Murder, She Wrote 5.2 “A Little Night Work”

Jessica is attending a fundraiser in New York where she is wooed both personally (by a roguish jewel thief) and professionally (following the retirement of her old agent, Jonathan Reid).

Just the facts ma’am:

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

  • The victim was… a publisher and aspiring politician!
  • killed by…an investor!
  • in… his hotel room, but then hidden inside a laundry cart!
  • with… bare hands, strangled!
  • because… the publisher was going to back out of a business deal!
  • vital clues: red carnation petal on the hotel room floor.

Cast of characters:

Dennis Stanton being shady and debonaire.

Keith Michell makes his debut on the show as society man and jewel thief, Dennis Stanton. Michell will go on to appear a total of nine times as the character. In this episode, we learn that he was widowed six years ago, and in order to exact revenge on his insurance company (who wouldn’t pay out), he became a thief who stole insured jewellery belonging to his friends. We also learn that his brother-in-law is a city councilman who frequently helps him get out of jail.

Jamie Farr makes a notable appearance as Jessica’s wannabe agent, Theo Wexler. This is Farr’s only appearance on MSW, but he’s in good company as one of many M*A*S*H actors who guest starred on the show.

  • Rick Jason (left) plays president of WindSong publishing house and wannabe senator, Axel Weingard. This is Jason’s second and final appearance on the show. Axel’s wife, Marta Weingard (not pictured), is played by Julie Parrish in her only appearance on the show.
  • Conrad Janis (right) plays real estate investor, Miles Hatcher, in his second of three total appearances on the show.
  • Joe Santos (left) plays NYPD Lt. Bert Alfano in his second and final appearance on the show. Santos previously appeared in “The Bottom Line is Murder“. He is probably best known for his recurring role as a police detective on The Rockford Files.
  • John Dye (center) plays hotel busboy and aspiring author, Andy Broom, in his first of two total appearances on the show. Note that series writers would go on to reuse the name “Andy Broom” for a Cabot Cove deputy. Dye is probably best known for playing one of the angels on Touched by an Angel.
  • Leann Hunley (right) plays special claims investigator for Sasquehanna Fire and Casualty, Shannon McBride. This is her first of three total appearances on the show.

The cast included other minor characters, most of whom had only appeared once on the show. However, two of the actors had appeared for the second and final time on the show: Armand Cerami plays a security guard; and Jensen Collier is credited as playing Joanna, however her character is never addressed by name on the show.

One notable person who didn’t have a speaking line and therefore didn’t get credited is Frances Bergen (mother of Candice Bergen a.k.a. Murphy Brown), who appears as a celebrity having her picture taken outside the hotel.

Frances Bergen is seen here on the left.

Final thoughts:

Once again, the show producers used the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, California to stand in for a posh New York hotel. The Biltmore was previously used as a location in “Doom with a View“.

This episode also hints at Dennis Stanton getting his own series, which partially came true when he was featured in multiple episodes of season 6 without Jessica.

However, it’s not likely that producers were already thinking this far ahead. At this point in the series, it was thought that the fifth season might be the last given Angela Lansbury’s fatigue with the show. Nonetheless, I’m sure when they decided to renew it for a sixth season, they looked back at this episode and realised they had a good idea here.

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