My New/Old Passion Project

Some of you may recall, that I valiantly vowed to review every episode of Murder, She Wrote to prove that Jessica Fletcher is truly the world’s most prolific albeit fictional serial killer. And while I still believe it’s an important mantle to assume, and am truly humbled to be able to share it with all of you, I have to admit that I’ve discovered that Murder, She Wrote  is actually well, um, boring. I know, I know, plenty of people on the internet would disagree with me. And listen, I’m the first to admit that Angela Lansbury is a QUEEN. Seeing her in Blythe Spirit a few years ago is seriously one of the highlights of my LIFE. But I’m just not the kind of person who can watch every single episode of Murder, She Wrote. I am a person who can watch every episode of every sitcom that ever featured cocaine as a one-off episode plot point, but it’s important to know your limits and these are mine.
jlmurdershewroteSo, what now? Well don’t expect JB Fletcher to disappear from this blog entirely. I am of course under an ethical obligation to review “A Murderous Muse,” featuring patron saint of The Very Special Blog, Jenny Lewis. And I’m pretty curious to see the infamous oculus rift episode. But really I’d like to be able to cherry pick the episodes I review just like I do everything else on this blog. Okay, now that I’ve effectively assuaged my guilt of having willfully not completed a project I set out before myself (omg are you even still reading or have you switched to posts about Brad and Angelina?), I am replacing the “Murder, She Wrote” page with “Save the BSC!”Baby-Sitters Club parody musical that I wrote a few years ago while temping.

And by musical, I mean I didn’t actually write any music. But I wrote some lyrics that rhyme at the level of a 5th grade language arts student’s pastiche to Shel Silverstein. It’s a short play, loosely based on Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls and largely based on my own strange brain. Anyway, it’s been chilling on my computer for a while doing nothing, so I thought I might as well let you all read it.

Murder, She Wrote: Deadly Misunderstanding

Remember when Simon Says made John McClane wear that sandwich board decorated with a racial slur in Harlem? His statistical chances of survival at that moment were greater than that of an unassuming resident of Cabot Cove on any given day. In fact, a 2012 study revealed that Cabot Cove would be the murder capital of the world, with a higher per capita murder rate than Honduras. If you thought Cabot Cove was charming and idyllic, might I suggest you purchase a fixer-upper in Detroit?

In the perilous town of Cabot Cove, it seems like the most dangerous place you could possible be is anywhere near Mrs. Fletcher. This is the case for the poor, unwitting typist who agrees to type Mrs. Fletcher’s latest manuscript when Jessica breaks her arm whilst bike riding. While she’s in Jessica’s employ, the typist’s husband is murdered. She finds him dead when she arrives home from some, erm, extracurricular writing activities with a cute dude from class.

Instead of calling the police and explaining what happened, the typist decides it’s a good idea to call the cute dude from class and have him help her move her husband’s body to the lumberyard where he works late shifts. She is worried that she’ll be the prime suspect, so she freaks out and totally incriminates herself. Has she learned nothing about murder crimes from typing Jessica’s manuscript??

The next day the sheriff questions her and she’s got this awful story about going straight home and taking sleeping pills. She says she was out cold all night, and concocts some story about people making threats against her husband. Things begin to fall apart when her writing teacher notices that the title of her story is “Dagger of Love,” which obviously means she’s a murderer because her husband was stabbed with scissors. Basic Detectivery 101. Then finally, after 7 seasons of this crap, someone finally decides to cursorily acknowledge the high crime rate in this tiny town. The writing teacher’s wife announces, “Cabot Cove is getting to be as bad as New York” before she heads off to the market.

While investigating some guy at a diner who seems to have hated the dead man, the town sheriff learns that the diner man is an eye-witness to the body dumping. Yep, that’s a sentence you can easily follow, right? The diner man recognizes the cute dude from the writing class as the body dumper. Meanwhile, the editor-in-chief of the paper is trying to get information about the typist from Jessica, when he learns that the cute dude (an employee of the paper) has been arrested. He and Jessica rush down to the precinct. And then Jessica (with like pretty much no details of the crime) says to the sheriff “Am I missing something or was the murder committed somewhere else and the body moved?” And the sheriff is in total agreement and not at all like how the hell did you know that? 

