Because this is Tuesday, we're continuing our tributes to the late Dina Merrill with another blog post today. Two For Tuesday, you know?
And with this episode in which Ms. Merrill appeared, there is a thematic connection to the previous entry.....
- Always a Thief (1990)
Jessica narrates a case her dashing British friend Dennis Stanton, former jewel thief turned insurance agent, solved. Langston 'Lanny' Douglas got his inherited business empire in financial trouble. When millionaire Oriental carpets merchant Mahmoud Amini offers Lanny $200,000 commission, to convince his ma to sell him the rare 'Stuart Dollar', he accepts. She refuses, so Lanny stages a break-in to steal it, is surprised by the gardener Pedro and kills him. Dennis, well-known to less ingenious police lieutenant Catalano, soon realizes the safe was opened with the combination and works his way to a trap for both crimes after Amini is murdered.
So what we had here was not an actual episode of 'Murder, She Wrote'. Instead, Jessica Fletcher called upon her serlinguistic* skills to tell the Trueniverse audience about an investigation in which she was not involved.
As with the previous post in which Roseanne visualized a woman she was writing about as looking like a different TV character, Jessica was calling on her own memories to supply the visual representation of the various characters. At least with former thief turned insurance company investigator Denis Stanton, Mrs. Fletcher knew him and actually created a character based on him for her books (which Stanton did not appreciate.)
As for Stanton's police contact and foil Lieutenant Catalano of the San Francisco police force, Jessica never met him (at least not that we saw, which means nothing under the Khan-Chekov Principle.) But his physical appearance in Jessica's narrative could have been inspired by several rough and tumble men whom she met during other murder investigations:
- Sid Sharkey ("Steal Me A Story")
- Alan Forsythe ("A Christmas Secret")
- Sheriff Tugman ("Truck Stop")
- Grover Barth ("Corned Beef And Carnage")
- Leo Kowalski ("Joshua Peabody Died Here... Possibly")
Although she met the construction foreman Kowalski in Cabot Cove, it's my opinion that she based Lt. Catalano on Sheriff Tugman, another lawman who wasn't exactly smooth in style or look.
But this is a post about another character, Monica Douglas. I think that when envisioning her, Jessica Fletcher summoned up her memories of her dear friend Annie Floret, whom she had not seen in ten years. In fact, in relating this case to the Trueniverse audience, I think it inspired Jessica to fly to to Monte Carlo and visit with Annie two years later......
* Serlinguism is the ability of TV characters to communicate across the dimensional veil to the audience watching in the Trueniverse, from Earth Prime-Time back to Earth Prime. Although it is named after practitioner Rod Serling, it was George Burns who first popularized the concept.