Back in September 2021, I put together a video collage on YouTube which allowed for a side-by-side comparison between the different versions of the introductory montage seen at the beginning of every Murder, She Wrote episode.
In putting together the collage, I realized that there were a total of 5 unique versions of the montage. As I have more free time this summer, I wanted to go back to examining these montages more closely. This post is the first in a series which breaks down each of the five versions scene by scene — primarily with the goal of identifying where each scene comes from (i.e. whether it was pulled from a particular episode).
As I write and publish each post in the series, you will be able to find links to them below:
- Version 1 (used in Seasons 1, 2, and 3)
- Version 2 (used in Seasons 4, 5, 6, and 7)
- Version 3 (used in Seasons 8 and 9)
- Version 4 (used in Seasons 10 and 11)
- Version 5 (used in Season 12)
With that said, this post focuses on the first version of the introductory montage, which was used throughout the first three seasons. A collage of each of the major scenes in the montage is presented below:
Obviously, at the beginning of the series, the show producers hadn’t yet filmed a lot of episodes that they could pull footage from. As a result, the majority of the scenes in the first version of the introductory montage were taken from the pilot episode “The Murder of Sherlock Holmes”.
Scenes in which Jessica Fletcher is riding her bicycle, walking from the harbor with her fishing gear, jogging, waving at a boat from the shore, and washing her windows were all taken from a longer montage which was specifically created to accompany the opening credits of the pilot. (The full montage runs for a full two minutes starting at approximately 3 minutes and 10 seconds into the episode.) Notably, these scenes were all filmed on location in and around Mendocino, California.
There were only two scenes incorporated into this version of the introductory title montage that were not taken from “The Murder of Sherlock Holmes”. Instead, these were both taken from the fifth regular series episode “Lovers and Other Killers”. The scene where Jessica shoots a fake prop gun can be seen approximately 9 minutes into that episode; while the scene in which Jessica is walking up a set of stairs and getting attacked by a shadowy figure can be seen approximately 33 minutes into that episode. The inclusion of these scenes suggests that this may have been one of the earliest episodes to be filmed.
In between those two scenes in the montage we see several additional scenes from the pilot. We can find the scenes in which Jessica is searching with a flashlight, fiddling with a padlocked door, and turning around in surprise approximately 1 hour and 22-23 minutes into the pilot movie. Additionally, the scenes in which Jessica is peeking through a door and then running outside into the street can be found approximately 57-58 minutes into the pilot movie. (If you’re watching the pilot as two separate episodes, these are all found in Part 2 of the pilot.)
Finally, it is hardly worth mentioning that all these scenes are bookended by scenes of hands at a typewriter. While I suspect these scenes were filmed specially for the opening montage, the scene where we actually see Jessica Fletcher (wearing a red sweater) appears to have been filmed for a special teaser that was used to pitch the show to network execs. (If you have the US version of the boxed set, a bonus feature that includes some footage from this special teaser was included in the Season 5 DVD. For those who don’t have the DVDs and are interested in seeing that video, I found someone had uploaded it to YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZLCZq5m1P8)