Murder, She Wrote: Season 1 (1984 - 1985)


Season 1
Murder, She Wrote

Critics Consensus

Murder, She Wrote strikes the tightrope balance of wholesome murder mysteries, with a marvelous Angela Lansbury proving to be the perfect foil for tasteful investigations into heinous crimes.

100%

TOMATOMETER

Critic Ratings: 17

88%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 8

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Episodes

Air date: Sep 30, 1984

The two-hour debut episode of Murder, She Wrote finds former substitute teacher Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) reluctantly thrust into the limelight when her first mystery novel, "The Corpse Danced at Midnight," becomes a best-seller. Invited to a costume ball held by her publisher, Jessica comes face to face with a genuine murder when guest Dexter Baxendale (Dennis Patrick), wearing a Sherlock Holmes costume, turns up dead. Suspicion immediately falls upon Jessica's nephew Grady (Michael Horton), forcing our heroine to turn sleuth herself. Throughout the story, the widowed Jessica must also wrestle with her growing attraction to handsome Preston Giles (Arthur Hill). Watch for future Murder, She Wrote semi-regular Herb Edelman in a role other than Lt. Artie Gelber, and also for a young Andy Garcia in a bit part as a tough guy.

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Air date: Oct 7, 1984

In the first hour-long episode of Murder She Wrote (the debut episode had run two hours), mystery writer Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) is back in her home town of Cabot Cove, Maine, where she makes the acquaintance of a seedy-looking gentleman named Ralph (Howard Duff), who has shown up in her backyard looking for work. At the same time, the authorities are investigating the reported death of multimillionaire Stephen Earl, who was swept off his yacht during a hurricane--or at least that's the story given by Earl's four rather predatory daughters. This episode marks the first series appearances of Tom Bosley as Cabot Cove's sheriff Amos Tupper, and Claude Akins as Jessica's sometime fishing companion Ethan Cragg.

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Air date: Oct 14, 1984

Jessica (Angela Lansbury) arrives in San Francisco to attend the wedding of her niece Victoria Brandon (Genie Francis) to a handsome but rather secretive young man named Howard Griffin (Jeff Conaway). Her first meeting with Howard occurs under strange circumstances, as he scrambles over her table at a nightclub, dressed in female drag--after having stumbled across the body of club owner Al Drake (Martin Landau). Naturally, Howard is accused of the murder, obliging Jessica to investigate the situation herself.

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Air date: Oct 28, 1984

Jessica (Angela Lansbury) arrives in Hollywood, where her first mystery novel "The Corpse Danced at Midnight" is being made into a movie. Unfortunately, Jessica is displeased by the decision of film producer Jerry Lydecker (John Saxon) to "juice up" her novel with heavy doses of sex and violence, and she makes no secret of her outrage. Thus it is that Jessica ends up on the suspect list when the highly unlikable Lydecker turns up murdered. John Astin, later a series semi-regular in the role of Cabot Cove real estate agent Harry Pierce, is here cast as Ross Hayley.

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Air date: Oct 28, 1984

While visiting her cousin Abby (Lynn Redgrave) at lavish Langley Manor in the deep South, Jessica is among those present when patriarch Denton Langley (Dan O'Herlihy) is accidentally killed during a fox hunt. What is puzzling about the situation is that Langley's normally docile horse was startled enough to throw the man to his death. Later on , Langley's daughter is also killed, and all evidence points to a single, and very unusual, suspect: Langley's beloved pet dog (and sole beneficiary) Teddy! Country singer Roger Miller appears as the local sheriff.

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Air date: Nov 18, 1984

This episode was filmed on location in Seattle, where Jessica (Angela Lansbury) has been asked to deliver a university lecture. During her first few days in town, Jessica is impressed by the efficiency and vast intellect of her temporary secretary David Tolliver (Andrew Stevens). When his wealthy girlfriend is murdered, David is fingered as the main suspect, whereupon Jessica endeavors to clear the young man's name--and in the process, she unearths a hotbed of academic intrigue.

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Air date: Nov 25, 1984

Angela Lansbury's former MGM colleagues Van Johnson and June Allyson are prominently featured in this episode. A double-dealing businessman is killed when he is run over by a remote-controlled station wagon. Suspicion immediately falls upon the victim's disgruntled former partner, an oddball inventor--who happens to be a neighbor of our gal Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury). Can it be that the death car's curious license plate number will turn out to be a clue? (Well, maybe not.)

