IN THE QUEEN’S PARLOR: Ellery Queen Episodes 5 & 6


We are on a roll and cooking with gas and every other mixed metaphor with two fine episodes. The first ranks as one of the top puzzles in the series and the second has one of the best casts. Plus, Frank Flannagan and Simon Brimmer continue to add spice to the Queens’ casefile.


(written by David H. Balkan and Alan Folsom; original airdate 10/9/75)

The Cast: 

The only major female suspect is played by the patrician Dina Merrill, heiress to the fortune of her famous stockbroker father, E.F. Hutton and her mom, Marjorie Merriwether Post (herself an heiress to the Post Cereals monolith). In a humorous moment, she gave herself the professional name “Merrill” after another stockbroker, Charles E. Merrill, co-founder of Merrill Lynch. Dina Merrill was supposedly poised to succeed Grace Kelly as the elegant movie star; what happened instead was that she enjoyed a long career in movies and television. (I’m a big fan!) The only other major female player here is another favorite of mine: Ruth McDevitt. So many women made a splash on stage and essayed a variety of character roles in film before appearing countless times as a dithery old lady on the small screen, folks like Helen Hayes, Josephine Hull, and Marion Lorne. McDevitt was one of my favorites. You can see her at the beginning of Hitchcock’s The Birds playing Mrs. MacGruder, the bird shop owner; I’d like to think her birdies protected her at the end . . . 

George Furth performed as one of the last of the “nervous Nellies” in movies and TV, but his biggest claim to fame was his work as a playwright and librettist, including two musicals with Stephen Sondheim (Company, Merrily We Roll Along.) Paul Stewart had a lengthy career that spanned movies, TV, radio and the stage, most prominently as a member of Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre. (He plays the slimy valet Raymond in Citizen Kane.) He directed quite a bit for early TV as well, including episodes of Peter Gunn, Hawaiian Eye and The Twilight Zone. Pat Harrington was another of those actors you saw all over TV, in sitcoms (he played Schneider, the super, on One Day at a Time), late night, and game shows. 


Newspaper publisher Henry Manners (Tyler McVey) arrives to work one morning and, as is his custom, greets the elevator starter Fred Durmhofer (John Finnegan) who grabs the express elevator and pushes the button for the 12th floor. When the elevator arrives, the receptionist at her desk sees an empty elevator. The door closes and stops first at the 6thfloor and then the 5th where Manners is spotted on the floor, shot to death. Ellery must help his father figure out not only who killed Henry Manners, but how they got into the elevator to do so and how Manners seems to have disappeared and then reappeared. 

My take:

This is the second of back-to-back stories featuring Ken Swofford as Flannagan, whose presence is less prominent than last time and more slapstick, but that doesn’t hurt things at all. What we’ve got here is an actual impossible crime mystery, and while the matter of Manners’ disappearance from the elevator should be immediately apparent to the most casual viewer, the method of murder is top-notch. And there’s even more here to make this a fine episode. The script by Balkan and Folsom is quite clever, both in the intricacies of the characters’ motivations and in the use of humor. At one point the young, caustic obituary writer says to Ellery, “Do you have any idea what it’s like to write about dead people every day?”, to which Mr. Queen responds, “Well, sort of, yeah.” 

Unlike previous episodes where everyone wants the victim’s money or everyone hates the victim’s bullying ways, the motives and relationships are richer and more complicated. The victim’s sister feels she can run the family paper better (and she can!), the managing editor (Stewart) was about to be forced into retirement due to age (and now he can stay!), and the muckraking columnist (Harrington) who sees a Commie around every corner has gotten the paper sued for making up an accusation against a famous financier. As a result, both he and the newpaper’s attorney (Furth) were about to be fired . . . if Henry Manners were alive!

Hutton with the marvelous Ruth McDevitt

This goes to show that when the program keeps Ellery’s bumbling to a minimum and provides a case that inspires his great mind to fire on all cylinders, the result is a great episode, and we have a very good one here. True, once again we have a dying message where it’s hard to figure that this is what the victim would be thinking about as the life saps out of him, particularly as timing is everything here. But that’s a small niggling point: the message actually serves to take a bizarre series of events and reduce them to something simple – the mark of a fine mystery.


