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Murder, She Wrote - The Complete First Season

4.4 out of 5 stars 258 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A new chapter begins as Season One of TV's most popular and widely acclaimed detective series, Murder, She Wrote, comes home to DVD for the first time Ever! Angela Lansbury stars in the role that earned her 12 consecutive Emmy nominations as everyone's favorite super-sleuth, Jessica Fletcher, a famous mystery writer who has a knack for solving murders on and off the page. Along with the quirky residents of Cabot Cove, Maine, Jessica is joined in her deliciously suspicious tales of mystery and mayhem by some of the most celebrated guest stars of screen and stage, including Jerry Orbach, Leslie Nielsen, Joaquin Phoenix, Andy Garcia, Martin Landau, Milton Berle, Peter Graves, Vicki Lawrence and many more. Investigate all 21 Season One episodes and the suspenseful original pilot movie, The Murder of Sherlock Holmes, of the illustrious and thrilling series that will have you guessing "whodunit" until the very end.


There are two audiences for this DVD compilation of the first season of the enormously popular TV series Murder, She Wrote. The first enjoys the classic pleasures of the pre-forensics "whodunit," stories in which murder was not so much a crime as a logic puzzle; the joy here lay in how skillfully a writer could misdirect you. Murder, She Wrote--in which mystery writer Jessica Fletcher constantly stumbles across dead bodies in every setting imaginable, from a San Francisco drag show to a football field--doesn't have the elegance of an Agatha Christie or Rex Stout mystery, but the show was efficient at laying out its clues and cunningly used the audience's familiarity with television itself (the relative star power of the guests, the need for a dramatic high point before every commercial break, etc.) to mislead and manipulate. And of course Angela Lansbury, as Fletcher, was an ideal television presence: Warm and friendly, but with just a hint of the fierce, steely will she revealed in The Manchurian Candidate. Lansbury drove the show through an impressive twelve seasons (for which she received twelve Emmy nominations), plus multiple TV movies after its cancellation.

The other audience for Murder, She Wrote: The Complete First Season consists of viewers for whom names like Bert Convy, Dack Rambo, and Barbara Babcock send waves of guilty pleasure down their spines. The promotional materials for this boxed set make much ado about brief appearances by stars-to-be like Andy Garcia (who appears briefly as "1st White Tough" in the pilot TV movie) and Joaquin Phoenix (who's around 10 years old and still going by the name Leaf), but every single episode is a festival of B-, C-, and Z-grade celebrities from the 1970s and '80s: Claude Akins, Tom Bosley, Jeff Conaway, David Doyle, Samantha Eggar, Lynda Day George, Morgan Brittany, Belinda Montgomery, Gabe Kaplan, and Lyle Waggoner, just to name a handful. Some of these names may be forgotten, but their faces (and scenery-chewing performances) will spark a Proustian rush of television memories. --Bret Fetzer

Special Features

  • Contains episodes 1-21 over three discs
  • Includes pilot movie, "The Murder of Sherlock Holmes"

Product Details

  • Actors: Angela Lansbury, William Windom
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: March 29, 2005
  • Run Time: 2228 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (258 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005JN8S
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,706 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Murder, She Wrote - The Complete First Season" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Greg Carriveau on September 8, 2004
Format: DVD
Murder, She Wrote was created with the CBS Sunday night prime audience of older viewers in mind; An audience that CBS had reveled in for countless years due to 60 Minutes. Well, I was not one of those older viewers.

I was 14 when I started watching Murder, She Wrote in 1984. Having grown up with shows like Columbo, Matlock, Remington Steele, Hart to Hart, Charlie's Angels, (the short-lived) Ellery Queen, and many others, I was very intrigued by this new show. I didn't know who Angela Lansbury was or how the show would be structured. All I knew was that I would get to play detective along with the lead, and that was all I needed to hear. Created & written by the same team (Peter Fischer, Richard Levinson, and William Link) who'd created shows like Columbo, a deviously clever made-for-TV movie called 'Rehearsal for Murder' (which I had just seen the summer before MSW premiered), plus a whole slew of other shows to their credit, I knew MSW was bound to be a hit. And a hit it was.

