I have had several readers contact me over the past twelve years – asking why I don’t have a Murder, She Wrote entry on the Mystery TV and Movies Page. I just assumed everyone was already aware of this 1984-1996 TV mystery show – either from when it originally aired or now, in its umpteenth re-run life.
If you have read my description of what a Cozy Mystery is then you are aware of the trepidation I assume neighbors of Jessica Fletcher (the main sleuth) must feel whenever she is in town. Every week, Jessica (beautifully played by Angela Lansbury) is on the quest to find a murderer! In fact there were so many murder in her hometown (Cabot Cove, Maine) that she finally had to establish a living base in New York City, perhaps at the insistence of her Cabot Cove neighbors >>> those still alive that is! (Actually, she has a second home there so that she can be closer to her publisher, as well as teach criminology classes.)
Jessica is a retired high school English teacher who writes best selling mystery novels. Her novels are so popular in fact, that whenever she visits either New York City or an exotic locations (of which there are many, especially in later seasons) the police assigned to the case (which Jessica will invariably solve) welcome her to join them in solving the case, since they are big fans of her mystery novels.
At the beginning of the TV series, I believe most of the shows were based in Cabot Cove, a quaint fishing village where (just about) everyone is on a first-name basis. Jessica has a close circle of friends – which includes easily-agitated Dr. Seth Hazlitt (William Windom), Sheriff Amos Tupper (Tom Bosley), realtor Eve Simpson (Julie Adams), and Sheriff Mort Metzger (Ron Masak). Of course, Jessica knows everyone very well. Her knowledge can be attributed with either having had them in one of her English classes or them being parents of her students. Also, her good friends (Seth and Eve) love to share gossip!
I doubt there are any mystery shows that are more Cozy than Murder, She Wrote. Even though the shows are based on murder, they are never graphic, nor do the shows ever focus on the “let’s-gross-out-the-audience” realistic forensic scenes. (I believe they were considered “family fare” when they originally aired.)
Best selling Cozy Mystery author Donald Bain writes the Murder She Wrote book series which is based on this show. I picture Angela Lansbury every time I read one of Bain’s Cozies. I can’t imagine any other actress trying to take this role on. I strongly recommend you try watching Murder, She Wrote – if you’re one of the few people who hasn’t already enjoyed this TV series.