Murder, She Wrote 9.8 “The Classic Murder”

The episode starts in Jessica Fletcher’s New York City apartment, where Jessica is meeting with one of her editors. Apparently, the editor’s very rich father has been talking about buying the publishing company. Therefore, they head over to his most recent business acquisition (a NYC restaurant) to meet him for dinner.

The action then moves to his estate in Westchester County, where Jessica accompanies her editor the next day after they learn that her father has disappeared overnight.

Just the facts:

Click on the text below to reveal spoilers.

Click to reveal the victim There were two murders in this episode! One was Buck Wilson (the editor’s father) and the other was Marika Valenti (a psychic that worked to entertain restaurant patrons).
Click to reveal the killer It was George Foster, the editor’s uncle!
Click to reveal the weapon Both victim’s were killed by a gunshot wound to the chest!
Click to reveal the location Buck was killed in his bed, then hidden in a rainwater cistern, before ultimately being moved to the back seat of a car in his garage. Marika was killed near the rainwater cistern and then her body was dumped inside.
Click to reveal the motive The killer had siphoned 150 million dollars from the company accounts so that he could start a new life away from his wife and her family money. He killed Buck because he found out; and then he killed Marika because she knew he was the killer and tried blackmailing him!
Click to reveal the major clue There was an oil stain in the garage that led Jessica to remember that one of the victim’s classic cars was being shipped to a car show — which seemed a convenient way to get cash off the estate without being seen.

Cast of characters:

The main action of this episode revolves around Jessica’s editor and her family:

  • Jessica Tuck plays Sally Wilson, Jessica’s editor.
  • Wayne Tippit plays Buck Wilson, Sally’s father.
  • Michael E. Knight plays B.J. Wilson, Sally’s brother.

Additional people staying at the Wilson estate include:

  • Rita Taggart as Janine Foster, Buck’s sister.
  • John Rubinstein as George Foster, Janine’s husband. (Rubinstein starred in his own detective show back in the 80s titled Crazy Like a Fox.)
  • Louise Latham as Mrs. Oates, Buck’s live-in housekeeper.
  • Stephen Liska as Carl Graham, Buck’s chauffeur.

Additional people who have had professional contact with Buck include:

  • Natalija Nogulich as Marika Valenti, a psychic hired to entertain guests at Buck’s restaurant. This is Nogulich’s first of two appearances on MSW.
  • Lisa Melili as Molly, a waitress at Buck’s restaurant who personally feeds hors d’oeuvres to the guests. This is Melilli’s third and final appearance on MSW; she previously appeared in “Good-Bye Charlie” and “A Killing in Vegas“.
  • Charles Hoyes as Phil at Trans Highway Shipping, the company hired to transport Buck’s classic car to the auto show in California. This is Hoyes second of three appearances on MSW.

We also meet various members of law enforcement:

  • John Di Aquino plays Sgt. Tom Jarrow, a member of Westchester County police and a childhood friend of B.J. Wilson. This is Di Aquino’s first of three appearances on MSW.
  • Anthony S. Johnson plays the sergeant’s Deputy. This is Johnson’s second and final appearance on MSW; he previously appeared in “The Body Politic“.
  • Julian Barnes plays Inspector Moss of Scotland Yard, whom Jessica calls to get more information about someone’s backstory. This is Barnes’ second and final appearance on MSW.

Final thoughts and other trivia:

I only have two short comments to make about this episode:

First, I have to say it took me way too long to figure out why this episode was called “The Classic Murder”. In case you’re also wondering what makes this episode such a classic — I think it’s because it’s referencing the classic cars in Buck Wilson’s garage.

Second, I found it interesting that this episode is the source of a frequently used Murder, She Wrote publicity photo in which Angela Lansbury is looking through a magnifying glass in front of a classic car. Although the publicity photo does not depict any particular scene from the episode, it is clear that the photo must have been taken around the same time that the episode was filmed. As you can see in the collage below, the episode does depict the same classic car, the same magnifying glass, and Angela Lansbury is wearing the same outfit.

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