Murder, She Wrote 7.11 “Family Doctor”

In a rare non-Cabot Cove episode, we find Jessica and her pal Dr. Seth Hazlitt having dinner at his favorite Boston restaurant, “Clams ‘n’ Claws”, which also happens to be hosting the Abruzzi mob family in its private dining room. While there, Seth is called away from the table to answer an urgent phone call and never comes back. It’s up to Jessica to investigate where he has disappeared to.

Just the facts:

Click on the text below to reveal spoilers.

Click to reveal the victim It was Carmine Abruzzi, the head of the mob family! Later, Joey Carr (his would-be assassin played by an uncredited actor) is also killed.
Click to reveal the killer It was Rosa Abruzzi, the wife of the mobster Carmine Abruzzi!
Click to reveal the weapon Carmine was killed with an injection of Digitoxin, which caused a heart attack! Joey Carr was shot.
Click to reveal the location He died at home after he got shot and Doctor Hazlitt patched him up!
Click to reveal the motive Carmine Abruzzi was dead set on retiring to Italy, but his wife didn’t want to be forced to come with him and lose touch with her children! She hired Joey Carr to shoot Carmine, but when that didn’t work, she took matters into her own hands.

Cast of characters:

At the heart of this episode is William Windom as Dr. Seth Hazlitt — Jessica Fletcher’s friend from Cabot Cove.

The main plot revolves around the Abruzzi mob family.

  • Tige Andrews plays Carmine Abruzzi, the head of the family who is about to retire from the “business”. Mystery fans may know Andrews for his role Captain Adam Greer on Mod Squad and Det. Lt. John Russo on The Detectives. This is his last ever on-screen appearance.
  • Rose Gregorio plays Rosa Abruzzi, Carmine’s wife.
  • Vincent Irizarry plays Michael Abruzzi, Carmine’s more level-headed son.
  • David Ciminello plays Salvatore Abruzzi, Carmine’s more irresponsible son. This is Ciminello’s first of two total appearances on MSW.

Other characters with ties to the Abruzzi family include:

  • Amy Yasbeck plays Connie Canzinaro, Salvatore’s fiance.
  • Cynthia Bain plays Denise Abruzzi, Michael’s pregnant wife.
  • Monte Markham plays Andrew Grant, the family’s attorney. This is Markham’s third of four total appearances on MSW. He previously appeared in “If a Body Meet a Body” and “Doom with a View“. Fans of TV mysteries might recognize Markham for playing Perry Mason in ‘The New Perry Mason‘ series from 1973-1974.
  • Diane Franklin plays Phyllis Grant, Andrew’s spoiled daughter.
  • Robert Costanzo as Freddie, Maitre d’ at the restaurant. This is Costanzo’s second of three total appearances on MSW.

The case is investigated by:

  • Joseph Cortese plays Lieutenant Marino, who is heading the investigation.
  • William Utay plays Agent Misch from the FBI.
  • Newell Alexander plays Agent Zweiback from the FBI.

Minor cast members include:

  • Howard George as a Desk Sergeant.
  • Linda Larkin as a Waitress.
  • Randall James Jeffries as a Bellhop. This is Jeffries’ first of two total appearances on MSW.
  • Michael Blue as Policeman #1. This is Blue’s second and final appearance on MSW. He previously had a minor role in “Curse of the Daanav“.
  • Jay Hill as Policeman #2. Hill has only had two on-screen credits and this is his last.

Final thoughts:

The most important thing about this episode is that it marks the return of William Windom as Dr. Seth Hazlitt. Windom had left the show prior to the beginning of Season 7 in order to star in a sitcom titled ‘Parenthood‘. The sitcom flopped and only ran for 12 episodes before being cancelled in December 1990. As a result, Windom was able to come back and star in this Murder, She Wrote at the beginning of January 1991.

Note that this is also why Joe Dorsey had been brought in to appear in the Cabot Cove episodes earlier in Season 7—his character of Ben Devlin was imagined as a new sidekick for Jessica Fletcher. Once William Windom was brought back into the show, Ben Devlin was never spoken of again. The previous episode “Murder in F Sharp” was therefore the last to ever mention Ben Devlin.

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