Murder, She Wrote 9.9 “A Christmas Secret”

It’s Christmas time in Cabot Cove and the whole town is buzzing about two things: the engagement of the daughter of a local accountant; and the 50th anniversary toy drive organized on behalf of the Cabot Cove Fire Department.

Just the facts:

Click on the text below to reveal spoilers.

Click to reveal the victim It was Wanda Andrews, an employee of the mayor’s office! (However, she was only the intended victim, since she survived the attack on her!)
Click to reveal the killer It was Amy Wainwright, an employee of the local hardware store!
Click to reveal the weapon It was a gunshot wound from the gun belonging to Charlie McCumber!
Click to reveal the location It happened at the women’s locker room at the community building!
Click to reveal the motive It was blackmail! Wanda knew Floyd stole money from the pension fund and tried to blackmail him. Since Amy was in love with Floyd, when she overheard Wanda blackmailing him, Amy thought she could make Floyd fall in love with her by taking care of his problem.
Click to reveal the major clue An important clue involved Wanda’s color blindness!

Cast of characters:

As this is a Cabot Cove episode, we of course have some Cabot Cove regulars:

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

The episode begins at a party in honor of Beth Forsythe’s engagement:

  • Eileen Seeley plays Elizabeth “Beth” Forsythe.
  • Sean O’Bryan plays Charlie D. McCumber, Elizabeth’s fiance. This is O’Bryan’s first of three total appearances on MSW.
  • Ken Swofford plays Alan Forsythe, Elizabeth’s father. This is Swofford’s eleventh and final appearance on MSW; he previously appeared in “Where Have You Gone, Billy Boy?” as Lt. Catalano.
  • Diane Baker plays Mary Forsythe, Elizabeth’s mother. This is Baker’s third and final appearance on MSW; she previously appeared in “The Great Twain Robbery” and “Simon Says, Color Me Dead“.

Other guests at the party include:

  • Craig Hamann as Bert Lazarus, the son of Irv Lazarus (Alan Forsyth’s business partner).
  • Corinne Bohrer as Wanda Andrew, the executive assistant to the mayor. This is Bohrer’s first of three total appearances on MSW.
  • Larry Wilcox as Floyd Bigelow, the owner of Benning hardware store and having an affair with Wanda. This is Wilcox’s fourth and final appearance on MSW; he previously appeared in “The Prodigal Father“, “Showdown in Saskatchewan“, and “Powder Keg”.
  • Amy Brenneman as Amy Wainwright, an employee of Benning hardware.

Later on in the episode, we also meet Charlie’s sister Monica McCumber (played by Mary Tanner).

As an aside, the IMDb page for this episode claims that Richard Paul appears in a voice-only role as Mayor Sam Booth. However, upon re-watching this episode, I couldn’t seem to pinpoint a moment where his voice is actually heard, so I’m not sure whether this is erroneous.

Final thoughts and other trivia:

As usual with many Cabot Cove episodes, we learn a bit more about the regular cast and characters in this episode. For instance, we learn that Mort is the leader of the Cabot Cove Caroleers as well as the Pistol Club. We learn that Adele takes time away from Christmas festivities to deliver food to a nearby town. And we also learn that Seth didn’t get a coveted train set for Christmas when he was 10 years old.

We also see many new and recurring Cabot Cove locations.

Top-left: the Forsyth House; Top-right: the Lighthouse Motel; Bottom-left: the Cabot Cove Community Building; Bottom-right: Benning’s Hardware

Other objects and references we see in this episode include a cassette tape of Willie Nelson’s first Christmas album, Pretty Paper, which was first released in 1979.

Additionally, one of the big themes in the episode is Seth’s inability to get into the Christmas spirit. I was in particular struck by a moment early in the episode in which he says: “This year, with the world in the shape it’s in, Christmas is a hollow promise.” This made me wonder what world events from 1992 he may have been thinking of in particular.

Of course, the most notable thing about this episode is that, being that it’s the only one set during the holidays, the writers made sure to give it a truly happy ending. Therefore, this is the only time when there was no murder in Cabot Cove because the victim survived.

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