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Murder, She Wrote: Fire Burn, Cauldron Bubble (1989)
Season 5, Episode 13
Witchy woman
13 January 2020
I almost always enjoy "Murder, She Wrote" (I must have seen each episode multiple times in syndication by now); but I REALLY wish that writers who want to tap New England's witch-trial past would get it through their heads: NO ONE WAS EVER JUDICIALLY BURNED AT THE STAKE IN NEW ENGLAND. Witches were hanged rather than burned in England and its colonies because, for complex historical reasons, witchcraft was defined as a crime against the state, not against the church, as it was elsewhere in Europe (even in England's neighbor, Scotland). Also, Maine (which was part of Massachusetts until 1820, long after witch trials had ceased) was VERY thinly populated in the 18th century; major trials of ANY kind were all but unheard of. The focal point for seventeenth-century witch trials in New England (prior to the notorious outbreak of 1692 at Salem Village) was Connecticut, particularly Hartford and Bridgeport.
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Murder, She Wrote: Angel of Death (1992)
Season 8, Episode 20
"And now for something (not quite) completely different..."
30 September 2019
"Angel of Death" is a superior episode of "Murder, She Wrote" (and Darren MacGavin is always a welcome presence); but I find it VERY hard to believe that Messrs. Fischer and Levinson (the writers) didn't borrow a good deal of their plot mechanics from a 1958 American International horror picture called "The Screaming Skull". The 1958 film also features an attempt to drive a wealthy person (an innocent wife in that case) crazy by suggesting that a dead woman (her husband's first wife) is haunting the grounds of a mansion. The "ghost" is costumed exactly like Vivian in this episode (she's even seen descending an outdoor staircase, like Vivian in her first appearance in this episode); and Vivian's portrait looks almost exactly like the dead first wife's portrait in the film. I could be wrong about all of this, but I don't think so.
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