"Murder, She Wrote" Menace, Anyone? (TV Episode 1986) Poster

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Singles on Court, Doubles in Sightings, and Triples for Body Count
WeatherViolet22 January 2010
No sooner does Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) arrive to continue her campaign to sponsor benefits for the children's fund, by traveling to Green River, Massachusetts, than bodies begin to turn up, resulting from a bombing, a stabbing and an overdose in this episode containing a little more violence than usual for the series.

Jessica's dear friend and tennis tournament organizer Carol McDermott (Linda Hamilton) serves as assistant to Elliot Robinson (Van Johnson), whose daughter, Doris Robinson (Betsy Russell), expresses that she has the qualifications to handle the bossy Carol's position in her father's organization.

Tennis star Cissy Barnes (Kelli Maroney) maintains that she has better qualifications than Carol to sustain a relationship with Carol's fiancé, Brian East (Bryan Cranston), even though Brian has dumped Cissy for Carol.

Tennis pro Mitch Mercer (Dennis Cole) and rising star Donny Harrigan (Doug McKeon) are also admonished by Carol for not following her rules of order on court and off.

On the evening of the reception to launch the fund-raising event, a bomb triggered by an automobile ignition explodes, fatally injuring its driver, causing an hyterical Carol tp believe that likely must have been the intended victim of revenge.

Long-term law enforcement partners Detective Sergeant Berger (Barry Primus) and Detective Lieutenant Tad Travis (David Spielberg) investigate the murder, enlisting the capable assistance of the volunteering Jessica, who vows to help her dear friend and colleague.

When Carol begins to blame her late sister, the auburn-haired Barbara McDermott (Karlene Crockett), for resurfacing to menace Carol, those around Carol begin to say that she must be hallucinating, for Barbara has been presumed dead for years, after losing her life in an airplane disaster.

But after other Barbara sightings begin to emerge, and a woman with red hair is believed to continue to harass Carol, a second victim is murdered as the result of a knife attack, after discovering a wig and a stick of dynamite beside a weeping Carol, who acts insanely.

Jessica contacts a sanitarium, at which a Barbara McDermott had once been reportedly treated, before her demise, and consults Rosie (Kerry Sherman) and Sexton (Harold Ayer), as the investigation encounters another series of twists and turns, including the reappearance of Barbara at the police station.

And as Jessica determines a connection between murders after piecing together clues, she realizes that there is going to be another murder, and rushes back to the Tennis Club to discover a victim of an overdose of tranquilizers, during round three of "Menace, Anyone?"

Rounding out the cast are Gus Corrado as Paramedic, Helen Baron as Reporter #1, Rod Porter as Reporter #2, Rick Jason as Patrolman, and Laurence Haddon as Judge.

This episode marks the first of two "MSW" guest roles each for Dennis Cole, Karlene Crockett, Rick Jason, David Spielberg, the first of three for Bryan Cranston, and the second of three "MSW's" for Van Johnson.

Van Johnson, acting in film and on television since 1940, Harold Ayer, acting since 1948, Rick Jason, acting since 1953, and Dennis Cole, acting since 1961, have unfortunately since passed.
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Whither Betsy?
schappe120 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This episode ends without a confrontation between Jessica and the murderer. Instead the confession comes from her father, played by Van Johnson, who simply says she's home and describes her mental illness that led her to commit the crime. There's even a flashback sequence depicting the crime where the murderer is shown only from the waist down, making it likely that a stand-in for Betsy Russell, who plays the character, was doing the enacting of the murder.

There's got to a be a backstory to this. Did Betsy, (an old crush of mine from her 80's films), walk off the set? Did she become ill? Her promising career took a bit of a nosedive right around this point, although her marriage two years later might have caused her to put it on the back-burner.

The final scene would have had a lot more to it if she had appeared in it. it would have been a major acting opportunity for her, playing an unbalanced murderer, forced to confess. The ending to this episode wasn't so much confusing as it was limp, because of the lack of the confrontation with the murderer.

Something happened here and I wonder what.

(I would love to have put this on a MESSAGE BOARD so there could be a discussion about it.)
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Murder at the tennis tournament
TheLittleSongbird31 July 2017
SPOILER: Have always been quite fond of 'Murder She Wrote'. It is a fun and relaxing watch that makes you think as you try to unwind in the evening. If one wants more complex, twisty mysteries with lots of tension and suspense 'Murder She Wrote' may not be for you, but if you want something light-hearted and entertaining but still provide good mysteries 'Murder She Wrote' fits the bill just fine.

"Menace, Anyone?" is by no means a particularly great episode, but there is something entertaining about it. It is something of a strange and campy episode, whether it works for you is dependent on how you like strange and campy (don't mind either apart from when they get excessive, a distinction that the episode comes close to achieving), and it is fun to see the nostalgic but very out of date hairstyles and fashions.

The episode's biggest problem is that it does have a strong contender for the most confusing, over-complicated and weirdest ending of any episode of 'Murder She Wrote', and perhaps up there with the most confusing, over-complicated and weirdest endings ever. Usually have no problem understanding the final solutions of 'Murder She Wrote' episodes, some are actually very easy to figure out, the one here is one that has always seen me struggling to make complete sense of.

It does feel rather rushed at the end too, and the motive for the second murder didn't seem that well thought out.

Production values are high in quality as to be expected, with slick photography. The music has energy and has presence but also not making the mistake of over-scoring, while it is hard to forget or resist the theme tune.

The writing is tight, thought-provoking and typically amiable and the characters and chemistry are good fun. The story is mostly engaging, if at times taking too much of a strange turn and there are too few suspects to make one properly question Carol's guilt.

Angela Lansbury doesn't disappoint, while Linda Hamilton (in a pretty great performance) and Van Johnson are the standouts of a reliable supporting cast, that includes Bryan Cranston looking so young.

Overall, strange and with an ending that doesn't make as much sense as ought but entertaining and well played. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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Police killed
bkoganbing6 September 2019
This MSW episode makes two departures from the usual paradigm of these stories. First off the investigating detective is killed during the story while Jessica Fletcher and the rest are chasing down the killer of the first murder. Secondly there's no scene with Ms. Fletcher confronting the killer and telling them how she had figured it out. I can't recall another story where these thing happened.

Angela Lansbury is in Boston attending a tennis tournament at Van Johnson's club. A promising young player Bryan Cranston is killed when a car he was borrowing explodes. Then the investigating lieutenant from Boston homicide is stabbed to death.

The only hint I'll give is that the crimes are related. There is also a question of a dead person coming back to life.

That should give you enough to chew on for this story.
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Wimbledon meets Psycho.
Sleepin_Dragon14 November 2017
Jessica is on hand to officially launch an exhibition tennis tournament. Elliot Robinson, tournament director, instantly has problems with very demanding players, Cissy and Donny most notably. Carol is the event organiser, tasked also with putting players in order, her fiancé Brian East is a current player also. At a dinner event Brian sets off to collect papers, but as he turns the key in Carol's car, the car explodes. An investigation begins, but sadly lieutenant Tad Travis is killed as he begins putting the pieces together.

I really enjoyed this episode, one of the most serious toned episodes of the show you'll see, there are no light touches, no antics from Grady or Amos, this is a pretty dark mystery. It's a complex plot for sure, you probably wouldn't be able to put the pieces together in this one. It boasts a pretty scary moment, where you see Davies climb the staircase. It features some very good performances, Linda Hamilton and Van Johnson most notably.

All in all, this is an excellent episode. 9/10
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