Murder, She Wrote 3.16 “Death Takes a Dive”

In this episode, Jessica has rushed over to Boston after her pal Harry McGraw called to say he’s in trouble.  Initially it turns out he just needs money, but later on he ends up being charged with 1st degree murder, so Jessica becomes manager of the prize fighting boxer that Harry inherited from someone who owed him money (of course!).

This is an extra long episode–most Murder She Wrote episodes run at 47 mins and this one was just over 1hr 10mins.  I’m not sure why this particular episode got the extra time, except perhaps to serve as a “backdoor pilot” to The Law and Harry McGraw spin-off which would premiere several months later, the following September.

Additionally, after the previous pretty nameless episode, this one has an all-star cast. So maybe they needed all that extra time to satisfy everyone’s screen-time requirements.

Just the facts ma’am:

Spoilers are in white font, so highlight the text below to reveal the answers.

  • The victim was… Batman the boxing promoter!
  • killed by… the up-and-coming boxer, Sean Shaleen the Irish Shillelagh from Sheboygan!
  • in… his car under a bridge (which we don’t get to see) in Boston!
  • with… a bullet (slug) packed inside a shotgun shell!
  • because… he was gonna force him to dump a big fight for a price; and it was either kill or get killed (yeah, I don’t really get the logic here either)!
  • vital clues:  Adam West’s fancy clothes, plus the news report about the Shillelagh firing shotguns as a kid.

Big names:

The biggest name in this episode is by far Adam West, a.k.a. Batman.

“You know what they used to do to people who poached on other people’s preserve?”

Star Trek: TNG fans will swoon over the fact that Geordi LaForge (LeVar Burton) is in this episode, too.


Here he is with majestic hair, and an equally majestic corned beef sandwich. …I still can’t get over the fact that we can see Geordi’s eyes.

Two other big names are Ernest Borgnine (Airwolf) and John Amos (Die Hard 2). tells me that Borgnine and Amos co-starred in a short-lived (7 episode) show in the ’70s called “Future Cop”.  Future Cop is about two veteran cops who are partnered with a robot, but only one of them knows that he’s a robot.


Repeat offenders:

This is Jerry Orbach’s 3rd of 6 appearances on the show as Harry McGraw.


Jerry Orbach was actually 52 when this episode aired.

Bradford Dillman, who played one of the rival boxing trainers in this episode, has made 8 appearances in total on the show (this is his second).  He plays someone new each time, but it should be noted that he has made more appearances than Jerry Orbach did.


We haven’t seen the last of him!

Additional repeat offenders include:

  • Michael McGrady (played Sean Shaleen) — this is his first of 4 appearances (each time as different person)
  • Ray Girardin — reprises his role as Lt Casey in this episode, but also makes a third appearance as someone else later in the show
  • Richard Balin (played the news/sports commentator) — has one more minor appearance in a later episode

Honourable mentions:

Harold Sylvester, who played the veteran boxer Blaster Boyle in this episode, also played Al Bundy’s best friend on Married…With Children.  Here he is during a training montage with Jessica.


I’d also just like to say that Jessica Fletcher is my hero.  I actually have posted pictures of her on my wall, jogging and riding her bike, in order to motivate me to exercise.  It only sometimes works.


There are a number of great things about this episode, aside from the wonderful training montage.  There’s all the hardboiled-detective-style narration from Harry McGraw, and lots of awkwardness and double-entendres surrounding Harry’s sex life.

“His old lady caught him playing hopscotch in somebody else’s sidewalk.”

“She was standin’ there… soft as a London fog, and smelling like an armful of gardenias.”

“Lois came out of the bedroom looking for another round of bedsheet bingo.”


Aside from that:

  • there’s some institutional sexism with the “NO WOMEN” sign in the boxing gym
  • we can confirm the population of Cabot Cove is 3560
  • the episode ends with Jessica and Harry setting up the killer
  • and a trend I’ve noticed across a number of episodes: at the very end, there’s mention of two of the characters getting married.

And that’s all she wrote!



  1. Glad you wrote this – I never noticed it was originally a 90-minute episode! Even tho I read the IMDb entires quite often, I missed the length being longer than the standard 47 minutes.

    Anyway, no one shows it as a 90-minute episode, and that must be why I thought the episode seemed a bit off during the last 15 minutes. Now I know why, some scenes are missing!!!! Well, maybe one day I’ll see the entire episode!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I wasn’t sure whether the rumors were true, but then I saw a TV Guide ad from back in the day advertising it as a 90 minute special. Keep in mind that it was 90 minutes with commercials, so the actual episode is closer to 70 minutes. I ended up double checking my DVDs and Prime Video in Canada and both of them have a run-time of 1hr 12mins for this episode, so I guess they only have a shortened version for TV.


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