Real Time with J.B. Fletcher - THE CATASTROPHIZER
 
This man is not the handsomest to have appeared on Murder, She Wrote (that was George Clooney), or the coolest (that was Bryan Cranston), or the Christian Bale-iest  (that was actually Jim Caviezel) - and yet, he is the awesomest.

First, there was the role of Rick Rivers in 1989's "Fire Burn, Cauldron Bubble." An unscrupulous writer (played by Brad Dourif - Wormtongue. WORMTONGUE!) descends on Cabot Cove to drum up interest in his book about a long-dead Cabot Cove witch (Cabot Cove had witch trials, just as it had the Battle of Cabot Cove during the American Revolution). He has employed a sneaky, unscrupulous, ferrety young media consultant - Rick Rivers - to stage mysterious events in order to make people care more about witches and snooty authors in hats. Someone dies; people are extremely perplexed; Jessica notices something and later remembers noticing it; she identifies the murderer; the murderer inexplicably confesses.

Then, there was the role of Frank Albertson in 1990's "Good-bye Charlie," an episode I've already discussed, because  Bryan Cranston was also in it. Frank Albertson is a sneaky, unscruplous, ferrety young man who decides to identify a random corpse as his uncle in order to claim an inheritance. Someone dies; people are extremely perplexed; Jessica notices something and later remembers noticing it; she identifies the murderer; the murderer inexplicably confesses.

Both roles, as I have already suggested, required an actor capable of conveying a particular kind of sneakiness, unscrupulousness, and ferrety-ness. Both roles also required an actor capable of cultivating a particularly luxuriant, era-specific hairstyle. As Dean Stockwell was too old and shunned mullets, both roles went to Bill Maher.
We know him now as a controversial, atheistic, free-thinking talk-show host, but then, he was simply an atheistic free-thinker who was forced to makes ends meet by appearing on Murder, She Wrote. Twice.

Here he is in action on Murder, She Wrote, saying only "wallet."


Dan Cooperstock
5/9/2013 16:05:48

Yes, I'm always amazed on detective or cop shows (Murdoch Mysteries springs to mind) how the culprits so often end up giving a full confession, when the evidence against them is far from complete.

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hamlet
5/12/2013 16:17:39

Bill Maher and his mullet appeared on Newhart around this time. He played a dim-witted local with a one-sided crush on Stephanie (the amazing Julia Duffy). He was much more convincing doing sneaky, unscrupulous, and ferret-like.

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