December 5, 2009

Review - Murder, She Wrote: The Complete First Season

 After getting positive feedback on my review of the first season of Columbo (which I thank you guys for), I decided to review my DVD sets of Murder, She Wrote. Logically, I started off with season one.

 The show about a retired English teacher turned crime-solving mystery writer ran for twelve seasons and featured guest stars that rivalled Columbo's roster.
 Here, in the first season, we get to see how Jessica Fletcher gets her mystery novel published and becomes a success practically overnight, but not without solving a murder or two.
 Starting us off is the pilot movie The Murder of Sherlock Holmes, which introduces us to J.B. herself, as well as her nephew Grady Fletcher (Michael Horton), and first murderer caught Preston Giles (the late Canadian actor Arthur Hill), not to mention the first victim (of the series and of the two in the pilot), played by the late Dennis Patrick, who unfortunately gets his face blown off with a shotgun! Also guest-starring in the episode is Ned Beatty, Anne Francis, and a young Andy Garcia as one of the guys who try to mug Jessica!
 The first season's episodes are very well-written, especially the season finale "Funeral at Fifty-Mile", which a sad plot twist is revealed (I won't spoil what it is).
 Image quality is somewhat spotty. Even though it's not totally distracting, some scenes look well-restored, while others are not. A good example is Holmes' opening title sequence, which sports quite a bit of grain. How it all looks depends on your television's color settings, so adjust for best quality if needed. The good news is that image quality would improve with the following sets.
 Of course, I have to make a mention of the season's guest stars, which include (better take a deep breath): Martin Landau, Anne Francis, Arthur Hill, Brian Keith, Vivian Blaine, Lorna Luft, Gregg Henry, Genie Francis, Clu Gulager, Lynn Redgrave, Peter Graves, Robert Goulet, Dean Jones, Lois Nettleton, James Coco, Kim Darby, Milton Berle, Leslie Nielsen, Cesar Romero, Capucine, Jo Anne Worley, Larry Linville, Rue McClanahan, Bruce Jenner, Claude Akins, Dick Butkus, Linda Blair, Martha Raye, Bo Hopkins, Kevin McCarthy, Joey Bishop, Eddie Bracken, Piper Laurie, Barbara Babcock, Jerry Orbach (as private eye Harry McGraw), and a young Joaquin Phoenix. Gimme a second to catch my breath...
 Like with my Columbo review, I took some captures from my computer's DVD player:

Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) in Murder, She Wrote: The Murder of Sherlock Holmes

Dexter Baxendale (Dennis Patrick) in Murder, She Wrote: The Murder of Sherlock Holmes

Victoria Brandon (Genie Francis) in Murder, She Wrote: Birds of a Feather

Al Drake (Martin Landau) in Murder, She Wrote: Birds of a Feather

Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) and Lt. Hernandez (Jose Perez) in Murder, She Wrote: Hooray for Homicide

Teddy the Dog in Murder, She Wrote: It's a Dog's Life

Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) and Ethan Cragg(Claude Akins) in Murder, She Wrote: Hit, Run and Homicide

Amelia (Lois Nettleton) and Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) in Murder, She Wrote: Lovers and Other Killers

Jerry Orbach as Harry McGraw in Murder, She Wrote: Tough Guys Don't Die

Phil Krueger (Allan Miller) in Murder, She Wrote: Sudden Death

Martha Raye as Sadie Winthrope in Murder, she Wrote: Armed Response

Joey Bishop as Buster Bailey in Murder, She Wrote: Murder at the Oasis

Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) and Sheriff Tupper (Tom Bosley) in Murder, She Wrote: Murder Takes the Bus


  1. Thanks for leaving this review -- very informative -- i will have a read of your columbo one too, as I was really wondering whether to get this or not -- this is tallulah from blogcatalogue by the way

  2. I loved that show when it was on back in the 1980's and 90's.I used to watch it every Sunday back in the 1980's.That was the good old days of Television.

  3. I've been a MSW fan ever since I was still in the womb :)