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.
Image courtesy of http://www.jollygoodshow.net/wordpress/2009/10/13/top-10-tv-detectives/
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: