Murder, She Wrote 8.22 “Murder On Madison Avenue”

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Jessica is in New York City and visiting the offices of Marathon Games, a company that is planning to collaborate with her on a new mystery board game titled “Murder Will Out”. Jessica investigates after someone is found murdered in a secret room in the company offices.

Just the facts:

Click on the text below to reveal spoilers.

Click to reveal the victim It was Meredith Delaney, the executive vice president of Marathon Games!
Click to reveal the killer It was Sylvia Moffett, Meredith’s secretary!
Click to reveal the weapon It was massive trauma to the skull caused by multiple blows to the head with a crowbar (which was also used to open a security cabinet)!
Click to reveal the location The victim was found in the car of a toy train in B100, a secret room in the basement of the Marathon Games office!
Click to reveal the motive Moffatt was a mole for Greenstreet and was ultimately on his side! When she learned that Meredith Delaney was about to get the majority share in the company, she killed her to prevent her from having too much power (and abusing that power).
Click to reveal some major clues and other spoilers One major clue in this episode revolved the type of earrings that the female characters wore: specifically the difference between clip-ons and earrings made for pierced ears. This is one of those clues where Jessica Fletcher is more likely to catch it because she is a woman. It particularly interesting given an earlier scene in the episode where Amanda North complains about not being listened to, even when her advertising ideas pertain to female products.

Cast of characters:

At the center of the story is the Marathon Games company and its two executives:

  • Barbara Babcock plays Meredith Delaney, the executive vice president. This is Babcock’s fourth of five total appearances on MSW; she previously appeared in “Shear Madness“. She also had a co-starring role in the MSW spin-off, The Law & Harry McGraw.
  • John Hillerman plays Edgar Greenstreet, the eccentric CEO of the company. This is his second and final appearance on MSW; he previously appeared in the Magnum, P.I. crossover episode “Magnum On Ice”.

The cast also includes several other employees of Marathon Games:

  • Harley Venton plays Devery McFarlane, Meredith Delaney’s husband and Jessica’s project supervisor. This is Venton’s first of two appearances on MSW.
  • Hallie Foote plays Sylvia Moffett, Meredith Delaney’s secretary. This is Foote’s first of two appearances on MSW.
  • Ben Slack plays Frank Christy, a toy designer whose dump truck design was badly received by Meredith Delaney. This is Slack’s second and final appearance on MSW; he previously appeared in “Murder — According to Maggie“.

Another subplot in the episode involves members of competing advertising agencies who are vying for the Marathon Games account:

  • John Petlock plays Miles Packard, a top exec from the Peyton Company. This is Petlock’s third of five total appearances on MSW; he previously appeared in “The Search for Peter Kerry“.
  • David Lansbury plays Brian Singer, a creative director for Peyton Company who used to be a media coordinator for one of Jessica’s books. This is Lansbury’s second of three appearances on MSW; he previously appeared in “Moving Violation“. He is a nephew of Angela Lansbury.
  • Caroline Williams plays Amanda North, another creative director for Peyton Company. This is William’s first of two appearances on MSW.
  • Joel Fabiani plays Boris Steloff, a top exec from Steloff and Associates who is trying to secure the account by having an affair with Meredith Delaney. This is Fabiani’s first of two appearances on MSW.

Additional cast members include:

  • Leo Rossi as Lieutenant Hornbeck, who is in charge of investigating the murder.
  • Zale Kessler as the Super in Frank Christy’s building. This is Kessler’s third and final appearance on MSW; he previously appeared in “Just Another Fish Story“.
  • Robert Ackerman as Stromberg, a journalist who has a bad history with Meredith Delaney.
  • Shannon Fill as a Lady Reporter.

Final thoughts and other trivia:

The most interesting thing about this episode, for me, is that it revolves around a J.B. Fletcher board game. Notably, there really is a Murder, She Wrote boardgame, which was first released back in 1985! After being released in the US, the game was subsequently re-released internationally in 1991 — one year before this episode aired.

However, the clues we get about the fictional “Murder Will Out!” board game on the show indicate that it is a bit different than the “Murder She Wrote” board game that was actually released. Perhaps one day I’ll get a chance to do a full comparison between the two, but for now I’ll just point out a few of the clues we get about the fictional board game in the episode:

Screen captures summarizing the conversation between Jessica and Greenstreet regarding the game play.

First, we get a glimpse of the game play from a conversation between Jessica and Greenstreet.

Greenstreet: I’ve read your notes, and I think you’ll want six players, not five. I had in mind a grumpy neighbor, call him Snipes.

Jessica: Who snoops a lot, you know, looks in windows, picks up clues…

Greenstreet: Snipes the snoop. We’ll make them out of plastic. People can feel them, touch them, have their favorite colors.

Jessica: And they would move with a roll of the dice.

Greenstreet: Draw to see who the murderer is.

Jessica: And the squares on the board will give the players an opportunity to pick up a motive card, like a “scene of the crime” card or a “clue” card.

Greenstreet: Which may or may not be genuine.

Jessica: Oh, you mean a false clue, like a wild card in poker. This is just wonderful, it really is.

Murder, She Wrote S8E22 “Murder on Madison Avenue”

We even get to see a prototype of the game board and box:

Screenshots featuring the "Murder Will Out!" game board and box.

Notice that the box indicates the game is for 2-6 players, and based on the game board some of the characters you can play are named “Bizmark”, “Mrs. Sknoops”, and “The Paramour”. (There are two additional characters visible to the left of Greenstreet in the screenshot, but their names are hard to read with the yellow-on-blue text. The closest I could figure out is that the top one is “The ___ Kids” and the bottom one is “Mr. ___”.)

The game board also shows several locations that players can visit, such as “Old Lighthouse”, “Lighthouse Motel”, “Haunted Victorian”, “Old Church”, “Mill”, “Covered Bridge”, “Coffee Shop”, “Town Hall” and “Sheriff’s Office”.

Finally, I found it interesting that the episode mentions a secret project that Marathon Games is working on (codename “Project 2100”) which is apparently a virtual reality toy. While a Murder, She Wrote virtual reality game has never been released, the show did feature an episode in which Jessica writes a virtual reality game in Season 10.

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