Over @ Theme Thursday this week: Mystery
Wanted to write a mystery, but that didn't pan out. So instead, here is some thoughts on Murder, She Wrote, my favorite mystery show, and Jessica Fletcher, my favorite detective.
Why do I like Jessica? Well, she is a widowed, retired English teacher who has found a new career as a mystery novelist. She is a homespun type who cares about her friends and family, and even about the strangers she encounters, those who either end up the victims of foul play or the wrongly accused perpetrators of said crimes. Jessica isn't about to let justice fall by the wayside. She will dig until she unearths the true culprit, whether that endears her to the others involved or not. She stands by what is right, whether it is popular or not. Good trait to have. Angela Lansbury created a character beloved by millions.
I also like the small town setting of most of the episodes. Cabot Cove, Maine seems like a great place to live. That is, if you can overlook the unusually high murder rate for such a small place. The characters who helped make up this community included Seth Hazlitt, Jessica's long-time friend and the town doctor. He is always there for her, through good and bad, whether Jessica has listened to his advice or not. And he also makes a good sounding board for some of her ideas and plans.
Also a great character is Sheriff Mort Metzger. He took over the role of the town police chief once Amos Tupper left. Amos always struck me as a bit on the dim side, and I don't think actor Tom Bosely cared to play a character so lacking in his own detective skills. Mort was a more competent sheriff, even if he occasionally needed some help from Mrs. Fletcher.
Another recurring character was Jessica's nephew, Grady Fletcher. He was the nephew of Jessica's late husband, Frank, and the couple had taken him in when he was younger, acting as sort of surrogate parents for him. They never had kids of their own, so Grady was as close as they got. Jessica was always proud of Grady, and supportive, even when he made some less than well-thought-out life decisions. And she was always there to bail him out of the homicidal issues he found himself embroiled in, one of the down-sides to being the nephew of Jessica Fletcher, I suppose.
The setup of the show was usually pretty simple. Jessica would meet a bunch of people, or be around a group of friends, and one of the group would somehow be alienating or down-right pissing off others. Soon enough, the hated one would be dead and it would be up to Jessica to root out the true murderer. In the later seasons, the actual murder would take place so late in the show that the solving of the crime was rushed into the final act or two. I always thought the show fared better when the murder happened earlier, and Jessica had more time to engage in snooping about and digging out the skeletons everyone thought were well hidden.
Also, the later seasons had Jessica rent a second home, an apartment in New York City. This was a bit out of place for the small-town feeling the show was known for, and it was just too different from the little show people had grown to love. But, by that time, the show had been on almost a decade and like anything, had begun to run its course. After twelve seasons of solving murders from one end of the globe to the other, Jessica faded away into the TV Land sunset.
Or did she? Since the show's end, there have been four made-for-TV movies, bringing Jessica back for little trips around the world to do what she does best. These movies followed the usual format, but gave Jessica a little more time to play around, with the two-hour time frame. There hasn't been another movie in quite a few years, so we may have actually seen the last of JB Fletcher, at least played by the great Angela Lansbury.
However, there is one more outlet for those looking for more Murder, She Wrote mysteries. A series of novels, written by 'Jessica Fletcher' and author Donald Bain, bring the character to even more places and into more murders for you to enjoy. Currently, there are almost 36 books in the series, with one scheduled for release next year. I have read a few and have enjoyed each one, the characters and settings kept true to how they were portrayed on television.
Clearly, Jessica isn't done solving cases yet.