But of course, she gets to tag along for the investigation. She heads over to the typist’s house with the sheriff and points out how the desk set in the living room matches the design of the scissors found in the cute dude’s trunk. When did she have access to that evidence?? Pretty much NEVER. Why is no one asking these questions??? But then everything gets overshadowed by the guilt that the body movers feel. They’re all like ugh okay we did it and we’re dumb. And Jessica Fletcher convinces the sheriff that the story is stranger-than-fiction, so they should definitely believe it. The typist admits that she made a pit stop on the way home, and the sheriff concludes that there was time for the cute dude to kill the husband by himself.

Then a mistress turns up. The dead man and the mistress had a fight and hit each other in the face. The mistress has a bruise and is like I didn’t kill him. I knew he slept around and we were just having a fight. He went home and his wife probably killed him. And then they find the typist’s story! And they’re like omg she totally did it! But then they notice that she’s in love with her writing teacher in the story. And it just so happens that she shows up at the precinct with the writing teacher’s umbrella mere moments later. And this is totally incriminating evidence. She also says she found the umbrella by her husband’s body. So they’re thinking it’s the writing teacher, but then they head over to his house and Jessica totally accuses the writing teacher’s wife.

The writing teacher was home sick, so she took his car (and umbrella) and murdered her ex-lover. (He hooked up with a lot of ladies, remember?) And the hard evidence that Jessica has is the fact that the writing teacher’s wife knew that the dead guy had dirty hands from changing a tire on his way home. She says that she doesn’t remember grabbing the scissors (obviously because she did not) but she confesses anyway (because she’s a guilty cheater). And everyone is like, “Well, she must have done it because she knew he had dirty hands.” And no one cares that Jessica Fletcher knew literally everything supposedly confidential about this case.

Here’s what really happened: This one baffles me. Jessica should have gotten caught here. I mean those idiots moving the body must have been the only thing that saved her. She knew the body had been moved without anyone releasing that information. She recognized the desk set as having the same design as the murder scissors, which she theoretically had never seen. I feel like at this point, she’s spent like seven years killing people and getting away with it so she wants to see just how obvious she can be without getting caught. It seems to me that the ex-lover stopped by the house wanting to confront the dead guy (who at that point was still alive). She saw his dirty hands and questioned how she could ever have threatened her marriage for such a loser, and then she rushes home and is so blinded by her guilt that she doesn’t even remember much of her interaction with her ex-lover. I mean, she CLEARLY says she doesn’t remember the scissors. Obviously, there was some severe evidence tampering, but like this doesn’t change the fact that everything she knows about this case makes Mrs. Fletcher either a psychic or a psychotic.

Murder, She Wrote: The Murder of Sherlock Holmes

We first meet Jessica Fletcher as an ordinary widow/substitute teacher whose nephew has stolen her manuscript and published it. She’s suddenly an unwitting celebrity and she seems pretty harmless. It is impossible to tell at this point if her innocence is genuine, or if this was all part of her elaborate plot to gain the trust of millions.

Her publisher rudely brushes her off at first, but then asks her to come to a costume party and spend the weekend at his country house to make up for his rude behavior. Nothing really happens until her nephew, Grady, catches someone snooping in his guest-room. It turns out to be a really classy private investigator. The PI tells Jessica, “You have a rare gift for murder. Continued success.”

Jessica runs a lot. It makes me feel bad because I am decades younger and exercise way less. I worry my fitness age is actually like 76. But I guess being an old lady serial killer/mystery writer must require peak physical fitness.

Anyway, after all of this exposition and running, something finally happens! A seafood magnate named Caleb McCallen is found dead in the pool. He has been shot in the face with a shotgun. Yuck.  Caleb’s supposed lover, Ms. Donovan, found him at 6 am but he was probably killed during the party the previous night.

JB Fletcher pokes around outside (probably contaminating evidence). She says that Caleb isn’t the one in the pool, based on the shoes (shotgun to the face makes it a little hard to recognize him) Meanwhile, Caleb’s wife blacked out the night before and is now worried she murdered her husband and can’t remember doing it.

I didn’t expect Angela Lansbury to create something so freaking dark. I’m not sure I’d ever seen the pilot episode until now, but let’s review briefly: In a Sid & Nancy scenario, someone’s face has been blown off at an otherwise innocuous party, and this is rated TV-PG.