Nf V zragvbarq, gur vqrn gung gur ivpgvz qvfnccrnerq sebz gur ryringbe, n gurbel gung cebzcgf fcrphyngvba gung ur tbg bss ng gur 5gu be 6gu sybbe naq jnf xvyyrq gurer – juvpu vf vzcbffvoyr – qbrfa’g ubyq zhpu jngre nf gur ynetr cvyr bs jbex ba gur erprcgvbavfg’f qrfx rnfvyl fbyirf gur znggre bs n “qvfnccrnenapr.” Vg’f n eryvrs jura Ryyrel svtherf gung bhg rneyl ba fb gung jr pna fgbc unecvat ba vg. 

Gur npghny zrpunavfz sbe xvyyvat Znaaref – fjvgpuvat gur ryringbe jverf fb gung “hc” orpbzrf “qbja” vf qrqhpvoyr orpnhfr bs na rneyl ivfvg gb gur qrfregrq onfrzrag naq n pnfhny erznex ol ZpPhyyl (Uneevatgba) gung ur unq fghqvrq gb or na ryrpgevpny ratvarre. 

Ertneqvat gung qlvat zrffntr: vg’f svar va gur pbagrkg bs jung guvf fubj cebivqrf, n fbeg bs fvzcyvfgvp eraqrevat bs gur RD genqrznex gebcr, ohg gurer ner gjb vffhrf gung obgure zr. Svefg vf gur snpg gung Znaaref unf gb jnvg gvyy gur ryringbe cnffrf gur fvkgu sybbe gb chfu gur ahzoref “fvk” naq “svir” fb gung JUBRIRE guvaxf guvf jnl jvyy xabj gb vapyhqr gur gjrysgu sybbe naq chg gur ahzoref va beqre: gjryir-fvk-svir. Gung gvzvat vf uneq jura lbh’er qlvat (nf vf guvaxvat nybat gurfr penml yvarf, zl bgure ceboyrz.) Jul abg teno fbzr oybbq (ur jnf fubg ng cbvag oynax enatr naq qenj n yrggre? Ng yrnfg, jul abg GUVAX gb qb gung? V xabj, V xabj, gung’f abg ubj na RD zlfgrel jbexf, naq oryvrir zr, V’z pbby jvgu guvf. Ohg fb znal bs zl sevraqf qvfcnentr qlvat zrffntrf, naq guvf bar cynlf evtug vagb gurve ernfbavat!

*     *     *     *     *


(written by Peter S. Fischer; story by Levinson, Link and Fischer; original airdate 10/16/75)

The Cast: 

One could easily write a lengthy post just on the career of Eve Arden and another on that of Betty White. Arden immediately perfected the role of the wisecracking pal in one of her earliest performances in Stage Door, got nominated for an Oscar doing the same thing in Mildred Pierce, and captured the heart of America on the radio, TV and the big screen playing high school teacher Connie Brooks on Our Miss Brooks. You could say she inspired me to be a teacher or taught me the art of sarcasm. I’m sure there’s a grain of truth in both statements.

The dearly lamented Bette White deserves the accolade of Queen of Television as one of its first stars who, over the course of seventy years, reinvented her persona to suit whatever role she was handed. From wholesome housewife Elizabeth in Life with Elizabeth, to saccharine slut Sue Ann Nivens in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, from The Golden Girls to Hot in Cleveland, Miss White was the person you looked for in any ensemble. She was sharp (game show panelist supreme), self-effacing yet confident, and compassionate to animals. She nearly made it to 100. She will be missed.

Nan Martin did make some films, most notably playing Freddie Krueger’s mother in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, but she was another TV actress who appeared on dozens of series in varied roles. 

John McGiver is one of my favorite character actors, partly because he was a high school English teacher who acted on the side and then, at the age of 42, took the plunge into a successful career on stage and screen. A devoted father of ten, he appeared in every TV show ever made (my estimate) and had memorable roles in many films, including The Manchurian Candidate and Midnight Cowboy. Every Baby Boomer would recognize his jowly face and clipped tones even if they couldn’t say his name. 

