Murder, She Wrote 6.7 “Night of the Tarantula”

Jessica Fletcher travels outside the USA in this episode and goes to Jamaica to visit her old friend Olivia Waverly in order to celebrate Olivia’s son’s 30th birthday. The Waverly’s own a plantation and this birthday celebration may also mark a change in who runs it.

Just the facts:

Click on the text below to reveal spoilers.

Click to reveal the victim It was Harry, the man running the plantation! There is also an attempt at Adam’s life, the man who’s about to take over the plantation.
Click to reveal the killer It was Jean-Pierre, the owner of the neighbouring plantation!
Click to reveal the weapon It seems like he was killed by a snake?!
Click to reveal the location Harry died in his bedroom–which was locked from the inside!
Click to reveal the motive The Waverly plantation used to be owned by Jean-Pierre’s father who lost it in a poker game. Jean-Pierre wanted to make sure that the two lands can be reunited again!

Cast of characters:

The main story revolves around members of the Waverly family who own a plantation.

  • John Rhys-Davies plays Harry Waverly, who currently runs the plantation. This is Rhys-Davies’ second of three total appearances on MSW. He previously appeared in “J.B.. as in Jailbird“.
  • Shani Wallis plays Olivia Waverly, Jessica’s friend. She is the widow of Harry’s brother, who was the actual owner of the plantation.
  • Patrick Massett plays Olivia’s eldest son Adam Waverly, who is about to inherit the plantation.
  • James Lancaster plays Olivia’s younger son Mark Waverly. This is Lancaster’s first of two total appearances on MSW.

The Waverly plantation is next to the Dusant plantation:

  • Hurd Hatfield plays Jean-Pierre Dusant, the owner of a neighbouring plantation. This is Hatfield’s third and final appearance on MSW.
  • Cheryl Arutt plays Michelle Dusant, Jean-Pierre’s daughter. She had been hoping to marry Adam Waverly; but it’s actually Mark Waverly who is interested in her.

The plans for the Waverly plantation are complicated thanks to:

  • Nancy Valen plays Adam’s new wife Selina Williams Waverly. This is Valen’s first of two total appearances on MSW.
  • Ji-Tu Cumbuka plays Calder Williams, Selina’s father and voodoo priest.

Additional roles include:

  • Grand L. Bush plays George Gordon, a local journalist and a former Hollywood make-up artist.
  • Darrow Igus as local police, Sergeant Jones.
  • Obaka Adedunyo as Dr. Hayes.
  • J. Christopher Sullivan as a servant.
  • Fred Moon has an uncredited roll as a town resident. He apparently previously appeared in “The Last Flight of the Dixie Damsel” and “The Search for Peter Kerry“.

Final thoughts and other trivia:

This episode is one of three notable for guest starring Hurd Hatfield, who is a lifelong friend of Angela Lansbury. The two starred together in The Picture of Dorian Gray, and for many years they also owned neighboring properties in County Cork, Ireland.

As usual, although many Murder, She Wrote episodes are set in exotic locations, they’re almost never actually filmed in exotic locations. This episode is no different, and the plantation house that the episode introduces as being in Jamaica is actually the Queen Anne Cottage at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden.

Not actually Jamaica, but the San Gabriel Valley in southern California.

Finally, there are a few additional inconsistencies to real life. When Jessica Fletcher puts a paper doily under a door and pokes the key out of the lock so that they could get into Harry’s bedroom:

Olivia Waverley: Where on earth did you learn that?
Jessica Fletcher: I think it was “The Thin Man Returns”. Or was it “Charlie Chan in Hong Kong”?

The fact is, while The Thin Man and Charlie Chan were popular film franchises, neither of those particular titles actually exist.

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