Octavia Spencer to Lead ‘Murder, She Wrote’ Reboot on NBC

By October 24, 2013

Murder, She Wrote - Octavia Spencer

In case you thought that some series from the past were safe from being rebooted, one of the most successful shows in the history of television is getting the remake treatment at NBC.

Deadline has word that the Peacock has commissioned “Six Feet Under” executive producer David Janollari to produce and “Desperate Housewives” executive producer Alexandra Cunningham to write a reboot of “Murder, She Wrote.” The classic series followed Angela Lansbury as Jessica Fletcher, a retired English teacher who, after being widowed in her early fifties, becomes a very successful mystery writer and amateur detective, helping law officials in the coastal town of Cabot Cove solve murders in the area.

Octavia Spencer, who won an Academy Award for her performance in The Help, will lead the series reboot which has a put pilot commitment. This new version is described as being a lighter sort of crime drama series like “Bones” or the forthcoming “Fargo” series. In the series, Spencer plays a hospital administrator who also acts as an amateur detective and self-publishes her first mystery novel. It’s the woman’s fascination with true crime that leads her to work with real investigations in her town.

In addition, supposedly Angela Lansbury has been approached for some sort of role in the reboot. Whether or not she would recur in the series or just appear in the pilot is not mentioned though. As for Spencer’s casting, it’s the character that lured her to the Universal Television project at a time when her big screen career could be skyrocketing. Spencer told Deadline:

“I’ve always considered myself an armchair detective and in a recent meeting with Bob Greenblatt, he asked me what type of character would be able to lure me to TV. Naturally, I said ‘J.B. Fletcher meets Colombo’… And here we are. I’m ecstatic to have the opportunity to work with Dave Janollari again, and Alex Cunningham a brilliant writer who shares my love for all things mysterious and Angela Lansbury.”

Cunningham echoes her sentiments saying, “Octavia and I are both huge true crime buffs, amateur criminologists, and fans of Angela Lansbury. To get the chance to reimagine Murder, She Wrote for a dynamic and multi-faceted actress like Octavia is a thrill and a pleasure.” While we wish they would have done an original crime series instead of reusing an old title just to turn heads, maybe this could turn out to be a solid new venture. Of course, it has a lot to live up to since the original series lasted 12 seasons and even had four TV movies (not to mention the spin-off series “The Law & Harry McGraw”).

It’ll be interesting to see what homages and references to the original series pop up in the reboot. But the one detail I’m curious about is the location of the series’ murders. For those who don’t know, the long-running series took place in a small town, making the abundance of murders a little odd. In fact, Wikipedia points out, “Murder occurred with such regularity in her vicinity that the term ‘Cabot Cove syndrome’ was coined to describe the constant appearance of dead bodies in remote locations.A 2012 study of episodes found that Cabot Cove had a murder rate of 1,490 per million, more than 50% higher than Honduras, which has the real world’s highest murder rate.” So hopefully they move the action to a big city and maybe tweak the concept a little so it doesn’t so closely resemble ABC’s “Castle,” which was obviously inspired by the original “Murder, She Wrote” in the first place.

Are you interested in a “Murder, She Wrote” reboot at all?

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Ethan Anderton
Some of his favorite films include Ghostbusters, The Empire Strikes Back and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, while his favorite TV series include LOST, Mad Men, 30 Rock, Parks & Recreation, Arrested Development and Saturday Night Live.