Bert Parks had a long career spanning radio and television, more as a singer and host than as an actor. He emceed game shows and anthology programs. What I remember him for is hosting The Miss America Pageant, where he would sing, “Theeeeere she iiiiis, Miiiiiiss Ameeeeeeericaaaaaaaa!” And Paul Shenar is significant to me because he was one of the founding actors of San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theatre (ACT) where I saw him perform many times. He played Alejandro Sosa, the main antagonist in De Palma’s Scarface. He was lovers with Jeremy Brett, TV’s Sherlock Holmes, and died tragically of complications due to AIDS at too young an age. 


Miss Aggie, the kindly high school principal and leading character of popular radio soap opera Everyday’s Journey, is played by conniving harpy Vera Bethune (Arden), who has carried on affairs with both her leading man, Lawrence Denver (Parks) and her announcer, Wendell Warren (Shenar). Both men are in the studio taping the latest episode, along with the newly hired actress Anita Leslie (Penelope Windust) and lovelorn organist Mary Lou Gumm (Beatrice Colen) when Vera pours herself a glass of water, drinks, and falls to the floor – poisoned.

Vera is rushed to the hospital where she survives the attempt on her life and meets Ellery Queen. That evening, someone sneaks into the hospital and shoots Miss Aggie to death. A bitter Inspector Queen feels responsible because he heeded Vera’s request for no guards at the door, and Ellery vows to help his dad find the killer. Meanwhile, radio star Simon Brimmer is competing to solve the case in order to impress Mr. Pearl, owner of Vitacreme, the sponsor for both programs, who intends to pull funding from Brimmer’s program. 

The late great Betty White in a rare dramatic turn (with John McGiver)

My take:

This is one of my favorite episodes as far as the milieu of radio soap opera and the wonderful cast go, coupled with the higher personal stakes both the Queens and Mr. Brimmer feel in catching the killer, which make this a more compelling tale. Unfortunately, in the end it devolves into another plot that hinges almost completely on a dying message, and while this time it sort of makes sense as to why Vera chose this form of communication (for once a victim did meet Ellery before the end and appreciates how his mind works), the meaning is so obvious that it shatters the suspense before the reveal.


Gurer’f abg zhpu gb fnl urer. Gur oenpryrg, znqr bs ivbyrg wnqr, pbhyq bayl cbvag gb gur bar punenpgre jub oebhtug Iren ivbyrgf va gur ubfcvgny. V fhccbfr qlvat zrffntr anlfnlref jbhyq or tengvsvrq ng gur fgenvtugsbejneq zrnavat guvf gvzr, ohg bapr gur oenpryrg vf rfgnoyvfurq nf n qlvat zrffntr, vg orubbirf gur jevgref gb trg gb gur erirny nf dhvpxyl nf cbffvoyr. Vagrerfgvatyl, Fvzba Oevzzre’f ernfba sbe cvpxvat gur jebat zheqrere guvf gvzr vf rira jrnxre guna gur gehr zrffntr. 

Gung fnvq, gur nhgubef pyrneyl xarj ubj gb hfr obgu Zvff Neqra naq Zvff Juvgr, cynlvat ba inevngvbaf bs gurve zbfg cbchyne punenpgref ng gur gvzr (Juvgr unq orra cynlvat Fhr Naa Aviraf fvapr 1973), tvivat Rir Neqra fbzr whvpl fprarf orsber ure qrngu, naq cebivqvat n zbivat pbasrffvba fcrrpu sbe Zvff Juvgr gb cresbez ng gur raq.

45 thoughts on “IN THE QUEEN’S PARLOR: Ellery Queen Episodes 5 & 6

  1. I like to think I know my Queen oeuvre, but I really don’t remember the dying message to be as central to their mystery-writing ethos as the series makes it out to be. (I am sure I will be corrected in the comments below so I apologize for my ignorance in advance.) I don’t *hate* the dying messages in the series, but they can make the episodes feel repetitive, especially when watched close together. Sure, that wasn’t the way the episodes were originally intended to be viewed, but it goes back to that idea of formula I talked about on the previous episodes’ discussions.

