Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Warp Speed Wednesday: When JB Fletcher Comes a Knockin' (on the Enterprise airlock).

I thought it would be a breeze to blog about Star Trek actors appearing on Murder, She Wrote. I was wrong. First I compiled a looooong list of Star Trek cast members and checked their profiles on for Murder, She Wrote credits. But I also wanted to blog about series regulars popping up on Murder, She Wrote. I made another list. Then because I am a bit of an aficionado of famed character actors and I couldn't resist the temptation to include them. Another list was created. Then it occurred to me that I had overlooked the movies. In short order (well not that short, it was rather time consuming) I had an extensive -- but by no means exhaustive -- master list1 and was faced with the logistical problem of presenting it in a single post.

My solution is to present the information over a series of posts in chronological order of the series production. Then there will be a single post for all TWELVE movies. But not for Enterprise. Enterprise sucked long and hard for three seasons. Sure, the fourth season was excellent, but I'm still bitter about the whole series and I don't know enough about that shows to do it justice.

I have now put more thought in to this topic than I did in to planning my own wedding.

Let's start with Star Trek: The Original Series.

• The only series regular to appear on Murder She Wrote is George Takei. As an aside, Takei only appears in 51 of 80 episodes of TOS. Yet Mr Takei continues to present himself as being the victim of William Shatner's ego. He would prefer if no one drew attention to the fact that Shatner was the star of the show, whereas Takei was set dressing. It was only when the cartoon series was produced, and Takei could be hired for spare change, that Sulu's character developed. But I digress.

Takei appears on "The Bottom Line Is Murder" (MSW, S3) as Bert Tanaka. It's a one dimensional characterization, and it's uncomfortable to watch Takei's performance as a deranged buffoon employed as a janitor. It strays uncomfortably close to Ugly Stereotype category thanks to Takei's over-the-top accent.

In 53 episodes of Murder, She Wrote, William Windom played Seth Hazlitt, Cabot Cove's doctor. Trekkies know him as Matt Decker from "The Doomsday Machine." He took over command of the Enterprise and damn near got everyone killed. But Kirk saved the day. Phew.

Hazlitt often reminds me of TOS' Bones, and is as loveable as Decker was maddening.

•Ricardo Montalbán played the role of Khan in "Space Seed" (and in the second Star Trek movie) and showed up as Vaacclav Maryska in "Murder in F Sharp" (MSW, S7).

•In the same Star Trek episode Madlyn Rhue was Montalbán's love interest Marla McGivers. In Murder, She Wrote she was Cabot Cove librarian, Jean O'Neill. The role was created for Rhue by Angela Landsbury to ensure that Rhue didn't lose her Screen Actors Guild health insurance. Rhue desperately needed the coverage as she suffered from Multiple Sclerosis. Angela Landsbury is a classy lady.

Morgan Woodward is probably a name you don't recognize. But chances are you have seen him -- and heard his distinctive voice -- at some point. He was Sheriff Brademus in "Test of Wills" (MSW, S6). Over twenty years earlier after he was cast twice in Star Trek. In "The Omega Glory" he was Captain Tracey and in "Dagger of the Mind" he was Dr. Simon van Gelder. Both men were off their individual rockers and when I watched the episodes I found him terrifying. In my defense, I was 10.

Melvin Belli was an excellent lawyer and a horrible actor. The latter is evident if you've seen him as  Gorgon  in "And The Children Shall Lead." Two decades later he was still stilted and awful when he turned up in "From the Horse's Mouth" (MSW, S7) as Judge Harley. Rumour is that Belli leveraged his legal expertise to get clients in Hollywood to cast him in their shows. It's really the only plausible explanation.

Mariette Hartley wooed Spock in  "All Our Yesterdays" as Zarabeth which is one of my favourite episodes. "Night of the Coyote" (MSW, S9) was her only appearance on Murder She Wrote.

• The character of Losira in "That Which Survives" is played by Lee Meriwether. She was also Grace Overholtz in "A Lady in the Lake" (MSW, S2). In which series do you think she wore the above ensemble!? GUESS!

• Kim Darby was the titular character in "Miri" (TOS). She showed up twice in Murder, She Wrote. The episodes were "Flim Flam" (MSW, S11) and "We're Off to Kill the Wizard" (MSW, S1). I've seen both of these episodes at least once and I never made the connection to Miri till now. She's a grup, now! Finally she can track down Kirk and show him that she's better than that floozy Yeoman Rand.

If I missed any appearance let me know. Next week  Eventually I'll be tackling cross over appearance between Murder, She Wrote and The Next Generation cast. I don't know when that will happen though. I'm already burned out.

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  1 -- This is my defensive way of showing you that I tried my best and I know I missed some names, but please be gentle with me.


  1. I am surprised and kind of weirded out at how gripping I found this post. Your photos are amazing! Looking forward to the rest of the series.

    Where is that street sign pic from? I want to go to there.

    1. @Lynn -- sadly it is not real. In the comments on this article someone links to a gif showing the real street corner before being photo shopped.

      However, Turlock, California has streets named Ryker Court, Picard Lane, Crusher Avenue and best of all: Warp Drive.

  2. I'm shaking my head at your commitment - I'm imagining all that clicking back & forth and getting a headache.

    Confession - I barely remember Murder: She Wrote. I know my grandmother used to watch it but it bored me stupid as a kid. Loved the theme song / opening credits though.

    1. I think of MSW as comfort food for my brain. It's very pleasant (in so far as murder can be 'pleasant') and safe and there aren't any surprises.

  3. Any post with the word grup in it gets an A+ from me.