Deep Netflix: Hey, It’s George Clooney On ‘Murder, She Wrote’

02.12.16 10 months ago 4 Comments

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It’s important to remember that George Clooney wasn’t always “George Clooney,” both as a reminder that everyone has to start somewhere and as a way to not become furious that one person gets to be that talented, funny, charming, etc. In a way, it’s almost a public service to point it out. People should really be thanking me for what I’m about to do. Wait, check that. Honoring. People should be honoring me. It’s the least you all could do.

You see, back before he was a tuxedo-wearing Hollywood icon, and back even before he was a Caesar-coiffed doctor on E.R., George Clooney was just a schlub like every other young actor with a dream and a handsome face. Don’t believe me? Scroll down his IMDb page. Way down. Down around his appearances on Facts of Life and Roseanne. Because that’s when you learn wonderful things, like the fact that he has played one-off characters named “Rollo Moldonado” and “Major Biff Woods,” and appeared on the short-lived show Sisters as “Detective James Falconer.” Most notably, for me, forever, he starred in a 1990 TV series titled Sunset Beat, in which he played a Los Angeles cop named Chic Chesbro who goes undercover as the lead singer of a Sunset Strip rock band named Private Prayer. He looked like this:

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You can do anything if you put your mind to it.

Another thing you might pick up from his IMDb page is that he guest-starred in a 1987 episode of Murder, She Wrote titled “No Laughing Murder.” And this is where I have good news for you: This episode of Murder, She Wrote is on Netflix, because every episode of Murder, She Wrote is on Netflix. Another public service I’m providing today.

Clooney plays Kip Howard. (Kip!) Kip is the son of Mack Howard (Steve Lawrence), one half of an old comedy duo called Mack & Murray. Think something along the lines of Martin and Lewis. Since they split up, Murray — played by Buddy Hackett, who is giving it all the Buddy Hackett he can — has fallen on hard times and Mack has gone on to great success as the host of a late-night show. Here’s a screencap of his producer telling him about a guest. It seems like a good show.

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Cue drama. Kip is engaged to Murray’s daughter, Corey, which is a problem because Mack and Murray hate each other like poison and now have to spend a weekend together at Murray’s rundown resort for their kids’ celebration. And on their first night there, Murray gets stabbed while he’s brushing his teeth.

This is where I should pause and inform you that Murray’s stabbing is not the murder in question. Murray survives. It’s a mild stabbing. The murder that gets investigated comes later and involves their fraudulent business manager killing their agent and making it look like a suicide to cover his tracks in a multimillion-dollar VHS swindle. Important for the show, but not for our purposes here. This is also where I should inform you that Angela Lansbury’s character, Jessica Fletcher, is also at the celebration for reasons that are entirely unclear. She drove there with Kip and Corey, who describe her as their “friend,” because lots of engaged couples in their 20s hang out with 55-year-old mystery writers.

But anyway, Mack is the main suspect in Murray’s stabbing, in part because Murray vaguely accused him and in part because their conversation over dinner went… poorly.

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But something doesn’t add up. A few things don’t add up, actually. Clooney’s character told his fiancée that his father doesn’t “just go around stabbing people,” which seems like as good a defense as any lawyer could come up with. (“Mrs. Madoff, your husband is accused of running a Ponzi scheme.” “Your honor, my husband doesn’t just go around running Ponzi schemes.” “Case dismissed!”)

So Jessica — with the help of a doofus small-town acting police chief named Wylie B. Ledbetter (not joking), who is filling in temporarily because the regular chief is out getting hemorrhoid surgery (also not joking) — starts poking around, looking at the knife and inspecting the bathroom where it happened, and jabbing holes in Murray’s story. And what she figures out is that…

Murray stabbed himself! By wedging the knife in the door and backing into it! Because he didn’t want his daughter to marry Kip and have a grandson he’d have to share with his ex-partner!

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And here’s the best part: Maybe 30 seconds after Murray — again, played by Buddy Hackett — admits in a blubbering confession that he tried to sabotage his daughter’s marriage to George Clooney by stabbing himself in an attempt to frame her future father-in-law for attempted murder, she forgives him and they hug and everyone lives happily ever after. After they caught the murderer. Which they did because he knew where to find light bulbs at the resort. This was the real Golden Age of Television, people.

Okay, that’s about it. Anyone have anything else to add?

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Fair enough.

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