    I like both of these episodes though and the impossible crime of “The 12th Floor Express” is unique for the show. And I had no idea just how big so many of these guests stars really were. I know the bona fides of the REALLY big names, but you are teaching me quite a lot about these character performers, Brad. Many thanks for the accumulating trivia!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think EQ prepared us that the dying message would be a “thing” when, in 1932, they included a dying message lecture (akin to Carr’s locked room one in The Three Coffins) in The Tragedy of X. The difference at the time was that Drury Lane’s lecture, the example of the sugar therein, and the message used in the book were weak compared to every aspect of the impossible crime found in Carr’s novel. Then the trope played a major – and much better – role in the following year’s Queen book, The Siamese Twin Mystery.

      After that, it was much more often used in short stories, where it played much better, with some true classics like “Diamonds in Paradise,” “GI Story,” and “The President Regrets”. There, the story happens so fast, you have no time to worry about S.K. Ratner’s quite valid point that nobody would waste their final moments doing stuff like this.

      Queen (and his ghost writers) relied on the dying message and certain offshoots of it much more in later novels, with varied results. I think the offshoot works beautifully in The Fourth Side of the Triangle, much better than in the TV adaptation, as I mentioned in that post, because it’s not a message done in haste in Sheila’s final moments. The one in The Scarlet Letters is a bit wonky, but the most egregious – and it’s so bad that I take perverse pleasure in mentioning it over and over – occurs in The Last Woman in His Life. There, the dying man shot in his bed by someone who seriously shocked the hell out of him by their appearance in his room, uses his final energy to call Ellery on the house phone (EQ is his guest) and then has the wits left about him to ponder that – since he has a speech impediment AND is dying – if he says the killer’s first name, he’ll possibly point to Innocent Suspect #1, if he says the last name, he’ll accuse #2, while the killer’s occupation (two different words for it) will lead to Suspects #3 and #4 . . . the ridiculousness of it expands proportionately. So he says another word that – for most people living in 1970, would lead them nowhere. I thought it was very clever – when I was fifteen – but then there was the REAL horrific problem behind the book to contend with, which has nothing to do with dying messages.

      I’m glad you like the stuff about the actors, Nick. I was worrying that I was giving them too much space, but honestly it is so much fun to watch these folks pop up, some of them in tiny little roles (as we will see in the NEXT installment!)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for your own informal dying message lecture. I have not read any Queen short stories so therein lies the source of my ignorance. I remembered the one in Siamese Twin Mystery but there is so much else going on in that book that I honestly didn’t pay it much mind.

        It would have been interesting if the series had approximated the methods of those early books with crime scenes filled with bizarre clues and Ellery piecing the case together with mathematic precision. THAT is what I associate Queen with in my mind – checker pieces and coffee cups and playing cards proving to hold the greatest significance in the mystery, not a dying message left by the victim. I admit that I am a much bigger fan of the early “Nationality Noun” books than most so I am rather biased and Jim Hutton’s take on Ellery would certainly not have worked in an environment like that.

        Liked by 1 person

        • No, Hutton is NOT Early Ellery, but besides that and, as you so correctly state, the formulaic use of the dying message, the series is much closer to Period One than to Period Three. We’re coming up soon on an episode that, for once, goes to a much darker place, at least in the end, and this Wrightsville/Cat of Many Tails/Face to Face – loving fan loved it! But it is an anomaly on a series which, by their own admission, was light-hearted because Levinson and Link wanted it so. (The network was on my side!)


    • One thing I’ve discovered from watching classic TV on DVD. You have to discipline yourself into not watching two or three episodes in one sitting. You have to space them out. I try not to watch more than one episode per night, and if possible to leave a couple of days between episodes. If you space out the episodes you find that you enjoy 1960s/1970s TV series a whole lot more.


  2. Well, here’s where I veer far afield of your thinking. Regardless of whatever kind of cleverness 12th Floor Express offers, it hinges on a device that (especially here) distorts human nature for the sake of an extremely easy to deliver “ingenuity” (a dying message— even multiple-interpretation dying message— is a very easy thing to devise, especially when you have a free hand at inventing character names, occupations, room numbers, etc). Again, my problem is not the manner in the victim attempts to incriminate his killer, but that he tries at all— the history of the human race is one of desperate animals that will place even the most logically hopeless chance of staying alive over all other considerations (which explains all those horrifying scratch marks in tombs).

