Murder, She Wrote

Season 6 Episode 3

The Grand Old Lady

Aired Sunday 8:00 PM Oct 08, 1989 on CBS
out of 10
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15 votes

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Episode Summary

The Grand Old Lady
When a famous mystery writer dies, Jessica recalls a 1947 case that the writer was personally involved in. During a voyage on the Queen Mary, Lady Abigail Austin teams up with a police inspector and his son to solve the murder of a former Gestapo officer aboard the ship.moreless

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  • A great episode, which ironically does not feature Jessica Fletcher!

    Angela Lansbury's presence in this episode is limited to a brief prologue and epilogue, but in spite of that "The Grand Old Lady" is a terrific episode.

    The guide says that it was originally written as an episode of Levinson and Link's "Ellery Queen" series. Seeing this has made me want to see more of that show! It felt like a "B" mystery movie from the 1940s, the kind populated by Mr. Moto, Charlie Chan and Nick and Nora Charles. The producers knew how to pull off a period murder mystery, and by setting it on a cruise ship they can bring in an international cast for more intrigue.

    I loved the interplay between Lt. McGinn and his son. Too bad they couldn't have been turned into recurring characters like Harry McGraw or Michael Hagarty. Robert Vaughn did a classy turn as the other amateur sleuth (interestingly enough, he played the killer in "Troubled Waters," a Columbo episode set at sea!) and June Havoc was a regal, flaky delight as Lady Abigal Austin, Jessica's inspiration in more ways than one.

    Season 6 was full of Jessica-free episodes, but this one is a high point of the season, and the series. A well-plotted mystery that truly is a throw-back to Agatha Christie and the golden age of the detective story.moreless
June Havoc

June Havoc

Lady Abigail Austin

Guest Star

John Karlen

John Karlen

Lt. Martin McGinn

Guest Star

Gary Kroeger

Gary Kroeger

Christy McGinn

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

  • QUOTES (1)

    • Christy McGinn: Dad! I think Lady Abigail has cracked the case.
      Lt. Martin McGinn: Well, who did it?
      Christy McGinn: Can you gather everyone in the forward lounge?
      Lt. McGinn: Aw, son. Not that old chestnut! What do I look like, Charlie Chan?

  • NOTES (3)

    • Additional Credit: Titles and Optical Effects by Howard Anderson Company

    • Jessica Fletcher only introduces the story and closes the episode telling the life's author after the case was solved.

    • In addition to Lady Abigail Austin (clearly modelled after Agatha Christie), characters trying to solve the mystery include a police detective and his son (a writer and amateur sleuth) who are dogged by a radio personality who, unjustifiably, considers himself also to be a sleuth. Did we accidentally stumble into an episode of Ellery Queen?