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Jessica Fletcher Eternal
August 8, 2014 10:35 AM   Subscribe


 
Perfect.
posted by not that girl at 10:38 AM on August 8 [2 favorites]


This is exactly accurate.
posted by PMdixon at 10:44 AM on August 8 [2 favorites]


Isn't this (with a few variations) the set-up for pretty much every police/detective/intrepid investigator procedural show from the 1970s and 1980s too? Or, even back to Perry Mason.
posted by blucevalo at 10:44 AM on August 8


I'm not sure how many of its twelve seasons my family would watch it on Sunday nights after (or before?) Magnum, PI, but it was a lot. And the formula seemed pretty much baked in from the get-go. As a tween I got bored with it pretty fast, but it was just something we did as a family (along with the aforementioned Magnum PI and The Cosby Show on Thursdays).

The stories were never compelling and the outcome was always predictable. The opening credit roll with the theme song always held more promise than the actual plot. Nevertheless, we watched, week after week. I think it's just because Angela Lansbury is so darn lovable.

This parody is dead on.
posted by scelerat at 10:48 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


I like you but no.
posted by skewed at 10:49 AM on August 8 [2 favorites]


*Columbo walks into this thread drinking and smoking*
*nods in approval*
posted by Fizz at 10:55 AM on August 8 [4 favorites]


This is close but I think in most typical episodes it's Needlessly Dickish Businessman who dies because there are so many possibly suspects. They've got the scene with Desperate, but they're missing the part where Needlessly is having an affair with his Sultry Secretary who overhears him trying to seduce/intimidate Ingenue who later tells her Hot Tempered Brother (maybe Boyfriend). Also, Lovely Friend might be Hapless Younger Relative (either of whom is occasionally also Ingenue -- false accusations!).

That said, this was pretty great.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 11:02 AM on August 8 [8 favorites]


Now I want them to do Law And Order SVU.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:03 AM on August 8 [3 favorites]


There's something to love about Murder, She Wrote, and yes, the article is dead on. I always loved how murder followed Jessica everywhere and seeing what old celebrity would show up in each episode. I was also in love with her charming house and just the fact that she was so well liked and motherly. On more than one occasion she would have a heart to heart with some troubled young person. The series was also pretty topical too - there was one episode that featured a Howard Stern look alike shock jock, but that went way over my head. Maybe Jessica Fletcher was just my fantasy grandmother :)
posted by Calzephyr at 11:04 AM on August 8 [3 favorites]


"POLICE IDIOT stands over DESPERATE BUSINESSMAN’S BODY."

Amazing.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:07 AM on August 8


This series is always linked in my mind with visiting my grandmother's house as a child. She loved this show, and even looked a bit like Angela Lansbury. Thankfully murder did not follow her around...
posted by temancl at 11:08 AM on August 8 [2 favorites]


Jessica, for fuck's sake!

is exactly what every person around her should have been saying. So good.
posted by Huck500 at 11:19 AM on August 8 [4 favorites]


So, Murder, She Wrote was about writer who solves murders, and Diagnosis: Murder was about a doctor who solves murders. This gives me a few series ideas.

Shave and a Murder, Two Bits
Lights, Action, Murder
Would You Like Murder With That?
We Found What Was Blocking Your Drain, Ma'am: Murder
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:23 AM on August 8 [64 favorites]


I would watch those shows.
posted by TwoWordReview at 11:28 AM on August 8 [4 favorites]


"my family would watch it on Sunday nights after (or before?) Magnum, PI"

AH, that explains it. I watched the opening credits a minute ago and while I recall the melody, and some of the shots, and certainly remember that weird font and bright yellow "ANGELA LANSBURY" at the end, I can't recall a single second of any episode of this show.

But Mom was a huge freak for Magnum so I probably just absorbed the opening credits before I remembered it was that boring old lady show and wandered off to go play with my Transformers or something.
posted by komara at 11:31 AM on August 8


How credulous! Jessica Fletcher is obviously the world's best serial killer- death follows her everywhere, yet nobody ever suspects her. A true master.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:37 AM on August 8 [6 favorites]


FLETCHER IS LOVETT!!!
posted by Foci for Analysis at 11:39 AM on August 8


DONT EAT HER PIES UNLESS YOU LIKE PUSSY
posted by Foci for Analysis at 11:40 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


How credulous! Jessica Fletcher is obviously the world's best serial killer- death follows her everywhere, yet nobody ever suspects her. A true master.

Yep.
posted by not that girl at 11:40 AM on August 8


There needs to be a series about Danny from The Shining, in which he's grown up and solves mysteries with the help of his imaginary friend Tony:

"Redrum, He Scrawled"
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:43 AM on August 8 [2 favorites]


Now I want them to do Law And Order SVU.