    Once again, I don’t categorically hate dying message clues, but one has to put in sufficient work to compensate for and justify the fundamental psychological fallacy of them. I don’t believe that we don’t see dying message clues in the real world primarily because people aren’t clever enough, but rather because human nature places a desperate struggle for survival as our top priority. The history of real-life culprit incrimination is limited almost exclusively to those who have already secured their survival. And “well, that’s just the way people act in this genre” doesn’t cut it for me— we might as well say it’s human nature to belt out show tunes when fatally injured, just because it makes it easier to write a story.

    And though it’s not as overtly tricky, the motive-method connection of Chinese Dog requires and entails much more author ingenuity than even the cleverest of dying messages. As does, for that matter, the alibi deception of Miss Aggie’s Farewell. As stupid as the dying message of this episode is— and it is arguably the stupidest in the series— the opportunist-alibi of this episode is one of the cleverest ideas the series offered… it almost fits into the After the Funeral category of puzzle plot concepts (though admittedly not nearly as cleverly clued, or really in any other respect). Like the Chinese Dog motive-method concept, it’s an idea that is worthy of a better package.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I wrote all that before I saw your response to Nick’s comment. I pretty much agree with all you say there. The irony is that the lousy dying message in Tragedy of X is accompanied by the one time Queen goes into what I consider the necessary effort to make ridiculous motivation appear less ridiculous. Siamese Twin is clever, but it begins that “that’s what dying people do, you know” reasoning that I find so stupid.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, we all appreciate Drury Lane trying to explain how this dying message business works; I just wish that the sugar example didn’t seem to have an unprinted sub-title: “Listen to Scott K. Ratner!”

      And . . . if you’ll allow me to offer a mini-rant, I see only three solid reasons for someone to perpetuate an
      “impossible crime”: to provide an alibi, to suggest suicide, and it happens by accident. The first two provide a logical motivation to think in complicated terms without someone displaying the mind of a lunatic who merely wants to stump the detective in the stovepipe hat and please some eager fanboys who love gimmickry. The third reason has provided some of my most enjoyable reading experiences. I grant you that The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is not a full-on impossible crime, but the murderer’s trick is compounded by the guilty actions of otherwise innocent people, and I love that. I love it when Carr or Halter use this, too, because it goes a long way to allay my scoffing at the ridiculousness of the method.

      I suppose there’s a fourth reason – to accomplish something that everyone would figure the murderer can’t do, as in a certain book set on a tennis court. So . . . four acceptable reasons . . . AND a ruthless efficiency and a fanatical devotion to the Pope – SIX acceptable reasons.

      Never mind . . .


      • I’m with you that many of the best impossible crimes are those which were not intended as such, but which unforeseen circumstances created an apparent impossibility.

        But I also two reasons you haven’t mentioned. One IS in a sense to display “the mind of a lunatic who merely wants to stump the detective in the stovepipe hat and please some eager fanboys who love gimmickry.” I mean, after all, isn’t that U. N. Owen’s motivation, along with bloodlust? It’s a matter of sufficiently justifying that type of mind, which I think Agatha Christie succeeds at entirely in that novel (I suppose it’s also KIND OF the motivation of the killer in Death of Jezebel— not for the murder, but for making it impossible— although, despite it being my favorite mystery novel, I can’t fully say I entirely believe the motivation for providing an impossibility).

        The other reason I can think of is as a catalyst for action by another character. The supernatural sighting in The Case of the Constant Suicides and the string of past impossible crimes (if you can call them that) in Till Death Do Us Part are both designed to get someone to do something that will fall into a criminal’s plan. Monk Goes to Mexico offered another example of this, but it was rather stupid (in a sense it is like the first half of Till Death Do Us Part, though the joy of Till Death is that it provides two almost diametrically opposed explanations for impossibility— not as alternative solutions, but both true).

        But my gripe about dying message clues is not a hypocritical inconsistency; an impossible crime that is not motivationally justified I find just as problematic. I’ll allow for some mild stretching of intelligence or risk or purpose, but people in murder mysteries should generally do things for reasons that people in the real world do them.


  4. In Episode 5 the obviousness of the impossibility and how it annoyed me has rather overshadowed the eventual solution in my memory, but with the help of the spoiler it is coming back to me.


