After being successfully persuaded by Lee Goddard (whom we met in the previous episode) to join him at his ranch, Jessica finds herself in Arizona, somewhere near Tucson and the (possibly fictional) Massacre Valley.
At a party for Lee’s daughter-in-law, they are treated by a performance from a psychic named Franchesco, who foresees that the daughter-in-law will meet with great misfortune.
Just the facts ma’am:
Spoilers are in white font, so highlight the text below to reveal the answers.
- The victim was… the Swedish house maid, but was meant to look like it was the daughter-in-law!
- killed by… the daughter-in-law!
- in… it’s never actually revealed where the murder took place, but the body was incinerated in a car crash and explosion!
- with… unknown!
- because… the daughter-in-law wanted to scam the family out of money so she could run away with her psychic lover unnoticed, and figured nobody would miss the house maid if she disappeared!
- vital clues: GO to dentist.
Cast of characters:
Dale Robertson reprises his (uncredited) role as Lee Goddard.
Aside from him, for most of the cast in this episode, it is their only appearance on Murder, She Wrote.
- Michael Spound (left) plays Lee’s son, Del Goddard. Spound had a recurring role in the soap opera, Hotel.
- Michael Parks (right) plays family attorney Ben Aaron. Parks starred in Then Came Bronson, a one-season-wonder the premise of which sounds a bit like The Littlest Hobo but with a person instead of a dog.
- Melody Anderson (centre) plays Ben’s wife, Katherine Aaron, who is also in love with Del Goddard. Anderson had a couple of recurring roles in detective shows: she costarred in Manimal (an 80s show about a man who solves crimes by turning into an animal, which was understandably cancelled after 8 episodes), and she made multiple appearances in a season of Jake and the Fatman.
- Steve Kahan (left) plays ranch hand Roy Parks. Cahan played Capt. Murphy in the Lethal Weapon movie franchise.
- Lena Pousette (centre) plays Swedish house maid Greta Olsen. Pousette has held several minor roles in the 80s, usually playing women named Inga.
- Geoffrey Scott (right) as police Lt. Turner. Scott had a small recurring role in Dynasty.
The only actors who have made multiple appearances on MSW are:
- Lisa Pelikan (left and centre) plays Del Goddard’s wife Jill Goddard in her first of two total appearances on MSW.
- David Birney (right) plays a psychic named Franchesco in his first of four total appearances on MSW. Birney starred in the short-lived 70s series, Serpico.
IMDb also lists Bob Harks as playing (uncredited) Funeral Parlor Director. Harks apparently appeared 11 times on MSW, usually as an extra or stand-in, always uncredited.
The title for this episode is an allusion to “Prescription: Murder”, the pilot episode of Columbo that was written by the same show creators (Richard Levinson & William Link).
As mentioned in the episode summary for the previous episode, Dale Robertson was not credited for his role as Lee Goddard in these two episodes, apparently due to him taking issue to guest star credits being presented in alphabetical order.
This particular episode first aired on New Year’s day, after a couple weeks’ hiatus over Christmas, and it is notable that this is perhaps the only time on the show where there is continuity from one episode to the next. Even though the episode is not a two-parter, the previous episode features Lee Goddard persuading Jessica to come visit him in Arizona, the setting for the current episode.
However, although Lee was successful in persuading Jessica to come visit him, he was not successful in persuading Jessica to marry him.