"Murder, She Wrote" Town Father (TV Episode 1989) Poster

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When Should a Politician "Do Nothing?"
WeatherViolet19 October 2009
This episode marks the swan song appearance for Ruth Roman, star of Classic film and television since 1943, and the next to last performances by Charles Woolf, who began his acting career in 1947. William Lanteau, Richard Paul have also since passed. This episode also marks the recent appearance for Kathryn Grayson, who began her film and television acting career in 1941, and for Sally Klein, who began her acting career in 1981.

As Cabot Cove prepares for its biannual mayoral election, candidate Milton Overguard (Basil Hoffman) campaigns on a reform platform to challenging long-time "do nothing" incumbent Mayor Sam Booth (Richard Paul in his fifth of seven appearances in the role).

Regulars at Loretta's Beauty Parlor, Loretta Spiegel (Ruth Roman in her third of three appearances in the role), Phyllis Grant (Gloria DeHaven in her third of three appearances), Ideal Molloy (Kathryn Grayson in her third of three appearances), Corinne (Sally Klein in her third of three appearances) and Eve Simpson (Julie Adams in her fourth of ten "MSW" appearances), contemplate over the notion that what Cabot Cove needs is a female mayor, discussing this notion around the community.

Some around town also attempt to recruit a reluctant Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury in her 121st of 264 "MSW" appearances) and an equally-reluctant Doctor Seth Hazlitt (William Windom in his 24th of 52 appearances in the role) to campaign for the position especially after Eve Simpson announces her candidacy for a now three-way race for the office.

Winifred Thayer (Holland Taylor) arrives at the Loretta's salon amid whispers regarding her snobbery, whereas her husband, Horton Thayer (John Considine), is considerably friendly toward residence of this community, to which they often host wealthy out-of-towner's from Morgan's Bay. Horton tries to convince mayoral candidates to plan to construct an airstrip longer and wider than the current landing field, to access direct flights from Boston and New York City, to the objection of many, including "do nothing" Mayor Sam Booth.

City Councilmen Ebeneezer McEnery (Orson Bean in his second of two appearances in the role) and Howard (William Lanteau) maintain satisfaction with status quo conditions, as Sam invariably provides the swing vote to keep Cabot Cove from zoning changes and civic development projects.

Enter sweet, innocent Annie Mae Chapman (Lee Purcell), from Casper, Wyoming, who makes her presence known around the community, before attending one of Sam's outdoor speeches, and claiming to be the fiancée whom he meets every July on his fishing excursions--and also the mother of his five young children, Gladys, Randolph, Fitzroy, Clementine and Sam Junior.

Tongues naturally begin to wag around the caucuses, especially when Eve Simpson hosts her reception to lure the female vote away from the others. One problem with her strategy centers around the fact that married women do not warm up to Eve because she warms up to their husbands, and even Eve's closest friends decide that Eve Simpson as Mayor would be the worst thing that could ever happen to Cabot Cove.

One morning later, gossip mongers gear into full force after a body is discovered at a local motel along with $2,000 in cash in an envelope upon the nightstand.

Accusations begin to fly across the campaign trail as Sheriff Mort Metzger (Ron Masak in his ninth of 39 appearances in the role) (this time without any deputy) enlists Jessica's help, who follows a trail of clues through the beauty shoppe set, the campaign camps and the out-of-towner clique in this case of accusations against "Town Father."

The cast is rounded out by Mabel (Phyllis Franklin) and Fulton (Charles Woolf) at the Thayers' reception, 1st Lady (Courtenay McWhinney) and 2nd Lady (Sheila Pinkham) at the campaign speech, and Eve's Party Guest (Barbara Perry), who comments how well the twins in the photograph resemble Sam Booth.

What this episode loses for its murder most brutal, it gains for its guest cast of beloved townsfolk characters and its attempt at comic relief.
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Murder during election time
TheLittleSongbird1 October 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.

"Town Father" is an entertaining episode from Season 6 and of the episodes up to this point in the season (which has been solid so far, with the weakest episodes being the three bookend episodes and the strange "Night of the Tarantula", which were disappointing but watchable) it is one of the better ones alongside "The Error of Her Ways", "Dead Letter" and "When the Fat Lady Sings".

With that being said, "Town Father" is not one of my favourite 'Murder She Wrote'. The mystery is pretty good and a sleazily nasty one but there could have been more focus on it, one actually remembers the comic relief and the chemistry between the Cabot Cove regulars much more, and far more suspects that we could have gotten to know more.

Final solution to me was also rather clunky, despite the identity of the killer luckily not being an obvious one the motive just felt too ordinary and considering the nastiness of the concept it felt a bit tacked on.

Credit is due however for finally giving Richard Paul something to do other than bumbling comic relief and make him more interesting by giving him a mystery cantered around him. Paul makes the most of this and does a good job within his own limitations. Loved the comedy and the gossiping, and cannot get enough of especially Julie Adams and Ruth Roman who are both so funny and charming.

Angela Lansbury is terrific in one of her justifiably best-remembered roles, Ron Masak has settled in very nicely and William Windom is amusing and delights as a charming curmudgeon. Orson Bean and Holland Taylor are just two of the solid guest cast, the two most famous names of the non-recurring characters cast.

Production values as ever are slick and stylish. The close knit community and picturesqueness of Cabot Cove is timeless. The music has energy and has presence but also not making the mistake of over-scoring, while it is hard to forget or resist the theme tune. The writing is thought-provoking, light-hearted and amiable.

Overall, entertaining and good episode. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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A dirty election in Cabot Cove
bkoganbing18 September 2019
The gossip among the denizens of Cabot Cove's beauty parlor is got some juicy items to discuss. Lee Purcell has arrived in town claiming that Mayor Richard Paul is the father of her two kids out in Wyoming. This is when Basil Hoffman is running against him for mayor. The issues are some zoning changes and some outside folks are backing Hoffman. Julia Adams Cabot Cove's real estate broker has also tossed her hat in the ring. Some want Angela Lansbury to run as she's the most well known figure from town. Even William Windom was asked.

Then Purcell is murdered and the blackmail scheme against Paul falls apart.

It's rather obvious who is behind all this, but I think it was silly to have Ron Masak and Angela Lansbury spending a lot time tracking down beauty parlor gossip.

Not one of the better MSW episodes.
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