Murder, She Wrote—Season 1

murder she wrote season 1 dvd episode guide
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 7/10

Basic, solid week to week mystery, fun guest stars

Cliche stories

murder she wrote season 1 title card episode guide

Jessica Fletcher…the deadliest woman in television!

J.B. Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) is a writer with a budding career in mystery.  Travelling from her home in Cabot Cove, Jessica often finds herself caught in cases of murder and mystery.  Jessica is out to discover who committed the murder most foul and stop the criminals when even the police are stumped.  Murderers can’t get away with the crime when Jessica becomes involved!

Murder, She Wrote—Season 1 aired on CBS from September 30, 1984 to April 21, 1985.  The series premiered as a two episode pilot (later split into two episodes for syndication).  The series won a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Dramatic Underscore) (“The Murder of Sherlock Holmes”) with nominations for Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Angela Lansbury), Outstanding Art Direction for a Series (“Broadway Malady”), Outstanding Art Direction for a Series (“Capitol Offense”), Outstanding Film Editing for a Series (“The Murder of Sherlock Holmes”), and Outstanding Film Sound Editing for a Series (“Funeral at Fifty Mile”).

murder she wrote season 1 episode 1 jessica fletcher fairy godmother angela lansbury

Jessica Fletcher…fairy godmother or angel of death?

I actually remember watching Murder, She Wrote a lot.  No cable and a family that liked mystery shows meant Sunday nights belonged to Jessica Fletcher.  The series is cheesy and predictable, but it was always solid.

The series always fell into two categories.  Its mysteries were either impossible to solve with a fleck of dust being a clue to a cousin who knew a friend’s brother’s dog who that had dandruff, or the mysteries were extremely simple with the big named guest star committing the crime.  It is a little less structured this early season, but you can always tell who is going to get murdered and who is going to be accused…the set-up, reveals, and ending are all clockwork.

murder she wrote season 1 episode 17 sudden death bruce jenner angela lansbury

Wow, Caitlyn Jenner sure looked different when she was younger.

The series is mostly fun to watch because of the cast.  Not only is Angela Lansbury perfect as the infallible Jessica Fletcher, but every episode promises fun guest stars.  The series features a few regulars Tom Bosley and Claude Akins, but also would frequently reuse actors like Ron Masak and William Windom who later became regulars playing other characters.  The season introduces Harry McGraw played by Jerry Orbach who later spun off into his own short-lived series.  Other guest stars this season include Bert Convy, Ned Beatty, Brian Keith, Anne Francis, Howard Duff, Richard Hatch, Anne Lockhart, Jeff Conaway, Gabe Kaplan, Martin Landau, Melissa Sue Anderson, John Astin, Samantha Eggar, Ron Palillo, John Saxon, Dean Jones, Lynn Redgrave, Forrest Tucker, James Hampton, Peter Graves, Joaquin Phoenix, Edward Albert, June Allyson, Van Johnson, James Coco, Kim Darby, William Conrad, Jose Ferrer, Robert Loggia, Milton Berle, Gregg Henry, Robert Morse, Garrett Morris, Leslie Nielsen, Vicki Lawrence, Jo Anne Worley, Ron Moody, Cesar Romero, Robert Goulet, Alex Rocco, Fritz Weaver, Paul Winfield, Dick Butkus, David Doyle, Bruce Jenner, Tim Thomerson, Pat Harrington Jr., Rober Reed, Linda Blair, Michael Constantine, Larry Linville, Rue McClanahan, James Gammon, Kevin McCarthy, Eddie Braken, Joey Bishop, Piper Laurie, Linda Purl, Clu Gulager, Donald Moffat, and Noah Beery Jr.

murder she wrote season 1 episode 8 were off to kill the wizard joaquin phoenix summer phoenix angela lansbury

Joaquin and Summer Phoenix stopping by the visit JB

The series generally looks good with a combination of sets and locations (and often stock footage).  It has a high production value, but often plays up the classic mystery stereotypes.  Long shadows and commercial cliffhangers always hold the series along with the stereotypical plotlines.  Once again, it isn’t bad, but it is predictable.

Murder, She Wrote is like a nice warm blanket.  It is a comfort show like a lot of the mysteries and dramas of the ’70s and ’80s.  You can go into Murder, She Wrote expecting something and get it.  Now, with binge watching, it is a bit strange to watch Murder, She Wrote, and its redundant plots.  It does lower the show’s intelligent and hurts it as an overall product, but I can still enjoy the random guest stars (who almost all seem to sadly have passed).  It is kind of a who’s who of murder.

