About Christmas TV History

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Murder, She Wrote (1992)

 The popular 1980s mystery series Murder, She Wrote is back on TV airing on TVLand.  Watching these old episodes is fun because each episode is a cavalcade of familiar actors.  Much like Columbo, it's the Love Boat of murder mysteries.  Not only is it a treat to see who is gonna pop up in each of the episodes but I don't want to overlook the obvious:  it's a delightful mystery series in which the crafty mystery writer Jessica Fletcher is adept at pointing out who the nasty murderer is each week.  The ninth season offered up a Christmas episode, "A Christmas Secret."

Jessica and Seth knocking back a couple glasses of champagne at a Cabot Cove Christmas party

A Christmas party at the Cabot Cove Community Center is interrupted by the attempted murder of the town’s executive secretary.  At first, Jessica looks into a blackmailing scheme that the victim had set up against the town’s newest resident and groom-to-be.  But some missing money from the town’s pension fund points the guilt towards someone else.  Like most episodes of Murder, She Wrote, the plot is complex and convoluted and not really the point.  The real joy is in watching Jessica put all the pieces together.

Looks like Santa's been naughty this year.

Jessica has my vote for winning the Ugly Christmas Sweater competition.

In the end of the episode, the town gathers at another party to sing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”  This is a nice moment however, it feels like a missed opportunity to have Broadway legend Angela Lansbury solo in her own Christmas song.

guest star: Amy Brenneman

This episode's guest stars appear throughout my encyclopedia including: Amy Brenneman (Judging Amy's 2002 Christmas episode "Lost and Found," and Frasier's 1998 Hanukkah/Christmas episode "Merry Christmas, Mrs. Moskowitz").

Larry Wilcox also starred as the motorcycle patrolman Jon Baker on CHiPs.

 Larry Wilcox (CHiPs' 1979 Christmas episode "Christmas Watch" as well as the more recent, 30 Rock's 2009 Christmas episode "Secret Santa").

Diane Baker and Ken Swofford

Ken Swofford (Fame's 1985 episode "Ebenezer Morloch"--a retelling of Dickens' A Christmas Carol and Riptide's 1985 holiday episode "Home for Christmas").

Murder, She Wrote regulars: Angela Lansbury and William Windom

Murder, She Wrote regular William Windom who plays Jessica's friend Seth is also a veteran of Christmas on TV.  Windom also appears in the 1971 Christmas TV movie The Homecoming, the 2000 Christmas episode of Ally McBeal entitled "The Man With the Bag," Amen's two-part Christmas episode from 2000 "Miracle on 134th Street," the 1969 Christmas episode "Rally Round the Flag" of the forgotten series My World and Welcome To It, and a Christmas episode I've never seen before: 1960's "The Christmas Spirit" from the series Guestward Ho!  Windom also appears in the 1994 theatrical release movie Miracle on 34th Street as Mr. Cole, the head of the department store.

TV movie musical by Broadway's Jerry Herman

And, of course Angela Lansbury is also throughout the encyclopedia.  Not only does she appear in this Murder, She Wrote Christmas episode but she plays the lead in the 1996 Jerry Herman musical, TV movie Mrs. Santa Claus, the 2001 PBS special Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Disney's 1997 video Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas, the 1983 TV movie The Gift of Love: A Christmas Story, and the Rankin/Bass animated classic 1975's The First Christmas.

Whew.  That's a lot of Christmas entertainment.  Did I miss any?


  1. Not sure if you missed anything, but thanks for highlighting one of my all-time favorite shows! Have loved Jessica and MSW since it premiered way back when. :)

  2. "A Christmas Secret" episode of MSW is coming on TV Land RIGHT NOW! Did you know? Or is it just a super-weird coincidence???

  3. I'm glad I covered one of your favorite shows. Feel free to share another of your favorites with a Christmas ep, and I'll see if I can write about it. I'm open to suggestions.

    And, yeah I knew that episode was airing on TVLand. I timed it pretty good, eh?

  4. I watched this episode when it aired and also wanted to add that not only is it a great Christmas episode, but it is a great episode of Murder, She Wrote. It has Jessica home, in Cabot Cove, with her friends Seth and Mort featured prominently. She has some special scene with Seth, very touching. And we see Mort really getting into the Christmas spirit. The whole town is in the swing of the holidays, even if we don't see a lot of the Cabot Cove regulars we used to see. Just a really great episode. :)

    As for other shows? How about Mork & Mindy, Laverne & Shirley, Golden Girls. Yeah, I like the classics. LOL

  5. Well I already wrote about both Golden Girls episodes--back in January in honor of Betty White's birthday. I'm such a nerd, I even covered the Christmas episode of the spin-off: Golden Palace. hahahaha. Mork & Mindy and Laverne & Shirley: okay! I'll make it happen :) Thanks for the suggestions.