Murder She Wrote 4.12 “Who threw the barbitals in Mrs. Fletcher’s chowder?”

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It’s a Cabot Cove episode everyone!  Amos’s little sister has come to visit from Kentucky, saying that she has left her manic depressive drunk husband.  Soon after, her husband shows up with his entire family in-tow to try and get her back.

Just the facts ma’am:

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

  • The victim was… Sheriff Amos Tupper’s brother-in-law!
  • killed by… his other brother-in-law!
  • in… Jessica Fletcher’s dining room!
  • with… phenobarbitals in the chowder and in his drink!
  • because… he wanted to take over the family business, which he felt was being run to the ground!
  • vital cluesdifferent sized glasses.

Repeat Offenders:

  • As this is a Cabot Cove episode, we of course see William Windom as Dr. Seth Hazlitt (left) and Tom Bosley as Sheriff Amos Tupper (right).

The rest of the cast is comprised of other actors who have made multiple appearances on the show, but each time as different people.  In this episode, they are:

  • Anne Meara (left) plays Amos’s little sister Winnie Banner.  This is Meara’s first appearance on the show; she comes back to make one more appearance but not as Amos’s sister. 
  • Guy Stockwell (right) plays Winnie’s husband Elmo. This is Stockwell’s second of three total appearances on MSW.
  • Barbara Rhoades (left) plays Elmo’s sister Flo Oakes.  This is Rhoades’s second and final appearance on MSW. 
  • Geoffrey Lewis (right) plays Flo’s husband Kenny. This is Lewis’s second out of a total four appearances on MSW. He previously appeared in the episode “No Accounting for Murder“.
  • Henry Gibson (left) plays Elmo’s brother Harold.  This is Gibson’s first of two total appearances on MSW. 
  • Donnely Rhodes (right) plays Ed Bellamy, a private detective hired by Elmo to shadow his wife.  This is Rhodes’s first of three total appearances on MSW.
  • Colleen Camp plays Deputy Marigold Feeney in her second and final appearance on MSW.  It appears that when playing Marigold, Camp had basically channeled the character she played in the Police Academy series, right down to riding a motorcycle.

Many of the above actors are also recognizable from so many other films and TV shows that I cannot even begin to name what they’re most famous for.

Following the previous episode‘s inexplicable credits, this one also credits Joseph Perry as playing a character called “Ralph” — someone who doesn’t recognizably make an appearance.  However, it’s notable that Joseph Perry is credited as appearing in one other episode of MSW, as “heavy set crude man”.

Honourable mentions:

It occurred to me that it might be fun to keep note of all of the deputies of Cabot Cove. So here’s an honourable mention of Dennis Bailey as Deputy Grover in his only appearance on the show.


Final thoughts:

The title for this episode is an allusion to a popular song titled “Who Threw the Overalls in Mrs. Murphy’s Chowder?” The song was written in 1898 and had been recorded by Bing Crosby in the 1940s and Julie Andrews in the 1960s, among others.

Together with “If it’s Thursday, it must be Beverly“, this episode is a gem among all the Cabot Cove episodes. In fact, this episode makes some reference to the events of that one.

Now, Mrs. Eggleston, I’m sorry your cat is up a tree. But my deputy who used to take care of that sort of thing quit on me.

We also get a good glimpse into Amos’s life — which is nice given that this is his second-last appearance on the show.  Of course, it wouldn’t be Amos without some sort of sexist remark, such as when he’s confronted with a woman applying to be the new deputy.

Amos: “Oh, I see. Well, uh, the thing is I– I’m looking for somebody with law enforcement experience.

Marigold: “I was a meter maid in Augusta. I got my own uniform.”

Amos: “Well, uh, I don’t know. A deputy’s job has long hours.”

Marigold: “I thrive on hard work.”

Amos: “Mmm.  And, uh– Well, I’m not saying that there is, but there could be danger involved.”

Marigold: “No problem.”

Amos: “Uh-huh. Well, uh, you see, miss, what I was really looking for was, uh– uh–“

Marigold: “A man?  I’d be very disappointed, Sheriff, if you were biased.”

Amos: “Me? Biased? Why, nothing could be farther from the truth. I had a woman deputy until last year. Good worker too. It broke my heart when she got in the family way. Course, her husband was glad she was finally staying at home where she belonged.”

. . .

Amos: “Could you start tomorrow?”

Marigold: “I can start today.”

If you’re a fan of Murder, She Wrote and this episode in particular, you may be interested in my T-shirt design, available on various products on TeePublic.


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