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Whoa! NBC Is Rebooting ‘Murder She Wrote’ w/ Octavia Spencer Starring

Whoa! NBC Is Rebooting 'Murder She Wrote' w/ Octavia Spencer Starring

Wow – talk about coming out of left field!

NBC has announced that it is rebooting the Angela Lansbury detective drama series Murder She Wrote, with Octavia Spencer attached to star!

Alexandra Cunningham and David Janollari (Desperate Housewives) will produce, with Cunningham also writing the script for the reimagining, which will follow a hospital administrator who doubles as a detective enthusiast, who self-publishes her first mystery novel, which helps launch a more active career for her, as an investigator, assisting with real-life cases.

In the original, Angela Lansbury starred as mystery writer and amateur detective Jessica Fletcher.

The series aired for 12 seasons from 1984 to 1996 on the CBS network. It inspired 4 TV movies and a spin-off series, The Law & Harry McGraw. It is one of the most successful and longest-running television shows in TV history, with close to 23 million viewers in its prime, and was a staple of its Sunday night lineup for a decade.

Should NBC order this reboot to series, it would be Octavia Spencer’s first regular TV series role.

While I’m a fan of Octavia Spencer as an actress, I can’t get too excited about this reimagining by NBC, if only because of the network’s recent track record with series that star black actors. I’m immediately reminded of the cancellation of Ironside (just last week), which stars Blair Underwood – itself also a reboot of an old TV series.

There was also Undercovers 3 years ago; and Deception last season.

Surely there must be something original out there that they can build around Spencer, if they really want her talents. 

But kudos to Spencer on what could become stable employment. After all, more and more big screen actors are moving to TV these days – especially black actors.

Stay tuned…

This Article is related to: Television and tagged ,



I'm tired of tv taking the old shows and re-making them with a black cast. You don't see 'Good Times', or 'What's Happening?' being redone with a white cast. It probably wouldn't work. It just doesn't feel right, or make sense. Get some new ideas, and stop stealing from the past.


Not sure what happened to my original comment, but I'm guessing it got deleted because it was a double post. I'd mentioned shows like Quincy, with Jack Klugman and Matlock with Andy Griffith being popular like Murder She Wrote. The key was that Griffith, Klugman and Lansbury of Murder She Wrote were all seasoned actors/major stars/household names back then, and the writing on their respective shows were top notch. These were much older stars and there was a bit of innocence about each episode that I don't think can be duplicated today, not when there are shows which feature a serial killer (Dexter) and a teacher becoming a meth dealer (Breaking Bad), its very difficult to reach back into the past and take a much beloved show like MSW and try to update it. The writers risk backlash from those still watching reruns of Lansbury in MSW and reliving that nostalgia. It would be much better to create a show around Spencer's unique talents instead of re-booting MSW. Many of the solving crime shows today have way more gore than MSW ever did.

I recall a show called Tenafly, starring James McEachin. He was a family man who solved crimes not with a gun, but with methodical questioning and his unassuming nature. McEachin's nuanced acting was stellar. That show was ahead of its time, because it had a black lead even though McEachin wasn't well known, but he was a respected actor. I don't think Tenafly could survive today, because things are so different. It will be interesting to see how the producers update this show so that Spencer can call the role her own. Great picture of her by the way!

D.C. Kirkwood

Hell NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


So sorry for the double posting! I'm gonna try to put a link up for the little pre-school tap dancer:


Listen folks, we will continue to complain (unjustly) until we accept a few basic facts.

One, the racial climate in America and it's TV and film's gatekeepers has not changed sufficiently (enough) to support "black" films/TV programs and/or those with strong black leads. To that point, going back to the early days of films, the first black movie produced by Hollywood was the all black cast production " Hallelujah". After it's release… nothing, notta, not another film starring a black cast until 6 years later. After it's release… nothing, notta, not another release starring a black cast until 11 years later. Some may know those films but that's not important. Wait, of special note, there were dark-skinned stars in Cabin In The Sky, but the others had light-bright-nearly white skinned black female leads, including the beginning movie "Hallelujah". Anyway, the trend of a "black" film being produced many years apart from each other ( totaling 6 *I think?* until the early 60's) continued until Blaxploitation films and Spike's joints hit the scene. Whose dollars supported those films? Black folks, that's who.

I am suggesting, again, that nothing has changed in the mindsets of the gatekeepers and white viewers in general, they're just not into "black" films which do not have a strong white protagonist or white savior. If one believes otherwise, they may be putting their eggs in the wrong basket.


    Dude, the word is nada. There’s no such thing as notta.


***No articles about American Horror Story last night, huh?***
I hope Octavia Spencer-Lansbury can pull in the views. I will show my support at least for the first few episodes.


If the character is a hospital administrator, isn't that "Diagnosis: Murder," not "Murder, She Wrote"?

Miles Ellison

Is Spencer's character a mystery writer or a maid?


    I think she plays a racist who makes unintelligent jokes.


All of the other actors careers have been sold completely on their sex appeal. Her merit is similar to the origin story of many geek turned heroes film franchises. I immediately thought a very sexy role. Her presence and interaction with women of all colors in the potential story lines should make this a hit. Her wit and comedic timing will endear many white female audience members when she stays above the fray in a Jessica Fletcher way.


