Murder, She Wrote 6.20 “Shear Madness”

Jessica Fletcher is visiting some relatives today! She’s in Fairville, Texas to attend the wedding of her cousin Ann, who has been unlucky in marriage. Her first husband, Tom Arden, died at 22 years old; and Nathan Rollins, the man she was about to marry after that, was killed by her brother. Is third time the charm for Ann?

Just the facts:

Click on the text below to reveal spoilers.

Click to reveal the victim It was Ann’s fiance Bill!
Click to reveal the killer It was the local newswoman, Rosemary!
Click to reveal the weapon He was killed with garden shears–just like Ann’s previous fiance!
Click to reveal the location He was killed in the cellar–also like Ann’s previous fiance!
Click to reveal the motive Bill had a fling with Rosemary before he left for Alaska. She had his baby but he was not interested in her when he came back to town!

Cast of characters:

The main cast involves three of Jessica’s first cousins:

  • Shirley Jones plays Ann Owens Arden. This is Jones’ second and final appearance on MSW. She previously appeared in “The Body Politic“.
  • Doris Roberts plays Helen Owens, Ann’s sister. This is Roberts’ first of two total appearances on MSW.
  • Robert Walker (Jr.) plays George Owens, Ann’s brother. This is Walker’s second and final appearance on MSW.

Other people with close ties to the family include:

  • Sandy McPeak plays Bill Spenser, Ann’s fiance and former rebel who made his fortune in Alaska. This is McPeak’s third and final appearance on MSW. He previously appeared in “The Way to Dusty Death“.
  • Dennis Christopher plays Dr. Henry Carlson, George’s psychiatrist. This is Christopher’s first of two total appearances on MSW.

Other townsfolk include:

  • Barbara Babcock as Rosemary Taylor who runs the local newspaper. This is Babcock’s third of five total appearances on MSW.
  • Linda Grovenor as Meg Taylor, Rosemary’s daughter and newspaper photographer. This is Grovenor’s second and final appearance on MSW. This is also her final on-screen appearance ever.
  • Bryan O’Byrne as Reverend Simmons.
  • William Lucking as Sheriff Barnes. This is Lucking’s third of five total appearances on MSW. He previously appeared in “Double Exposure“.

There are also several minor characters who are credited, but they all appeared on MSW just this one time. Notably, a young Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a boy getting off the bus and threatening to kill his little brother. Anne Cooper (credited as Anne Marie Gillis) plays his mother and Ben Ryan Granger plays his brother. Other characters include Daniel Bryan Cartwell as the bus driver; Yolanda Lloyd as a caterer; Loren Blackwell as Ann’s old fiance Nathan Rollins in flashbacks; Cody Glenn as a policeman; and Freya Thomas as a coquette.

Final thoughts and other trivia:

This is an interesting episode as it gives us a deeper glimpse into Jessica Fletcher’s family tree. Not only do we meet three of Jessica’s cousins, we also hear about Grammy, whose parents brought the furniture over from England. And there is also mention of an uncle Walter (who may or may not be the cousins’ father), as well as Great Aunt Sarah, who originated a famous family punch recipe, and Great Uncle Henry, who added a drop of whiskey to that punch.

For those who keep track of Murder, She Wrote recurring guest stars, this episode include a hilarious scene between Jessica and Meg Taylor where Jessica asks if she’s seen her before — and she has! Linda Grovenor, the actress playing Meg Taylor, also appeared as Jessica’s niece in “Dead Heat” in the first season of the series.

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