‘Murder She Wrote’ needs no introduction, but just to recap for anyone who’s been meditating in a cave for the last thirty years: it was a smash hit ‘whodunnit’ TV show that ran for 12 years through the 80s and 90s; 12 series and 264 episodes, syndicated all over the world, making a Angela Lansbury a household name.
Its popularity is easy to reason: an instant classic upbeat theme tune, a simple, neat formula repeated every week of: set up/murder/solution; a regular supporting cast and the familiarity/homeliness of the small town, Cabot Cove and its residents; the classy, clever, friendly, female lead in the sleuthing mystery novelist Jessica Fletcher, and a lighthearted, wholesome script and gentle humour the whole family could enjoy, despite the main theme being of course, murder.
The show’s short lived showing on Netflix a few years ago brought a swathe of younger viewers, either revisiting their childhood family favourite, or introduced to it for the first time, bringing the show a second-wave of popularity among millennials, thanks to the now kitsch 80s fashion and styling. Angela Lansbury’s wonderful expressionistic ‘meme-worthy’ face also endeared itself to the social media savvy generation.
The episodes are packed with now-famous stars in cameo appearances, which makes it a fun watch. Look out for the likes of a young George Clooney, Billy Zane, Courtney Cox, Bill Mayer (x2), Megan Mullally, Bryan Cranston, that kid from ‘Big’, and that other guy from that thing x 200.
There’s a fair bit of unintentional humour to the show now it’s 30+ years old – my personal favourite: the use of location shots with obvious JB Fletcher body doubles – which all adds to the naive charm and the nostalgia factor, making it the perfect duvet-day viewing. It’s the anthesis and antidote to the kind of hyper-real, brutally violent TV shows that are now the norm, which have seemingly desensitised viewers to escalating violence on TV for the past 10 years or so. It’s nice to have a reminder of these more innocent times.
I’ve been a fan of the show from its first outing on British TV all those years ago and watching reruns is just a pleasure, not even a guilty one, but what’s all this got to do with Buddhism?
Well, I’m currently studying Lama Shenpen Hookham’s Living the Awakened Heart training within the Awakened Heart Sangha. Due to my studies and practice I’ve been reading more about Bodhisattvas ahead of taking the Bodhisattva Vow myself with Lama Shenpen later this year, when it occurred to me whilst watching an episode of the show: Jessica Fletcher is a Bodhisattva!