Murder, She Wrote 7.22 “The Skinny According to Nick Cullhane”

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The action in this episode starts in Boston with a former mystery writer who is now a spokesperson for a beer company. He has written a book based on a faked kidnapping staged by his boss at the brewery and a number of people, including P.I. Harry McGraw, want to get their hands on it. Because he sent the manuscript to his pal Jessica Fletcher in Cabot Cove, they all travel from Boston to Cabot Cove in hopes of retrieving it.

Nick Cullhane is a spokesperson for Schmesser Brewing Co.

Just the facts:

Click on the text below to reveal spoilers.

Click to reveal the victim It was Nick Cullhane, a former mystery writer and friend of Jessica Fletcher!
Click to reveal the killer It was Phil Mannix, the muscle working for the heir to the brewery!
Click to reveal the weapon It was a gunshot!
Click to reveal the location The body was found at the newspaper office for the Cabot Cove Gazette!
Click to reveal the motive It was to prevent Nick from telling Oggie that Phil was Nick’s source for the kidnapping story!

Cast of characters:

As this is a Cabot Cove episode, we get a couple of series regulars.

  • Ron Masak plays Sheriff Mort Metzger.
  • Will Nye plays Deputy Floyd. This is Nye’s 15th and final appearance on MSW, each time playing the same character. Note: If you look closely at Floyd’s nametag in this episode, you’ll see that his full name is Floyd Jones.

At the heart of the story is Nick Cullhane, who promises his bookie that he’ll pay back the money he owes her with the proceeds from his latest manuscript:

  • Pat Harrington plays Nick Cullhane, a former detective book writer. This is Harrington’s fourth and final appearance on MSW. He previously appeared in “Jack and Bill“.
  • Leslie Easterbrook plays Vikki Palumbo, a bookie who is owed money by both Nick Cullhane and Harry McGraw. This is Easterbrook’s third of four total appearances on MSW. She previously appeared in “Where have you gone, Billy Boy?” in the same season.
  • Michael McGrady plays Richard a.k.a. “Richie”, Vikki’s muscle and jealous boyfriend. This is McGrady’s third of four total appearances on MSW. He previously appeared in “Smooth Operators“. McGrady has had recurring roles in multiple crime series, most recently on ‘SEAL Team’.
  • Jerry Orbach plays Boston private detective Harry McGraw, who has been hired by Vikki. This is Orbach’s sixth and final appearance on MSW, always playing the same character. His previous appearance was in “From the Horse’s Mouth“.

Nick Cullhane’s manuscript is a story based on a kidnapping ploy devised by his boss at Schmesser brewery.

  • Alex Hyde-White plays Ogden “Oggie” Schmesser, a man who runs and stands to inherit his retired grandfather’s brewery. This is Hyde-White’s first of two total appearances on MSW.
  • Jameson Parker plays Gordon “Gordo” Forbes, Oggie’s attorney. This is Parker’s first of two total appearances on MSW. Parker is best known for his role as A.J. Simon on ‘Simon & Simon‘.
  • Tony Lo Bianco plays Phil Mannix, Oggie’s muscle. This is Lo Bianco’s first of two total appearances on MSW. Lo Bianco starred in a short-lived 80s detective show called ‘Jessie‘.
  • Tricia Long plays Florence, a secretary at the beer company.

Cast members also include a cameo by Postmaster General Anthony Frank, who plays the mailman (whom Jessica calls Mr. Finnerty). Anthony M. Frank was the actual US Postmaster General from 1988 until 1992.

Final thoughts and other trivia:

This is a notable episode being that it was originally written to be the final episode of the series. Just as was the case with “Mirror, Mirror On The Wall” at the end of Season 5, Angela Lansbury’s contract was up at the end of Season 7 and the producers weren’t certain whether they could get her to sign on for more seasons.

Although the series ultimately continued into several more seasons, this episode marks the final appearance for two recurring characters: Jerry Orbach as Harry McGraw; and Bill Nye as Deputy Floyd. There is also a mention of Cabot Cove Gazette editor Ben Devlin, even though he had only made a few appearances on the show, with his last appearance being “Murder in F Sharp“.

The Jaws Lake backlot of Universal Studios was once again used to stand-in for Cabot Cove. In the above collage we see that the Cabot Cove Gazette office is now back to where it was first shown to be in “Deadly Misunderstanding“. Consequently, the local café that appeared in “Prodigal Father” now appears to have moved to a different building. Eve Simpson’s Realty, which was seen in “A Body to Die For“, appears to have also changed locations.

One final thing I noticed by paying probably way too much attention while watching this episode is the article about Nick Cullhane that was shown to be in his cabin. Notice that after the first paragraph, the article appears to be written about something completely different. I decided to figure out whether the article was referencing anything specific and found that the reference to Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Styles of Los Angeles is a reference to the movie Ricochet starring Denzel Washington. While this MSW episode aired in May 1991, that movie was released later that same year, in October 1991.

And that’s, as they say, is all she wrote.


    1. Same! I love Floyd. I wish he could have stuck around in the show. I loved how his comments always made Sheriff Metzger go all bug-eyed!


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