Television

I have a soft spot for “Murder She Wrote.” When I was a kid, it came on our local channel every night at five.

I almost didn’t write this. But it’s very important. Because as an American, you deserve to know that today in the supermarket, I ran into an elderly woman who looked just like Angela Lansbury.

She was a dead ringer.

Of course she claimed she wasn’t Angela Lansbury. She even went so far as to say her name was Jeanne, from Michigan.

But I didn’t believe her. I watched her ring up groceries. She kept looking at me from the corner of her eye as though she were thinking about reaching for pepper spray.

Then she left.

I watched “Jeanne”—if that’s truly her name—exit the double doors and wander into the parking lot.

I asked the teenage cashier, “Did you SEE that lady?”

“Yeah,” the cashier said.

“Did you notice anything about her?”

“No.”

“SHE LOOKED JUST LIKE ANGELA LANSBURY!”

“WHO?”

“‘MURDER SHE WROTE!’”

“WAIT! WHY ARE WE SPEAKING IN ALL CAPS?”

I’m going to level with you. I cried. Yes, dang it, I cried. Right in the supermarket. Not a big cry, mind you. Just a little one.

Until then, I hadn’t cried for a long time. The last time was a few weeks ago when my wife kicked me during sleep.

My wife loses control during REM sleep. Which wouldn’t be a big deal if she would have kicked me in the shin—she has kicked my shins plenty of times. But she did not kick me there. I will let you figure out where she kicked me.

Take your time.

Let’s just say that on the following Sunday at church, the choir director had me sing first soprano.

But getting back to my celebrity sighting. When I saw this woman in the checkout line, my entire childhood came flooding back to me.

I have a soft spot for “Murder She Wrote.” When I was a kid, it came on our local channel every night at five. Followed by “Mama’s Family.” Which I also loved.

I realize that most men reading this column have already quit reading and gone off to do something masculine, like slaughter a grizzly bear, or smoke a cigar, or shave their legs with a Bowie knife. But I am not apologizing for the way I feel about “Murder She Wrote.”

The truth is, I enjoy lots of girly TV shows because I was raised by women. When I was a child, my mother and my grandmother used to watch “The Facts of Life” together. Religiously.

We would all sit in front of a console television. My grandmother would laugh and cough up a cloud of Winston cigarette smoke. These are good memories.

When I was a little older, after my father died, my mother, sister, and I had just moved into a new rental house. We were lost in this world. Our house was littered with boxes, our furniture was still wrapped in plastic. Nobody knew what was going to happen to us.

So my mother hooked up our television set.

One of the channels was running a “The Facts of Life” marathon. That night, we didn’t unpack boxes. We ordered pizza and watched every single episode, sitting on the carpet. My mother and I stayed awake all night with Blair, Natalie, Jo, and Tootie.

I am also a big “I Love Lucy” fan. When I got my first pickup truck, I named it “Lucille” because Lucille Ball raised me.

Shows like “Columbo” were my mother’s favorites. I have childhood visions of my mother watching “Columbo” while folding laundry. She’d say, “God, I just love Peter Falk.”

And then there was “Murder She Wrote.”

I consider the hours spent watching this show to be golden. I have seen every mystery five times. Maybe more. And if God, in all his omniscience, should ever look upon me and allow me to meet the ninety-three-year-old Angela Lansbury, I will need a loaner pair of trousers after the meeting.

These TV shows mean more to me than they probably should. I was a sad kid. And quiet. At times, I felt like my best friends were those on the television screen.

I practically lived in a world of “The Andy Griffith Show,” “I Love Lucy,” “Gunsmoke,” “Big Valley,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “Bonanza,” “The Rockford Files,” “The Beverly Hillbillies,” and “Murder She Wrote.”

And when I see these old episodes, I am taken back to a time of fuzzy TV reception, and antennas wrapped in foil. Before modern television turned into whatever it is you call it today.

I still remember when a lonely family in a new house ate pizza together and laughed with the TV. Even though the odds were against them. And I remember the lonely kid I used to be, surrounded by mother hens, who still loves to see Angela Lansbury save the day.

So that’s why I chased a strange elderly woman through the supermarket parking lot. That’s why I was out of breath when I caught up to her. And that’s why I handed her a piece of paper and asked her to sign it.

She laughed and said, “Seriously? Why would you want me to sign this? I told you, I’m nobody famous.”

“Because, ma’am,” I said. “Every column needs a good ending.”

And this one is a lot better than an ending involving pepper spray.

24 comments

  1. Jim Keith - August 30, 2019 7:05 am

    I would have lost a bet today if my wife had made the bet. Your column tonight (in my mind) was going to be about a very important birthday. “Thelma Lou” from Maybury had her 91st birthday!!! Iknow how much you love all of the cast from Andy’s show, so naturally I thought you would write about her. Anyway….

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY THELMA LOU!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  2. Steve - August 30, 2019 7:24 am

    Well, the pepper spray might make you a baritone. Just saying.

    Reply
  3. B. Porter - August 30, 2019 9:34 am

    I think I’m beginning to see why you weren’t the best student. Too much TV.

    Reply
    • Linda Moon - August 31, 2019 5:40 pm

      On a positive note, maybe all that TV made Sean the person he is today. And none of his readers would change him from just as he is….. not even for being a “best student”!

      Reply
  4. Sherry - August 30, 2019 10:33 am

    For a whole other set of reasons, I too love Angela Lansbury…she is a talented actress who was willing to leave the stage and cameras to save her son from drugs…that’s a person with her priorities straight.

    Reply
  5. Cathi Russell - August 30, 2019 10:38 am

    I also love “Murder She Wrote”! One of my favorite things was to call my grandmother & hear her say “I’m looking at Murder, She Wrote”.” (My grandmamma never watched TV, she always “looked” at it.) Thanks for the smile at 5:30am!

