Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
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Murder in the Afternoon 

Jessica's niece, an actress in a daytime drama, becomes a suspect when the head writer for the show is murdered.


Peter S. Fischer (created by), Richard Levinson (created by) | 5 more credits »


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Angela Lansbury ... Jessica Fletcher
William Atherton ... Larry Holleran
Paul Burke ... Herbert Upton
Nicholas Hammond ... Todd Worthy
Terry Kiser ... Gordon LaMonica
Alice Krige ... Nita Cochran
Robert Lipton ... Martin Grattop
Lloyd Nolan ... Julian Tenley
Tricia O'Neil ... Bibi Hartman
Mackenzie Phillips ... Carol Needom
Lurene Tuttle ... Agnes Cochran
Robert Walden ... Lt. Antonelli
Jessica Walter ... Joyce Holleran
George Murdock ... Officer Kaplan
John Miranda ... Prop Man (as John M. Miranda)


Joyce Holleran, the new producer and head writer of a New York soap, makes enemies by having many recurrent characters written out, belittling her husband Larry and refusing to let Todd Worthy go when he gets a far better Hollywood series offer. Jessica visits her niece Nita Cochran, one of the actresses fearing the ax. Then Joyce is shot, believing by Nita as the killer wears her masking Avenger costume. NYPD Lieutenant Antonelli thinks it's a shut case and arrests her by following Jessica, who is determined to prove her niece's innocence. When Joyce's successor as director, Gordon LaMonica, who has network instructions to continue the cast pruning, is shot in the arm by someone in Avenger costume but with a non-matching police gun, proven to be the murder weapon, Jessica starts untangling a web of false appearances. Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

13 October 1985 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor) (as Technicolor®)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Introduction of Jessica's niece Nita Cochran. It is unclear whether she is Jessica's niece by blood or by marriage, but her parents (unnamed) are both deceased and she was raised by her grandmother, Agnes. See more »


When Joyce is in her office typing, she is using an electric typewriter. However, the sound effects are for a manual typewriter (including a carriage return). See more »


[last lines]
Jessica Fletcher: ...if I were you, I'd get him to confess as loudly and as quickly as possible.
See more »


References Love in the Afternoon (1957) See more »


Murder She Wrote Theme
Written by John Addison
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User Reviews

Soap opera at its deadliest
19 July 2017 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

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.

"Murder in the Afternoon" on first viewing was a great episode. On repeat viewings it really stands out among the other episodes of Season 2, in a good way. After being underwhelmed by "Joshua Peabody Died Here...Possibly", "Murder in the Afternoon" to me is one of the best episodes of Season 2.

Its best asset is the performance of Jessica Walter, who is an imperious hoot and enjoys herself immensely. Loved the at times creepy set up and everything to do with the soap opera business was a joy and somewhat nostalgic, even for someone who is not an avid soap opera watcher.

As to be expected, it looks good. shot and attractive fashions that makes one nostalgic for the 80s period (even to those who weren't even alive yet). 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.

Writing is fun and keeps you on your toes with the mystery while providing a light-hearted and occasionally creepy tone. The story is very engaging with great atmosphere.

Angela Lansbury is terrific as always, while Alice Krige provides one of the show's most relatable and best acted relations of Jessica (which is actually saying a fair bit). While Walter is the one who dominates, William Atherton, Terry Kiser and Mackenzie Phillips also fare well.

It was not exactly hard to figure out the murderer (though it wasn't blatantly obvious) and what happened when shown the final solution didn't seem to tie in with what we were shown with the murder itself.

Otherwise, it is a great standout episode. 9/10 Bethany Cox

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