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NBC Will Reimagine Murder, She Wrote With Oscar Winner Octavia Spencer
Murder, She Wrote may have been cancelled following CBSí questionable decision to move it to Thursday nights for the í95-í96 television season, but oddly, the show never really lost popularity. It still averaged almost ten million viewers an episode during its final season, produced four well-received television movies and aired more than its share of times in syndication. In many ways, itís a property thatís always begged for a reimagining, and apparently, executives over at NBC were listening.
The Peacock Network is partnering with former Desperate Housewives producer Alexandra Cunningham and former Six Feet Under executive producer David Janollari to bring back the beloved procedural with a slightly altered format and a pretty big name as the main character. According to Deadline, the show will star Octavia Spencer, best known for her Oscar-winning turn in The Help, and it will center around a self-published mystery novelist and hospital administrator who canít get enough of real-life crimes. She spends her own time investigating murders in her neck of the woods and assumedly, will work with the police to catch the killers. Original series star Angela Lansbury has reportedly been approached about being a part of the new version, but at this point, itís unclear if sheíll agree or what her role might be.
No one, not even an actress as brilliant as Spencer, will ever be able to replace Lansbury. She was loveable and brilliant as J.B. Fletcher. It was her heart and passion that turned the series into one of the greatest procedurals ever, but luckily, Spencer wonít need to be her version of Jessica. Thatís one of the great things about the showís format. Itís very simple and can become more detailed later. Yes, Spencer will be a female writer who loves solving crimes, but beyond that, she doesnít need to be the sweet, down home professor who hashes out the clues over freshly baked muffins. She can be her own Miss or Mrs. Fletcher. She doesnít even have to be a widow or live in Cabot Cove, though I sincerely hope she a) has her own version of Dr. Seth Hazlitt, b) has a caring and genuine heart and c) is a brilliant and confident female role model who isn't afraid to be the most intelligent person in the room.
Barring some kind of disastrous setback, this show is coming. NBC has given it a put pilot commitment, which means the network either has to air it or pay everyone involved a whole bunch of money. Typically, that means it will almost certainly get at least half a season order eventually. We wonít know a ton about what form it takes or how exactly it will all work until then, but it was reportedly pitched as having a tone similar to Bones, which means it will be lighter and far less graphic than a show like Criminal Minds. Thatís actually a good thing. As a whole, television is moving in the opposite direction; so, a show like this should standout from the crowd. Plus, it should have an army of old people ready to eagerly welcome back one of their all-time favorite programs. Here's to hoping younger generations are willing to open their eyes and give the modern day Miss Marple a chance.
For a reminder of how brilliant Spencer was in The Help, you can watch the featurette below...
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