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This is yet another “bookend” episode of Murder, She Wrote. In this case, Jessica Fletcher introduces the story as the plot of a book she is writing.
The story follows Frank Albertson, a down-on-his-luck private detective working in LA, who finds out that his Uncle Charlie has inherited a large fortune. Uncle Charlie hasn’t been heard from in two years, and Frank Albertson realizes that the fortune would go to him if he could only prove that Uncle Charlie is dead. He reads in the newspaper that there’s an unidentified body found dead by the train tracks in Huckabee, Nevada, so Frank and his wife Sunny head over to try to claim the body is that of Uncle Charlie. The problem is, they aren’t the only ones trying to stake a claim on the corpse.
Cast of characters:
The protagonists of this episode are:
- Bill Maher plays the protagonist, Frank Albertson, a private detective. This is Maher’s second and final appearance on MSW. He previously appeared in “Fire Burn, Cauldron Bubble“.
- Faith Ford plays Sunny Albertson, Frank’s wife. Ford is best known for playing Corky Sherwood on Murphy Brown.
The mystery caper involves:
- John Finnegan as Charles Kenneth Albertson, Frank’s “Uncle Charlie” who went missing two years ago.
- Scott Palmer as Raymond Fleischer, a lawyer that delivers the news of Uncle Charlie’s inheritance. This is Palmer’s second and final appearance on MSW.
When Frank and Sunny travel to Huckabee, Nevada, they meet:
- David Huddleston as Huckabee’s Sheriff Ed Ten Eyck. Huddleston had a brief recurring role on Petrocelli.
- Clyde Kusatsu as Jack Yamoto, the medical examiner/coroner.
- Robin Bach as Lon Ainsley, the coroner’s assistant. This is Bach’s fifth and final appearance on MSW. He previously appeared in “The Body Politic“.
The other people interested in claiming the unidentified body are:
- Lise Cutter as Tillie Bascomb, who claims the dead body is that of her husband. This is Cutter’s first of three total appearances on MSW.
- Bryan Cranston as Jerry Wilber, Tillie’s apparent cousin. This is Cranston’s second of three total appearances on MSW.
- Lisa Melilli as Marcia Mae Bailey, who claims the dead body is that of her father. This is Melilli’s first of three total appearances on MSW.
- Michael Callan as Bart Mahoney, Marcia Mae’s lawyer. This is Callan’s third of four total appearances on MSW. He previously appeared in “J.B.. as in Jailbird” and “Murder, She Spoke“.
Other Huckabee locals are include:
- Ernie Lively as a bartender called Jake. This is Lively’s first of five total appearances on MSW.
- Don Brunner as youth Coach Lyle Coogan.
- Roony Graham as a hobo called Clarence.
Additional characters include:
- A businessman that Frank was hired to surveil, played by Stanley Grover. Grover had a brief recurring role on L.A. Law.
- A “bimbo” going into a motel room with the businessman, played by Elizabeth Holmes.
- Uncle Charlie’s girlfriend Doreen, played by Tessa Richarde.
Just the facts:
This is not a typical murder mystery. There are several questions involving the identification of missing persons:
- Who is the body found on the tracks in Huckabee?
- Where is Uncle Charlie?
- Where is Marcia Mae’s father?
- Where is Tillie Bascomb’s husband?
- Was any foul play involved?
Click on the text below to reveal spoilers.
Click to reveal the victimThere are two actual victims: the body by the tracks (never identified); and Tillie Bascomb’s husband!
Click to reveal the killerJerry Wilber, who is actually Tillie Bascomb’s lover, killed her husband! The body by the tracks likely died accidentally.
Click to reveal the weaponIt was a gunshot (as is frequently the case)!
Click to reveal the locationTillie’s husband is buried in her backyard!
Click to reveal the motiveTillie was having an affair and wanted to get rid of her husband while still getting his money!
Final thoughts and other trivia:
This is the fifth “bookend” episode on Murder, She Wrote, and the second in which she narrates one of her own stories. (The first such “bookend” was season 3’s “Murder in a Minor Key“.) The other three bookend episodes that previously aired as part of season 6 all had Jessica telling the story of a friend/acquaintance. This suggests that out of all the books J. B. Fletcher has written, she rarely re-uses protagonists and isn’t really a series writer.
The title may be a reference to a comedy play by that name by George Axelrod. Although the plot of the play is different from the plot of this episode, both involve two broke people trying to ensure they inherit “Charlie’s” money. The play was adapted into a 1964 movie starring Debbie Reynolds, was then attempted to be revived into a 1985 TV series starring Suzanne Somers, and was also the basis for the 1991 film Switch.