Why I Love “Murder, She Wrote”

If you’ve never seen the televisual masterpiece, Angela Lansbury’s “Murder She Wrote”, first of all: WHY?! Second of all, you are missing out, bigly. For those of you who have, you will understand my ardent passion for this series, from its comfortingly predictable plot-line(s) to its casting director’s never-ending quest for inclusivity, to showcase not only actors with talent, but also those actors whose lack thereof had been holding them back from ever making it to TV.

“Murder, She Wrote” is a series which first aired in 1984 (cue a FANTASTIC wardrobe and many, many mullets) which centres around murder mystery writer, Jessica Fletcher (played by my hero, Angela Lansbury), a woman of many talents, skills, exotic and influential friends, but only one hairstyle.

A veritable celebrity in her charming (despite a remarkably high mortality rate) hometown of Cabbot Cove, Jessica frequently finds herself involved in real life murder. Due, not only, to her extensive knowledge of homicide (research in real crime for her murder novels), but also to the remarkable powers of her “woman’s intuition”, Jessica unfailingly solves the crime, saves the day and imparts some much needed wisdom, episode after episode.

There are so many things to love about this show and here are a few of my favourites:

The opening credits
From the delightfully upbeat piano music, to the charming montage of Jessica’s life (so much of which appears to be spent on a bicycle, for some reason), the opening credits seamlessly succeed in giving the watcher both a sense of comfort and familiarity, and excited anticipation for the upcoming episode. 10/10, very artfully done.

The bad guy always gets it
Whether it’s the victim or the murderer, if there’s an unpleasant character, you know they’ll get what’s coming to them. And if the evil laugh, sinister music and obvious limp don’t give them away, their lengthy and passionate confession (“And I would have gotten away with it too if it weren’t for that meddling woman!”) will spell out every detail of their cunning plan for you.

Let’s play Spot The Bad Guy!

How Jessica’s always there to educate dumb old white guys
Whether it’s to help an incompetent detective solve a crime, or turn someone’s short-sighted bigotry into a teachable moment, this WOMAN is always there to keep the MEN in line.

Jessica’s many characters showcasing her massive acting range
Murder mystery writer? Could have been an actor! Or even a spy! So many very convincing accents, costumes and backstories. I wish I was that talented.

Jessica’s “aha” moments and inability to explain them to literally anybody
There’s no time to explain how that silver cufflink is connected to the man who apparently hanged himself, and besides, they wouldn’t understand anyway.

Bad actors’ 15mins of fame
They have that one really dramatic speech and they are going to milk it for all it’s worth and showcase their acting skills by exhibiting ALL emotions, regardless of the context. THEY SHALL BE NOTICED!

Jessica’s many skills
Whether solving the crime depends on remembering the Swahili word for “umbrella”, knowing exactly what tackle to use to catch Blackfin Seabass, or being able to repair a faulty catalytic converter, Jessica inexplicably has it covered. Is there anything this woman can’t do?!

How famous yet humble she is
Everyone: “OH MY GOD!!! You’re murder mystery writer, Jessica Fletcher!!!”
Jessica *laughs humbly*: “Ahahaha. Why yes, I’m afraid I am!”

Her many, many friends
Foreign ambassadors, famous actors, MI6 spies, fashion designers, people so rich they literally own an island, circus clowns… All so exotic and interesting, all so delighted to see Jessica.

The one-of-three end freeze-frames
In all 264 episodes, there are only three shots they ever end on, but that’s all you need! Here they are:

The Hearty Laugh. All’s well that ends well!
The Disappointed Head-Shake. She solved the crime, yes, but at what cost?
The Quirky Surprise. He said what?! What a fun and unexpected little plot twist!

So there you have it: my ode to Murder, She Wrote, the only reason I still have cable. If you’re a fan of the show, I hope I’ve done it justice. If you haven’t seen it, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU WAITING FOR?! GET OUT THERE AND WATCH IT!!! I can honestly say, you really won’t regret it.


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