Murder, She Wrote 6.15 “The Fixer-Upper”

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Jessica Fletcher is visiting her niece Victoria, who is now working as a real estate agent in Beverly Hills. Jessica ends up having to bail her niece out when her niece is accused of murdering someone in the house she is tasked with selling.

Just the facts:

Click on the text below to reveal spoilers.

Click to reveal the victim It was Deborah Tarkington, the homeowner/seller!
Click to reveal the killer It was Claire Hastings, who was working for Deborah’s ex-husband!
Click to reveal the weapon Debora was beaten with a fireplace poker, although it was made to look like she fell after ingesting alcohol and diet pills.
Click to reveal the location It happened in the living room of the house she was selling!
Click to reveal the motive Deborah was going to report Claire for real estate fraud after she found out Seymour Densch was acting on their behalf. Claire was also tired of being treated like dirt by her rich clients.

Cast of characters:

This episode revolves around one of Jessica Fletcher’s relatives.

  • Genie Francis plays Victoria Brandon Griffin, Jessica Fletcher’s niece. This is Francis’ third and final appearance as Victoria.
  • Dean Butler plays Howard Griffin, Victoria’s husband. Butler is probably best known for portraying Almanzo Wilder on Little House on the Prairie. The character of Howard was previously played by Jeff Conaway.

The main mystery has to do with Genie’s new job as a real estate agent.

  • Brenda Vaccaro plays Didi Blair, Victoria’s boss. This is Vaccaro’s second of three total appearances on MSW; she previously appeared in “Just Another Fish Story“.
  • Jo de Winter plays Deborah Tarkington, the homeowner.
  • Ken Olandt plays Kevin Tarkington, Deborah’s son and heir.
  • George Maharis plays Alex Burton, Claire’s ex-husband. This is Maharis’ first of two total appearances on MSW.
  • Dack Rambo plays Arnold Hastings, Alex Burton’s agent. This is Rambo’s third and final appearance on MSW; he previously appeared in “When Thieves Fall Out“.
  • Vicki Frederick plays Claire Hastings, Arnold’s wife and business partner.
  • Marty Ingels plays Seymour Densch, a prospective buyer. This is Ingels’ first of two total appearances on MSW.
  • Classic movie actress Andrea King plays the housekeeper.

The case is being investigated by Det. Lt. Redick, played by Chad Everett. This is Everett’s second of four total appearances on MSW.

Several of the actors playing minor characters in this episode have made multiple appearances on the show:

  • Robert Rigamonti plays a minor role as a director in his second of three total appearances on MSW; he previously appeared in “Deadpan“.
  • Carol Swarbrick is credited simply as “wife” in her third and final appearance on MSW; she previously appeared in “Old Habits Die Hard“.
  • David Stenstrom is credited simply as “husband” in his second of four total appearances on MSW; he previously appeared in “Something Borrowed, Someone Blue“.
  • R.J. Adams plays a Rent-A-Cop in his third and final appearance on MSW.

Additional minor roles include: a housekeeper played by classic screen actress Andrea King; a medical examiner played by Jonathan Palmer; a doctor played by Murray Leaward; a client played by Sally Champlin; and a buyer played by Mitchell Edmonds.

Final thoughts and other trivia:

There’s not much more to say about this episode. It’s notable for being the last episode in which we get to see Jessica’s niece Victoria, who is the only relative other than Grady to ever appear in multiple episodes. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to get the same actor back to play Victoria’s husband Howard, but they made up for it by instead making Jessica feel awkward about all the public displays of affection between the two of them.

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