Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Birds of a Feather

We are all totally shocked!!

In this episode, we find Jessica traveling again. This time it's to see her niece Victoria. Victoria is going to get married! But Jessica hasn't met her fiance yet, so she goes to San Francisco to meet Howard and attend the wedding.

The three are supposed to go out to dinner together, but Howard has to work late. Again. Victoria is pretty upset about this, and even though Howard says they can have dinner together tomorrow, she's thinking he might have to work late again and "god knows, [she] wouldn't want to drag you away from a client!" And then she finds lipstick on his handkerchief. So, she's pretty, um, upset to put it lightly.

[Side note: why don't people carry handkerchiefs anymore? I think it was a lovely tradition, and should they ever come back in style, I'm ready and willing to embroider a couple for my husband - who I'm sure would never come home with another woman's lipstick on it!]

Of course, she confesses to Jessica that she went to visit him at work but he hasn't worked there in a month! What is Howard up to we must wonder. She thinks it might be time to spy on him, but has a moral dilemma. Should she spy if she trusts him? Yes, Jessica, says, she must for peace of mind! So they head on over to a place on the matchbook that Victoria has found.

So they go. Victoria name drops Jessica Fletcher to get a table. They are there, but something seems strange to JBF. She can't quite put her finger on it. And then Michelle Dupont comes out to sing.

But Michelle isn't exactly Michelle. Michelle isn't the woman you expect ... just as Jessica and Victoria are realizing they are at a drag club, someone is screaming, someone is running, and someone is shouting to stop him! So they do.


Yep, MSW had an episode based around a drag night club. I'm not sure how brave that was when it first aired in 1984, but I'm guessing it was an interesting choice at that time. Of course, if they really wanted to push the envelope, there might have been one gay person in the episode. Alas, not sure how that would fly in 1984.

Anyway, turns out he's not cheating on Victoria - he just has a secret job because he wanted to provide for her but he just couldn't tell her.

And oh, he didn't kill the dead guy. Despite the police thinking he did so.

Naturally, Jessica will not stand for her soon to be nephew-in-law to be accused of murder. He must be innocent. She is going to prove that Howard did not kill Mr. Drake, and the police office on the case, Novack, isn't particularly thrilled by this.

Mr. Drake is not adored by many. Or maybe no one at all. No one seems broken up over his death, so there is a lot of people for Jessica to look into.

There is Mrs. Drake - who wasn't very in love with her husband.
There is Michelle Dupont - who is Mrs. Drake's lover.
There is Freddy York, who wants to leave the club but Mr. Drake won't let him.
And Bill Patterson - Freddy's manager

Jessica questions and noses about in her usual manner, and naturally, she solves the case! Did you figure it out? Or did you get thrown off?

Speaking of figuring things out, I'm still trying to really decide how to proceed with this blog. I want to blog every episode, but want more than just a recap. I'm hoping to throw in a story from my life right now, or some fun facts, or something. I've got a few ideas floating around. Of course, today's post comes without any fun anecdotes about my life or fun facts. Good thing I don't need to be clever enough to commit a murder with JBF around, because clearly, I would fail.

Oh, I do have something to share ... I was just gifted the DVD of the MSW movies! I'm so excited. I've only ever seen most of one of them, so the three other movies will be totally new to me! Now, to blog them after I've gotten through the whole tv series, or sprinkle them in? Hmm ... it's a mystery! ;-) 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Deadly Lady

Don't look at me like that Jessica, I know my desk is messy!
Today's episode has us back in Cabot Cove ... Jessica's home town, with all her friends around here. And on tonight's episode there is something peculiar, and we mean murder peculiar!

There's a hurricane a coming ... Jessica just wants to write three more paragraphs, but then the power goes out, so she has to take a break. Her friend Ethan stops by to make sure she is okay (by the way, I love Ethan and their friendship!) Can you believe it, someone might be out in the water but no one can get to them before the storm passes!

We zoom ahead to the morning and after Jessica takes her morning jog, she finds Ralph in her yard. Ralph wants to do some work in exchange for food, because he doesn't take hand outs. Jessica, naturally because of her kindness, feeds him and tells him work to do. But, he knows that he is not actually a hobo. Her words are "you're full of clam dip!" (side note: can we make that an actual saying that people use today because I just think it's a great little zinger).

Then the phone rings and Sheriff needs Jessica's help because there might have been a murder! A boat is being towed in and it's coming in with one less person than it left with. Three daughters come in and their father has gone. He apparently fell off the boat - or did he? Because not everyone seems so torn up that daddy has fallen overboard.

Me! In a sweater I knit!
When Jessica meets one of the daughters - Nan  - Jessica notices her knit sweater and asks if she knit it herself. I love that she asked that. We'd never think to ask someone that today, would we? Not unless we knew them, and knew they were a knitter. It turns out Nan didn't knit it, but she did design it. I wished she had actually knit it. I'm a knitter. I love knitting. Like, I really love knitting. I have knit many a thing while watching some MSW!

Anyway, Jessica goes back home and her and Ralph have a tender moment. Ralph is admiring her late husband's pipe and Jessica offers it to him. Jessica tears up, and it's really sweet. And I wish I could jump through the computer and give her a hug because it's hard to lose someone whom you love so much. I haven't lost a spouse, and I imagine there's a different level of grief there. So the scene, albeit brief, is heartbreaking.

At some point, Jessica realizes that the story the daughters have told about dear old dad can't possibly be true. Maggie admits to shooting her father! How could she? They fought, over nothing that matters now, and she shot him. Her sisters come to her defense: Maggie put up with a lot and her father just wasn't very kind about it.

At this point, you know some thing's up. We're only 25ish minutes into the episode, so it just can't be that easy, can it?

Nope, the next day, the father's body is found. And would you know it? It was Ralph. Ralph was not really Ralph. He was Stephen Earl - the father.

But wait. How could Maggie have shot him several days ago when he was just at Jessica's house the day before? This is all so confusing, isn't it?

Turns out, Maggie didn't shoot him after all! The story was made up - it was just a scheme! They were trying to get one of the sister's former fiances caught because they felt he was only interested in her money. They faked the shooting/death to smoke Terry out and prove he only wanted money.

But Stephen/Ralph is dead. So who did it?

Well, you'll have to keep watching to find out. If your head is spinning right now, it's okay, just keep watching. Eventually it all makes sense! Trust me on this =)

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Murder of Sherlock Holmes

Here we are, at the beginning. The very first episode of Murder, She Wrote.

Here's where we get to meet Jessica.

She's a kind, retired-school teacher from Maine.
She has a knack for noticing details.
She's involved in the community.
She has a sweet nephew Grady.
She likes to run.
She travels by train.

And for fun, she wrote a book.
Mind you, she never meant for anyone to read the book. She wrote it for fun. But sweet, lovable Grady shared it and it got published!
Jessica is shocked, because did I mention she didn't mean for anyone to read it? Well, she didn't! You see, some people like to needlepoint, but that's not for her.

[side note: I'm a big fan of needlepoint myself. And knitting. And crocheting. And all kinds of things. But I'll forgive Jessica for not being a fan of it because she's pretty awesome].

Anyway, back to MSW, Jessica travels to the big city to make the book promotion rounds and meets Preston Giles. There's definitely a spark there - one Preston is ready to explore, but Jessica isn't quite ready.

Even though her husband Frank pass away a bit ago, it's obvious she still loves him very much (and misses him).

Poor Preston, he doesn't stand a chance. But he invites Jessica to his house for a party. There she gets to meet a slew of interesting people (Caleb McCallum - a fish guy; Louise McCallum - his wife; Peter Brill - a (off) broadway guy; Ashley Vickers - a co-worker of Grady's; Arnold - a punster) where a fun time is had by all at the party.  Well, until Grady sees someone snooping in his room and finds a private eye names Dexter Baxendale has "crashed" the party.

The next morning, they find ::gasp:: a dead body in the swimming pool!

But who is? And who did it?

Well, it's Baxendale and I can you believe it, the police think Grady did it!

The detective seems a bit on the, um, bumbling side of things. And Jess is positive that Grady is innocent. So naturally, she jumps in to work on the case.

Then the most dreaded words on a television show appear on screen:
to be continued.

Wasn't that just the worst? In the days before streaming and on demand and binge watching being common place. At least this is the first episode, and not the last of season. Because how unfair for television producers to make us wait like that for what will happen next. And it's not like in real life, right at a key point, you can just turn, look at the people around you and say You know what, let's continue this later, m'kay? Great! and then you just go on with things for a bit and continue. More than once, I would have liked to do this. I remember once my kids were mad at me - we had a rough day and one of my daughters looked at me (she was young) and said "You are now in a time out!" So I, in my motherly maturity said "Fine!" and went to my room for a few minutes. I'll let you decide how genius it was of me to do that, but it felt like the right thing to do. My little "to be continued" once I started breathing again normally and wondering how early is too early for boarding school.

And no, none of the children have been sent to boarding school. But that same child is now 16 and teases me a lot for being obsessed with MSW!

Since I'm streaming the show, I ignore that to be continue and just click play next.

And here we are. Jessica is ready to figure this murder out.

It involves some trespassing and following people.
Into a bad part of town.
I don't mean to alarm you, but a black man on the bus is giving Jessica the funny eye.
And when she gets off the bus, he follows her.
Know what happens next?
She gets jumped by two white guys!
She threatens to call the police and they joke about if a phone is in her purse - which is funny looking at it today. Today, they would have assumed she had a cell phone and stolen in.
And then the black man saves her because she's a celebrity now!

(Were they trying to make a social statement there? Were the writers trying to challenge stereotype? Was it merely a play to throw us as viewers off? I'd like to think it was the former, but I think it was probably just the latter)

This doesn't deter Jessica, although Grady and Preston wish it would. But Jessica has a lead that she isn't giving up that easily.

But wait, there's more! Another dead body discovered! 

What happens next? Well ... you'll just have to watch and find out. I'd hate to give the ending away! But rest assured, there's a plot twist coming that you probably didn't see coming. Or maybe you did. It's hard to guess sometimes with these shows because it's always the last person you'd think of, which makes them the first person you think of, and well, that can make things a bit confusing.

That aside though, I love this episode of MSW. I've watched it more times than one person should have! A perfect way to introduce us to Jessica Fletcher. Though I do sometimes wish the first episode had taken place in Cabot Cove, as that's where she lives, but then again, better to not have her first foray into helping the police being to find who murdered a friend.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

So Now What?

Just chilling with my BFF
So I've professed my love for Jessica Fletcher to you.

I've reminisced about where my love for MSW started.

I've snagged this here blog address.

Now what?

Well, ideally, I'd like to start watching the show from the beginning and blog each episode.

Oh yes. All 264 of them!

(and maybe the movies ... if I can get my hands on them)

Two a week. Minus holidays, vacations, and when life gets busy (as life is wont to do).

We totes hang out all the time!
That's three years.

If you think about it, given that the show aired for 12 years, that's really not too bad.

At least that's what I keep telling myself.

We'll see where this leads.

And yes, I'm completely open to tea with Angela Lansbury. So if you and her happen to be actual BFF's, feel free to let her know ;-) 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

With a Side of Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Black and white wedding photo
My grandparents with me on my wedding day

When I was a little girl, my mom and I lived with my grandma and grandpa for a while. This was a wonderful thing that allowed me to get quite close to my grandparents.

I have memories of grandpa at the table, reading the paper. He liked to joke with us about getting knuckle sandwiches. He liked watching the Chicago Cubs and Take Me Out to the Ballgame was a song I learned pretty early on in life.

Grandma ran an in-home daycare. When I wasn't at school, my days were spent playing outside. All of us "big kids" played outside while the babies napped. I was one of the older big kids and admittedly was pretty bossy. We played a lot of school and I was the teacher.

But at night, after dinner, after school work, I would spend most nights in the living room, watching tv. Sometimes we watched sports - when grandpa had control - but mostly, I remember grandma being in charge of what we watched. We would watch tv and many a nights, we'd enjoy a bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream.

And this is where I first watched Murder, She Wrote.

I'm positive most of the show went over my head. But I knew that Jessica was a really smart person. And she had been a teacher before being a writer and so I instantly liked her.

Honestly, I think I liked being "big" enough to sit with grandma, watch the show, and enjoy a nice bowl of ice cream. It made me feel like a grown up, which is a pretty wonderful feeling when you're a young child.
Great grandma meets her great grandchild
Grandma holding my middle child

When my oldest was very little, we lived on a pretty tight budget. We lived simply - before the time of cell phones that did a million things, when digital cameras were only owned by a select few, and we didn't pay for cable.

I was still in college, and so I did a lot of studying between being a mom. One day I was flipping through the tv trying to find something to watch. It was daytime and so the pickings were pretty slim. Somehow I stumbled on reruns of MSW. Instantly, I remembered watching tv with grandma and the memories were so wonderful, I just decided to watch it and I became hooked.

I tried to catch it most days - but eventually we lost the channel that aired it.

A few years later, cable became a thing and I was delighted to see that it was still being played on a regular basis and I was pleased.

Fast forward some more time, and when I learned that Netflix had all the seasons of MSW? I was thrilled! MSW whenever I wanted to? I could sit and have my own marathon of the show and not wait for the one weekend or so that Hallmark channel used to run it's marathon.

Every few years, I try to re-watch every episode of MSW.

I love Jessica. I love MSW. I love the show.

I've joked for a while now that I was going to start my own MSW blog. But why just joke about it? Why not actually just do it?

So here we are.

Angela Lansbury gives a thumbs up
I give this idea a thumb's up!
JBF is my BFF. Because she kind of is! I love Jessica. She's a smart, intelligent woman. She has many talents. But mostly, it's a lovely show that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Yes, I know Jessica is a fictional character.
Yes, I know it's all pretend.

But Angela Lansbury does such a good job of bringing her to life. {spoiler alert: I'm in love with Angela Lansbury too! If I could have her over for tea, I think I might die of excitement. Another intelligent, talented, strong woman ... I think it's why she does such a great job of being Jessica).

Anyway, all of this to say, I really love Muder, She Wrote.