Sunday, February 28, 2010

Season 1: The Murder of Sherlock Holmes

Here we have the obligatory pilot episode, and really, after seeing this baby it’s no wonder they promptly ordered 12 seasons. There’s peppier theme music, if that’s even humanly possible, along with biking AND jogging AND house painting and every other busy body activity you can possibly conceive of. And yes, we meet Grady.

Synopsis

Grady is an accountant in NYC, and judging from his apartment, let’s just say Cumo would have been interested in those balance sheets. Anywho, Grady is Jess’s long suffering nephew, he appears in countless epis and you either love him or you refuse to review any episodes which feature him. Ahem. Grady calls his aunt to give her the good news, he gave her manuscript to a big wig in NYC and she’s now a famous writer. Yes, it’s really that easy (Kitten take note). So she’s off to NYC for a world wind tour. The tour doesn’t go so well, and it’s hard to watch our small town girl take insults from NYC stereotypes. So to cheer her up, her publisher, Preston Giles, invites her to his estate for the weekend. A costume party ensues, bad jokes are exchanged, and Jess comes dressed as the good fairy from Wizard of Oz. I was never a fan, so don’t ask me her name. Starts with a “G” I think. So GUESS who get’s murdered? Yes, a fella dressed as Sherlock Holmes. What an ingenious mind you have my dear Watson.

Suspects

Ashley Vickers Had a torrid affair (or as one character phrased it “practicing indoor Olympics”) with Caleb McCallum, aka Sherlock Holmes. He took up with another young chicky and Ashley didn’t likey. Didn’t likey enough to MURDER? Well, we just don’t know. Not yet.

Preston Giles— Dapper, grey haired, expertly dressed publisher. Irresistible to any woman over 50! On second thought… no, definitely 50. Jess really likes him, which makes him a REALLY good suspect since everyone Jess tries to fall in love with ends up being the killer. Her late husband Frank’s vengeance!?!

Louise Mcallum Wife of Sherlock (why confuse you with REAL names?) and resident drunk. Was driving from the party erratically, dressed as that timeless sorority Halloween classic, the flapper. She was fed up with Sherlocks’ affairs, did she end his life after a good puke and a glass of Gatorade?

Peter Brill— NYC playwright. Dressed, ironically I’m sure, as Mozart on the night of the party. It’s pretty clear he’s broke, so how is it he put on an off Broadway show? Yeah, I’m stretching on this one. Soooo what.

Famous Actors

Squeallllll like a pigggggg!” Oh my, Ned Beatty, it’s hard to ID you without those tighty whiteys. MSW is a much better place for you Ned, stay here.

80's Baby

Right off the bat, there is a truly stunning perm/mullet. I even paused and studied it. Yeah, I really have nothing more to say. Also, before Jess heads to NYC she endures a Cabot Cove makeover, complete with “barber pole” (her word) long sleeved, red and white diagonal striped evening dress (!). There’s also smoking indoors, an activity we all know results in death, destruction, mayhem and Godzilla.

The End?

So the guy found dead in the Sherlock garb wasn’t the one wearing the costume that night. The intended victim is a seafood magnate named Caleb Mcallum. So the poor schlub that got killed was a private detective. So of course, Grady himself arrested, like he does in nearly EVERY episode. Things start moving fast after that, Jess decides to search Ashley’s office, overheads a suspicions conversation, trails Ashley, then gets mugged in NYC where she gets rescued by a kindly fan. NYC looks like a PRETTY scary place in the 80’s. Switchblades, the whole bit.

The next day, Jess bravely returns to the scene of her mugging, and OH look, a NYC theatre where a Peter Brill is trying to get his play off the ground. Turns out Ashley was going to meet Peter that night, they were in cahoots so Ashley could cook up some jealousy with Caleb. Which, let me tell you, always works. So that’s a dead end. Or maybe a dead…. Boat! Ok, that didn’t work. But Caleb is found dead on his boat, wrapped up in the sail. This time the cops are focused on Louise, and we all know whomever the bumbling cops arrest is never the real murderer. So now at this point you basically know who the killer is… But let’s pretend you're silly, and you don’t.

