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Series / Murder Most Horrid

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Murder Most Horrid is a British Black Comedy Genre Anthology series featuring Dawn French. Each episode told a separate story with no overlap of plot or characters, nor of cast except for Dawn French, who played a key role in each. Once an Episode there was usually a murder, sometimes more, very rarely none, with most of the humour being related to the plot, but occasionally some humour is drawn from Dawn's portrayal of her character.

This show provides examples of:

  • All Part of the Show:
    • In "He Died A Death", an actor playing a murder victim in a stage play is shot dead for real during the rehearsal. After the intermission, Dawn French's character announces that he's been shot — then looks down and realizes that he really has, but her horrified reaction is initially assumed by the rest of the cast to be her forgetting her lines and repeating herself. Only when she starts shouting to stop the play do they realize that she's serious.
    • In "Dinner at Tiffany's", a games teacher is poisoned, and it starts to take effect in the middle of an aerobics lesson. Her death throes are mistaken by the class for aerobics moves, and they duly copy everything she does.
  • Always Murder: Subverted. "Mangez Merveillac" certainly features a murder, but a post-credits scene shows that this was just a story spun in order to sell film rights.
    • We don't actually see a murder in "Mrs Hat and Mrs Red", or even a body, but we do see a very suspicious-looking brand-new flowerbed.
  • Asshole Victim
  • Big Eater: Dawn's character in "Mangez Merveillac".
  • Celestial Bureaucracy: Described in an episode starring Dawn as The Grim Reaper who is unhappy with her new, less-grim makeover which sees her riding a pale mini and carrying a garden strimmer.
  • Catchphrase
    • "You know, Shakespeare really knew what he meant when he wrote that."
    • Used in "Murder At Teatime" in the Show Within a Show "Write Away", constantly, as "right away". Write Away itself is a send-up of Blue Peter.
  • The Chanteuse: Dawn plays one in "Smashing Bird", a lounge singer who is also a gangster's girlfriend. She's not very good at the singing part.
  • Couch Gag: The second-to-last line of the theme song changes in every episode to a different lyric rhyming with "horrid."
  • Cut a Slice, Take the Rest: Dawn does this with a quiche.
  • The Ditz: Dawn likes these characters.
  • Doppelgänger: The entire point of the episode "Mrs. Hat and Mrs. Red".
  • "Everybody Dies" Ending: Everyone except for Dawn's character's mother in "Overkill". If she had appeared earlier than a few seconds before the end of the episode, she might have died, too.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: "Overkill" is a pretty good name for an episode that ends with 14 dead bodies.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Dawn's character in "Murder At Teatime" is Bunty, a children's TV show host who gets jealous of her younger co-star Colin's growing popularity. She then writes in false letters from children for Colin to do ever more dangerous and/or humiliating things. Before the episode, Dawn actually quotes the line from Othello.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: In "Mangez Merveillac", Dawn's character Verity Hodge is killed and served in a stew to tourists. The Stinger shows that this isn't actually true.
  • Incredibly Long Note: Dawn's singer character in "Smashing Bird" does one at the end of her song.
  • Kick the Dog: Played for laughs, in "The Body Politic."
  • Lady in Red: Sonya Redfern, the Mrs. Red in "Mrs Hat and Mrs Red". All her outfits and shoes are red, and she has a much more attractive boyfriend whom she leaves her husband for.
  • Literary Allusion Title: A misquote from Hamlet, in which the late king's death is described as "murder most foul".
  • Lyrical Shoehorn: They ran out of words that rhyme in "horrid", so one of the lines of the theme song is " la la la la lorid".
  • Money to Burn: Happens at the end of "Lady Luck", where Dawn uses a bank note to light a cigarette.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: "A Determined Woman". See You Can't Fight Fate Below.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Dawn tries to sabotage a costar in the episode "Murder At Teatime", but the terrible things she has him do unexpectedly make him immensely popular. Because of the ratings boost he gives the show, he receives an award for presenting children's TV, which usually Dawn's character wins.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: "We All Hate Granny", Granny appears to be The Ditz, constantly forgetting things, such as taking her pills which were poisoned or constantly sleeping and avoiding whatever Zany Scheme her relatives had thought up to off her. At the end she takes her grandchildren away, while leaving the gas on at the home. Meaning when her daughter-in-law, who was a smoker, takes a cigarette out after "celebrating" another failed attempt at killing Granny, the entire house blows up. It is also implied A. Granny killed every other one of her children, in similar circumstances and B. Granny killed Grandad, who abused her.
  • Once an Episode: A murder occurs. Occasionally averted.
  • Professional Killer: One barges in on Dawn's impending suicide in "Overkill".
  • Shout-Out
    • The opening titles show French turning around, like the bust of Edgar Wallace in The Edgar Wallace Mysteries.
    • "Murder At Teatime" features the Show Within a Show "Write Away", which is a homage/parody of Blue Peter. It even has the garden vandalism scene.
  • Spoiled Brat: the grandchildren in "We All Hate Granny" come across this way at first, until Granny wins them over.
  • Stop Being Stereotypical: Inverted in "Mangez Merveillac"; Dawn's character comes across the titular village of Merveillac, expecting it to be a typical rural French village. It isn't, but she writes her travel book describing it as one anyway. When it becomes a big hit and everyone wants to see Merveillac for themselves, she bribes the entire village to put on an act of being country French folk.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: Some of the murders are done for rather good reasons, to really horrible people. These murderers usually get off Scot-free, or someone horrid takes the fall for them.
  • The Killer in Me: In "The Case of the Missing", a policewoman is sent to investigate a murder done by a secret society, but is given ever more ludicrous excuses by her suspects (all part of the society and having much influence) that she eventually comes to the conclusion that she was the murderer.
  • Time Machine: One shows up in "A Determined Woman".
  • Title Drop
    • The episode "Mangez Merveillac" features Dawn as a writer who has come to a small French town to write a travelogue, and ends the book (which is also called "Mangez Merveillac") with those two words.
    • "Murder At Teatime" has the fictional show "Write Away", and the title is used as a Catchphrase by the presenter very often.
  • Twist Ending: Several. "Lady Luck" arguably has the most brilliant.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: In "A Determined Woman" French plays a scientist who kills her idiot husband in a moment of frustrated rage. After a short jail term she uses her time machine to go back and try to prevent her earlier actions, only to discover that her presence in the past was what caused her husband to apparently act more stupidly than usual.
  • Zany Scheme: How the murders occur. Also where a lot of the humour comes from.