Saturday, July 16, 2016

Mystery TV Nostalgia: Murder, She Wrote

Before Castle there was another crime solving mystery writer on TV. Who remembers Murder She Wrote? Kerry Hammond is here today to talk about one of her favorite TV shows from the 1980s. 

I often get nostalgic for the shows I grew up with. The crime dramas that weren’t as graphic as today’s Law and Order or NCIS. Where the main character was a middle-aged widow from Cabot Cove who just happened to be a bestselling mystery novelist that fell over dead bodies everywhere she turned. Now that was television!

Yes, I’m referring to Murder, She Wrote, A wonderful show that ran from 1984-1996 with a whopping 264 episodes. It starred Angela Lansbury as Jessica Fletcher, the aforementioned mystery novelist. There were so many things that I loved about the show, but I’ll narrow it down to my top three.

264 episodes, even if you assume only one murder per show, is a lot of murders. So the writers decided that to appease the fake tourism board of the fake town of Cabot Cove, Maine, Jessica would travel a lot. This not only provided beautiful foreign locales for the show, but it saved Cabot Cove from extinction. Many of the shows took place in NY City where Jessica had an apartment and taught at one of the colleges in the city.  

Guest Stars
Throughout the 12 years that the show was on the air, a myriad of guest stars appeared alongside Lansbury. Some of my favorites were George Clooney, Courtney Cox, Tom Selleck (two episodes were aired to cross Magnum, P.I. with Murder, She Wrote), Connie Stevens and Mickey Rooney. You never knew who would appear in an episode, so watching the opening credits was a must.

Jessica Fletcher’s Crime Solving Skills
It never ceased to amaze me that the police needed Jessica’s help in solving the crime. It didn’t matter if it was Cabot Cove, New York City or Ireland, Jessica always figured out the identity of the murderer before the law. Sometimes she was begged to help out and sometimes she was told to stay out of it. Either way, she was the one who figured things out.

There were several TV movies based on the show, and there is a series of books that follows in the footsteps of the show. Author Donald Bain has written 46 books in the Murder, She Wrote series. They’re great books and a wonderful way to see the character live on to solve more mysteries.

Even though the show ended 20 years ago, thanks to COZI TV anyone can watch Murder, She Wrote reruns. If you look at my DVR at any given time, you will see several episodes stored away for those evenings when I just want to watch a feel-good show with a great, but simple storyline.

Mystery Playground is on twitter @mysteryplaygrnd or find us on Facebook.

You can follow Kerry on Twitter @kerryhammond88.


  1. This is so timely! Tara and I are big fans of the show, and we're actually going to watch an episode tonight! Thanks for the post. :-)

  2. I also grew up with this story. You have to love Jessica Fletcher!!

  3. I wouldn't want to know Jessica Fletcher (because it'd likely get me killed) but I can happily watch one an episode of this any time

  4. Yes, this is so timely. It is funny, we only started watching Murder She Wrote about a year ago. Our now, 19 year old started watching it and now the four of us (one child and three adults) watch the show. We have every season except one maybe and have watched every episode at least once. I love the fanfiction I have found that extends out the show and the books.