So now they have Louise in the slammer, Jess prepares to take off, but not after… she makes out with Preston! OMG! Just kidding, they just kiss. Our girl has fallen hard, and even though it’s, “moving too fast for a widow”, Preston is willing to wait. Snort. But Jess can't leave, something’s just not right. She goes back (all the way back) to the scene of the crime to uncover… a creepy looking Preston telling her everyone is long gone for the night. Gulp. But she can’t help herself; she lays out her cold, hard evidence. Preston finally confesses, acknowledging that he killed the private eye after he threatened blackmail (our dapper Preston is a runaway convict). Apparently, he offed Caleb to divert suspicion. So JUST when we think Preston going to drown our Jess in the pool, the episode ends. Like I said, order me 12 more seasons, thankyouverymuch.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Season 1: Deadly Lady

You know, I was kind of down on the fact that it’s Sunday night and I have to work tomorrow. But as soon as that MSW theme song started boy, I was transported to good old Cabot Cove! Where there are no such things as “commuting” and “delays on the yellow line.” Anyway, we have some Jess jogging in this, along with a "Madly in Love with Jess" incident. He dies but I’m going to count him anyway. Just 'cause I like him. My blog, my rules. There’s also a really touching scene where Jess gives this new crush her dear Frank’s pipe. Sniff.

Synopsis

New to Cabot Cove, Ralph has been “hobo-ing” it for as long as he can remember. All it takes is some hedge trimming and Jess invites him in for breakfast. She then leaves him unaccompanied while investigating a murder down at the dock. Friendly town, eh?

After last night’s “Deadly Lady” (this is ocean-people speak for a bad storm), cosmetics CEO Stephen Earl has gone missing on his boat. But he wasn’t alone! It seems his 4 daughters were also on board, claiming he was swept overboard. Jess charms the girls as best she can, “love that knit sweater!” but they seem pretty oblique about what went on that night. There's no dead body yet, but that's never stopped Jess before.

Suspects

Nancy Earl— “It’s Nan!” She cries to everyone. She's the bratty (youngest) *cough* sister. Declares that “none” of the Earl Sisters are sad he’s dead. Yeah, when your child says that you’ve pretty much failed. But no one ever listens to the youngest sister, so let’s move on.

Terry Jones— Ex-fiancĂ© of Nancy’s (It’s Nan!) who Stephen never liked. Shows up right after daddy is found missing. Is he looking for a quick paycheck vis-a-vis his betrothed's inheritence?

Maggie Earl— Denies the “swept overboard” story ever took place, and admits to killing dad Stephen with a gun. But DO we believe her? Jess has her suspicions.

Lisa Earl Shelby— The “tactless” sister. I won’t assume birth order on this one, tactlessness is up for grabs. Anyways, married to a nasty rich husband who also happens (this might shock you) to really like money and his wife’s inheritance. Would he kill daddy in law for it?

Grace Earl- Knew the exact location of the boat in the middle of the storm. Unfortunately, this puts them RIGHT in the eye of the storm (go Jess!). Why all the lies Grace?

Famous Actors

Zip! Nada! Nil! Which is kind of sad, because looking up old movies stars up on wiki is fun, yet semi-exhausting.

80's Baby

Other than a pair of baby pink, peep toe “pumps,” nothing much to write home about. Although, Nancy exhibits the most gigantic cream blazer. Miami Vice blushes.

The End?

Jess decides Ralph, the “hobo,” and Stephen, the wealthy cosmetics CEO, are one and the same. She figures this out from the obituary photo, but of course everyone thinks she’s crazy. Think lots of New Englander “you are crazier than a…” sayings. So the body is found, and Jess thinks the girls are hiding something. But which one? With all this blue eyeliner it’s truly hard to tell.

