Murder, She Wrote is known for certain recurring themes/motifs/imagery, and one of the things I was most curious about when I embarked on this project to document each episode is: just how frequently these themes/motifs/imagery recur.
People & Places
Number of “dear old friends” = 4+ (there are many old college friends in ep.15; and many of Frank’s army friends in ep.7)
Jessica is known for paying visits to old friends she hasn’t seen in a while, and whom she usually doesn’t see again for the rest of the series. This season, there hasn’t been very many of them, and she only specifically visited a few:
- Molly Connors, a former student from Cabot Cove in ep.5.
- Lee Goddard, her husband Frank’s old army buddy in ep.8 (which is a continuation of ep.7)
- a funeral for her friend Evelyn Kerry in ep.11
- her old college professor and her sorority sisters in ep.15
Number of nieces/nephews/cousins etc. = 2
We don’t get to learn much about Jessica’s extensive family tree in this season. Her only family members feature:
- her nephew Grade (in ep.1, ep.9, and mentioned in ep.4)
- her nephew Johnny (in ep.20)
Number of Cabot Cove deaths = 5
Six episodes took place in Cabot Cove this season, but two are part of the same two-parter story) so there are just 5 Cabot Cove murders this season: ep.3, ep.10, ep.13, ep.17, ep.21&22. The involvement of locals and non-locals in these murders is split exactly in half: two story-lines feature local murderers and victims; two story-lines feature visitors who are murders and victims; while one episode features a local killer who murders a visitor.
J. B. Fletcher, Globetrotter
Aside from Cabot Cove, Jessica spent the most time in New York City for publishing/writing related reasons–there were three episodes that took place there. Aside from that, she visited: Fishkill in New York State once; California three times (once to San Francisco, once to an army base near San Diego, and once to a pitstop on the way from Las Vegas to Los Angeles); Arizona twice; Colorado once; West Virginia once; Missouri once; New Hampshire once; Montana once; and Boston & Chicago once. Her trips also took her overseas to Moscow, Russia.
Jessica is known for attracting the attention of various men she meets. There are a few romantic moments in this season. There’s Michael Hagarty in ep.1 “J.B.. As in Jailbird” who you’re never really sure how he feels about Jessica. There’s Lee Goddard, Jessica’s husband Frank’s old army buddy, who appears in ep.7 and ep.8. And there’s Lt. Timothy Hanratty in ep.12 “Smooth Operators” who used to be interested in Jessica but now started looking elsewhere.
Other notes about this season
By season 5, Angela Lansbury was getting tired of the hectic television filming schedule and wasn’t planning on continuing with the show. She was finally convinced to renew her contract almost at the last minute, as the final episode was being made.
Thematically, this season is interesting because it really focuses on Jessica Fletcher’s life as a writer. She’s generally not travelling to meet friends and family–she’s instead travelling to writers’ conferences and having meetings with her publishers in New York. And I think it’s nice to see this all culminate in the season finale in which Seth reproaches her for working too hard.