The first two seasons of Murder, She Wrote are streaming on Netflix Instant right now and it’s become my go-to mindless after work viewing over the last month. (Heh: in a strange coincidence, the podcast I’m listening to at the moment just played a snippet of the MSW theme song.) Retro recaps of this show really could make one of those pop culture blogs that you can’t help reading, a la The Dairi Burger. If I were to write such a blog, it would include such regular features as:
- The Angela Lansbury Acting Challenge. Jessica Fletcher is something of a Mary Sue, character-wise, so about halfway through the first season, either Lansbury or the writers must have gotten bored and decided to start throwing in plot points that would allow Angela to demonstrate her considerable talent for comedy, whether it’s having Jessica pretend to be drunk to lure a murderer into revealing himself or writing her a double role as her own identical cousin, a saucy old-time music hall performer in England.
- Incompetent Law Enforcement Professional of the Week. Some of the cops, sheriffs, and federal agents Jessica encounters welcome her help, others dismiss her until she proves them wrong, but about 90% of them are either jaded to the point of corruption or outright bumbling fools. Sheriff Tupper alone makes me wonder if Cabot Cove had the highest unsolved cases percentage in the country in the ’80s. After all, Jessica goes out of town a lot.
- The Fletcher Family Redwood. Despite having no children of her own, Jessica apparently has no end of nieces and nephews to bail out of trouble. The parents of these children appear to be just as incompetent as the law enforcement, given that the only one of Jessica’s actual siblings to “appear” so far (as the unheard end of a phone call with Jess and his daughter) is said to have resisted unleaded fuel for no particular reason.
- Eighties Issue of the Week Whether it’s defecting Russian ballerinas or a subplot involving those newfangled video games, MSW is chock full of 1980s timeliness. Of course my favorites are the episodes where the American publishing world is depicted as full of hedonism, unlimited expense accounts, and ambitious young women chirping “the real power is in publishing.”
If this wasn’t just another way to avoid writing my novel, I’d totally get to work. If you steal it, give me credit.