So I am officially done with trying to excuse that I have exclusively picked Cabot Cove episodes thus far when reviewing this show. I like them. I wish there were more of them. I digress.
Obituary for a Dead Anchor was episode 9 of season 3 of Murder, She Wrote. It starts with a clip from an investigative journalism show, in which an anchor, Kevin Keats, confronts a man about his potential drug dealing. We see the accused man threaten the TV when the first part airs. Flash forward, and the people involved with the show are all talking about the death threats that Kevin has been getting. Kevin will no longer be doing a follow-up and instead will be taking over a piece on Cabot Cove and Jessica Fletcher from his partner Paula Roman.
– I have to note that at this point, I already realized that this episode might get a bit overwhelming. We have Kevin and his several coworkers and the man who threatened Kevin and his enforcer, and we are still basically in the introduction to the episode. –
Meanwhile, the town is delighted to have the show come, and everybody is seen trying to fix up their businesses and put on their best faces. The only naysayers are Seth, who is gone for the episode, and Wylie, a doctor who works with Seth, who is sadly only in a handful of episodes (I liked both the character and the actor, so I was disappointed that he didn’t show up more). Jessica finds out about the change in plans and is disappointed because she has a personal relationship with Paula and doesn’t trust Kevin due to his reputation. At one point, he shows that she is right to be wary and attempts to hardball Jessica and insults Cabot Cove, she rejects it, and he apologizes.
Sheriff Tupper, at this time, sees a helicopter land and a “big ugly man” (rude) get off. He rushes to town, interrupts the interview, and tells Jessica. Kevin is actually more interested in this information than Jessica, however, and worriedly asks for Tupper to help rent him a boat. The next morning Kevin gets on the boat, and it explodes with both Tupper and the “ugly man” watching.
People swarm the town, Cabot Cove starts getting represented horribly in the news, and Jessica is told she needs to solve the case and get everybody gone. The two co-anchors of Kevin’s show up while the producers are missing. Also in town is Kevin’s wife, who is going through a rather difficult divorce from him, and the “ugly man” is identified as the enforcer that Kevin was afraid of. Lots of suspects, lots of drama. Oh, then it ends up not being Kevin.
Yep, turns out the victim only has eight toes, and the missing two were surgically removed a long time ago. Kevin turns back up, lays out a weird and convoluted plan he made with his friend and producer to sneak away to try to talk to somebody who said he could help Kevin with the threats against him, only for the boat to blow up and him to panic.
Honestly, the plot in this episode, if you haven’t gathered already, is a little messy. I won’t give much more in the way of details to avoid even more spoilers, but you can see already from what I’ve laid out that it’s a bit of a roller-coaster. The biggest issue is there are a lot of characters thrown at you, but only briefly before they become main characters. I actually forgot the victim the first time I watched this episode and had to rewind and watch the start. It also doesn’t help that people come in and out rapidly. Kevin is the one we are focused on, then he’s dead, then he’s suddenly back, and somebody else is the victim, then there is another producer, etc., etc.
This episode can be hard to follow, especially if you are going to make any attempt to try to solve the mystery alongside Jessica. And yet…
I still really love it. As I said, Wylie is a cool character, and his interactions with Jessica are enjoyable. He has a lot of the same traits as Seth, town grump, but with much softer edges. I liked their interplay, and while I adore Seth, it was nice to see Jessica with somebody else for the bulk of the episode. Tupper is always a treat as well, Metzger was a good character, but I have a soft spot for Tupper, which is only increased by my love for Tom Bosley. We get a good Tupper being a goofball moment (when he interrupts the interview), but when it comes to the few moments he is actually helping Jessica investigate it, he’s in rare form and pretty spot on, which is amusing in its own way for fans of the show.
I also really love watching the characters go from excitement over the show coming to town to somehow blaming Jessica for everything. Murder, She Wrote, did an excellent job depicting a certain kind of small-town that I think many audience members can relate to. There is a lot of kindness and that small-town feel on the surface, but there is always more bubbling underneath. Some episodes show it via gossip or even having the victims be from Cabot Cove. This one did more in the way that people interact with Jessica before and after the murder.
It is not the best or funniest Cabot Cove episode, but it is enjoyable. I liked who the killer ended up being, but the way he found out about the plan still bothers me. In fact, this is one of my lowest episodes if I had to be totally blunt. Too much is introduced at once without reminders later in the episode; again, I completely forgot the victim was even introduced, and several plotlines go nowhere, so it almost seems like they could have been skipped to allow others more room to be fleshed out.
However, it is still well-acted, is engaging, and honestly, my least favorite episodes of this show are still pretty darn enjoyable. If you are doing a watch of the show, I wouldn’t put this one on the top of the list, but it is worth it, especially if you want to focus on the Cabot Cove episodes.