Murder, She Wrote 8.21 “Badge Of Honor”

Jessica is back in Cabot Cove home when Seth bursts into her kitchen to announce that his army friend from World War II did not go missing in action (as Seth had originally thought) but is in fact alive and coming to visit Cabot Cove.

When it turns out that Seth’s friend had a run-in with the law back in Detroit and is therefore the primary suspect in the murder of his new Cabot Cove boss, Jessica helps figure out who the real murderer is.

Just the facts:

Click on the text below to reveal spoilers.

Click to reveal the victim It was Mason Porter, the owner of a boat yard that Seth’s friend got a job at!
Click to reveal the killer It was Neal Dishman, a businessman who recently bought a boat for cash!
Click to reveal the weapon The victim was bludgeoned — hit in the head with a (unspecified) heavy object!
Click to reveal the location It was in the victim’s office some time between 10 and midnight!
Click to reveal the motive It was revenge! Mason Porter was sleeping with Neal Dishman’s wife, so Dishman carefully planned the murder (and bought his boat in cash) to make it seem like the motive was the cash in Porter’s safe.
There were also additional twists in this episode Jarvis knew that Neil Dishman was the real killer. He tried to blackmail Neil, and in turn planted evidence to implicate Ben. However, Neil ended up trying to kill Jarvis by starting a fire in his hotel room.

Cast of characters:

As this is a Cabot Cove episode, we get a few town regulars:

  • William Windom plays Dr. Seth Hazlitt
  • Ron Masak plays Sheriff Mort Metzger
  • Louis Herthum plays Deputy Andy Broom

Much of the plot involves two new comers to Cabot Cove:

  • Gerald S. O’Loughlin plays Ben Oliver, Seth’s closest army buddy from WWII who was officially listed as missing in action in 1944. This is O’Loughlin’s third of four appearances on MSW; he previously appeared in “Class Act“.
  • Robert Lansing plays Lawrence Jarvis, a private investigator who suspects Ben Oliver of robbing the jewelry store he was working at as a security guard. This is Lansing’s second and final appearance on MSW; he previously appeared in “The Prodigal Father“.

The story additionally revolves around people involved in a local boat yard:

  • Cliff De Young plays Mason Porter, the owner of the boat yard. This is De Young’s third and final appearance on MSW; he previously appeared in “Coal Miner’s Slaughter“.
  • Pamela Susan Shoop plays Dorothy Porter, Mason’s wife. This is Shoop’s second and final appearance on MSW; she previously appeared in “Death Stalks the Big Top”.
  • Tony Becker plays Dave Sanders, Mason’s nephew who works for the company.
  • Daniel Davis plays Neal Dishman, the owner of the largest construction company in the county who buys a boat from Mason Porter’s yard for cash.
  • Gail O’Grady plays Robin Dishman, Neal’s wife. Among many other roles, O’Grady is known for having a recurring role on NYPD Blue.

There are also quite a few minor roles in this episode:

  • Tom Nibley plays a Clerk at the Lighthouse Motel.
  • Charles C. Stevenson Jr. plays the Minister who performs the funeral rites. This is Stevenson’s first of two appearances on MSW; he plays a priest in his subsequent appearance, too.
  • Douglas Rowe plays Mr. Wiggins, the Proprietor who runs a fishing tackle stall at the marina.
  • John C. Tuell plays the bus Driver.
  • Arlee Reed plays a Deputy who finds a gun in Ben Oliver’s hotel room.

Final thoughts and other trivia:

This episode is notable for giving us more insight into Seth’s life and history. In addition to learning that Seth was a corporal and almost lost his life in WWII, we also learn that he’s been practicing medicine in Cabot Cove for “nearly 37 years”.

Another interesting bit of trivia involves the show/movie that Jarvis is watching on the TV in his motel room. We see a scene with Jerry Orbach and Telly Savalas, which indicates that he is watching the 1990 TV movie “Kojak: None So Blind“.

The scene from Kojak visible on Jarvis’s TV screen.

Aside from that, the episode gives us a glimpse of some old and new Cabot Cove places. One thing that stood out to me is that the Light House Motel is now in one of the buildings fronting the shore (i.e. in the Jaws Lake set at Universal Studios) — which is a different location to that seen in “Thicker Than Water“.

I also suspect the scenes at Cabot Cove Cemetery and the Docks were filmed on location elsewhere (i.e. not on a studio lot), but I so far haven’t been able to figure out where. However, I did notice that the same set was used as the Docks in “Thicker Than Water”.

Finally, I noticed that when Jarvis is stopped by Sheriff Metzger, he pretends to be lost and asks whether Route 182 is the best way to head north. I was hoping this could give us a clue about the location of Cabot Cove, but when I searched for the location of that Route, it turns out to run east-west rather than north-south, and so it’s possible that Jarvis was just making up a route number as an excuse.

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