Murder She Wrote (1984)

Thirty-five years ago today, the television show Murder She Wrote premiered on CBS and quickly became every grandparent’s favorite Sunday night show. For good reason, it is awesome. It is still awesome. I love the memes that are all over the internet and how there are fan theories that Jessica Fletcher was actually the most successful serial killer of all times. Also, you should stay out of Cabot Cove, it has a higher murder rate than Honduras.

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Created by: Peter S. Fischer, Richard Levinson, William Link
Starring: Angela Lansbury, William Windom, Tom Bosley, Ron Masak, Louis Herthum, Michael Horton
Theme music composer: John Addison
No. of seasons: 12
No. of episodes: 264 (+ 4 TV movies)
Executive producer: Angela Lansbury (1992–96), Peter S. Fischer (1984–1991), Richard Levinson, William Link, David Moessinger (1991–92)
Running time: 48 minutes
Production companies: Universal Television, Corymore Productions (1992–1996)(seasons 9–12)
Distributor: NBCUniversal Television Distribution
Original network: CBS
Picture format: 35mm film
Original release: September 30, 1984 – May 19, 1996

The show revolves around the day-to-day life of Jessica Fletcher, a childless, widowed, retired English teacher who becomes a successful mystery writer. Despite fame and fortune, Jessica remains a resident of Cabot Cove, a small coastal community in Maine, and maintains her links with all of her old friends, never letting her success go to her head. Exterior shots of Cabot Cove were filmed in Mendocino, California. The fictional “Cabot Cove” name for the series’ coastal town was derived from the name of an actual bay harbor inlet in Kennebunkport, Maine, located near the town’s center, on the road where motels and lobster shack dives are located.

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The show mostly starts with a preview of the episode’s events, with Jessica stating: “Tonight on Murder, She Wrote…” Jessica invariably proves more perceptive than the official investigators of a case, who are almost always willing to arrest the most likely suspect. By carefully piecing the clues together and asking astute questions, she always manages to trap the real murderer. Murder occurred with such regularity in her vicinity that the term “Cabot Cove syndrome” was coined to describe the constant appearance of dead bodies in remote locations. Indeed, if Cabot Cove existed in real life, it would top the FBI’s national crime statistics in numerous categories, with some analysis suggesting that the homicide rate in Cabot Cove exceeds even that of the real-life murder capital of the world.

Jessica’s relationship with law enforcement officials varies from place to place. Both sheriffs of Cabot Cove resign themselves to having her meddle in their cases. However, most detectives and police officers do not want her anywhere near their crime scenes, until her accurate deductions convince them to listen to her. Some are happy to have her assistance from the start, often because they are fans of her books. With time, she makes friends in many police departments across the U.S., as well as with a British police officer attached to Scotland Yard. At the start of season eight, more of the stories were set in New York City with Jessica moving into an apartment there part-time in order to teach criminology.

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