When the body of Ralph/Stephen rolls up on the shore, its pretty obvious he didn’t die on the boat that night. Dead people don’t eat eggs and flirt outrageously with Jessica Fletcher. Under pressure (not really), Maggie admits that her dad came up with the scheme to show Nancy what a low-down-good-for-nothing ex-fiancĂ© she has. It’s really silly, but what’s new.

Jess turns her attention to Terry (the ex), who admits that the scheme brought him to Nancy’s side, but not for inheritance reasons. It’s not until Nancy’s (NAN’S!) shoes are found near the beach where Stephen’s body rolled up, that Jess arranges a little MSW set up… After Nan (see, I finally got it) is conveniently arrested, Jess casually informs the Earl Sisters, and then goes to bed. But not without mentioning her intent to, “sleep in late.”

Well, the murder doesn’t know our Jess, early to rise you know, and well if it isn’t Maggie Earl breaking into Jess’s house late at night! Sidenote: She probably could have just opened the door, but I digress. Jess knows Maggie set up Nan as the obvious scapegoat for their father's murder. Which is a pretty shitty thing to do to your sister. I mean stealing a top now and then, fine, but framing them for murder? Yeah, that’s a non-starter. Maggie hated her father, and knew their obvious “fake” murder would be the perfect cover up for a real one. She tries to threaten Jess (new counter alert) but alas, our useless Sherriff Tupper was listening to her confession on the phone. Insert joke about Jess having 9 lives here.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Season 1: It’s a Dog’s Life

It may or may not be a personal goal of mine to identify every episode featured in the MSW intro. Ok, moving on. One of the old “the dog gets everything” murder mysteries. This, contrary to my skepticism, has happened upon occasion. Anyways, I put off reviewing this one because it tries even my silliness quotient.

Synopsis

Denton Langley is a white-haired lothario who likes himself a good fox hunt. He also has eyes for our Jess, but doesn’t make the “Madly in Love with Jess” count because he dies. New rule I made up. Ok, now that I ruined it, Denton dies during a fox hunt. Karma! Or the result of a poisoned horse and a nasty fall. So Jess is at the scene because she is cousins with Abbey, a trainer Denton keeps employed on his property, Langley Manor. Abbey trains and takes care of all the animals, including Teddy, Denton’s beloved beagle. And it’s Teddy who gets everything once the will is revealed. All of Denton Langley’s relatives are hopping mad! But they really get angry when Trish Langley gets her melon crushed by the gate to the Langley estate. Who pushed the button?

Suspects

Teddy—Haaa, Beagles don’t kill people! Unless they have rabies. Anyway, someone trained Teddy to push the button to the gate, so we can’t really hold him responsible. But still, bad dog!

Abbey Freestone—Jess’s cousin from jolly old England! (We need a family tree up in this piece). She trains all the animals Denton owns. Owned, I guess. Her access to the animals is pretty damming, especially when they all start going crazy, pushing buttons on gates that crush people’s heads and stuff.

Spencer Langley — Pompous son, in debt up to his eye balls. Tries to make us all believe a beagle viciously attacked him. So not the brightest bulb. Were his debts motive enough for murder?

Marcus Boswell– Denton’s lawyer, enforces the “Teddy gets everything” will at all costs. Seems to be in a bit of a money crunch, hence very incessant calls from his broker. But what could he stand to gain from dear Trish’s death?

Famous Actors

Lynn Redgrave, who starred in a movie called “The Happy Hooker.” It’s the first picture that comes up on her wiki page. Random. Ok well if you are new to things, you won’t realize that Lynn comes from a family of actors. All trained in both theatre and film. Apparently her latest role is “Drunken Lady at Ball” in “Confessions of a Shopaholic.” Ouch. Still, Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe winner, when’s the last time that happened to YOU?

80's Baby

“The latest in will technology” is a videotape of Denton talking to the camera by a roaring fire (in an office chair!). Remember when your favorite video tape got ruined. That was so sad, you were like, "Noooo! Come back to life, strange video tape guts!" Anyways, beyond the usual, that’s about it.

The End?

Jess is convinced someone trained Teddy to push that button. But she hits the teapot before doing anything. You know, tea first. Marcus Boswell comes in with a quite a grease spot on his trouser leg (Jess has something for the stain but he doesn’t take her up on it). Boswell goes off to accuse each of the relatives of training the dog, but Jess has a better idea. Why not inform everyone of what she thinks happened? So basically, her theory is someone was impersonating Trish. Once the security guard opened the gate and went out to help her in, the imposter put the already-dead Trish in place. I’m not really sure why, I’m just telling you what happened.

Jessica’s theory gaining traction, despite the fact she just told her suspect she… er… suspects him, she decides to up the ante. In a pseudo-legal public forum (say it 3 times fassssst), Jess displays that Teddy is responding to a specific bird call. Think, “Tweeet, Tweet!” Anywho, she fingers Marcus Boswell as the Teddy-trainer. Apparently, he coaxed Trish to drug Denton’s horse, promising her riches once she inherits. Once Trish saw the tape and realized she wouldn't get anything, Marcus feared she would talk. Remember that grease stain? Evidence of moonlight bicycle riding when Marcus came to Langley Manor to murder Trish. It’s all very damning; especially when Marcus collapses in tears (Jess has that effect). We end with Teddy, as happy as any Beagle freed from jail would be. Yes, he was held in jail. Oh MSW!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Season 1: Lovers and Other Killers

You know, if this snow keeps up I’m going to make quick work of all 12 seasons. Ok, still snowing. Onward!

This is one of my all time favorite epis, because it involves a handsome young man with an unyielding attraction to Jess, and the ending is DARK, very dark. Ok maybe not that dark. MSW dark.

Synopsis

Jessica is in Seattle, visiting her friend Dr. Edmund Gerard for a university lecture (her first!). She arrives off the plane alongside two Chinese nuns, holding a baby…. Yeah I have no words. Anyway, back at the university she meets Amelia, Dr Gerard’s secretary. Jess is in need of a secretary of her own, and Amelia hooks her up with handsome David Tolliver (replete with dimples). David is hired, and takes Jess out for a night on the town. The romantic night is ruined, however, when Lieutenant Andrews meets them in the lobby. Apparently, David is wanted in connection with the murder of a mature, rich woman by the name of Allison Bervard. Ignoring the obvious, Jess comes to the aid of her young secretary. Personally, I learned the lesson about very handsome, seemingly perfect men and “the truth” in college. But we all have our learning curves.

But we aren’t done with the murders. Jess gets a call from Lilia, a student with a shady reputation. After Jess meets her in an abandoned warehouse, she barely croaks out a few works before collapsing dead. After David is released from questioning, he divulges that they were lovers, together on the night of Bervard’s murder. This provides him with an oh-so-convenient alibi, which Jess is eager to accept. While Jess nurses her crush (it’s hard out there for a widow), here are our…

Suspects

Amelia— Dr Gerard’s secretary (you know the drill, the help do not get last names), nursing a very strong crush toward her employer. And in MSW land, women in love are the equivalent of a locked-and-loaded automatic!

David Tolliver— Grad student turned Jessica’s secretary. Tells Jess he just can’t STAND women his age, then gently strokes her hand. God I love this episode. Anyway, he is undeniably creepy, and seems to have more extra cash on hand than your average grad student. But does creepiness + money always = murder? (yes!?)

Todd Lowrey—Fellow professor who spends his time boinking students, including the resident slut (really, there is no other term for how this character is played), Lila Schroeder. He’s married, a secret which Lila may or may not have found out about. Would he kill her in order to keep things a secret?

Lilia Schroeder—Makes threatening calls to Jess in order to clear David’s name. Tries to wear an outfit virtually identical to that portrayed in the famous Farrah Fawcett poster. Tries, does not succeed. As a former conquest of David’s, was she driven mad by jealousy to murder her rival, Allison Bervard?

