Created by Peter S. Fischer, Richard Levinson, William Link
Starring Angela Lansbury, Tom Bosley, Michael Horton
- All twenty-one first season episodes plus the pilot movie
Released by: Universal.
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.
My Advice: Fans should consider it.
I won’t go so far as to say that Jessica Fletcher (Lansbury) was a reluctant author, but she liked a simple life and wouldn’t even have gotten published without a manuscript of hers getting turned in without her knowledge. At a costume party after her big introduction into the world of publishing, a guy dressed up as Sherlock Holmes winds up taking the celestial dirt nap. It’s up to Jessica to figure out whodunit. And then she keeps on figuring out whodunit for over a decade.
[ad#longpost]When I was growing up, this was always the mystery show that just happened to have the woman from Bedknobs & Broomsticks in it. It was the kind of thing that would just be playing on the television when you walked through the room, but I don’t recall ever sitting down and watching an episode straight through. But after watching them now, I find that the series is comforting in its familiarity. Starting an episode of this series is like walking into McDonald’s in a strange city. With few exceptions, there’s going to be nothing out of the ordinary awaiting you.
I think what makes the series is the fact that, well, it’s Angela Lansbury. This isn’t gruff Peter Falk, or snooty David Suchet…it’s just…Angela Lansbury. Now, granted, most people weren’t aware of Sweeney Todd when this hit, or maybe they, ah, would have had issues with the sweet Jessica Fletcher. But she’s just so…nice, that her stumbling into mystery after mystery is something the audience can just go along with.
All you get on the set is the pilot movie and the first twenty-one episodes. An impressive side note is the guest stars that the first season had: Martin Landau, Milton Berle, Jerry Orbach, Joaquin Phoenix, Andy Garcia, Leslie Nielsen, Peter Graves, Brian Keith, Richard Hatch, and a slew more. It’s a shame that, for a series that ran twelve seasons, we don’t have something in the way of bonus bits. Even an interview with Lansbury would be very helpful, not to mention a commentary or a making-of featurette. Granted, we’ve got eleven sets to go, but if this set is any indication, don’t hold your breath for bonuses.
Because of its no frills nature, this boxed set is probably best saved for the hardcore fan of the show. If you really do need a fix of the show (and it must be getting re-aired somewhere) and you need it immediately, you’re cleared to rent it.