From around the mid-70s to the early 90s, one of the hottest genres in TV was murder/mystery detective fiction. While there were shows featuring the police solving crimes, a great many of them focused on private investigators and amateur sleuths. I’m surprised that as a little kid I didn’t think that every adult solved crimes in their spare time. It was almost all you would see once you flipped on the boob tube, and before you say I’m being hyperbolic please remember that this was the era of TV gave us a show about crime-solving priest who was assisted by a streetwise nun nicknamed “Steve.”
Father Dowling Mysteries, yes this was an actual thing.
One of the staples of this genre, of the entire TV era really, was the critically acclaimed CBS juggernaut Murder, She Wrote, staring Angela Lansbury as a retired English teacher turned novelist and sleuth Jessica “JB” Fletcher and ran for 264 episodes over 12 seasons and then had 4 TV movies after that. The show enjoys an avid fan base to this day and it seems NBC wants capitalize on the name as they plan to give the show a fresh reboot.
The new show will star Oscar winner, Octavia Spencer (The Help) as a hospital administrator who just has self-published her first novel, and who of course can’t help but poke her nose into things and help the police solve crimes. Alexandra Cunningham, a former writer and producer for the ABC series Desperate Housewives will be putting her pen back to work writing for the new series and will co-executive produce with David Janollari. Both Spencer and Cunningham consider themselves “crime buffs” and fans of the classic series “To get the chance to reimagine Murder, She Wrote for a dynamic and multi-faceted actress like Octavia is a thrill and a pleasure.” said Cunningham . Angela Lansbury supposedly has been approached to make an appearance but there is no word yet if she will appear.
While I didn’t watch Murder, She Wrote often as a kid (I’m more of a Simon & Simon, Colombo, and Magnum P.I. sort of guy), I do have a lot of respect for the series and for Angela Lansbury. However, despite the pedigree of the creative people behind this new series, I can’t help but feel this project is a little cheap and just trying to cash in on a popular name. Murder, She Wrote is an iconic series with an iconic actress and it should stand on its own. Let these new creators make their own show with its own name, it should be good enough to live or die under its own banner. I do hope the new show is good and does well, but if it survives and thrives it will be because of its own merit, not the name they unnecessarily tacked onto it.
Remember that we want to hear from you, are you going to watch the new Murder, She Wrote? Let us know in the comments below, and while you’re at it why don’t you let us know who some of your favorite TV detectives are as well.