MURDER, SHE WROTE: THE DEAD FILE (TV)

Summary

One in this murder mystery series about an unassuming Maine mystery writer turned sleuth named Jessica B. Fletcher who uses her professional insight to help solve real-life homicide cases.

In this episode, Jessica returns to New York from Cabot Cove and learns that a character possibly based on her, "Jessica Fox," has appeared in a weekly comic strip drawn by Stan Hatter. Elsewhere, Stan hears from his assistant Teddy that P.I. Jerry Bozell is still watching him. Jerry reports back to Dayton Whiting, a rival cartoonist, who tell him to "create results" if he must. A cop, Lt. Peter DiMartini, visits Jessica and angrily states that he is depicted in the cartoon as well, accused by "Jessica Fox" of stealing evidence, but Jessica swears that she was not involved in the drawing's creation. Stan barges into his editor Paige's office and declares that he did not actually draw the cartoon in question and threatens to quit. Paige considers that Teddy could replace him. A wealthy "buyout artist," Roger Melton, also takes offense to the comic's unflattering portrayal of him, and Russell tells Jessica that she and Stan may be sued for millions of dollars for libel.

Jessica visits Stan, who assures her that he is being framed and will handle the situation without causing her further trouble. Lt. DiMartini receives an anonymous note demanding $250,000 to hold back the next scandalous cartoon and accuses Jessica of sending it, though she believes Stan to be behind it all. Stan, however, points out the small differences between his real work and the recent drawings, supported by Teddy and his letterer, Ben Watanabe. Roger threatens Jessica, Stan, and Paige with financial ruin, but Jessica calms everyone down and asks Stan about his enemies, which he admits are numerous; she guesses that Dayton may be the culprit. Jessica meets with Dayton, who assures her that the "Machiavellian" plot is all Stan's idea, though Jessica doubts that he would betray his characters in such a manner. Jessica then learns that Ben is dead, having apparently committed suicide by jumping from the office roof. She suggests that it may have been murder, much to Sergeant Martha Redstone's exasperation. Elsewhere, Roger gives Dayton his requested $10,000 to complete his investigation against Stan, and Dayton finally pays Jerry his fee and then dismisses him. Lt. DiMartini tells Sgt. Redstone that he is determined to solve the case and clear his name of the original evidence-theft charge, and she grudgingly admits that Ben's death was determined not to be suicide after all.

Jessica and Lt. DiMartini confront Jerry, but he swears that he is innocent and is in fact fleeing town to escape the real blackmailer/killer. Dayton admits that he hired Jerry to dig up dirt on Stan as revenge for stealing his cartoon, but points out that they have very different artistic styles and that he is not the forger. Jessica then notices that a plant in the studio has been moved and finds a bloodied glove beneath it. Though no other DNA is found on it, she places a call to Stan and Teddy is soon revealed to be the killer. He admits that Dayton hired him to mimic Stan's style for the offensive comics and allowed him to keep part of the blackmail money, adding that Stan has always paid little and treated him poorly. He states that he accidentally killed Ben and then staged his suicide when Ben caught him creating the fake drawings. Jessica notes that they tricked him into incriminating himself. His name cleared, Stan departs to finish his latest cartoons and bids farewell to Jessica. Commercials deleted.

Details

  • NETWORK: CBS
  • DATE: 1992 8:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 0:47:21
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: B:46290
  • GENRE: Drama, mystery/suspense
  • SUBJECT HEADING: Drama, mystery/suspense; LGBTQ+ Collection - Drama; Writers
  • SERIES RUN: CBS - TV series, 1984-1996
  • COMMERCIALS: N/A

CREDITS

  • Angela Lansbury … Executive Producer
  • Al Kraus … Coordinating Producer
  • Bruce Lansbury … Supervising Producer
  • Mark A. Burley … Supervising Producer
  • Robert E. Swanson … Supervising Producer
  • J. Michael Straczynski … Producer
  • Todd London … Co-Producer
  • Anthony Shaw … Director
  • Peter S. Fischer … Created by
  • Richard Levinson … Created by
  • William Link … Created by
  • Tom Sawyer … Writer
  • Jonathan Tunick … Music by
  • John Addison … Theme Music by
  • Angela Lansbury … Cast, Jessica Fletcher
  • Diana Bellamy … Cast, Paige Kindle
  • Harvey Fierstein … Cast, Stan Hatter
  • George Furth … Cast, Jerry Bozell
  • Robin Gammell … Cast, Roger Melton
  • Kris Kamm … Cast, Teddy Graves
  • Susan Kellermann … Cast, Sergeant Martha Redstone
  • Patrick MacNee … Cast, Dayton Whiting
  • Jon Polito … Cast, Lieutenant Peter DiMartini
  • Mark Roberts … Cast, Russell Yorke
  • Rodney Kageyama … Cast, Ben Watanabe
  • Jon Apicella … Cast, Sid
  • Mark Eric Howell … Cast, Waiter
  • David Ault … Cast, Policeman
  • Neal Kaz … Cast, Van Driver
  • Mell Lazarus … Cast, Cartoonist
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