Murder, She Wrote—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:

murder she wrote season 1 episode 1 the murder of sherlock holmes first episode guide

“The Murder of Sherlock Holmes”

1.1       The Murder of Sherlock Holmes Airdate:  09/30/84

Cabot Cove resident Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) finds herself an instant literary success when her nephew Grady (Michael Horton) has her book The Corpse Dances at Midnight published.  When she’s invited by her publisher Preston Giles (Arthur Hill) to a weekend party, Jessica finds herself and other guests tied up in a mystery when a detective named Dexter Baxendale (Dennis Patrick) is murdered.  With Chief Roy Gunderson (Ned Beatty) called in to help solve the mystery, Jessica’s crime solving might just be the one to solve the crime…and her nephew Grady’s freedom might hang in the balance.

murder she wrote season 1 episode 2 deadly lady jessica fletcher angela lansbury tom bosley claude akins

“Deadly Lady”

1.2       Deadly Lady Airdate:  10/07/84

A group of sisters find are brought in for murder when their father (Howard Duff) is washed from their yacht in the storm.  Jessica however realizes that cannot be possible since she met the victim after the “murder”.  When the man turns up dead, Jessica seeks the reason behind his murder.

murder she wrote season 1 episode 3 birds of a fetaher gabe kaplan

“Birds of a Feather”

1.3       Birds of a Feather Airdate:  10/14/84

A trip to San Francisco to see her niece Vicky (Genie Francis) married to Howard Griffin (Jeff Conaway) leads to a murder investigation when Howard is accused of murdering his boss (Martin Landau) during a performance by Michael Dupont (Richard Gautier).

murder she wrote season 1 episode 4 hooray for homicide john saxon

“Hooray for Homicide”

1.4       Hooray for Homicide Airdate:  10/28/84

When Jessica learns her novel The Corpse Dances at Midnight has been optioned for a movie, she’s excited…until she learns what the studio has planned for it.  Travelling to Hollywood, Jessica finds herself a suspect in a murder when the director Jerry Lydecker (John Saxon) is killed.  Now, Jessica must find the real murderer before she ends up in jail herself.

murder she wrote season 1 episode 5 its a dogs life killer beagle

“It’s a Dog’s Life”

1.5       It’s a Dog’s Life Airdate:  11/04/84

A millionaire dies leaving his entire fortune to his dog Teddy.  When the family begins trying to find a way around the will, Teddy could be charged with murder!

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“Lovers and Other Killers”

1.6       Lovers and Other Killers Airdate:  11/18/84

Jessica is teaching a class at a Seattle university on the art of murder when David Tolliver (Andrew Stevens), the man who is transcribing her notes, is accused of murdering an older woman.  As her friend Dr. Edmund Gerard (Peter Graves) warns Jessica that David is trouble, a second murder throws question on who the killer is.

murder she wrote season 1 episode 7 hit run and homicide jessica fletcher angela lansbury

“Hit, Run, and Homicide”

1.7       Hit, Run and Homicide Airdate:  11/25/84

A driverless car tries to run down Charles Woodley (Stuart Whitman) and kills another man.  When Jessica’s friend Daniel O’Brien (Van Johnson) is accused of creating a remote control car, Jessica and his nephew Tony (Edward Albert) must find the real killer to prove him innocent.

murder she wrote season 1 episode 8 were off to kill the wizard james coco

“We’re Off to Kill the Wizard”

1.8       We’re Off to Kill the Wizard Airdate:  12/09/84

Jessica visits her niece and nephew and their family.  When she is contacted by theme park owner Horatio Baldwin (James Coco) about a business deal, Jessica turns him down.  When Horatio is found dead in a locked room in what appears to be a suicide, Jessica sets to find out who is the killer.

murder she wrote season 1 episode 9 death takes a curtain call william conrad angela lansbury

“Death Takes a Curtain Call”

1.9       Death Takes a Curtain Call Airdate:  12/16/84

Jessica and Leo Peterson (Hurd Hatfield) attend a Russian ballet amidst protests against the Communists.  When a murder occurs, Jessica finds herself involved when the prime suspects Alexander and Natalia Masurov (George De La Pena and Vicki Kriegler) ask for her help to defect.  Now, Jessica finds herself teamed with KGB agent named Major Anatole Karzof (William Conrad) trying to find the killer.

