Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
4 user

The Dark Side of the Door 

Jessica's friend Erin is haunted by being kidnapped as a child, and when Erin reads a novel with a story too close for coincidence, Jessica makes a shocking revelation.


Anthony Pullen Shaw (as Anthony Shaw)


Peter S. Fischer (created by), Richard Levinson (created by) | 2 more credits »

On Disc

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Episode cast overview:
Angela Lansbury ... Jessica Fletcher
Richard Beymer ... Dirk Mathison
Dennis Creaghan ... Charles, Literary Agent
Meg Foster ... Laura Kerwin
Richard Libertini ... Lt. Phil Corelli
Tracy Middendorf ... Erin Garman
Taylor Nichols ... Drew Finley
Gerry Bean ... Mike Holbert (as John Oliver)
Marcia Strassman ... Terry Garman Holbert
Michael Tylo ... Sonny
Mary-Pat Green ... Nora Delano
Rodney Frazier ... Detective Rogers
Brittany Trouville ... Little Erin (as Brittny Trouville)


Erin Garmin works for Jessica Fletcher's publisher and is shocked when she reads a manuscript from writer Dirk Mathison. Although purportedly a novel, the story and detail of a young child's kidnapping is virtually identical to what happened to her when she was 12 years old. Although Erin was not hurt, she was held for several days until her mother Terry and her rich grandfather paid a $3 million ransom. She tries to interest police Lt. Phil Corelli in what she's found but the statute of limitations has passed and Corelli isn't convinced that the manuscript present any information on who may have actually kidnapped her. When Mathison is found dead in his hotel room, Erin becomes the obvious suspect but it's left to Jessica to find the real killer. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

1 February 1996 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


[first lines]
Nora Delano: Hey, the way I figure it, I'm getting shortchanged bit time. I don't wanna beg for what I'm entitled to. You wouldn't have any of this without me. Look, Matheson, it's your choice. Pay me now, or I'll get paid for it later by the tabloids.
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User Reviews

"She'll Never Forget the Day She Proof-read a Book"
13 May 2010 | by WeatherVioletSee all my reviews

Twentyish Erin Garman (Tracy Middendorf) seems to have it all: a position as Research Assistant at Hartley Publishers with a promise of a promotion to Junior Editor, a sizable trust fund bestowed by her maternal grandfather, a handsome, caring and very attentive suitor in Drew Finley (Taylor Nichols), and, as many young "Murder, She Wrote" heroines before her, nightmares of a traumatic childhood incident, which, of course, remains unresolved.

In Erin's case, the negativity stems from a childhood kidnapping, retelling in Black & White flashback scenes, in which Little Erin (Brittany Trouville) a dozen years ago is approached on a New York City playground by Nora Delano (Mary-Pat Green), who holds her captive for four days and nights in an abandoned Manhattan West Village studio, without revealing the identity of the mastermind, who demands $three million ransom from her now-late grandfather, none of which has never been recovered.

Famous Novelist Dirk Matheson (Richard Beymer) hasn't had a best-seller for many years, and so he has recently interviewed Nora Delano with a collection of audio-cassette tapes, to create an account of the Garman child abduction, to pen "The Other Side of the Barricade."

Dirk and his representative, Charles, Literary Agent (Dennis Creaghan), now meet with Hartley Publisher's Laura Kerwin (Meg Foster) to garner a $one million advance for his manuscript, an agreement which Laura delays without explanation to Dirk.

Mother of Erin, Terri Garman Holbert (Marcia Strassman) and her second husband, Mike Holbert (John Oliver), co-own and operate a New York City state-of-the-art gymnasium, with Sonny (Michael Tylo), an old trainer friend of Mike's, on staff. But when Terri begins to tire of Sonny, Sonny turns the tables on Terri and Mike to advance his position toward a possible co-partnership.

Nora Delano demands a forth of the $one million which Hartley Publishers promises to advance Dirk Matheson, but Laura Kerwin holds out in paying him a nickel until his manuscript is copy-edited.

Erin Garman works closely with Hartley's Mystery Author J.B. Fletcher (Angela Lansbury), who tenderly understands Erin's fears and nightmares, and so Jessica affords her a shoulder to lean upon especially after Erin is assigned to review "The Other Side of the Barricade," from which she recognizes factors of the "fictional" kidnapping which relate to her personal experience.

When Erin telephones Lieutenant Phil Corelli (Richard Libertini), who has taken her statements as a child, to report her latest suspicions, he senses that Erin is experiencing unfounded hallucinations and informs her that he has his hands full at the moment, as he and Detective Rogers (Rodney Frazier) are investigating the murder of a shooting victim on the docks.

But when Jessica accompanies Erin to Lieutenant Corelli's precinct office, Erin recognizes photographs of the victim, which Detective Rogers presents, and so Jessica joins in the investigation to attempt to link the cold-case kidnapping with this recent murder.

Yet when Jessica, Lieutenant Corelli and Detective Rogers pay a visit to someone whom Jessica maintains may she some light upon the murder, they stumble across Drew Finley, who hovers over another body, a second homicide by gunshot, this time with a suicide note nearby, confessing to the first murder.

Jessica is now determined to prove Drew innocent of murder, as well as to prove that the murder has been set up to appear as a suicide, as well as to tie the second murder in with the first, as well as to unmask the perpetrator of Erin's kidnapping, and to champion young love, as Erin shields herself behind "The Dark Side of the Door."

This episode represents the most recent acting credit to date each by Brittany Trouville and Rodney Frazier, as well as the second of two "MSW" appearances for Meg Foster, the third of three for Richard Libertini, the fourth of four for Taylor Nichols, and the sixth of six "MSW" guest roles for Richard Beymer.

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