    Reply
  6. Elizabeth - August 30, 2019 10:40 am

    “laugh and cough up a cloud of Winston cigarette smoke,” brings back memories!!! Although my house it could have been camels!

    Thanks for the stroll down memory lane!

    Reply
  7. Terry - August 30, 2019 10:57 am

    My mother and I were watching a Bonanza marathon not long ago and I realized, in all the years I watched Bonanza growing up, I didn’t remember ever seeing a cow on that show! The biggest cattle ranch in Nevada and you never see any cows! Well not much later an episode came on and sure enough there were some cows. Of course, Hoss was doing all the work, no one else ever got off his horse!

    Reply
  8. GaryD - August 30, 2019 11:02 am

    I’ve never seen Angela Lansbury or her doppelgänger but I have seen President Nixon, Bill Anderson, Jan Howard, Porter Waggoner, Speck Rhodes and Dolly Parton. My only regret is that I was much too young to appreciate Dolly. I was only ten years old. Bummer!

    Reply
  9. Nancy shiekds - August 30, 2019 12:27 pm

    My daughter who is now 35 was addicted to MURDER, SHE WROTE reruns as a child. Every weeknight she would run through the house shouting JESSICA FLETCHER IS ON! JESSICA FLETCHER IS ON! There are worse things.

    Reply
  10. Janie F. - August 30, 2019 12:49 pm

    Love this Sean! Oh my, when I was a kid all my mother wanted to watch was westerns & I hated them. Fast forward 60 years and give me Bonanza or Gunsmoke any day over the junk that airs now. My all time favorite line from a tv show was from Bubba on The Heat of The Night when he was handcuffing an unruly suspect. He said, “Boy, I’ll break your arm off and beat you in the head with it!” The dude calmed right down.

    Reply
  11. Pat Nichols - August 30, 2019 12:54 pm

    Escape from the horrors of some of our childhood. People who never dealt with these issues will never understand how fortunate we are to have had at least one stable parent and wonderful places like Mayberry to escape to just to know that there was a “normal” out there somewhere. ❤

    Reply
  12. Edna B. - August 30, 2019 1:11 pm

    I, too, loved Columbo and Mujrder She Wrote. I try to watch all the old reruns whenever I can. You just can’t beat those old TV shows. Was the lady in the parking lot Angela? You have a wonderful day Sean. Hugs, Edna B.

    Reply
  13. Kay Britton - August 30, 2019 1:36 pm

    So….was it Angela Lansbury?

    Reply
  14. Pat - August 30, 2019 2:30 pm

    I too was a fan of network TV during those years. No more…the “stuff” aired now is nothing but trash! At least back in the day you didn’t have to worry about what your kids were seeing because it was all good clean programming! Oh how I miss that!

    Reply
  15. Shannon Brown - August 30, 2019 2:51 pm

    Thank the good Lord for Hallmark and Me-TV and for you, Sean. I want to live in Mayberry or Cabot Cove, either will do.

    Reply
  16. Dawn A Bratcher - August 30, 2019 3:25 pm

    Hahaha! Good ending! She missed out on getting to know you…💜

    Reply
  17. Martha Black - August 30, 2019 3:45 pm

    Did she Have a slight English accent? Did you ask her to sing the the song for Beauty & the Beast.
    How exciting to see Mrs Pots! I can certainly understand your excitement!

    Come on Angela, speak to our boy, Sean. He’s kind and considerate and he’ll make you smile…..

    Reply
  18. Linda Moon - August 31, 2019 12:05 am

    A few years ago I attended the funeral of one of my favorite relatives. Already emotional, I heard some music from the sound system playing a familiar tune. When I was more composed, I asked one of the deceased’s sons what that tune was. It was the theme to Murder She Wrote, his Mom’s favorite TV Show. I lost it…..right then and there. And, I’ve never been able to watch a re-run of it since without remembering my loved one’s funeral and one of the three sons telling me how much his Mom loved Angela and the show. As of now, I’m planning some Bob Dylan songs for my own end-of-life service, along with Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring. A few secular tunes with some Jesus Joy couldn’t hurt!!

    Reply
  19. Jess - August 31, 2019 12:26 am

    When I was a youngster I enjoyed watching Gunsmoke with my mother and father on Saturday nights. That was my favorite show. I really enjoyed it when Bruce Dern would be in the episode playing a half-crazy person that was giving Marshall Dillon trouble. I was convinced that Dern was actually half-crazy. Good times back then.

    Reply
  20. Meredith - August 31, 2019 2:48 am

    As one of your biggest fans, I think you should know that at 52 years of age, I get up at 5:30 in the morning to watch an hour of The Facts Of Life, six days a week. Those two episodes are followed by one episode of Different Strokes, which I also watch. It’s worth losing an hour and a half of sleep for those shows!!

    Reply
  21. That's jack - August 31, 2019 3:18 am

    Yep, you are certifiable. Ihave been worried about youfor a few weeks now, Plaease see a Doctor. LOL

    I enjoyed the read, Yeah them famous people will deny it becuse we famous people need our rivacy. hahahahahahahahaha

    Nite dude,
    Sherry & jack

    Reply
  22. Bud Carroll - August 31, 2019 6:56 am

    Bob Carroll,Jr. was my first cousin; the co-writer of the I Love Lucy Shows. He flunked freshman English; went to LA and worked as an usher in the CBS theater; wrote later for the Bob Thompson show and then came Lucy. He was thrilled to have been part of the multi-creators of Lucy comedy.

    Reply
  23. Catherine - August 31, 2019 2:06 pm

    And you just took me back…and I thank you for that…💓

    Reply

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