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Air date: Dec 9, 1984

The duplicitous owner (James Coco) of a popular theme park engages Jessica (Angela Lansbury) to design a "house of horror". Shortly, thereafter, the owner is murdered in his underground office--an "impossible" crime, inasmuch as the office was securely locked from the inside. Inasmuch as the wife of investigating detective Lt. Donovan (James Stephens) is Jessica's niece Carol , it is perhaps a "given" that our heroine will take a hand in solving the murder. Incidentally, the two Donovan children are played by a very young Joaquin Phoenix (here billed as "Leaf") and his sister Summer Phoenix.

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Air date: Dec 16, 1984

Angela Lansbury is reunited with her onetime The Picture of Dorian Gray costar Hurd Hatfield in this episode, in which Jessica Fletcher (Lansbury) attends a special performance by a Soviet ballet troupe. Just as two of the dancers decide to defect, the KGB official assigned to the troupe is killed. When one of the defecting dancers also turns up murdered and a terrified ballerina is accused of the crime, Jessica reluctantly joins forces with a gruff government official to solve the crimes.

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Air date: Dec 30, 1984

Jose Ferrer guest stars in this episode--but not for long!--as a famed hypnotist known as The Amazing Cagliostro. As a publicity stunt, Cagliostro shepherds a group of six journalists behind locked doors, then hypnotizes them en masse. The act comes to an abrupt conclusion when Cagliostro is stabbed to death in full view of the journalists--who, being hypnotized, can remember nothing about the crime! Jessica (Angela Lansbury) of course figures that at least one person in the room was sufficiently conscious to commit the murder, and she's determined to find out which one.

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Murder, She Wrote: Season 1 Photos

Tv Season Info

Series 1 of Murder, She Wrote follows the amateur sleuth Jessica as she tries to get to the bottom of crimes that include the murder of an American football team owner and the death of a jazz musician.

Critic Reviews for Murder, She Wrote Season 1

All Critics (17) | Top Critics (8)

Angela Lansbury is the perfect choice to play Jessica Beatrice Fletcher.

Jan 27, 2021 | Full Review…

TV will miss the charming and civilizing presence of Lansbury, even though many of the episodes in recent years have been little more than familiar exercises to give a host of guest stars employment.

Oct 11, 2018 | Full Review…

Murder, She Wrote is one of those shows that ought to play as well in Dubuque as it does in New York. It should have been better, but most of the new fall shows are infinitely worse.

Jan 15, 2021 | Full Review…

Perhaps because producers couldn't rely on gee-whiz special effects or pounding pop music scores, there's an unrelenting focus on character development in these episodes.

Apr 21, 2020 | Full Review…

It's the type of slow burn that would never happen on one of today's detective shows... but Murder, She Wrote did shape and inspire the TV shows and films that came after it.

Oct 11, 2018 | Full Review…

The subject was murder, but "MSW" served up bloodless mysteries and minded its language.

Oct 11, 2018 | Full Review…

The key to the series is Lansbury, who is the star and only regular character in a weekly cast that will be stuffer with big name guests.

Jan 27, 2021 | Full Review…

There's a bit of a well-manicured-and-coiffed Miss Marple in her , as well as a touch of Agatha Christie. Add more than a hint of Auntie Mame, and you have a refreshing new television personality.

Apr 21, 2020 | Full Review…

One of the most promising entries is Murder, She Wrote, starring Angela Lansbury in a welcome change from the A-Team school of macho smash-em-up.

Aug 20, 2019 | Full Review…

[Lansbury] made this show, which depended on smarts, instinct and the force of J.B.'s personality, not CSI evidence.

Oct 11, 2018 | Full Review…

Jessica's charm, sass, and moral guidance make her the TV grandma we all need in our lives.

Oct 11, 2018 | Full Review…

The classiest act on TV.

Oct 11, 2018 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Murder, She Wrote: Season 1

  • Mar 04, 2021
    One of the best shows ever. Nothing like watching Jessica put the pieces together.
  • May 02, 2020
    My review is for all the seasons of Murder She Wrote. This is one of the best light mystery shows ever made. Angela Lansbury is perfect in her role as Jessica Fletcher, the widowed schoolteacher turned mystery writer who travels the globe and finds dead bodies everywhere she goes. She also found that she had a knack for solving the murders because of her expertise developed during learning her mystery writing craft. Everything is pitch perfect, IMO, starting with the delightful theme song that makes my heart happy and mimics the cadence of typing. The town in which she lives, Cabot Cove, looks like a dream Maine town, the homey characters with ideosyncratic flaws, the charming shops. Making guest appearances throughout the series are former big stars, no longer in their heyday, appearing as comic characters, victims, or murderers. The whole thing just works, which is why it ran so long. Highly recommend. Suggest starting with Season 1 and working your way through them all.

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