All the people that are so anti-reboot have to understand that reboots many times do well. Smallville was on TV for ten years! Elementary is doing well. Law and Order rebooted itself so many times I can't name and all of those shows except the LA version did well. I love Nikita and that is a reboot.

It is funny that we will have 4 Black women on network TV next year as the lead on shows and Black people will always find something to complain about. Only one of these shows is a reboot and the others are all original concepts.

I am so happy for Octavia. I met her years ago and there is not a nicer person in Hollywood. Even though this is not my type of show, I will make a point to support by tuning in and making sure to playback on my DVR.


This is really getting on my nerves. Have the networks ran out of new ideas. Why would someone would want to reboot? This is no disrespect to Octavia Spencer, I think is a fine actress but I don't see that it will last.

Geneva Girl

The demographics on this show will skew older. My mother STILL watches Murder She Wrote. What was special about that show was all of the guests. Each week is a new mystery and new characters which offers a lot of opportunity for actors of all colors. While the original show was benign, it had a safe, comforting rhythm. Some people, in fact, seek this out. It should be popular with the older women and Christian markets. They kept shows like Touched by an Angel going for years.

Good luck to Octavia. I'm sure that she's glad for a steady pay check especially if they give her enough freedom to continue to make meaningful, independent films.

I don't get it

"Surely there must be something original out there that they can build around Spencer, if they really want her talents."?


So you think if they didn't really want her talents they would even bother with the idea. Why would any business do that?

Stop it.


It's not wise to pull on Superman's cape, piss in the wind or reboot the iconic Ironsides (Raymond Burr) and Murder She Wrote (Angela Lansbury). If one does decide to partake in those foolish behaviors, going in they should know their hands are going to stink or get snatched off… and they're walking on sacred ground. Come on now, everybody knows you're asking for trouble if you try singing an Aretha Franklin song or sit in Raymond and Angela's seats.

Listen, if they wanted a TV series with a black actress in a role that white folks can wrap their arms around, not run them away, I have the perfect suggestion.

Okay… quick, what role did Octavia Spencer play when she won her Oscar? That's right, a maid. So, without further ado, I present the black author Barbara Neely's, Blanche White, a domestic worker extraordinaire turned sleuth. I've read Neely's series of Blanche white novels, they are a joy and the protagonist (Blanche White) is nothing to be ashamed of. Most notable about Barbara Neely's heroine Blanche is both her physical appearance as well as her occupation; she is a heavy-set, dark-skinned Black woman who works as a maid (hmmm, sounds like Octavia). Blanche is proud of her work and does not let it get in the way of her independence and proud personality. This immediately sets her apart from the typical protagonist. Other notable characteristics of Blanche are her curiosity, and her ability to piece together clues in order to find figure out mysteries.

Now, by a show of hands, who wants to see Octavia play the role of the black detective Blanche White, not a black faced Jessica Fletcher?


Mixed feelings. 1. Partly wondering if my utilizing eps of Murder She Wrote on as a sleep aid contributed to this. 2. NBC is where decent black actors go to get cancelled by episode 6 due to refried ideas, unsympathetic characters and lax directing. 3. NBC didn't learn from its attempts to reboot Ironside, The Munsters, Dark Shadows, and freaking Knight Rider. And somehow they're doing this and Remington Steele. 4. OS was hilarious on "Mom" this week, but this is a poo pie. Run, girl.


Here. For. It.


Not here for it. Octavia is incredibly one-note. Great for black actresses, though.


Excited for Octavia! But not excited for another reboot. Where is the creativity, Hollywood? *sigh*

Alta J. Cannaday

Every success to Octavia Spencer! She will make a fine sleuth. Work it, gurl!


Good Luck, Ms. Spencer. Great photo of her; very alluring.


I love this concept. Octavia will kill it.

Veronique Doumbe

Can't wait to see anything she's involved in. Congratulations Octavia.

Walter Harris Gavin

White Hollywood, and "white" entertainment culture in general is bereft of anything original. So in looking to capture some "black" magic they will retool "white" shows in Blackface, not always successfully as in Ironsides reboot. They've done it to some success on Broadway as years ago taking Hello Dolly which starred Carol Channing (who looked "white," but was passing), and "blackified" it with Pearl Baily, and it was more successful than the original. But "white" writers, producers can't step out of their "white" boxes, for the most part, even when they create something starring a "black" actor/actress. This will just be another "white" show in Blackface.


I think this could work depending, of course, on the quality of the scripts. The original Murder She Wrote was by no means any sort of great or important TV. It was the definition of mediocre TV. It wouldn't take a lot to improve on it. It would have to be a solid, well written show. Ironside was badly miscast by putting too virile a lead actor in the main role and second Underwood may be good looking but he all surface and superficial. There's no "there" there with him, to paraphrase Gertrude Stein. Add to that the lousy scripts and limp execution of the show and a quick cancellation was inevitable.


Okay. Remember alllll that dust up about Taraji Henson and TV Guide? Well here's proof positive about two things A) The difference between an Oscar WINNER and an Oscar NOMINEE and B) Good Reps and Bad Reps. Everything ain't racist. Just sayin'…

Jen Jen

Make that money, Octavia (…until NBC riddles you with a subpar script, frequent time slot changes, and little to no marketing)!

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