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“Death Casts a Spell”

1.10     Death Casts a Spell Airdate:  12/30/84

Jessica finds herself pull into a murder mystery while at a casino.  When a mysterious hypnotist named Cagliastro (José Ferrer) is killed in a room full of hypnotized reporters, Jessica tries to uncover the murderer.

murder she wrote season 1 episode 11 capitol offence congressman angela lansbury

“Capitol Offense”

1.11     Capitol Offense Airdate:  01/06/85

When Maine’s senator dies suddenly, Jessica Fletcher is asked to step in for him.  Jessica is quickly learning that Washington has secrets and the death of the senator might just be a cover-up for a bigger crime.

murder she wrote season 1 episode 12 broadway malady angela lansbury gregg henry

“Broadway Malady”

1.12     Broadway Malady Airdate:  01/13/85

Rita Bristol (Vivian Blaine) is poised to make a comeback in a stage show directed by Marc Faber (Robert Morse).  With her daughter Patti Bristol (Lorna Luft) costarring and her son Barry Bristol (Gregg Henry) producing, the event is going to be a family affair.  When Patti  is shot and Lonnie  Valerian (Elaine Giftos) is brought in to replace Patti, Jessica questions if the mugger’s attack was legitimate.

murder she wrote season 1 episode 13 murder to a jazz beat glynn turman

“Murder to a Jazz Beat”

1.13     Murder to a Jazz Beat Airdate:  02/03/85

Jessica visits her friend Jonathan (Clive Revill) in New Orleans and finds herself caught up in the murder of jazz musician Ben Coleman (Glynn Turman)…in a plot straight out of one of her novels.

murder she wrote season 1 episode 14 my johnny lies over the ocean angela lansbury drunk

“My Johnny Lies Over the Ocean”

1.14     My Johnny Lies Over the Ocean Airdate:  02/10/85

Jessica and her niece Pamela Crane (Belinda Montgomery) are headed out on a cruise.  When Pamela is almost murdered, Jessica might find out who is responsible for the attack and what it has to do with her niece’s deceased husband.

murder she wrote season 1 episode 15 paint me a murder cesar romero1.15     Paint Me a Murder Airdate:  02/17/85

Jessica is invited to an island birthday party of famed artist Diego Santana (Cesar Romero).  When Diego worries that he’s being targeted by a killer, Jessica finds herself teamed with a detective named Henry Kyle (Ron Moody) who could be a potential suspect.

murder she wrote season 1 episode 16 tough guys dont die jerry orbach angela lansbury

“Tough Guys Don’t Die”

1.16     Tough Guys Don’t Die Airdate:  02/24/85

Jessica hires a detective (Floyd Levine) to investigate the Danbury Scalpel Murder Case for a new book.  When the detective is killed, Jessica finds his partner Harry McGraw (Jerry Orbach) is investigating the murder and the clients he was tailing.

murder she wrote season 1 episode 17 sudden death murder

“Sudden Death”

1.17     Sudden Death Airdate:  03/03/85

Jessica inherits a football team from her uncle.  When a man is found dead in the locker room, Jessica must prove that Zak Farrell (Bruce Jenner) didn’t kill him.

murder she wrote season 1 episode 18 footnote to murder kenneth mars paul sands angela lansbury

“Footnote to Murder”

1.18     Footnote to Murder Airdate:  03/10/85

When a famous writer named Hemsley Post (Kenneth Mars) is murdered at a writing summit, Jessica finds her poet friend Horace Lynchfield (Paul Sand) has been accused of murder.  With Mel Comstock (Pat Harrington) looking for the murderer, Jessica must prove Horace innocent.

murder she wrote season 1 episode 19 murder takes the bus tom bosley angela lansbury

“Murder Takes the Bus”

1.19     Murder Takes the Bus Airdate:  03/17/85

Jessica and Amos (Tom Bosley) head to a conference in Boston but get sidetracked by a rainstorm.  When the murder of a former bank robber (John Chandler) occurs on the bus, Jessica realizes one of the passengers must be the killer.

murder she wrote season 1 episode 20 armed response hospital jessica angela lansbury

“Armed Response”

1.20     Armed Response Airdate:  03/31/85

Travelling to Texas to testify in a trial, Jessica ends up in the hospital.  When a prominent doctor is murdered, Jessica is called upon to help the police find the killer.

murder she wrote season 1 episode 21 murder at the oasis angela lansbury joey bishop piper laurie

“Murder at the Oasis”

1.21     Murder at the Oasis Airdate:  04/07/85

Jessica’s visit to her friend Peggy (Piper Laurie) leads to murder when Peggy’s ex-husband Johnny (Ed Ames) is murdered…and his family and children could be suspects!

murder she wrote season 1 episode 22 funeral at fifty miles jessica fletcher

“Funeral at Fifty-Mile”

1.22     Funeral at Fifty-Mile Airdate:  04/21/85

The death of Jessica’s friend Jack Carver causes problems when his daughter Mary (Kathleen Beller).  Carl Mestin (Clu Gulager) claims to have arranged to get the home and property through his will…and when Carl is killed, the list of possible motives is long.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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