In “Hooray for Homicide,” Jessica is surprised and mortified to find out one of her books is being turned into a trashy horror movie.
She visits the set of the film to persuade the movie’s much-loathed producer Jerry Lyndecker (John Saxon) to cancel the film or make it match the book. Lyndecker refuses and Jessica has an attorney pull her original contact only to find out Lyndecker is sleezy but within his rights. Rather than going home, tail between her legs as most people would, Jessica goes to the studio to apologize only to find Lyndecker dead and herself a prime suspect.
This is a solid plot. The idea of the proper Jessica Fletcher having her novel turned into a typical horror movie gives her all the motivation she needs, and provides great comedic moments as well. It’s also a cautionary tale for writers about making sure their rights are in order.
The episode also takes some digs at Hollywood of the 1980s, many of which would apply just as much today. Jessica has a lot of foils to battle on the set in search for truth and its marvelous to watch her battle through them.
Lieutenant Mike Hernandez (Jose Perez) is a different sort of character. The short, disheveled, unassuming detective reminds me of Lieutenant Columbo, only if Columbo’s goal was to get someone else to solve the case. His belief only Jessica can solve the case is not realistic, but based on the way the character’s written is quite believable.
Hernandez makes Jessica go downtown but doesn’t book her. After that she’s banned from the studio as a disruptive influence but manages to sneak back in by just putting on a hat and disguising herself as an elderly tourist. It’s an idea that makes sense while also being humorous.
The episode features a great chase scene with Jessica pursuing a man who broke into a trailer. However, the denouement is unusual, with Jessica providing a subdued and compassionate confrontation of the killer.
It should also be noted that Hollywood legend Virginia Mayo makes an appearance, which is a big highlight for fans of classic motion pictures.
What Doesn’t Work:
Jessica gets her entertainment lawyer to help her with the investigation by telling him he’ll have to defend her in a murder trial and him acquiescing instead of saying, “Well actually, I’ll have to refer you to a criminal lawyer.”
Basically, Jessica’s threat is that if she’s not able to clear herself, she’ll hobble her own defense by having someone completely out of their depth represent her. That’s just a bit too silly.
We get a good solid plot to bring Jessica Hollywood, a great mystery for her to solve, and a lovely list of suspects. The show offers a small dose of social commentary on the entertainment industry that fits just right for Murder She Wrote. This one is my favorite episode so far.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
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