Filled with more celebrity guests than Oscar night, the show played fair with its audience, giving them the clues they needed to solve the crime(s) before the final 10 minutes of the show. The flashbacks, helping to remind you what you may have missed, were an especially nice touch. The writing was sharp, the storylines fun & original, and the production was first rate. Of course, none of this would've mattered if the lead wasn't someone we liked. Cue: Angela Lansbury.

Originally, the part of J.B. Fletcher was supposed to go to Jean Stapleton; Edith Bunker from All in the Family. But Stapleton didn't want to do another series, so she turned the part down. Lansbury was the studio's 2nd choice. A veteran of stage and screen, Lansbury was the perfect fit for the role of J.B.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Saying that the upcoming DVD release of Murder, She Wrote is long overdue is like saying chocolate is only an "OK" treat -- a world class understatement! In fact, "world class" describes this venerable series perfectly, from its multi-talented cast, interesting stories and production value. Murder, She Wrote is arguably the most beloved American TV mystery series, and for good reason.

The series began in 1984 when Angela Lansbury was 58 and continued through 1996 producing 264 episodes for CBS, and easily winning its time slot for most of its run.

The fabulous Ms. Lansbury, who as a distinguished career on Broadway and in the movies, portrayed the lead character of Jessica Fletcher, a widowed, childless English teacher from the fictional small seaport of Cabot Cove, Maine. (The exteriors of the homes, seaport and ocean scenes were actually shot on the opposite coast -- in Mendicino, Calif.)

In the series, Jessica's quiet and predictable life is abruptly turned upside down after her nephew submits a mystery manuscript she wrote under the name "J.B. Fletcher" to an East Coast publisher without her knowledge and the book is published. (In the show, Jessica's middle name is Beatrice.) The book becomes an instant bestseller, and Jessica-the-author continues to write similarly popular yarns until she becomes internationally famous. Equally famous is Jessica's uncanny knack at solving crimes as an amateur sleuth who is called upon to help by law enforcement from Cabot Cove to Europe and beyond as the series continues. (It is interesting to note that Jean Stapleton, who portrayed Edith Bunker on All in the Family, was first offered the role of Jessica but, thankfully, declined.)

Show creators Richard Levinson, William Link and Peter S.
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Format: DVD
I don't know what to make of Universal Studios? On the one hand Universal has done a pretty good job of making some of the older and classic television shows available to their fans. MSW is definitely a show that fans have been waiting for. I'm one of the more casual fans. As a teenager, when the show first aired, I enjoyed watching the first few seasons, after that I found that the shows were still good but the novelty had worn off. However, when I heard that the first season was making its way to DVD I knew I would have to purchase a copy. I don't remember having ever seen the pilot movie, "The Murder of Sherlock Holmes", and that was an unexpected treat. These early episodes are my favorites. I enjoyed the Cabot Cove crowd that made up these episodes. Claude Akins, Capt. Ethan Cragg, as Jessica's friend that will do anything to help her. Tom Bosley, Sheriff Amos Tupper, was my favorite Cabot Cove Sheriff, I greatly missed him when he departed the show. Also, each show was packed with multiple, and recognizable, guest stars. My favorite episode from season one is "Murder takes the Bus." A nifty "who-dunnit" that keeps the viewer guessing as to who the killer(s) is. This brings me to my complaint on the other hand of this issue.

During my viewing of "Murder takes the Bus" my DVD froze and then skipped an entire chapter. This is the fourth Universal DVD that I will have to take back for this problem. I have no real knowledge of what causes a disk to freeze or skip but I'm willing to bet that it has to do with the way Universal crams eight shows on each disk, four on each side. I'm sure that Universal is attempting to save money by limiting the amount of disks for each shows DVD release.
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