In “Lovers and Other Killers,” Jessica travels to Seattle as a guest lecturer at an University. While there she hires a young man named David Tolliver (Andrew Stevens) as her secretary to help her keep up with her writing. When Tolliver is accused of murdering an elderly woman, Jessica takes an interest in the case.
One recurring thing done in Television shows, movies, and comics of the area is that someone is that a man is looking for a Doctor, a scientist, or other important person and is given either their title and last name and initials and last name. They go to meet them and gasp (dramatic music)it’s a woman. Given that this trope is used so often, it’s interesting to see it reversed as Jessica is confused and a bit uncomfortable at a man applying to be her secretary.
I really enjoy Andrew Stevens as Tolliver. He plays the character just right. He’s got good looks and a certain amount of charm, but you also have a sense that this guy is bad news. He professes a lack of interest in women his own age, saying he prefers older women. His receipt of gifts and money from the woman who was killed are consistent with that of a gigolo, but he insists it was her way of making it up to him for causing a car accident. However, he also has a bit of a liar, so you can’t take that too seriously.
Jessica has mixed feelings on Tolliver. On one hand, she appreciates, his efficiency and seems to like him. On the other, she’s clearly uncomfortable at how familiar he gets with her. She arrives from a morning appointment to find him in her hotel room and tells him never to do that again. He does it later in the episode and claims to have forgotten.
However, Jessica continues to maintain that despite David being a conman, he’s not a killer. Yet, we’re given reason to doubt throughout. Is David really attracted to Jessica or is he a predator that she’s well-rid of? The answer is never spelled out in black and white, even by the time the episode ends.
Peter Graves put in a typically solid performance as an old flame of Jessica’s who’s now a college professor who is clueless that his long-time secretary is in love with him.
I also liked Jessica’s first lecture session as we got to see a little bit of Angela Lansbury’s acting versatility.
The plot is well-done with a lot of twists and mis-directions and a genuinely surprising reveal of the culprit. Jessica also faces more peril in this episode than in any other this season.
When Jessica picked up at the airport she by Grave’s character, she’s hold a baby which she hands off to two nuns from China. Had nothing to do with the episode, but my wife pointed out. there’s a major story there.
The title of the episode is a play on the 1970 comedy film Lovers and Other Strangers, though nothing in the plot of that film seems to tie into this one.
A very good episode. While the police foil isn’t great, there’s a bit of life in Greg Morris’ portrayal of Lieutenant Andrews. He’s mostly functional but that’s an upgrade over the unnamed Sheriff from last week.
And that functional performance is more than enough with a great mystery and solid work by Andrew Stevens and Peter Graves.
Rating:4.5 out of 5
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