Famous Actors

Peter Graves, and the only reason I know this is because he is listed as “guest star.” Anyway, he has a “Mission Impossible” connection to another famous guest star, Martin Landau. Graves also starred in a variety of movies skewered by MST3K. Best. Show. Ever.

80's Baby

Evening gowns that look like your grandma’s nighty! Only in the 80’s my friend. Also, THESE days we call “Secretaries” Administrative Assistants. Massive fail on the PC side of things MSW...

The End?

In Jess’s guest lecture, she lets the students play, “Plan a Murder” (this is a far cry from my Russian Literature class, just sayin). She puts Professor Lowrey in the hot seat, and determines he was with his wife at the time of Lila’s murder. Back at the hotel, Jess finds a note from David on the fridge. Yes, the fridge, the first place we all look. This directs Jess to an “urgent” meeting with Professor Lowrey. Jess heads to the meeting, finding an “out of order” sign on the elevator (a nod to Agatha Christie’s “Towards Zero”). Having not read that classic, Jess slowly climbs the stairs. Which sucks because when she reaches the top she gets pushed RIGHT back down again. She also falls really slowly, which made me think Jess did her own stunt, but on rewind it’s clearly a body double. Oh well. David conveniently comes to her rescue.

So at the hospital Dr. Gerrard confesses that Lila was with HIM on the night of Allison Bervard’s murder (geez Lila, just… geez). This means David’s alibi is once again suspect. So Dr. Gerrand and Lila spent the night together, but were almost run off the road by a very specific type of car. Then Lieutenant Andrews shows up saying David is off the hook for Bervard’s murder, apparently deemed a jewel-theft gone wrong. The pieces are falling together, and when David shows up in her hotel unannounced, Jess really lets him have it. Kind of. Jess is convinced all this love triangle twaddle is at the heart of things, and makes a visit to our sweet secretary, Amelia. One quick MSW set up later, she unravels the truth. It was Amelia’s car that nearly ran the lovers off the road (it was specific, remember?). Amelia was wild, mad with jealousy! As mad as a woman who wears a female tie can be! Whew, this one is long. Anyway, Amelia was behind the calls luring Jess to her slow stair fall.

But we don’t end with Amelia, we end with David at the airport (blissfully pre-9/11). David divulges his feelings, he is “enormously attracted” to Jessica, “drawn to mature women!” But Jess is done with the sweet talking. She’s wised up, learned her college lesson. “Who will I be in your next book? A killer, suspect?” He asks her, turning on that boyish charm. “I don’t know, I haven’t made up my mind yet.” OH! Snap. We end with a very steely look from David. MSW dark, told ya.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Season 1: Birds of a Feather

There’s a lot of dog barking early in this episode, which set my Chihuahua off for the rest of the day. Thanks MSW. Now she’s growling at my purse.

Anyways, what we have here is a drag queen murder mystery set in San Francisco. Proving that our writers have a predictable, if limited, sense of humor. Also, this epi features a death-in-office-chair, bringing the official count to 2.

Synopsis

Vicki is Jess’ favorite niece, and we ALL know no one else ever earned that distinction, right? Vicki is marrying Howard, a sensible young man who never seems to be around when Vicki needs him… “You know Vicki, it’s not abnormal to have last minute doubts” Jess offers. So apparently, Howard is lying about everything, staying out late and stinking like perfume. “Maybe he wears cologne!” Jess suggests, continuing to dig that hole deeper. Then she recommends that Vicki spy on Howard. I love all this advice, our Jess is so devious.

This leads them to a dinner-and-a-show establishment owned by Al Drake. Vicki name drops to get them a table. And you know the name, don’t play coy with me. So the famous Jessica Fletcher nabs a table, even if it isn’t up to her standards (insert joke about similarity to my mother here). Jess finds something “strange” about the place. Could it be, I don’t know, the plastic flamingos surrounding the stage? The copious use of ferns throughout the entire club? The lip-synching drag queen? Before she can put her finger on it, out comes drag queen Howard (not to be confused by the drag queen singing), fleeing the scene of a murder. Al Drake has been shot! And Howard was found fleeing the scene. The End.

