Murder, She Wrote – The Complete Second Season
Sound: C+ Extras: D Episodes: B-
As a sort of safer, gentler variant of earlier hit
Universal Television detective shows like Columbo, McCloud, Banacek
and McMillan & Wife, Murder, She Wrote became an instant hit
(and one of the only hits) of the 1984 – 1985 season. It was one last hurrah for the creative team of Richard Levinson
& William Link, who had been masters of the Detective/Thriller genre on
both the small and big screen. Yes, it
was safer than its predecessors and purposely so, but it is not always given
credit for inspiring a new series of such Detective shows that some people
dubbed “fuddy duddy television” like Matlock, Jake & the Fatman
and Diagnosis Murder. Longtime stage
and big screen veteran Angela Lansbury was suddenly a household name after
decades and found herself on a whole new career high.
The Complete Second Season offers
the show still in its prime as it was with all 22 hour-long episodes in
tow. Lansbury used to say the fans
watched because it was like the Sunday crossword puzzle and the show was a hit
long beyond its abrupt cancellation for no good reason many seasons later. It went out a hit and these shows in the
sophomore year as much as any were critical in setting the show up for
success. Guest stars this season
included semi-regular Tom Bosley, Cyd Charisse, Mackenzie Phillips, June
Lockhart, Roddy McDowall, Glynis Johns, Lee Meriwether, Norman Fell, Adrian Barbeau,
Yvonne De Carlo, Connie Stevens, Vicki Lawrence, Donna Pescow, Dick Van Patten,
Jerry Orbach, Vic Tayback, Karen Black and Linda Hamilton. Like a Love Boat of murder,
viewers tuned in every week to see likable, talented stars fall to their death
or be murderers, instead of falling in love.
Some of the shows success was darker than it ever got credit for being.
The 1.33 X 1 image was shot on film and is slightly soft
here throughout all the shows in this set, though this was never the sharpest
show visually to begin with. That being
said, these transfers barely miss a lower rating. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is fine for its age and is among the
last seasons of any show to be monophonic.
There are no extras despite what a hit the show was or the availability
of all the participants. Hope we see
something on later sets.
- Nicholas Sheffo