"Murder, She Wrote" Sudden Death (TV Episode 1985) Poster

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"Those Team Stockholders Run this Town. By Night They Vote the Goal Post Down. We Will Have These Murders to Remember."
WeatherViolet1 March 2010
Happy Valley lies in an unidentified U.S. state (but it contains a nightclub with a sunken hot tub, which rules out quite a few state possibilities) and is home to the Leopards Professional Football Team (which probably rules out a few other states).

When her dear Uncle Cyrus passes, Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) attends his memorial services, at which she encounters Attorney Brad Lockwood (David Doyle), who represents his estate, for which Uncle Cyrus has appointed Jessica Executor and sole beneficiary of his holdings in Jackdown Corporation.

Jackdown Corporation serves as the holding company for the Leopards Football Team, of which Shareholder Phil Kreuger (Allan Miller) controls 48% of its stock, and a conglomerate of investors another 48%, whereas Uncle Cyrus leaves Jessica the remaining four percent, for which either side bargains, but she intends to remain in Happy Valley to decide for herself how to handle matters.

Phil Kreuger's Assistant, Web McCord (John Beck), joins in with negotiations with Phil and Attorney Lockwood, Leopards' Coach Pat Patillo (Warren Berlinger) and Trainer Grover Dillon (James McEachin), when Jessica arrives to scrutinize the playing field.

While Phil Kreuger attempts to purchase Jessica's shares, in order to gain majority control, to relocate the team into a larger city, Coach Patillo also attempts to bargain for her shares, in order to retain control, for the team to remain in Happy Valley.

As she crosses through the bleachers to watch the team in practice on the field below, Jessica steps across its jogging track, upon which young Jill Farrell (Marcianne Warman) operates an automated giant football helmet, which nearly collides with Jessica.

Jill and her father, injured football player Zak Farrell (Bruce Jenner), emerge from the helmet, as Jill's mother, Kathy Farrell (Jan Smithers) suddenly approaches from the sidelines to determine whether or not Jessica has been injured.

When Kathy and Zak explain that the hearing-impaired Jill communicates with Sign Language, Jessica anxiously invites Jill to teach her a few terms, and they become fast friends, while an anonymous someone is blackmailing Kathy and Zak because Jill's adoption didn't go through the standard courtroom channels, but was handled by Attorney Brad Lockwood on the sly.

Leopards' Defensive Captain Tank Mason (Dick Butkus) also befriends Jessica, while Football Commissioner Harris Talmadge (Gary Lockwood) also tries to offer Jessica a large sum to purchase Uncle Cyrus' holdings. So Phil Kreuger, attempting to win the corporate game, invites Jessica to a reception for the team at a posh nightclub, to help to sway her course of action.

Mavis Kreuger (Elizabeth Savage), Phil's estranged wife, has been vacationing in Las Vegas, but other team owners and staff members and players step into and from the nightclub that evening, when an altercation erupts with Zak's accusation as to who's been making those threatening calls to Kathy regarding the legitimacy of Jill's adoption.

But in the team's locker room later that night, Trainer Grover Dillon stumbles across a body in another hot tub there.

Lieutenant Clyde Pitts (Tim Thomerson) arrives to investigate, telling Jessica to avoid police business and places like the locker room, for which she answers that she's a part owner now, but that doesn't help very much when a perpetrator locks her into a steam room and increases the magnitude of its heated vapors.

After Grover Dillon rescues Jessica from the one trap, she notices photographs from the evening of the reception, causing her to realize the identity of the perpetrator of the drowning, but after she devises a plan to trap her suspect, she is faced again before yet another bathtub, at the scene of the original murder, with the threat of "Sudden Death."

(The storyline doesn't make it clear for certain exactly which suspect has been making those blackmail threats, but the denouement seems to indicate that Jill may remain with Kathy and Zak in Happy Valley, without the need to explain to her what has been going on with the loving family behind the scenes.)

The cast is rounded out by Albert Lord as Baxter, Ralph Clift as Clerk, and Arnold F. Turner as Security Guard.

This episode represents the first of two "MSW" guest roles each for John Beck, Ralph Clift and Tim Thomerson, the first of three for Warren Berlinger, the first of four for Gary Lockwood, and the first of five "MSW's" for Allan Miller.

David Doyle, acting in film and on television since 1959, has unfortunately since passed.
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Murder within the football team
TheLittleSongbird16 July 2017
Have always been quite fond of 'Murder She Wrote'. It is a fun and relaxing watch that makes you think as you try to unwind in the evening. If one wants more complex, twisty mysteries with lots of tension and suspense 'Murder She Wrote' may not be for you, but if you want something light-hearted and entertaining but still provide good mysteries 'Murder She Wrote' fits the bill just fine.

"Sudden Death" is a more than worthwhile episode for Season 1. Not among the season's best episodes (in a season with classics like "Lovers and Other Killers", "Paint Me a Murder" and "Murder Takes the Bus"), but not one of the weakest ones either ("Murder to a Jazz Beat" and "My Johnny Lies Over the Ocean", but neither are bad episodes).

It could have been a better episode by all means. Bruce Jenner spends his entire screen time looking terrified, and the chemistry with the lady playing his wife is next to zero. One does question the competency of the police when investigating the crime scene and yeah the whole business with the blackmail threats could have had more clarity.

However, "Sudden Death" looks good in the production values as ever. Nicely shot with a suitable location (though it's no The Mediterranean). The music has presence but also not making the mistake of over-scoring, while it is hard to forget or resist the theme tune.

The script is often charming and amiable, while the story has some good conflict and is compelling mostly, with a mostly clever surprising final solution (apart from the murderer giving in too easily) after a few nice twists.

Angela Lansbury is terrific in one of her best remembered roles one of the roles that is most closely associated with me at any rate), while there is cool support from particularly Dick Butkus, and John Beck. Oh and there is a scene with Jessica and Farrell's daughter that tugs at the heart-strings.

Overall, good and worth the while. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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Relaxing mysteries
ly989818 January 2019
I enjoy this series of mysteries, not only for the stories, but I love seeing the actors . many of the character actors and acting sports figures from 30 years ago.
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The super sleuth inherits shares in a football team.
Sleepin_Dragon12 November 2017
Jessica's uncle dies, leaving her shares in an American football side. As soon as she arrives she's offered money for the failing club, by many of the people concerned, she declines. Jessica befriends injured player Zak Farrell, who takes Jessica home to introduce his wife Kathy and daughter Jill. One of the would be buyers is found dead in the changing room, Jessica cleverly puts the case together.

It's a solid episode, better then the previous Tough guys don't lie, but only just. It's a pretty good storyline, but perhaps stretches the imagination to have our wonderfully versatile Jessica helping to run a Football side. The crime is intriguing, and the solution is actually brilliant, a really clever piece of deduction. Funny scenes, including Jessica's realisation that she's in the men's shower room. I also love the character of Jill, Jessica's interaction in sign language is great. I didn't really care for Zak or Kathy, both were a bit flat, but Dick Butkus who played Tank was very entertaining.

Pretty good. 7/10
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