"Quick, gimmie your cell phone!"
posted by Smart Dalek at 11:47 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


Shave and a Murder, Two Bits
Lights, Action, Murder
Would You Like Murder With That?
We Found What Was Blocking Your Drain, Ma'am: Murder


I think you just discovered the long lost Troy McClure back catalog.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 11:48 AM on August 8 [23 favorites]


> Now I want them to do Law And Order SVU.

"Quick, gimmie your cell phone!"


Just so long as they have Ice-T saying some variant on "That's messed up!" in each episode, they're good.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:51 AM on August 8 [6 favorites]


ONE OF THE PEOPLE WHO LOOKS CONFUSINGLY SIMILAR TO THE IMPORTANT CHARACTERS BUT IS NOT REALLY INVOLVED:
I reply, but say nothing of substance and never become relevant to the plot, although I look enough like a guy who is that you’re no longer completely sure what’s happening.


A thousand times THIS! Every time I watch a 70s/80s murder mystery or bbc drama, I develop some sort of face blindness and am unable to tell at least two characters apart.
posted by boubelium at 11:53 AM on August 8 [8 favorites]


The best example of "pulp mystery writer is the most important and famous person IN THE WORLD" was the episode where MI5 gave Jessica access to secret intelligence, sheerly because she's Jessica Fletcher.
posted by PMdixon at 11:54 AM on August 8 [5 favorites]


I have a theory that Jessica Fletcher sold her soul to the devil in exchange for good book sales.

Naturally, every contract with the devil has a down side. The down side of her contract (naturally unspoken in the moment) is that in order to get the sales she needs the publicity of having solved all those murders. So when she goes somewhere (or even stays home) the devil punches up some local resentments or greed or whatever and someone dies. The devil then makes sure she gets the crucial clue and is protected from human retribution so the cycle can continue. Publicity for her, and even better a potential murderer becomes a real murderer, so another sinner for the devil's collection.

Naturally, we never get told about the original contract as that would make Fletcher out to be a Bad Person and the whole goal is that she's perceived (in her world as well as on our television screens) as a Good Person.
posted by Death and Gravity at 12:08 PM on August 8 [14 favorites]


Now do Castle, you know who's dad works for the CIA and who's wife is constantly embroiled with FBI-esque situations that require saving New York City.

Also, writer!
posted by Fizz at 12:08 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


This is possibly the Metafilter Taggiest of posts ever. There's like, three, per line of content.
posted by boo_radley at 12:14 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


But I had to wait for someone to mention the word ‘moss’ in a weirdly placed turn of phrase before I made this trivial extra step as if it was a moment of serendipitous inspiration, which for some reason is how we want crimes to be solved.

This is also the major turning point in every episode of House and Numb3rs.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 12:25 PM on August 8


Obligatory link to robocopIsBleeding's House rubric.

(Now available in .gif form.)
posted by benito.strauss at 1:09 PM on August 8 [2 favorites]


Obligatory: album cover of the year.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:09 PM on August 8 [4 favorites]


So this summer I've been watching one episode of Murder She Wrote every night before bed, in my bathrobe, because yes, I am apparently 75 years old. It's oddly soothing.

One thing the formula doesn't include is how every other episode or so, someone goes out of their way to casually insult Jessica's writing style, or subject matter, or writing ability, general author-ness. And Jessica handles it with a lot of grace and dignity, but man, Richard Castle never has to put up with that nonsense.

I'd start murdering people myself if I had to face that much unsolicited criticism.
posted by mochapickle at 1:10 PM on August 8 [6 favorites]


Also, Jessica must have like 40 nieces.
posted by mochapickle at 1:11 PM on August 8 [14 favorites]


I feel like they could work mouse bites in, somehow.

For crossover purposes.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:35 PM on August 8 [2 favorites]


Now I want them to do Law And Order SVU.

Every episode has to have a scene like this in the interrogation room....

Eliot: Didja do it?
Perp: No man.
Eliot: Didja do it?
Perp: No man get off my case man it aint like that.
Eliot: Didja do it?
Perp: No man! I didn't do it!
Eliot: Yeah, whoever did this was a real man and had big balls. - OR - Between you and me I wouldn't blame the guy that did do it. She was just asking to get chopped up and stuffed in a duffel bag. Whoever did this is a manly hero.
Perp: YEAH I DID IT I DID IT YOU GONNA HELP ME RIGHT?!?!?
posted by ian1977 at 1:55 PM on August 8 [2 favorites]


NEEDLESSLY:

Since only I have access to the serum, soon I will be the sole inheritor of the fortune!

DESPERATE:

But I need mouse bites to live! You can't do that!
posted by blnkfrnk at 1:58 PM on August 8 [7 favorites]


We Found What Was Blocking Your Drain, Ma'am: Murder

Now that I think about it, Buckaroo Banzai had the Rug Suckers, a network of sleeper operatives posing, and probably working, as a chain of carpet cleaners. I would watch the shit out of a show about them.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:15 PM on August 8 [3 favorites]


the Rug Suckers

Not during prime time, surely?
posted by yoink at 2:33 PM on August 8


Going along with the theme that Ms. Fletcher is an accomplished serial killer, WHY ON EARTH would you invite her to a party?

