Murder, She Wrote 7.2 “Deadly Misunderstanding”

Jessica Fletcher is back in Cabot Cove for this episode, as usual trying to get another one of her manuscripts finished and sent to her publisher. The only problem is that she has injured her wrist after falling off her bicycle, and so she has hired a Cabot Cove local to do her typing. After the typist’s husband is found dead, Jessica helps investigate.

Just the facts:

Click on the text below to reveal spoilers.

Click to reveal the victim It was Ralph Maddox, a local lumberyard owner!
Click to reveal the killer It was Rita Garrison, the creative writing teacher’s wife!
Click to reveal the weapon It was a pair of sewing scissors!
Click to reveal the location He is found dead in his home!
Click to reveal the motive Rita used to be Ralph’s mistress!

Cast of characters:

As this is a Cabot Cove episode, we have some regulars:

  • Ron Masak plays Sheriff Mort Metzger.
  • Will Nye plays Deputy Floyd.
  • Joe Dorsey plays Bennet J. “Ben” Devlin, the new editor for the Cabot Cove Gazette in his first of three appearances as the character. Dorsey previously appeared in “Death Stalks the Big Top” and “Showdown in Saskatchewan” as other characters.

The main mystery revolves around the people in the life of Jessica’s typist:

  • Lise Cutter plays Melissa Maddox, a typist and aspiring creative writer. This is Cutter’s second of three total appearances on MSW. She previously appeared in “Good-Bye Charlie“.
  • Cliff Potts plays Ralph Maddox, Melissa’s husband. This is Potts’ second and final appearance on MSW.
  • David Oliver plays Jeff Ogden, a classmate in Melissa’s creative writing class who is in love with her.
  • David McCallum plays Drew Garrison, Melissa’s creative writing teacher. This is McCallum’s second and final appearance on MSW. He previously appeared in “From Russia… with Blood“. McCallum is now best known for his role as Dr. Donald Mallard on NCIS.
  • Janet Margolin plays Rita Garrison, Drew’s wife. This is Margolin last ever on-screen role.

Other important locals include:

Minor characters include: David Chrisman as a young intellectual; Bette Rae as an earnest grandmother; and Robina Suwol as a female patron.

Final thoughts and other trivia:

Probably the most significant aspect of this episode is that it marks the introduction of Ben Devlin—a Cabot Cove newcomer who it was hoped would become a series regular. In 1990, prior to the start of season 7, William Windom (who played Dr. Seth Hazlitt on the series) had left the show in order to star in the sitcom Parenthood. Because this meant that Jessica Fletcher would no longer have a Cabot Cove sidekick, the character of Ben Devlin was introduced to fill the role. However, Ben Devlin’s character didn’t really hit it off with fans. The sitcom Parenthood also didn’t do well in the ratings and it ended up being cancelled after just 12 episodes. This meant that by the end of Season 7, William Windom was free to reprise his role as Seth on Murder, She Wrote, while Ben Devlin was written out of the show after just three episodes.

Our first glimpse of Jessica’s new (temporary) sidekick: Ben Devlin.

Another, albeit much sadder, aspect of this episode’s cast pertains to the fact that this marks Janet Margolin’s last ever on-screen role. Margolin died of ovarian cancer soon after filming this episode.

Finally, I have been noticing that, as the show goes on, more and more episodes set in Cabot Cove are filmed at Universal Studios rather than in Mendocino (which I have written about here and here). I have also noticed that producers tend to use the same sets but dress them up as different locations. In this episode, the location next to Cabot Cove Realty is occupied by the newspaper office. In other episodes we see this same location stand in for a bookstore, a gym, and other businesses.

In this episode, the Cabot Cove Gazette is located next to Cabot Cove Realty.

Edit May 4th 2021: Upon re-watching this episode, one additional thing stood out to me. The episode mentions Eve Simpson as well as Loretta’s beauty parlor. While Eve Simpson continues to make appearances on the show, Loretta’s beauty parlor and the other ladies associated with it do not.

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