Murder, She Wrote 4.21 “Deadpan”

Jessica has made it to Broadway when a former student of hers (Walter Knapf) adapts one of her novels A Murder Comes to Maine into a play titled “Mainely Murder“. (Although it’s unclear whether Walter is from Cabot Cove or whether Jessica taught him somewhere else.)

The play opens at the fictional Woolcott Theatre. The Los Angeles theatre used for the exterior shots is currently known as the Ricardo Montalbán Theatre.

The play is poised to become a huge flop after many rewrites and additions — such as a character of a witch — make it almost unrecognizable from Jessica’s original story. But for one brief moment, it seemed like it would nonetheless get one good review…

Just the facts ma’am:

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

  • The victim was… a theater critic!
  • killed by… a rival theater critic!
  • in… his apartment!
  • with… a gunshot!
  • because… the killer used to be a playwright who had his career ruined by a bad review from the victim!
  • vital clues: a cast change on opening night that was not reflected in the reviews.

Repeat offenders:

Just as in the previous episode, there were lots of actors who had made multiple appearances on the show.

The most prominent of these actors is Eugene Roche who made a total of four appearances on the show. This episode, in which he plays Lt. Aloysius Jarvis, marks his second appearance.

Some of these actors played characters involved in the production of the play:

  • Lloyd Bochner (left) as the play’s director, Jason Richards. This is Bochner’s second of three total appearances on the show.
  • Carole Cook (center) as the play’s producer, Shayna Grant. This is Cook’s second and final appearance on the show.
  • Marilyn Hasset (right) as Barbara Blair, the actress playing Prudence the witch. This is Hasset’s third and final appearance on the show. She previously made an appearance on “Witness for the Defense“.

Other actors played characters involved in journalism:

  • John DiSanti (left) as theater critic for The Chronicle, Danny O’Mara. This is DiSanti’s first of two total appearances on the show.
  • Christopher Norris (center) as Danny O’Mara’s assistant, Denise Quinlan. This is Norris’s second and last appearance on the show.
  • Philip Abbot (right) as The Chronicle’s editor, Ed Cullen. This is Abbot’s first of two credited appearances on the show.

Additional roles played by recurring actors include Robert Rigamonti as “Maitre D'” in his first of three appearances, and Marcy Goldman as “Assistant” in her first of two appearances. However, I was unable to identify these roles while watching the episodes and so I don’t have screenshots of their faces.

Honourable mentions:

No big big stars in this one, but shout-outs go to:

  • Rich Little (left) as the play’s publicist, Barney Mapost. Little is known best for being a celebrity impersonator, particularly of US presidents.
  • Dean Stockwell (right) as “Live at Five” critic, Elliot Easterbrook. Stockwell is probably best known for his roles on Quantum Leap and the reboot of Battlestar Galactica.

Final thoughts:

“Since when is it a crime to own a computer?”

Walter Knapf

This episode features an interesting look back at the technology of the era. A big deal is made of Jessica not buying into the whole computer thing. But aside from that technology plays a major role, specifically: recovering deleted files, and being able to transmit a document from any computer connected to a phone line without it necessarily being traced.

It also features a nice nod to the show’s formula when upon being confronted the killer says:

“The detective in the wings, Mrs. Fletcher? I guess I should have expected a climax so cliche.”


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