The Time 'Murder, She Wrote' Had Serious Beef With 'Friends'
Classic mystery series Murder, She Wrote ran for a whopping 12 seasons, with a body count that put even the Friday the 13th series to shame. Weirdly, despite the fact that beloved author Jessica Fletcher’s mere presence invariably led to at least one violent murder wherever she went, because Jessica is a charming senior citizen, no one ever suspected her -- with the possible exception of whoever was behind the official tie-in board game.
After 11 years of watching her solve (or shamelessly get away with) so many murders, audiences seemed to tire of Jessica’s antics, and the show’s popularity waned. In 1995, as Murder, She Wrote entered its 12th season, CBS decided to move the show from its long-time Sunday night timeslot to Thursdays, opposite Friends, one of the hottest programs on TV. This was seen as a slap in the face by some, including star Angela Lansbury who was pissed off -- which is not a sentence one gets used very often. Lansbury even claimed that she would never have agreed to make a final season if she’d known about the change.
So the creatives behind Murder, She Wrote, seemingly tried to channel their collective rage into their art. Which is why in 1996, they released an episode called “Murder Among Friends” that finds Jessica investigating the brutal killing of a producer of a hit show called Buds. In case that was too subtle, the show opens with mock Rembrandts-esque music, and the coffee shop where the titular “Buds” hang out looks like a cross between Central Perk, TGIFriday’s, and Hell itself.
Buds is similarly about a bunch of attractive, vacuous 20-somethings and their sex lives -- and Jessica Fletcher wastes zero time shitting all over its success.
One of the producers is trying to decide which character will be killed for budget reasons (which is ridiculous, just bump off whoever the Bizzaro version of Ross is) and winds up dead herself. Meanwhile, there’s a Jennifer Aniston analog, complete with an influential hairstyle, who (SPOILERS for a 25-year-old mystery nobody cares about) turns out to be the murderer. Why? Because she wanted out of the show to star in the new Rob Reiner film. So this episode isn’t just a masterclass in shade-hurling; it also accidentally predicted the movie Rumor Has It.
The lesson here? Don’t mess with Angela Lansbury.
Top Image: Warner Bros./Universal Television