onward!

Synopsis

Cabot Cove's resident womanizer, gambler and all-round awesome husband, Eddie Bowman, is found dead in his motel room. Left at the scene of the crime is a note pleading to be "left alone" and a set of house keys. Sounds like a case for the Fletch!

The Suspects? 

Vivian Proctor- Breadwinner of the Proctor household and consummate business woman. "Detectives" (I use this term loosely) find out that the keys left at the crime scene belong to Viv. Her stationary was also matched to the note found at the scene. What reason would she have to kill dear ol' Eddie?

Ralph Proctor- Househusband of Vivian and subject of several dated soliloquies of the "unnaturalness" of men staying home and watching the kinsfolk. True to form, Jessica poo-poohs this sexist nonsense. Nevertheless, if Vivian was carrying on with Eddie, Ralph would have a nice little motive, wouldn't he?

Frankie "The Barman"- He served Eddie the night he was murdered. Deduce from that what you will.

Famous Actors

Old timey actor Mel Ferrer worked in "summer stock" when he was 15. If you've never seen the summer stock reference in Howard Stern's Private Parts, I must insist you rectify that ASAP.

80's Baby!

Jessica rocks the sh*t out of a white trench coat. The fit of which is quite 80's in a oversized shoulder pads kind of way.

The End? 

Jess is interested in the case, but has to jet up to NYC to sign some books and go to an event benefiting kids with cancer or something. I'm not being flip, I just can't remember exactly what the charity is supporting. At the event, she turns around and guess who is there--Vivan Proctor, living a double life as the wife of another man. Vivian begs Jessica not to tell, and Jess complies for the time being. She learns that this charade has been going on for quite some time, and that poor stay-at-home, emasculated Ralph is none the wiser.

Returning to Cabot Cove, Jess finds the new Sherrif (remember that switcheroo?) has already locked up Vivan's husband--convinced the house keys are a sign of his guilt. Jess decides to do some digging on Eddie Bowman, hence the low-class accent, dancing/drunk scene that I took a nice little snap of for your viewing pleasure. There are worse things to watch when you are getting ready for work, right?



Jessica learns Eddie owed lots of money to Augie, a small time crook. She confronts Vivian, who reveals Eddie was blackmailing her about that minor double-life situation. Fearful her secret would be revealed, Vivan paid Eddie $50,000 in cash the night of his murder. But where did the money go? Jessica goes incognito once again, and get's an introduction to Augie, who in his fury about not getting paid, confronts the one person he thinks saw the trade off. 

That's right, "The Barman," Frankie was present when Vivan handed over the $50k to Bowman. Frankie followed him to his motel room and killed him, taking the money for himself and framing Vivan by planting her keys as evidence. Jessica encourages Vivian to reveal all to her husband. Ralph, as you may recall, was just falsely accused of murder and now has to learn his wife has another husband. And that, my friends, is what we call "marriage."

Friday, May 30, 2014

Season 4: Indian Giver

I must warn you all that I am susceptible to flattery.  Or requests for updates, either/or.

Synopsis

An “Indian” (how long has it been since you’ve heard that term) declares an old land grant awards him ownership of Cabot Cove. To press his point, said Indian throws a spear with a copy of the land grant at the Mayor’s podium. When Addison Langley, the town drunk, turns up dead with the same spear impaled in his chest, Jessica is on the case.

The Suspects?

Helen Langley—Beaten wife of town drunk. So we can all agree she has a motive.

Tom Carpenter—Brother of Helen and town enforcer. He didn’t take kindly to his sister being used as a punching bag. Did he take matters into his own hands?

George Longbow—He does like throwing spears, could he have taken the land fight to the next level?

Famous Actors

Nothing that turned up in my half-assed IMDb search.

80’s Baby!

Hello Texas Tuxedo! Not so much 80’s as it is practically perfect in every way.


The End?

The first thing you should know about this epi is it plays the music that you hear when you get a facial at a fancy-pants spa. Like rando-flutey-Native-American-esqe-coyote-howl type music. Also, I love it when Jess teams up with Doctor Seth Hazlitt—they are a super team. Seth notes the body has been moved and theorizes Addison must have been killed elsewhere. He also finds traces of varnish on the man’s hands and sand scattered on his person.

Not to be upstaged by a small-town doctor, Jessica turns her focus to the land grant, which appears to be genuine. This throws the town into an uproar—real estate deals are questioned, men with briefcases are upset, mass hysteria! Before they start hanging witches, a learned professor indicates that George Longbow cannot possibly be linked to the land grant, as a smallpox epidemic wiped out any Algonquins who could inherit. Wow, I am REALLY happy my anthropology degree paid off. I didn’t even need to spell check that joint.