But they do. Go figure.
posted by Repack Rider at 3:22 PM on August 8


Jessica Fletcher sold her soul to the devil
Holy hell, this doesn't just explain the astronomical murder rate of "a moving circle centered around Jessica Fletcher", it explains why nobody ever thinks that rate is noteworthy. I couldn't figure out any rational explanation for that piece of the puzzle, but I didn't dare to conclude "therefore the explanation must be irrational". It all fits.

In my head there's now also a Quantum Leap crossover episode where Sam has to stop the Devil (who looks like Al again because why not?) from ever making this deal.
posted by roystgnr at 3:26 PM on August 8 [3 favorites]


The post links to another potential explanation:

Tom Francis ‏@Pentadact
Yesterday I saw the Murder She Wrote where the whole murder plot turns out to be a dream Jessica had when she fell asleep at dinner.

Tom Francis ‏@Pentadact
Then she implies she gets her book ideas from imagining real people she meets wrapped up in murder plots, casting doubt on the whole series.
posted by rollick at 3:42 PM on August 8 [3 favorites]


I watched a Murder, She Wrote TV movie once and in that movie Jessica Fletcher impersonates government personnel and breaks into a restricted military area.

What I'm saying here is that Jessica Fletcher was apparently a lot more hardcore than I thought which I guess teaches me for underestimating the friendly old lady with a penchant for mysteries.
posted by KChasm at 4:09 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


I never watched Murder, She Wrote when it originally aired but I dipped into the first season on Netflix this summer and I have to say, it is about 1000x more bearable than The Love Boat, which my husband has been TiVoing and is such an unbearable offensive monstrosity that I just cannot leave the room fast enough when he starts up an episode.

The sixth episode of MSW season one has this really fucking creepy, stalker college kid who attaches himself to Jessica as her secretary and keeps making passes at her. It's surreal.
posted by Squeak Attack at 4:25 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


The sixth episode of MSW season one has this really fucking creepy, stalker college kid who attaches himself to Jessica as her secretary and keeps making passes at her. It's surreal.

Oh, that's another good trope! About every fifth episode or so, a man confesses his romantic affection for Jessica, while Jessica remains demurely respectful to the memory of her husband, Frank. I'm in Season 2 and so far, these men include: Her publisher, a millionaire masquerading as a hobo, that handsome (and creepy!) student who's a good 30+ years her junior, a thick-accented KGB major who loves fishing, and Leslie Nielsen.
posted by mochapickle at 5:16 PM on August 8 [6 favorites]


...and Leslie Nielsen.

"Jessica, for fuck's sake!"
posted by Fizz at 5:39 PM on August 8 [2 favorites]


This show should have everything a murder mystery lover wants, or at least everything I, as a mystery lover, want. Levinson and Link (they produced Columbo!) 80s fashion! Angela Lansbury! When I streamed a few of them on Netflix, I was so disappointed. They even had some of the same guest stars as Columbo (Martin Landau!); how could every episode fall so flat?
posted by Ralston McTodd at 5:41 PM on August 8


Stop the presses, Octavia Spencer is doing a murder she wrote reboot!! (She was just on an episode of The Hollywood Reporter and said as much!)
posted by TwoWordReview at 9:46 PM on August 8


Ah never mind, the project has been scrapped already.
posted by TwoWordReview at 9:56 PM on August 8


Not only is Fletcher Lovett, she also masterminded a coup of the US government. ISELIN-LOVETT-FLETCHER! FOLLOW THE EVIDENCE, SHEEPLE!
posted by rmd1023 at 5:05 AM on August 10


Someone do this for House, please. Back when it was half decent, we got in the habit of shouting "AHA!" at the appropriate moment, about 2/3 of the way through each show.
posted by gottabefunky at 11:23 AM on August 10


Oh, and staying in the '80s: the A-Team.
posted by gottabefunky at 11:23 AM on August 10


Holy hell, this doesn't just explain the astronomical murder rate of "a moving circle centered around Jessica Fletcher", it explains why nobody ever thinks that rate is noteworthy.

Reminder that the character of Bedelia Du Maruier, a shadowy "mentor" and sounding board for a serial killer on NBC's Hannibal, was originally written for Angela Landsbury.
posted by The Whelk at 3:18 PM on August 10


Whoa. I haven't actually watched the show before so I picked an episode at random (S1:E18). The parody is spot-on, right down to Jessica setting a trap for the killer even though "I never found any earring!"
posted by Monochrome at 5:10 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


The parody is spot-on, right down to Jessica setting a trap for the killer even though "I never found any earring!"

You misspelled rubric.
posted by PMdixon at 8:01 AM on August 11 [2 favorites]


Someone do this for House, please.

It has been done!
posted by TwoWordReview at 2:28 PM on August 11


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