Murder, She Wrote 4.22 “The Body Politic”

Jessica has come to an unnamed city to lend support to a dear old friend, Kathleen Lane, who is running for political office. Initially Jessica was supposed to give a brief endorsement speech, but somehow she gets roped into becoming her friend’s speech writer.

Just the facts ma’am:

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

  • The victim was… a political campaign manager!
  • killed by… a politician’s husband!
  • in… a politician’s hotel penthouse suite!
  • with… a hammer, but then thrown off the balcony!
  • because… he was afraid that all the media attention his wife was getting would reveal his shady business dealings!
  • vital clues: discrepancies in the poll figures — he knew something that was soon corrected.

Big names and honourable mentions:

The two most recognizable actors in this episode are:

  • Shirley Jones (left) as political hopeful, Kathleen Lane, in her first of two total appearances on the show. Jones is best known for playing the mom on The Partridge Family.
  • Eddie Albert (right) as Kathleen Lane’s rich businessman husband, Jackson Lane. Among many other roles, Albert had a recurring role in the late 1960s on the sitcom Green Acres, and in the 1970s on the mystery show Switch co-starring Robert Wagner.

Other actors whose faces would be familiar to TV fans include:

  • Daphne Maxwell Reid (left) as campaign aide Nan Wynn. Reid would go on to play Aunt Vivian on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
  • Robert Fuller (center) as Kathleen Lane’s political opponent, Arthur Drelinger. Fuller starred in 1970s medical drama Emergency!
  • Harrison Page (right) as police Lt. Gowans. Just prior to appearing in this episode, Page had a major role in yet another show with an exclamation mark in its name: Sledge Hammer!

Repeat offenders:

In addition to Shirley Jones, who made two appearances on Murder, She Wrote, recurring actors include:

  • Peter Fox (left) as campaign manager and victim, Bud Johnson in his first of two total appearances.
  • James Sloyan (right) as opponent campaign manager, C. W. Butterfield, in his second of seven total appearances. In all future appearances, Sloyan plays one character.
  • George Grizzard (left) as news reporter and host of “Face the Issues”, Edmund Hall, in his third and final appearance. Grizzard has previously appeared in Season 3’s “Murder in a Minor Key“.
  • Robin Bach (right) as Hotel Clerk Preston in his fourth out of five total appearances. Bach always appears in minor roles.
  • Additional recurring actors (not pictured) include Anthony S. Johnson as “Reporter ‘A'” and Neal Kaz as “Policeman #1”. This was the first of two total appearances for both actors.

Final thoughts:

This episode was very creative in ensuring they are very vague about the particulars of this political campaign. It’s alluded that these are (senatorial?) primaries, but there is no mention of a specific political party.

I’ve also found it difficult to pinpoint exactly where the action is meant to take place. The hotel name “Excalibur Hotel” is visible, but Googling reveals no such hotel to fit its name and description. There is also mention of the WITM news station, which suggests the action takes place somewhere in eastern US (rather than western US, which would have a TV station call sign begin with K). This is confirmed by a bus station timetable that appears briefly and lists, for example, one trip going to Albany then Syracuse then Rochester.

Additionally, Jessica and Kathleen supposedly have known each other for 17 years, but there is no mention of how they could have met.

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