Attempting to cast reason into this cauldron of intrigue (credit: mine), Jessica visits the dead man’s wife, Helen Langley. She is beat up pretty badly, and Jessica offers to make coffee—noticing the kitchen furniture has been freshly painted. Helen claims Addison never came home the previous night, and not wanting to pressure a beaten woman, Jess lets the subject drop. But when Helen’s brother, Tom Carpenter, hauls in George Longbow in his pick-up truck, trussed and (not really) feathered, she wonders whether someone is rather eager to pin the murder on him. Following up on a hunch, she searches George Longbow’s motel room, finding carefully planted evidence. Someone is trying to frame him alright, Jess just needs to determine who . . .

She confronts Helen Langley with that pesky bit of varnish on her husband’s hand. If he never came home that fateful night, where did the paint come from? Helen caves, saying he came home and lashed out at her. She took a kitchen knife and stabbed him. He caught a kitchen chair on his way down, which left the trace evidence. Helen’s brother came to help, planting the body and setting up George Longbow as the most likely suspect.

Jessica shakes her head sadly before we cut to a more jovial scene. Cue a cheesy joke about a peace treaties and freeze frame!
 


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Season 4: Old Habits Die Hard

I had book group this weekend, which is turning into a monthly meet up club where no one reads the book and everyone drinks. Not necessarily a bad thing, just a thought for your Sunday afternoon.

Synopsis

Jessica’s old school mate has the illustrious position of Mother Superior at a convent. Jess is conveniently visiting when one of their members, Sister Emily, commits suicide. Knowing Sister Emily would never do such a thing, Mother Superior begs Jess to take a closer look.  And because Jessica never sticks her nose into other people’s business without her nephew, old school mate, etc. asking, she readily agrees.

The Suspects?

Sister Sarah-  New nun (I don’t believe this is a technical term) who is between a former lover, Mike Phelps, and her commitment to the convent. Was the pressure too much for Sarah?

Mike Phelps-  Former boyfriend of Sister Sarah’s who is desperate to win her back. He doesn’t hide his disgust for Sister Emily’s role in “turning” his former girlfriend away from him. Did he take the ultimate revenge?

Marian Simpson- Friend of the convent, and wife of Mayor Simpson, a man with a burgeoning political career. Would she want to harm Sister Emily?

Famous Actors

Ohh! Lots of old timey stars here, Jane Powell  and Evelyn Keyes for starters. We also have the fabulous Eileen Brennan of Private Benjamin and Clue fame.

80's Baby!
Check out these super-fab, super-tight acid wash jeans. Y. E. S.


The End?

Jessica finds a vial of heart pills and a suicide note, so it doesn’t look good for Sister Emily . . . but Mother Superior insists that, “even if the note was hand-delivered by Moses” she wouldn’t be convinced. Unfortunately, the convent Bishop isn’t inclined to biblical analogies—not even one that references the Old Testament. He tells everyone to drop it, and Jess has to change tactics.

Jessica learns Sister Sarah was absent from the convent the night Sister Emily died. After confronting her, Sister Sarah tells Jessica she just wants to be left alone. This is code for boy trouble, so Jessica tracks down Mike Phelps and confirms through Fletcher trickery that he was with Sarah the previous evening.  

Despite that dead end, Jessica follows up with a private investigator who interviewed Sister Emily before her death. He was looking for leads on a young girl who was at the convent many years ago. He talked to Sister Emily about it, but wasn’t able to make much headway. He did leave a photograph of the girl, one that was strangely missing from the crime scene. After some digging, Jessica learns the girl he was looking for was an un-wed mother. Jessica surmises that Sister Emily not only knew the girl, she also knew who the father was. But who would want to silence her?

Marian Simpson! It was HER husband, Mayor Simpson, who got a girl “in trouble” all those years ago. Knowing this would hurt her husband’s career, Marian killed Sister Emily a la syringe of poison to the neck.  As she walks toward Jessica, syringe in hand, the Bishop leaps out from the shadows and pretends to save the day. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Season 4: It Runs in the Family


I'm doing my taxes. WHAT could possibly make me feel better? Why, Angela Lansbury playing Jessica's English "cousin" in a MSW epi.

Synopsis

We open in jolly old England with Miss Emma McGill, famous stage persona and cousin of none other than Ms. Jessica Fletcher! "Em" is enjoying a pint when a mysterious solicitor comes calling. An old friend, Lord Constable, wishes to see her on a matter of urgent business. She shows up, only to have him die during a romantic picnic. Which one of his greedy relatives is to blame?

The Suspects?

Johnny Constable-  Son (or brother? I can't tell) of the deceased who favors fast women and deals with shady businessmen. Sounds like 99% of the men I work with in Washington, D.C. Johnny is next in line to inherit, did he get impatient and turn to murder? 

Pauline Constable- Uber spoiled and deliciously snobby daughter-in-law. Did Pauline's greed get the best of her?

Famous Actors

Christopher Hewett of Mr. Belvedere fame. We also have a pre-nose job Jane Leeves from Fraiser. 

80's Baby!

I'm awarding bonus points for this female tie/shoulder pads combo. Let's also add half a point for the "lets curl the bangs and ignore the rest" hairstyle. 


The End?

There is a whole lot of "Cherry-ho!" "I'd should like that car spotless!" and "Take my automobile," in this epi. Moving forward with our English stereotypes, our little working-class Emma McGill is suspect numero uno- as we like to say in North America. As such, she is eager to help the constable in finding the culprit behind Lord Constable's death. The cause? Poison of course! Emma admits she left the picnic basket out before departing for her rendezvous with Lord Constable. Did someone tamper with it?

Lord Constable admitted to Emma that his father recently died under suspicious circumstances. She speculates it's murder by design, someone is anxious to inherit the titles of the illustrious Constable family. But who could it be? She begins working her way through this incredibly tiny list of suspects. Emma turns her sights to Johnny Constable, next in line to inherit. After sharing a pint with his woman-of-the-moment, Emma dismisses him as a suspect based on no evidence that I can see.

Which leaves us to the woman with the most screen time! Pauline Constable. Similar to calling the end of Law and Order (more than 10 minutes left after final court scene = twist in the storyline), we know Pauline is the culprit. Coming from humble beginnings, Pauline is obsessed with being "someone" and that someone was to be Lady Viscount Constable Whos-a-whatsit. It's hastily staged by Emma and the constable offers her a position as a detective. Tally-ho!



Sunday, February 9, 2014

Season 4: Steal me a Story


FACT: I cleaned my house today in 30 minutes. It is more the "appearance" of clean, but it counts nonetheless.

Synopsis

This is one of those epis that MSW "revitalizes" every season. Hang with me, you'll see what I mean. This one is about Sid Sharkey, a “cut throat” television producer who steals Jessica’s story for his own. Like everyone who crosses Jessica, he dies a sudden death—finding himself on the business end of a homemade bomb. Which I guess would mean any end, right? In any event, the bomb is hidden in a pink gift with a jaunty bow on top. That must mean it is personal. 

The Suspects?

Burt Puzo-  Camera man with a past who was on the outs with Sharkey. Did sour grapes lead him to murder?

Fried Schmidt- Sharkey’s long-suffering secretary. Reason enough, me thinks.

Gary Patterson- Lead actor in Sharkey’s TV show, who watched as his character received fewer and fewer lines. Was he mad enough to take it out on the boss?

Famous Actors

Fionnula Flanagan of the “Others” fame, And THE Yaphet Kotto Of my all-time fav cop drama, “Homicide.”

80's Baby!

I readily admit to secretly loving the 80’s makeup look. Liner, lips, shadow, blush, hair. REPEAT!




The End?

There’s lots of yelling in this episode. Something I’m not used to putting up with on my coma-like Sundays. I guess it will prepare me for the work week. After the murder, Jessica is banned from the set, but she’s too wily for that. While questioning Gary Patterson, he requests she  improve his scripts. Now on the set in an official capacity, Jess is free to investigate—and deftly determines Gary is your typical actor, and therefore not a reliable suspect.  

Next up is Sharkey’s secretary, Freda. Seventeen long years working for Sharkey made her plenty miserable. Especially as he promised her an assistant producer shot, only to keep her firmly behind the filing drawer. I kind of see myself in Freda. Wow, this post just got real. Moving on.

Jessica thinks she knows who is at the bottom of Sharkey’s death, and with the help of Freda does the old Fletcher set up. They have Freda “hold up” Burt (I know) who swiftly blows his cover.  Apparently, he had planted another bomb, but Jess was in on the threat. She gamely offers him up to the police before returning to the homey confines of Cabot Cove.