A couple of months ago, while I was working on my series of posts documenting the scenes used in the Murder, She Wrote opening montages, I spent a lot of time watching Jessica Fletcher plugging away at her typewriter and later at her personal computer. Fans of the show know that while we often hear Jessica Fletcher’s books being mentioned, we very rarely get a glimpse into the content of those books. As a result, I became a bit obsessed about getting a closer look at the small glimpses of text that we get to see during the opening montages.
Below is my attempt at documenting those (often brief) snippets of Jessica’s writing. What I found surprising (although perhaps not that surprising given that these pages were never really meant to be read) is that some of the lines she is seen typing are somewhat repetitive.
The first thing we see of Jessica’s writing is a brief glimpse of her finishing one line and the typewriter quickly jumping to the beginning of a new line of text:
It seemed to be [................] bedroom door opened and a sleepy [...] bedroom weari It seemed to be coming [.....] the bedroom
What’s really interesting about this particular snippet is that it appears that Jessica was just writing the same line over and over (i.e. “It seemed to be…”). Additionally, we see that she didn’t even finish her sentence before rewriting it again — as evidenced by the incompleteness of the word “weari” at the end of the second line (which I assume was meant to be the word “wearing”).
One of the clearest snippets of Jessica’s writing appears in the scene during which the screenshot below was taken. Here, the camera is zoomed in on what she is typing and we can clearly see the famous line “Arnold raced out of the door” (something that the Sentinel claimed to be the most widely read line of fiction in the English language back in 1990).
However, there’s more to that page of writing than just that one line. After looking carefully, I was able to pick out the following words that also appear on that page:
Gardner was a good looking man [...] in Paris at that time with the chhld [...] [...] with Ernest and with Scott and also [...] He was enjoying his lunch [...] burst upon as it landed. Money started to c[...] Arnold raced out of the door, and started [...] as he was doing
Unlike the two snippets described above, other snippets used in the opening montage are either shown at a distance or at an angle that makes it difficult to discern the actual words and letters.
As the snippet depicted in the image above is at an angle, I can pick out only a few random possible words that were typed on the page. As a result, I won’t even begin to try to reproduce what was written on it.
However, with lots of pausing and screenshotting, I was able to pick out the majority of a subsequent page that Jessica is seen to be working on.
Below, I have reproduced whatever I could discern. Note that, since there is quite a bit of blurriness resulting from rapidly shifting camera angles and poor video quality, a few of the words in this text are mere guesses based on the general shape of the word and the context of the sentence. (Blanks indicate words/sections I wasn’t able to discern at all.)
It seemed to be coming from the balcony. At that moment, the bedroom door opened and a sleepy Michael Gardner came out of his bedroom wearing a ___ robe and pajamas. _____ ______ to the sliding glass windows that opened onto his balcony. Suddenly, a figure in black moved in quickly behind him, grabbing him around the neck. The figure was ___, wearing dark gloves. Gardner struggled ___ __ ___ __ ___. The figure lifted him, virtually throwing him across the room. __ _____ __ __ _____ from the balcony. At that moment, the _____ ____________________________. A _____ look came over him. _____ ____________. Arnold raced out of the door, and started to dash across the street He was almost hit by a passing car. A cab screeched to a half Started to dance across the street. He was ___ across the street. He was ___ hit by a
One of the things I found interesting about the passage above is that it appears to include an updated version of the lines she is seen typing earlier in the montage. Thus we see “It seemed to be coming…” which we saw earlier in #1; and “Arnold raced out of the door…” which we saw earlier in #2.
Finally, at the end of the original opening montage, we see Jessica pulling out one final page from her typewriter and adding it to a pile of papers ready to be placed in her special portfolio.
Unfortunately, try as I might, the scene moves too quickly and as a result the letters are just too small and blurry to be able to reliably pick out any words. The best I could do was figure out that the first sentence in the second-to-last paragraph is likely “The sticks beat out a funereal tattoo.”
Starting with Season 10, the opening montage changed to incorporate the fact that Jessica Fletcher had traded in her typewriter for a computer. Thus, the last scenes of the montage show Jessica printing off some pages of her writing and putting them in a folder. We therefore get a glimpse of some of her writing as it comes out of the printer.
While the first paragraph on the page is still a bit too blurry for me, the camera angle makes the second paragraph a bit easier to discern. Thus I could figure out the following:
As the rain dropped on the roof of the Swofford Chateau a groggy Arnold awoke to the sight of a beautiful young Michelle. She was ___ ___ his brow and kissing his forehead.
The clearest and longest piece of writing we get to see from Jessica Fletcher comes from the very end of those same opening credits that were used from Season 10 through Season 12. As Jessica places a stack of pages into her folder, the image quality is just good enough to clearly discern the text written on the top page.
I have transcribed the page of text below (including the original typos), although note that some of the text towards the bottom right corner of the page is not visible:
He saw the flight attendant, a Miss Penny Burchfield give him a brown leather briefcase and inform him that a dark man named chuck Myers would be meeting the bag and him upon departing the aircraft. Arnold would see Stephen again. It was the hectic baggage claim area and there was Penny with her passenger and a third person. A young man named Ernest and hid driver Scott. The chauffer had been holding a sign that read "guest of Sir Ernest Templelton", the sign worked. The men and Penny were soon packed into the limousine and carted off to the West Bank. With a lark and a heart beat our hero Arnold jumped into a yellow cab and chose to follow his voyeur mind while his broken heart looked for the courage to find Michelle. The limousine stopped a small unobtrusive watch store. Only the bag and the driver went into the shop. After two winds of a watch he was back, but now with two bags, the second bag was bigger and more feminine than the first bag. As sson as they arrived, they departed. The limous… was now parked aside the Swofford Chateau where al[…] welcome. It was an old farmhouse that had be[…] into a place that served caviar, escargot[…] good times. None were inexpensive[…] know the men as he entered the[…]
I hope you found my transcription of these pages interesting. And of course if you happen to be able to discern some of the words or phrases that I couldn’t, I’d be very much interested in filling in those blanks, so please let me know in the comments!