NBC To Reboot ‘Murder, She Wrote’ With Star Octavia Spencer

Published 2 years ago by

Murder She Wrote Reboot Octavia Spencer NBC To Reboot Murder, She Wrote With Star Octavia Spencer

As proof that we are in the midst of the true age of reboots, NBC announced today that the studio will be rebooting the classic Angela Lansbury detective series Murder, She Wrote handing the starring role to Academy Award-winning actress Octavia Spencer (The Help).

Despite NBC’s recent streak of failed reboots of classic TV shows – The Munsters, The Rockford Files, and the recently-cancelled Ironside – we’d normally recommend caution, but with Spencer in the lead, the network seems determined to make it a reality.

Deadline reported the announcement, with the show to be produced by Dave Janollari as well as written and executive produced by Alexandra Cunningham – no stranger to reboots, having written and executive produced NBC’s Prime Suspect, a ‘re-imagining’ of the Helen Mirren-led British series. The new Murder She Wrote will mark Spencer’s first regular series role on television, stepping into a show and role that the actress takes quite seriously.

Spencer explained how her role (and, seemingly, the show itself) came to be:

“I’ve always considered myself an armchair detective and in a recent meeting with [NBC Chairman] Bob Greenblatt, he asked me what type of character would be able to lure me to TV. Naturally, I said  “J.B. Fletcher” meets “Columbo”… 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.”

Octavia Spencer in Diablo Codys Paradise NBC To Reboot Murder, She Wrote With Star Octavia Spencer

Apparently, NBC is interested in making Angela Lansbury a part of the show in some capacity, but no further details are available. Despite Spencer and Cunningham describing themselves as “amateur detectives/criminologists” and clearly recognizing the legacy of Lansbury’s ‘Jessica B. Fletcher,’ the new form of Murder, She Wrote will be re-imagining several plot elements for a modern audience.

The brief description pitches the reboot as a light, contemporary procedural in the vein of Bones or Fargo, it follows a hospital administrator and amateur sleuth (Spencer) who self-publishes her first mystery novel. Set in a day where sensational headlines inundate the news, this woman’s avid fascination with true crime leads her to become an active participant in the investigations.

Spencer’s star will likely continue to rise over the coming years, with appearances forthcoming in Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer and Diablo Cody’s Paradise to name just a few. Of course, there is always the question of how many mystery/detective procedurals network audiences can bear before casting some aside. Especially given the similarities between the reboot’s description and that of ABC’s Castle, a show that adopted many elements of the CBS drama with Nathan Fillion filling the role of author/crime-solver, going so far as to jokingly dub the show ‘Murder, He Wrote.’

What do you think of the idea? Is Spencer the kind of star that could elevate the reboot above the imitators walking in Jessica Fletcher’s footsteps? Or would you prefer to see classic television shows like Murder, She Wrote left to the past? Share your thoughts in the comments.


Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.

Source: Deadline

Follow Andrew Dyce on Twitter @andrew_dyce
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  1. Why not?

    • Wynaut is a pokemon sir, and irrelevant to this.

  2. Could be good.

    The original was a classic but looks very dated now. I wonder if they’ll keep the theme tune?

    • IMHO almost all crime shows seems to be dated and formulaic w/exception of PBS:Prime Suspect and The W.I.R.E.

  3. I for one, have bo interest in this. And I doubt anyone who uses this site does either.

    • That’s where you’re wrong sir. I have very fond memories of the original. It’s time for a shared universe expendables type show with jessica, columbo, perry mason, quincy and matlock joining forces to solve who was behind a mysterious GENOCIDE! Make it happen powers that be.

    • @Emerson

      Bit of a sweeping generalisation isn’t it? I use this site and I’m mildly interested in it so how does it feel to be revealed as a liar on the internet?

      But no, seriously, I’m interested.

    • Count me interested!

  4. Meh, TV Show remakes are much like film remakes. Hit and miss. We’ll see.

    • Blasphemy..

  5. Maybe call it something else and just leave Murder She Wrote in the past. Love that theme song!

  6. I don’t know changing a white actor with black actor, judging by the last few million heated debates it could be right up ranters street!

    • @Emmerson Lake

      • Yuuuus?

        • I posted a reply to your first comment but it didn’t attach for some reason?

          • Same here, still under moderation 15 hours later.

  7. Matlock remake!

    • but with Morgan Freeman.

      • YOU JUST BLEW MY MIND!!!!!!!!!!! HOLY SH*T!!!!

  8. Murder she rapped?
    Murder she did wrote
    Murderz da rote

    • So you already know that’s pretty racist yes?

        • No. Actually, chasing cars’s comment was the definition of “racist”…and just plain m0r0nic.

    • Murdaz in da hood
      Murdaz mofo wrote
      Mudraz someone wrote and read out

  9. This is less baffling than a half-hour sequel to REMINGTON STEELE. It still seems like a show that’s DOA and Octavia Spencer seems like a character actress rather than a character lead to me and I don’t know why NBC would bother to develop this when they didn’t want the okay ratings but s***** demographics they got from HARRY’S LAW a couple years back, but, still. Less baffling.

  10. because ironsides worked so well

    • Ironside was this year’s Journeyman: the show NBC doesn’t even try to promote and instead cancels without giving a chance. Watching NBC episodes online, practically every commercial break featured absurd promotions for the series the network is shoving down the throats of its audience: Dracula.

      Ironside didn’t need to be called Ironside, true, but it should have been given more than a 3-episode opportunity.

