‘Murder, She Wrote’ was, for a time, a common subject for memes on the internet. Most of them revolved around the ‘Jessica Fletcher’ is a plague of death that descends upon towns and cities; an apt commentary on the subject, I might add. I’ve been rewatching a lot of the series over the last few weeks (God bless daytime TV). It’s not exactly dire; if you only ever watched one episode you would think it fun. Two episodes; okay entertainment. More than three in one week? Well, it’s a bit of a weird show, really.
Everyone makes fun of William Shatner’s shirt-ripping in ‘Star Trek;’ I say lets make fun of the fact that Angela Lansbury’s character must always end each show laughing or smiling, despite the death(s) of those around her. Without fail a silly joke will be made and people will break into large smiles, even if they were recently widowed or they have found out that their partner was a murdering bastard. It’s a sloppy conceit; an appropiate wisecrack every so often is a natural reaction to death but Jessica Fletcher just doesn’t seem fazed by death at all. She is the nice Miss Marple; so nice that the stain of death does not touch her. She never seems troubled by the fact that wherever she goes people die or that the friends she makes are often not only victims but purpatrators of terrible crimes.
Still, all of this is the symptons of a show that ran too long. ‘Murder, She Wrote’ only ever had one plot device; every episode someone must die and Jessica Fletcher (ignoring the season where she only guest-starred in here own show) must solve the crime. You can only do so much with murder and with no plot-arc or want to sustain a change in personality every episode must be treated as the first one an audience member might see. It is a show with limited value; decreasing returns to the viewer each and every episode.
Yet I keep on watching it.