Ha! Just kidding, line them up!

Suspects

Howard Griffen Vicki’s finance, doing a drag show on the side to make some extra money, hence all the secrecy. He came to tell Al he was done with his double life, picked up the gun (?) and found him dead. Likely story, but Jess seems to believe him.

Ms. Drake— Estranged wife of Al, carrying on with Michael (or Michelle), our drag singer. Classic Dynasty bad-girl here, dramatic eye shadow, white furs, the works. Now that Al is dead, she is in charge of the club, and seems a bit too happy to make some changes…

Michael (Michelle)DuPont —Headlining drag singer, was trying to buy the club from Mr. Drake. Carrying on with Ms. Drake. Money and women, two essential ingredients in the stew of murder!

Freddy York— Truly horrendous, and I mean horrendous, stand up comedian. He’s up there with a drum kit and everything. Apparently, he’s done SO well for himself he’s trying to get out of a contract he had with Al. But was he desperate enough to KILL?


Famous Actors

Martian Landau, who was in so many freaking movies and TV shows it boggles the mind. He looks really good here, and out-acts virtually the entire cast.

Jeff Conway, formerly known as Kenickie and, more recently, the Celebrity Rehab bad boy. It’s actually kind of sad seeing him so young and virile. You can keep your “Danny,” give me Kenickie any day!

80's Baby

Puffy buns on the women, white suits (with vest) for the men. There is an order for “white wine” at a restaurant, which I’m sure was how people ordered wine back then. Who knows, maybe they still do. This is the second time I’ve seen a cranberry blouse/white suit combo. Come on folks, “light with light/dark with dark!”

The End?

Lieutenant Floyd Novak (our surly San Fran cop) agrees to works with Jess, but only after she threatens to expose his ineptitude on “national television.” Go Jess, go! The gun came from a pawn shop in NYC, where Howard is from. Apparently, this is damming evidence because Jess shakes her head and looks pensive. Once the time of death is established, it’s pretty clear that Howard is innocent.

Jess makes her rounds in the club, finding the lack of pillow in Freddy’s room suspicious for no obvious reason that I can see. Things start falling into place when they realize a gun shot would have been heard from the stage, but before anyone can draw a conclusion, a stage light comes CRASHING DOWN AT THEM! Jess seems to avoid this by leaning backwards a smidge, but Freddy gets knocked off the stage and hurts his neck. The rope was, of course, eaten through by acid. How else would one stage such a devious plot?

But before we can explore those possibilities, first things first, Jess needs a nap. She pulls the pillow up beside her head and… ah yes, the pillow. The missing pillow in Freddy’s office! “Sun faded, like the couch” simpers Jess. She confronts Freddy and the truth comes out. He wanted out of his contract with Al. After his drum set, he snuck into Al’s office and used the pillow to muffle the fatal gun shot. We end with a truly corny joke from our killer, Freddy York, and a happy wedding ceremony for Vicki and Howard. Jess celebrates with a peck on the cheek for the happy couple. A killer found, a niece wed, just another day in the life.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Season 1: Death Casts a Spell

A hypnotist is murdered, found in a locked hotel room of hypnotized reporters. No one remembers a thing. Jess goes for a jog in this episode, gets hypnotized, and jumps on the back of a motorcycle to chase a suspect. Just another classic episode of MSW!