  11. Not to start a can of worms opening up, because I do not want to take away from any ethnic background, or actors or actresses who can do a marvelous job in any role, but just an observation : how come you always see reboots with black actors playing white parts, but never white actors playing those that were originally portrayed by blacks? This probably says something in some cases about bias, but not what alot of liberal-leaning people would like it to.

    • The Tea Party would love that one. Sanford and son staring Tommy Lee Jones, The Jeffersons staring Paul Rudd and Good Times staring Kathy Bates.

      It will be all the rage at the Mitt Romney Galas.

      • Actually, Sanford And Son was a black American remake of a British comedy show about two white male characters called Steptoe And Son.

    • Casting characters that were originally white with non-white actors is about getting greater diversity into popular culture. There really isn’t a need for more roles for white actors, especially white men.

      But, I don’t know. What’s a project that originally starred a non-white actor that would make sense to reboot with a white actor now? Where there’s, hypothetically, some brand equity built into the show itself that would make it worth rebooting rather than just making a new show with the same stock premise? Brand equity that wouldn’t be lost by racebending it with white actors? I don’t know that there is anything.

      • Its networks way of getting more black people to watch. White actor/actress and many black people will say to hell with that. Add a well known black actor/actress and bam you just bumped the tv rating by a large margin.

        Works well with TV, not so much with movies as people hate seeing a loved character flipped for no reason, and many times its the MAIN character that makes no sense to be black – i.e. Johnny Storm. When its a supporting role like perry white in MoS its fine because noone cares/notices.

      • They remade Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner with Ashton Kutcher dating a black girl when in the original, it was a black man dating a white girl.

        That’s one example I can think of.

        • Wow, is something screwy with the site or are all my comments under moderation now? And if the latter, for what reason? I’ve said nothing racist in this article whatsoever.

          • I have had a few in the last couple of days myself, I don’t think the site flags it is as racist as it happens instantly? (could be wrong) Funnily enough I bought a very racist comment to lite in this very article and Vic duly deleted it and emailed me back almost immediately.

        • That’s true, but they racebent the whole thing, so there were really more white-to-black changes than black-to-white changes, more roles for black actors created by that switch. I think. I don’t think I’ve ever seen more than thirty seconds of it.

    • So many want to complain about there not being enough heroic (or super-heroic) leads of other races/genders but there aren’t any new characters being created. With the exception of The Blacklist, I can’t think of many U.S. shows that aren’t reboots, spin-offs or retakes on already established ideas. Even shows that were superior reboots like Battlestar Galactica could have worked just as well under another name, having changed so much from the original that it became its own series. Studios and networks cashing in on someone else’s legacy has become as trendy as being famous without being talented. Studios need to start taking a chance on original programming with powerhouse actors like we’ve seen from Edward James Olmos, Blair Underwood, etc. Maybe then they’ll help inspire audiences to become creative too and generate even more characters/programming in the future.

    • Hollywood is re-casting Asian roles with white people. If you follow the cycle then Sanford and Son should be recast with Asians.

  12. Perhaps black ladies and gents didn’t catch the first ‘Murder She Wrote’…..

  13. WHOA! Shes black! Thats means it will be good and obooma will watch it too! Way to go NBC! “And its a great way to stay in shape.”

    • These kinds of unnecessarily provocative comments just come across as a$inine (no matter WHICH party affiliation you have). Just stick to the topic, or look like an !d!ot.

  14. Yep and the next show after this will be Columbo.

    • As much as i love Columbo, no one can do the Lt. Columbo better than Pete Faulk

      • There’s really no character there without Peter Falk. It’s all just him working it out as a performer.

        You could certainly take the premise of a mystery where the killer is revealed upfront and the detective pretends to be sort of bumbling but isn’t and there’s a lot of cat-and-mouse with the suspect and do that. Although those aren’t really distinctive elements. LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT used those devices quite a bit. Plus a lot of Sherlock.

        • So did Luther.

  15. I’m fine with the original not being remade, BUT if the show is going to be redone, Octavia Spencer can definitely play an excellent Jessica Fletcher.

  16. All talk of race aside, it all comes down to writing. If the writing is good, it’ll be a good show. If not, it’ll tank. And she’s a great actress, so there’s no problem there. I never really liked the original enough to care either way. Back in the day it seemed geared to the geriatric crowd.

  17. As a kid I remember seeing this show’s theme come on and scrambling to find the remote to change the channel. It might’ve been good, but I just wanted to watch Looney Tunes.

    The reggae track of the same name is pretty catchy, though.

  18. I actually don’t like it when they ‘remake’ a show or movie to begin with. If they want a show with a female mystery author solving crimes, why don’t they just give the character and show a new name? Apparently they didn’t learn from the most recent remake of Ironside. That was cancelled.

  19. Is this a joke ?

  20. Considering the fact that “Castle” is basically a gender-swap reboot of the idea already (they even acknowledged that in an episode title), I was averse to the idea at first.

    But it’s starting to grow on me. And with an actress in her prime (not targeting people Danpaine has referred to as “the geriatric crowd”, I don’t see why this couldn’t be entertaining, if executed the right way.

  21. I’d watch it

  22. Oh heaven forbid that anyone come across as “racist!” Knee-jerk reactions to any comments about the race of an individual — when that is precisely one of the key differences between the original “Jessica Fletcher” and the new one. Yet,no one seems to take equal offense at the “geriatric crowd” comment