Anyway, as it turns out Jessica is correct. Caleb shows up alive and well, having spent the night in a motel with a lady friend. He left his costume in the hall closet before leaving the country house, where anyone could have taken it. It also turns out that Caleb hired the PI because someone was leaking confidential information about his business. Then Grady gets arrested! They think he’s a thief and that he tried to kill his boss (Caleb). At 11:15 pm (the time of the murder) the other chief suspect was upstairs “half-naked” while Jessica washed out a stain from her dress.

At the beginning of Part 2 of the pilot, Jessica goes to see Caleb in Bay Shore and he is all like your nephew is the culprit! So Jessica makes Grady help her break into Caleb’s office to find out who bought/sold some overpriced properties. Once in the office, Jessica and Grady split-up (a.k.a. Jessica needs some alone time to plant evidence). Then the other suspect (the one with the alibi) comes into the office. Jessica spies on her from a coat closet.

The suspect takes a phone call and says, “I want no part of murder. They may be following me. I can’t be sure.” Why would you talk about murder if you were maybe being followed? Only a totally innocent person would do that! She leaves shortly thereafter and Jessica watches her get on a bus. Jessica catches another bus going the same way, but she doesn’t have exact change. The Fratelli mom from The Goonies gives her 3 quarters for a dollar and she takes the bus to 3rd Ave and E 17th where some dudes try to rob her.

Some guy who followed her off the bus and saves her from certain death. He tells her he’s a big fan of her book and says, “You want some advice? I’d stay out of this neighborhood, Mrs. Fletcher.” I know this is the 80’s but this is Gramercy! Geez!

Jessica calls the cops and says she now thinks the PI was the intended victim and that they must find a connection between off-B’way producer Peter Brill (form the party) and Ashley Vickers (the lady with the alibi). Like what? I’ve been watching this whole time and follow literally none of her logic. I’m sure she’s just trying to confuse everything to hide her own guilt.

Anyway, Jessica goes to the theater and Ashley Vickers shows up and is all like Give it up, Peter!!!! And Peter is all like, I also have an alibi since I played the piano all night in front of everyone. So they’re thieves but obviously not murderers, and this leads Jessica Fletcher to find a new scapegoat to frame for her crimes.

Shortly, thereafter the cops find Caleb dead on his boat. For some reason, Jessica goes back to the country house and tries to break into a shed by the pool. Her publisher shows up, and she tries to claim that she can see him perfectly at the same distance that the killer must have been at from the PI. Thus, there’s no way the PI could have been mistaken for Caleb. She accuses her publisher of being the killer and he confesses that he was in a “blind rage.” He says he was scapegoated in a “business venture” where the building collapsed, even though he had nothing to do with construction. He went to jail for fifteen years and everyone else got off scott-free. After two years, he escaped and the police figured he was dead. And the PI recognized him. This all seems pretty damning, but I’m sure Jessica is responsible.

Here’s what really happened: The publisher has PTSD from the trauma he’s experienced with both jail and his dangerous escape. This PTSD must have been triggered by the automatic lights near the pool, sending him into a “blind rage” but not a murderous one. Jessica Fletcher witnessed all of this from the upstairs bathroom where she was washing the dress. She scaled down the trellis (fit from all that running), and seized the moment to create a new mystery for herself. Then she manipulated this poor man into thinking he was a murderer all because she needed to be the hero. Becoming a published mystery author was just too thrilling for this small-town retiree, and now there’s nothing that can satiate her need for crime. But why this poor, unwitting PI? Well, he was the only one who astutely observed her true character and properly foreshadowed her “rare gift for murder.”

Welcome to Sitcom Credits Hell

I found this to be a totally hilarious parody of late 20th century sitcom intros. “Too Many Cooks” is about a family (The Cooks) with at least twenty-five members who are all worthy of opening credit introduction. I watched this at work (silently due to my lack of speakers) and I laughed for like eleven minutes straight.  However, the theme song has been slowly driving my boyfriend crazy over the past couple of days. I’ve never listened to the theme song in it’s entirety but eleven minutes of a theme song sounds pretty awful, so I suggest you mute it if it’s bugging you. Either way, this video is hilarious.