Murder, She Wrote 4.17 “A Very Good Year for Murder”

Disclosure: The following contains affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I may receive a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. Click here to read the full Affiliate Disclosure.

In this episode, Jessica is visiting the Gambini family winery for the Gambini Patriarch’s 75th birthday Compleano. Don’t be fooled by all the Italian-ness in this episode: it actually takes place in California.

Apparently, Jessica is familiar with the Gambini family because she spent one summer tutoring Paul Gambini, one of the grandkids.

Just the facts ma’am:

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

  • The victim was… the granddaughter’s boyfriend!
  • killed by… the Gambini family patriarch!
  • in… the wine cellar!
  • with… poison !
  • because… the boyfriend was actually a contract killer sent to kill the patriarch, who was ready to die anyway but didn’t want anyone else getting hurt!
  • vital clues: the killer called him “that New York bum” when he was passing himself off as a country boy.

Big Names & Honourable Mentions

For this episode, I wanted to document the Gambini family, even if the actors playing them aren’t/weren’t super famous.

  • Eli Wallach plays Salvatore Gambini, the Gambini family patriarch.
  • Ina Balin (far left) plays Salvatore’s daughter Stella.
  • And then we have Salvatore’s grandchildren / Stella’s nephews and niece, in order from left to right:
    • Billy Zane plays Tony.
    • Thomas Byrd plays Paul (the one that Jessica tutored).
    • Kristian Alfonso plays Michele. Alfonso has had a major role playing Hope Brady in close to 2000 episodes of Days of Our Lives.

Repeat offenders

The actors playing the other members, or would-be members, of the Gambini family had made multiple appearances on the show.

  • John Saxon (left) plays Marco Gambini, Salvatore’s son and Stella’s brother. This is Saxon’s second of three total appearances on MSW.
  • Bibi Besch (center) plays Marco’s wife Fiona. This is Besch’s first of two total appearances on MSW.
  • Grant Goodeve (right) plays Ben Skyler (a.k.a. Benito Soriano, mob hitman), Gambini’s grand-daughter Michele’s boyfriend. This is Goodeve’s third and final appearance on MSW. Goodeve is also known for playing on of the kids on Eight is Enough.

There were also a few actors who made their first of two total appearances on the show:

  • Arlen Dean Snyder (left) as Police Chief Thaddius Kyle.
  • Robert O’Reilly (right) as Stephen Ridgely, a “friend” of Paul Gambini. If you’re a Trekkie, you might recognize Ridgely as the Klingon Gowron.
  • Paul Lyell (not pictured) was credited as “Guest #1”. His second credit on MSW is simply listed as “cop”.

Final Thoughts

This is an interesting episode because it marks an important insight into Jessica’s morality. Without giving away too much in terms of spoilers, it’s one of those episodes where Jessica decides to turn a blind eye on a friend/acquaintance committing a crime, and pretty much colludes with local police to make the problem disappear. This is similar to what happens at the end of “Simon Says Color Me Dead“, where she and Amos Tupper decide not to notify the authorities that a woman is raising a son she hasn’t legally adopted. Except that in this episode we’re dealing with more serious crimes.

This is a far cry from her attitude in “When Thieves Fall Out” where she makes a strong stance regarding vengeance and the fact that there is no excuse for even indirectly causing someone’s death. It seems to me that Jessica often makes moral excuses to herself when it comes to her friends.

On the other hand, this episode did feature some great outfits!

An original press photo from the episode of Angela Lansbury dancing with Eli Wallach (Salvatore Gambini) is available for purchase on Amazon!

1 comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: