Murder, She Wrote: We're Off to Kill the Wizard   Rewatch 
September 10, 2014 9:18 AM - Season 1, Episode 9 - Subscribe

When Jessica visits her Kansas relatives, her niece Carol Donovan and her husband, police detective Lieutenant Bert Donovan, she is invited by theme park magnate "Horrible" Horatio Baldwin to discuss the potential for another horror theme park, based on the works of JB Fletcher. Jess firmly turns down his project, but Horatio says he'll get her to change her mind. Shortly after, Horatio is found dead in his office, which is locked ... from the inside. Was it a suicide, or a tricky bit of misdirection?

Erica Baldwin, now a four-time widow (and America's wealthiest widow, to boot), hires Jessica (at gunpoint!) to prove it was murder so the life-insurance can be cleared. Almost everybody had some reason to hate Horatio, who was a terrible boss and unscrupulous in his business practices. Jessica soon finds out how the killer got in and out while stealing Horatio's secret files and more, but not before there is another murder that is apparently related to the first. Whodunit?
posted by filthy light thief (4 comments total)
There goes Jessica and her encyclopedic knowledge of telephone PBX's.
posted by Monochrome at 11:23 AM on September 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

And bicycle repairs, showing of Jessica as a down-to-earth, DIY type of lady, compared to (technology alert) Mr. Car Phone, "Come Meet My Employer Who I Won't Name At First," Mr. "Horrible" Horatio Baldwin.

Running thoughts on the episode:
  1. Jessica: "A good guest is like Halley's Comet; seen and enjoyed seldom and briefly.
  2. ... meanwhile, in mideval England...
  3. Niece's kid: "Oh boy, a real hanging!"
  4. Horatio in costume: "I meant no harm! I only meant to titillate you! Is there no one here who will come to my aid?" And then the brave Sir Knight swings down to hug it out with the hangman.
  5. The kid again, when Horatio hangs: "Wow, what a gross-out" (which sounds so very 80s)
  6. Jessica to Horatio: "How could I refuse? I had two loaded children pointed at my head"
  7. "It's my name, Nils (Fuckin') Highlander, on those permits" (Highlander? Really?)
  8. The creepiest bit of dialog in this episode:
    Jessica: Mr. Baldwin, have you lured me here to offer me some sort of job? Horatio: Please, Mrs. Fletcher, permit me the seduction before you cry rape. (WTF?!?) Come in, please. Miss Bascomb, please see that Mrs. Fletcher and I are not disturbed. (SERIOUSLY, you aren't helping the scene get any less creepy)
  9. In turn, Jessica's power play of making Horatio wait while she signed the secretary's book (where we see Jessica's second title, Dirge for a Dead Dachshund, but it's not mentioned in the dialog) seems like some retribution, but he casually mentioned rape, WTF.
  10. At first I thought that Phil's turtleneck was a prop to make him seem more like an architect, but then it turns out that is not (completely) the case
  11. But to make up for the casual rape comment, there's this charming bit of discussion on the moral grounds for making money off of make-believe murders:
    Horatio: This can't miss. Horatio Baldwin presents J. B. Fletcher's Mansion of Murder and Mayhem. A panoply of blood and gore, chills and thrills, the screaming meemies in three octaves. The kids'll love it. Jessica: The kids? Horatio: Well, who do you think pays to see this stuff? Don't you go to the movies? Jessica: When Cary Grant bowed out, so did I. Horatio: Violence. That's what pays, Mrs. Fletcher. That's money in the bank. Jessica: No. That's disgraceful. Horatio: Oh, come, come, dear lady. Why this moral outrage? I've read your books. We're in the same business. Jessica: No, Mr. Baldwin. I write for people who read. (Zing!) You apparently stage your bloodbaths for tots who have not yet learned to differentiate between your sordid charades and the real world. There's quite a difference. Horatio: I'm not used to being refused. Jessica: Well, they do say a new experience broadens the mind.
    And then he locks Jessica in with him, first displaying the push-button lock that locks from the inside of Horatio's office.
  12. Mickey's Special Brand of research (should be a kind of alcohol, or something of the sort)
  13. The security guys know the bolt is small bit of metal in the top of the door, right? Why hack open the whole door? Because then everyone can walk through the door for the rest of the episode.
  14. Jess is never one to wear out her welcome, she'll make you dinner if she stays too long
  15. These detectives' thoughts on what isn't possible is rather limited. (Really, couldn't someone trigger the locking door from the outside, if it's rigged to lock from the inside? WIRING, people!)
  16. Nils programmed his phone to forward his calls ... to this particular amusement? I guess they were having issues with it, so they might spend some time there.
  17. Madam Dracula and the sleezebag(s) would make a great band name
  18. Beneath the Santa Claus smile beat the heart of a sewer rat (poor sewer rats, they only live there because they're hunted everywhere else)
  19. Oh, 1980s airport courtesy and security... oh, wait! The skycabbie is in on the armed kidnapping of World Famous JB?
  20. Jessica: "Well, I'll accompany you, but not because you're holding a gun on me, but because my-my curiosity is aroused."
  21. For fast service, Al Chiapperino Cab Co. (who is/was he?)
  22. Nils, head contractor and exterior designer
  23. Mr. clothes model and airport cop make me want to start a Tumblr of MSW screencaps.
  24. Stupid cab, get out of my way, I'm trying to get away from here!
  25. Does it look more causal if you're traveling with a suitcase of loose bills (compared to counted stacks)?
  26. Lt. Bert Donovan: Sure, go take care of your cat, you're not really a flight concern
  27. Oh, the old cat on the balcony trick (did Mickey even own a cat?)
  28. I think I found where Tommy Wiseau got his scripting ideas: the most awkward introduction of romance that goes nowhere:
    Carol: Morning. Bert: Mmm, you're sexy at this hour of the morning. Carol: You finally noticed. Bert: You want some coffee? I'll get it. Carol: So what happened? Did Gardner really kill himself? Maybe somebody helped him over the ledge. Bert: There's no way to tell.
  29. Jessica: "Look Bert, would you stop treating me as if ... (interfering in a murder investigation by visiting the crime scene and questioning people by yourself, without informing the police?) I'm Well, all right, I'm Well, I'm leaving."
  30. Jessica knows phone wiring and circuitry, and can identify a cut ringer wire at a glance
  31. What's that in the foggy garden/forest? Oh, just an electric chair, NBD.
  32. Jessica to Phil: "But I don't have to tell you about call forwarding, do I?" and "Guns, guns, that's all you people know."
  33. Ha! Trick mirrors! Jess, you crafty fox, you.
  34. The key to the mystery? The phone that wouldn't ring (such a Noir line, so good)
  35. Bert: "Jess, are you sure you don't want to explain this?" Jess: "Oh, don't be silly. You're the policeman."
  36. Oh hey guys, that statue is foam! It's not a fatal feature at all! Totally kid-friendly.
  37. Good thing Horatio's door is thick, or the security guards would have heard Phil calling from inside the office ... dun dun DUN!
  38. Apparently Halley's comet comes but once a year, because that's when Jessica is coming back.

posted by filthy light thief at 1:14 PM on September 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Jessica just happens to show up when there's a murder? Coincidence? Noooo, she is the most clever serial killer ever!
posted by sammyo at 4:56 PM on September 10, 2014

The niece's kid is Joaquin Phoenix! And the little girl is Summer.
posted by mochapickle at 11:36 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

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