NBC Reboots Murder, She Wrote with Octavia Spencer

Another week, another piece of news regarding an ill-conceived remake of classic: Murder, She Wrote is to be rebooted and will star Octavia Spencer as a hospital administrator turned self-published mystery author and amateur detective. 

The original show ran from 1984 to 1996 and starred the legendary Angela Lansbury as spry old bird Jessica Fletcher: mystery novelist, amateur sleuth, fashion icon and resident of Cabot Cove – perhaps the only town in the world with a higher murder rate than Midsomer.

Casting Octavia Spencer makes sense as she does seem to be having something of a moment: after years toiling away in supporting roles, her breakout role finally came in the form of Minnie in The Help. For this role she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress – no mean feat when you consider the fact that she’s only the sixth African-American woman to win an acting award in Academy history.

So it makes sense that Spencer would wish to make hay while the sun shines: after all, Hollywood isn’t exactly awash with good roles for middle-aged black women. The question then becomes, why not create a brand new show starring Octavia Spencer? Is the tenuous link to the classic show really going to guarantee an audience? This past season’s dud reboot of Ironside is the most recent case in point.

octavia spencer

Lansbury herself is dubious about the merits of rebooting the show, saying “I think it’s a mistake to call it Murder, She Wrote because Murder, She Wrote will always be about a Cabot Cove and this wonderful little group of people who told those lovely stories and enjoyed a piece of that place, and also enjoyed Jessica Fletcher, who is a rare and very individual kind of person…”

Speaking of Spencer, Lansbury reveals herself to be fan: “I saw her in ‘The Help’ and thought she was absolutely wonderful, a lovely actress,” but went on to say “I wish her well, but I wish it wasn’t in Murder, She Wrote.”

And if the Lanz says so, then it’s a no-go. Personally, I’m not convinced Octavia Spencer can pull off Angela Lansbury’s trademark spectacles and blazer combo, apart from anything.

Let us know what you think about the reboot, and while you’re here, why not check out Jessica Fletcher’s daring fashion choices and remind yourself why Murder, She Wrote is best left preserved in the amber of televisual time.