Synopsis

Calistro is a famous hypnotist who has beautiful young blondes “completely under his spell.” This, admittedly, makes him an unpopular fellow. Especially when people’s wives and dignity are concerned. So Joe, the owner of the hotel in Lake Tahoe where Calistro performs, (and the husband of a blonde done wrong) wants him out! There’s bad blood, a giant tub of hotel silverware is knocked over, and I just can’t get over the fact that hotels used to put this sort of entertainment on stage. Thank god for DVR. Jess is visiting said hotel under the guise of meeting her editor. Instead of finding her editor, Joan meets her. This ambitious copy editor wants to pitch a new book to our famous author. She should have saved herself the trip, Jess sees through these schemes like moms hear swear words. It’s not until Calistro arranges for a hypnotist session with a group of reporters that things turn… murderous! He is found dead in his hotel room, stabbed in the back. The reporters invited to his session are all hypnotized, no one witnessed the crime. “I understand you were outside when the murder took place Ms. Fletcher,” our Lieutenant says. Fella, you have NO idea…

Suspects

Sherry Diamond—Former Vegas stripper (on a trapeze, this is important later... promise). She admits that Calistro was often hard to work with. After an elaborate set up, we find out that Ms. Diamond is pretty scared of heights, an inconvenient phobia for a trapeze artist.

Joe Caligen—Angry boss-man-hotel-owner, held a grudge against Calistro for making his wife do some very silly things under hypnosis. Reminds me of the actor from “Elf” and “Misery.”

Gina Caligen-- I’m just making up this spelling, BTW. They often get fanciful with naming these side characters. Gina gets manhandled by Joe after Calistro makes her look silly on stage. Then she’s later roughed up by Joe’s henchmen. Me thinks a quickie divorce and restraining order is the way to go here, but Gina seems stuck in a no-win situation. Jess catches her making a cash payment to one of Joe’s henchmen (this is after Jess jumps on a motorcycle in hot pursuit), a pay off for a successful hit?

Bud Michaels—Washed up journalist. Held a grudge against Calistro after some previous run-ins over libel articles in jolly old England. Pretended to be drunk the night of the demonstration (I have no idea how Jess knows this), and was conveniently elsewhere at the time. Was he in the hotel room, murdering his old nemesis?

Andy Townsend—Tabloid journalist. Or so he says! He certainly didn’t respond to that name when Jess calls to him in the hotel lobby. He was in the room during the murder, but did not remember a thing…

Famous Actors

Well HELLO there Michelle Phillips. Our former “Mama” of “The Mamas & The Papas” fame plays the young, tempestuous Gina. She gets manhandled a lot in this epi, which is kind of intense for MSW. Anyways, she looks really good. Purple eye shadow notwithstanding.

80's Baby

Calistro wears a white leisure suit. With a cranberry mock turtleneck. I think this is more of a disco throwback, but he acts quite dapper in it. Actually, truth be told he doesn’t look all that bad. More 80’s exercise equipment, all of which looks like spray-painted chrome torture equipment. Which, in fact, it probably was.

The End?

Gina readily admits to Jess that she is being blackmailed (these confessions require the suspect to turn away from Jess and pour a drink from a crystal tumbler). Turns out she was “involved” with Calistro, who could easily be close to 70 in this epi. Ok, suspend belief. She was being blackmailed by Joe’s crony to keep the affair from him.

With that suspect out of the running, Jess still can’t figure out how the murder was committed, so she sets up a good old MSW fake out. In other words, a hypnotist session with Andy Townsend! During the session, Andy recalls seeing our former trapeze artist Sherry enter the room and kill Calistro. This is conveniently the same story that Joan planted to fellow journalist Bud Michaels. Coincidence? I think not. Andy used earplugs to block out Calistro’s voice. This is why he didn’t hear Jess in the lobby, and was impervious to Calistro's hypnotist session. He waited until his back was turned, and struck, the perfect crime! Until Jess cracked it, that is. Turns out Andy’s dad got his career destroyed alongside Bud Michaels, also at the hands of that villain Calistro! After his father committed suicide, Andy plotted revenge. We end with a kiss on the hand from the Lieutenant, “I’ll call you the next time a mystery is on my hands!” and a last ditch effort from Joan to pitch her novel. Jess scrunches up her nose, freeze frame!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Season 1: My Johnny Lies Over the Ocean

We meet a direct relative of Jess! Meaning her brother, not like her endless supply of nieces and nephews. Anyways, isn’t that enough! Ok fine, this one takes place on a cruise ship, one of the best murder mystery set ups of old. There is also an amazing scene where Jess acts snookered to get her suspect to confess. Classic MSW.