    • I rewatched episode 5. It was ridiculous how long they spent on the simple “impossibility”, it took Ellery about 25 minutes to find the solution and then we get a long sequence with him finding it and explaining it. The dying message was silly, but the eventual solution was clever.


        • Well, not superclever, but it was a nice idea to have the elevator rewired, and it is a way for the murderer to be sure that he won’t be interrupted, which otherwise is inexplicable.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Ah, I see. Yeah, that’s not all that impressive to me, and added to a far from impossible impossibility and a ludicrous dying clue (I generally don’t like them, but this is not even among the better ones), I don’t consider it much of a puzzle mystery at all— certainly not one of the best. .

            Liked by 1 person

  5. Love the detail on the actors, that’s part of the fun of this series. Paul Shenar, sigh….

    I thought dying messages (or dying clues as they say a lot) became less of a thing as the series progressed, but maybe I am wrong.


      • Of course he had the perfect role for him in that EQ episode. What a voice. The more you get into researching these actors the more you find closeted gay men (and lesbians), many of the men having died from AIDS related causes, it was such a tragedy.

        I had no idea Mildred Natewick was a lesbian, for example, until I researched her when I found out she was a friend of Hugh Wheeler and Richard Webb and a Patrick Quentin “fan.” And I loved her up through Dangerous Liaisons!

        Paul Shenar reminded me of that actor who played in Dark Shadows and Boys in the Band and died from AIDS too. In fact Shenar could have played that same part. Always thought it was funny how he hit such fane, with a decidedly different demo, with Scarface. But he held his own with Pacino,in rather a different milieu from Ellery Queen!

        Liked by 1 person

        • I didn’t know Mildred Natwick was a lesbian either. We learn such important things by blogging!

          The actor you’re thinking of is Joel Crothers, who played kindly Joe and evil Nathan on DS. I’m a big fan of him and of the show. In the 80’s, he got a major role on the soap SANTA BARBARA as twin cousins, both of whom were pretty creepy. But he had to leave because he was dying, and you can see him getting thinner and thinner during his final episodes. It was the tragedy that kept on taking in those days. I wouldn’t have cast Paul Shenar as Joe; rather, he had the virility to play Burke Devlin.


          • I remember Joel Crothers though, he had that Tom Selleck stache thing going on. Wow, yet another actor AIDS fatality. I was five when DS went off the air but my sister loved that show like all preteen girls. All I remember personally was it had a vampire and a werewolf, lol. Seeing David Selby turn into a werewolf gave me nightmares!

            I saw a youtube clip of Grayson Hall on DS sometime back though and what a camp goddess this Drama Queen was lol. That and all the male eye candy surely make DS a queer hall of famer.

            Anyhoo….at least this DS talks fit in with the Gothic mystery craze. Another topic for the future!


            • Danny Horn has written perhaps the definitive blog on DS; I wouldn’t have gone that far, but I WAS a big fan and someday would like to write my take on it.

              Keith Prentice was one of the last actors hired and only appeared in one story arc, so we never got to see what he might make of multiple parts. It was also the dullest story to me (1841 Past Parallel Time) in order to give Jonathan Frid and Lara Parker a chance to play different characters for a change.

              Grayson Hall was one of my favorite things about DS. Her Dr. Julia Hoffman was the best mad scientist in love with the monster; when she got really scared, she made this wheezy/gaspy sound that I cannot approximate in writing – I’d have to do it for you. Her Magda the gypsy was a joy to behold (1897 is probably my favorite storyline, with Thayer David playing two roles: the doomed Sandor and the marvelous Count Ptofy. Plus, it’s David Selby’s show all the way from there, and who didn’t love and desire Quentin Collins???)

              Like all soaps, DS occasionally delved into the murder mystery. The best occurred during Parallel Time, which was a supernatural retake of Rebecca: the Rebecca figure (Angelique) came back from the dead by switching life forces with her twin sister Alexis in order to discover which of the men in her life had murdered her during a seance. It was a lot of fun!

              DS is on TUBI if you have access. I’m slowly watching it again (and it can be very slow going at times), but some of it is wonderful and, as you say, it just dripped with Gothic atmosphere.


