Saturday, August 18, 2007

Daily Double Homicide

I was at home for a few days from Sunday through to Thursday of this week. Originally planned as just a nice trip home to see the family and chill out with no commitments or pressures, it would seem some higher force felt otherwise. However, more of that later.

While I was at home I got the chance to catch up on some television viewing. As some of you know, I don't have a television in my house, or to be accurate, I do, but it's not plugged in to any aerial, so technically I'm only short on channels, not the physical box. Anyway, the one show I enjoyed most while I was at home was an old favourite of mine, Murder, She Wrote.

RTÉ One are currently airing two episodes a day of J.B. Fletchers adventures in Cabot Cove, from 3:30pm in case anyone wants to catch it. I remember when we were really young my brother and I were let stay up to watch Murder, She Wrote when it was considered prime time viewing. My mum loved, and indeed still loves, this show, and we all watched it together. I often asked why we never saw any of Jessicas books in the bookstores, as I really wanted to read some of her stuff! Ah, the innocence of youth!

Watching it again, I know why I loved it so much back then, and I still do now. The show is incredible! When it's hitting its stride, the plots are clever and suspenseful, the dialog sharp and witty and the acting strong and engaging. The style and look of the show is classic, and even walking in during an episode, before Angela Lansbury appears as the master-mystery-writer-turned-detective, you can name the show simply by the framing of the shots, the colours and the movement of the camera. There is something distinctly unique in it.

Angela Lansbury is riveting to watch on-screen. She has a power that few actors possess, and her presence is powerful, yet never seems to overshadow the accompanying actors. Speaking of which, in the five or so episodes I caught of the show over the time I was home, Jessica was in three of them for less than five minutes each! Instead, master-thief-turned-detective (pattern emerging) Dennis Stanton headed up the case, getting into mischief along the way! Although I enjoyed this character, played with flair by Keith Michell, he wasn't Jessica. A little research into the matter proves I'm not the only one who thought that. Episodes like these I saw, as well as a few narrated by Jessica as one of her novels, and one or two other master-whatever-turned-detective were used to give Angela a break from the hectic shooting schedule, however, negative fan reaction meant that they were dropped in later seasons.

Watching Murder, She Wrote at home again was a joy. After seeing it I did some research and discovered the following:

  • Angela Lansbury is the only one to appear in all 263 episodes of the series, during its 12 seasons, from 1984 to 1996, on CBS, as well as the four subsequent TV movies.
  • On it's 12th season it was moved from it's Sunday evening slot where it had been hugely popular for over a decade to Thursday evenings, putting it against Friends. This was because CBS was trying to make Sundays more teen-friendly. The show floundered and was announced to be finishing on that season. The last four episode returned to the Sunday slot, receiving high ratings once more, the final episode being the 16th in the ratings and the most viewed show on CBS that week!
  • None-too-subtly, the final episode is titled Death By Demographics and sees a station head changing the stations focus from classical to rock'n'roll to reach a younger audience. The experiment fails, and he ends up dead! Hmmm...
  • Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski spent time as producer on the show, writing a number of episodes. He is credited as spending the most time emphasising Jessicas career as a writer, making deadlines and such a part of the episodes.
  • I read somewhere that Straczynski attributes his time on Murder, She Wrote as invaluable in helping him learn how to write mystery's with effective foreshadowing. Apparently, writing for the show allowed for no short-cuts, as the audience had to be able to see all the clues in the episode, and potentially piece them together themselves. Straczynshi has said that this helped him in crafting story elements that would pay off much further down the line for everything from Babylon 5 to Rising Stars and even his run on Spider-Man!
  • Angela loves Ireland, owning a home in West Cork. Because of this, there are a number of episodes based in Ireland, particularly in the south. Two of them are titled A Killing In Cork, and Another Killing In Cork. How imaginative! The most recent TV movie is also based in Ireland, The Celtic Riddle.
  • And finally, in 1986 there was a cross-over with Magnum P.I., which began in Magnum and concluded in Murder, She Wrote with the episode Magnum on Ice! Sweet! Two of my favourite shows!
Sorry if all that was a bit long winded! I just loved reading about the show, and wanted to share! Besides, if you don't like it, tough! My blog! I get to write what I want! Ha! Anyway, thanks for reading, as always. I'll be putting up more over the next few days, including why my time at home wasn't all fun and games, what I thought of The Bourne Ultimatum (I'll save ya reading that one! Freakin' awesome is the summary!) and one or two other interesting bits and pieces that are itching to get onto the internet! Until then, have fun!

1 comment:

zinead said...

seriously? Murder she did?