Synopsis

We meet Marshall, Jess’s brother!

!

Ok, so if you aren’t obsessed with this show (ahem...) you have no idea how rare that is. Marshall’s daughter Pam just experienced the horrible suicide of her husband Johnny. She goes on a 2 week cruise with her favorite Aunt to get “over” his death. Hmmmm. No judgment. Surprising no one, despite the fancy-pants cruise Pam still isn’t over his death. It doesn’t help that she’s mysteriously reminded of their favorite dishes, pet names, etc. while on the cruise. Pam starts getting unhinged in that classic female way. It’s not until Andrea Reed, one part of a well-to-do cruise ship couple is found dead in her cabin that Jess sniffs out a connection. Andrea was found clutching a photo of Pam’s late husband. Was Andrea behind the attacks on Pam? Was it suicide? Did she die at the hands of other…

Suspects

Captain— Leslie Nielsen!!! Huzzah! Here he plays the arrogant cruise ship captain, dismissing Jess’s theories as busy-body twaddle. She seriously just calls him “Captain.” No names needed when Leslie is in the room! Our Captain rules the roost, so to speak, and he has access to all the disturbances that had Pam so spooked. Was he in cahoots with Andrea to torture our darling Pam?

Ms. Shelly—Cruise ship director, took the job after a “bad situation,” or in MSW speak, a love affair gone bad! She is the keeper of a variety of menacing telegrams, unable to provide much in the way of explanation. She is very blonde. Yeah, that’s about it.

George Reed— Bereaved husband of Andrea. Convinced that there was, “no foul play at all” connected with her death. Anyone well acquainted with cold case files knows a statement like this makes him suspect numero uno!

Russell Thompkins— Single man taking a cruise. Claims to have a romantic interest in Pam. Um, immediately suspect.

Ramon— Some sort of boat server, assistance guy. I’ve never been on a cruise so I don’t know the proper title. Oh yeah, a steward. I surprise myself. Anyway he’s portrayed as a Latin lothario, but true to they-are-all-the-same-80’s stereotyping, he uses Italian phrases. He delivers a few of the threatening gifts/notes to Pam. Was he Andrea’s pawn?

Famous Actors

Leslie Nielsen! To me, of Naked Gun fame. To others, spokesman of Arizona Federal Bank. I kid, I kid. Not only a MGM golden boy, but part of the “Golden Era” of 50’s TV, starred in such greats like “The Wild, Wild West” (I you haven’t seen… you must. In fact, that might get its own blog). Was born in Saskatchewan. One of the most gifted comedic actors of our time. There, I said it!

80's Baby

Remember that “kiss my fat ass” swimsuit Tyra Banks was unfortunate enough to be photographed in? Yeah, first scene. Jess also writes a check. When’s the last time you did that? There’s also some cruise ship aerobics, complete with neon colored sweats and awkward, knee blasting, back jerking movements.

The End?

Jess dregs up the fact that our Johnny was adopted, the son of Andrea, the woman found dead in the cabin! Everyone assumes Andrea killed herself out of guilt. Jess knows immediately its George, and I’m not kidding, pretends to be drunk to get into his cabin. I think you have to watch this episode just for this scene. We all know that Jess doesn’t drink, but obviously George hasn’t watched episodes 1-13. She produces evidence that George lied about something, and I can’t even repeat it because its so beyond the realm of possibility. She apparently had film developed and… anyway, we’ll forgive her this one time. She threatens to go to the Captain, setting him up rather nicely. George beings stalking her, seeing the prime opportunity to toss the ol’ gal overboard. He falls neatly into her trap, and Jess gloats about it on the deck with the captain the next day. One gets the sense this episode was written entirely to maximize Leslie/Jess screen time, not a bad thing in my opinion.