              • Murders during seances are so classic. Paul Shenar was in Dark Mansions, by the way, an Eighties soap pilot that crossed Falcon Crest with Dark Shadows as the title hinted lol. I think he and gay-friendly Michael York, who I got to interview last year, played rival brothers and Joan Fontaine and Dan O’Herlihy were the parents. So Paul Shenar missed his big chance at a soap! Although he did guest on Dynasty!


              • I remember Grayson Hall in the early Sixties actually got an Oscar nomination for Night of the Iguana with Richard Burton and Deborah Kerr and Ava Gardner, the last of the big Tennessee Williams films I think. I guess that led to DS. She played the repressed lesbian in love with Sue Lyon, Miss Lolita herself. Like a lot of odd, distinctive actress GH did a lot of work on the stage, I gather! 😉


                • I never heard of the Dark Mansions phenomenon, but the movie-length pilot is on YouTube. I bet it’s terrible and that I’ll love it!

                  Thanks for the Grayson Hall clips. She was indeed very successful in the theatre, particularly in avant-garde plays like Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author, Genet’s The Balcony and Giraudoux’s The Madwoman of Chaillot. I know about Night of the Iguana but have never seen it.

                  I love that she was a nice Jewish girl named Shirley Grayson, and when she married her second husband Sam Hall (who wrote Dark Shadows), he called her “Grayson” like they were Army pals. And the name stuck.

                  Best Wikipedia biography ever!


  6. I’m enjoying these writeups. Makes me want to watch the episodes. Well, maybe only some of them, from your reviews…
    But I have to mention, the second episode of each post is always listed as “Episode One” in the post. I can only assume that someone has attacked you with a jewelled dagger and this is some kind of tricky clue to who did it.

    Re: impossible crimes and motives. I’ll have to read up on my Ten Teacups again. If I remember right, H.M. has a little “locked room motives” lecture, which listed something like the three you did above. He then adds a third one, something along the lines of “If everyone thinks it’s impossible then you can’t get caught/convicted”. Which seems pretty weak to me.
    The closest to a dying message in implausibility is probably the Scooby Doo kind. The sort of thing no one would ever do in real life.


  7. Those damn kids!!! Interfering with my smuggling operation AND screwing with the numeration of my episodes blog! I’ll get them – and their little dog, too.

    In short, I know I goofed, but I have no idea how. I have fixed things! Thanks, Velleic!


  8. The dying message stuff in episode 5 is ridiculous. Will a dying man really think that deeply? And even if he does, will anyone really understand the message? As you said, the easiest thing for the dead man would have been to try to write the name of the culprit with his blood.
    Otherwise, this is a good impossible crime episode .


  9. Two superb episodes in my view – I particularly like AGGIE actually, partly for the radio atmosphere and the great cast but also because I think it is a very clever mystery (particularly the use of the initial poisoning) and the dying clue is only brought up at the end and is not that big a deal (not that I care either way). I also thought that there was an interesting sexual subtext between murderer and victim that comes out well in the confession scene.


    • I’m so attuned to that subtext, but I didn’t see it. As for the initial poisoning, I guess it seemed so obvious to me how that was brought about – and why – that I looked elsewhere for the solution to the killing in the hospital.


      • Well, it’s only obvious if you guess 😆 I thought it might be too but until Ellery proves it … and let’s face it, you’re always gonna get there a lot faster than most of us! I don’t want to over emphasise this (and must avoid spoilers), and I am sure your antennae are way more attuned than mine … but I definitely think the subtext is there (not least because it gives the motive more impetus and the high level of emotion on display). Plus, you know, it’s 1975 and all that, so it’s at best just subtext …


      • Though it didn’t deceive you, I consider it a very effective use of the informal fallacy of composition (what is true of the part is true of the whole) which provides the central deception of The ABC Murders, Death on the Nile (and really all crimes of complicity in which lack of opportunity for one aspect of the crime apparently “rules out” suspects), etc…


    • And in the same episode was Sidney Miller as the morgue attendant. Sidney appeared in several other mystery shows (Cannon, Ironside, Columbo) but began his career in the first Hildegard Withers film, The Penguin Pool Murder.

      Liked by 1 person

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