Prime Minister of Australia
Malcolm Turnbull and Angela Lansbury

Photo by Steve Lunam

I love television as much as the next person who isn’t a monster. And yet, I feel like television is missing something these days. Specifically, it is missing Murder, She Wrote.

Murder, She Wrote has been off the air for twenty long and miserable years, and it’s time to put an end to our suffering with a Murder, She Wrote reboot. As it happens, I’ve found the perfect person to star in this new television series: Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Malcolm Turnbull is not only movie-star handsome, he is also Angela Lansbury’s cousin, so pretending to solve crimes is in his blood. And Australia is the perfect setting for a murder-mystery series, because much like the small Maine town where the original Murder, She Wrote took place, Australia is filled with an almost impossible number of criminals.

I’ve already written a script for the pilot episode. Here it is reprinted below, so you can show it to all of the television network executives you know.


MURDER, HE WROTE
Starring Malcolm Turnbull

ACT ONE

EXT. THE LODGE – MORNING.

MALCOLM TURNBULL, a handsome prime minister in his early 60s, is busy working in the garden. He is wearing a SUN HAT, GARDENING GLOVES, and RUBBER BOOTS THAT HE CALLS “WELLIES” FOR REASONS THAT REMAIN UNCLEAR.

MALCOLM TURNBULL looks up see someone running toward him across the lawn. It’s his wacky neighbor and deputy prime minister, BARNABY JOYCE.

BARNABY JOYCE
(gasping)
Mr. Prime Minister! Mr. Prime Minister!

MALCOLM TURNBULL
(sighing as he puts down a geranium)
G’day, Barnaby. How ya going?

BARNABY JOYCE
Mr. Prime Minister, there’s been a…a murder!

MALCOLM TURNBULL
(shocked gasp)

DISSOLVE TO:
EXT. THE LODGE’S BACK PATIO – LATER THAT MORNING.

MALCOLM TURNBULL and BARNABY JOYCE are seated at the patio table, enjoying tall glasses of ice-cold Vegemite.

MALCOLM TURNBULL
So Barnaby, you mentioned earlier something about a murder?

BARNABY JOYCE
Righto—thanks for remindin’ me! One of the members of your cabinet was murdered.

MALCOLM TURNBULL
Crikey, not again! Who was it this time?

BARNABY JOYCE
The Minister for Defence Against Marsupials.

MALCOLM TURNBULL
Not Paul Hogan!

BARNABY JOYCE
No, Paul Hogan is the Minister for Necklaces Made Out of Teeth. It was Angus Shrimpbarbie.

MALCOLM TURNBULL
Oh. Well, it’s still a devastating loss.

BARNABY JOYCE
Apparently the police are saying it’s an open-and-shut case. Shrimpbarbie’s wife was overheard threatening to kill him yesterday in front of a crowd of notaries public. She’s already been taken in for questioning.

MALCOLM TURNBULL
(thoughtfully stroking his chin)
Hmm…

BARNABY JOYCE
What I’m trying to say is, there’s no need for you to get involved, Mr. Prime Minister.

MALCOLM TURNBULL
(still thoughtfully stroking his chin)
Hmm…

BARNABY JOYCE
Actually, the police specifically asked that you not get involved.

MALCOLM TURNBULL
Maybe I’ll just pop over and have a look at the crime scene.

BARNABY JOYCE
What? No, that’s not—

END ACT ONE

ACT TWO

INT. – THE SHRIMPBARBIES’ LIVING ROOM – MORNING

There’s a body in the middle of the floor, roped off by police tape. Police are milling around, doing whatever things policemen usually do at a crime scene. Maybe writing in tiny notebooks? Plus they’re Australian, so they’re all wearing board shorts. MALCOLM TURNBULL is examining the body with a magnifying glass when he is approached by the POLICE COMMISSIONER.

COMMISSIONER
Thanks for coming down here, Mr. Prime Minister, but I think we’ve got this under control if there’s somewhere else you need to be…

MALCOLM TURNBULL
Nah, I’m good.

COMMISSIONER
Say, isn’t there an important vote in Parliament today?

MALCOLM TURNBULL
Probably! So have you found the murder weapon yet, mate?

COMMISSIONER
Uh, no, we haven’t. Shrimpbarbie died from a blow to the head, so the murder weapon could be almost anything.

MALCOLM TURNBULL
And what about these claw marks all over his suit?

COMMISSIONER
Well, we don’t know when he got those claw marks. I mean, look—I’ve got claw marks on my uniform right now. So that doesn’t really tell us anything.

MALCOLM TURNBULL
Commissioner, has anyone questioned Shrimpbarbie’s pet kangaroo, Hiphop?

COMMISSIONER
Hiphop? Aw, that little fellow wouldn’t hurt a soul. And besides, he doesn’t have a motive! No, Shrimpbarbie’s wife was definitely the murderer. We even found one of her earrings at the scene of the crime.

MALCOLM TURNBULL
…But isn’t the scene of the crime is her living room?

COMMISSIONER
Ha! You sound just like Janet Shrimpbarbie’s lawyer.

MALCOLM TURNBULL
Commissioner, would you mind if I take a look at Shrimpbarbie’s call records?

COMMISSIONER
I suppose not, as long as you don’t mind being extremely bored. I already looked them over myself, and it’s just a list of phone numbers! How is that supposed to be a clue?

MALCOLM TURNBULL
(looking off into the distance)
I’m not sure yet. But I’m going to find out.

END ACT TWO

ACT THREE

INT. – SOLICITOR’S OFFICE – AFTERNOON

MALCOLM TURNBULL
Thanks for seeing me on such short notice, Mr. Dinkum.

NEVILLE DINKUM
Of course, Mr. Prime Minister. Please have a seat. What is this regarding?

MALCOLM TURNBULL
(casually pausing to admire the framed photos on Dinkum’s desk)
Did you know that the last phone call Angus Shrimpbarbie made before he died was to your office?

NEVILLE DINKUM
Blimey, no—I wasn’t aware of that.

MALCOLM TURNBULL
Am I correct that you were his solicitor? Or “lawyer,” as they say in the States?

NEVILLE DINKUM
Yes, that’s right.

MALCOLM TURNBULL
I was wondering if you recall the details of that phone conversation.

NEVILLE DINKUM
Well sure, but what’s this all about, Mr. Prime Minister? Are you personally investigating the murder of Angus Shrimpbarbie? Is that one of the prime minister’s duties, or is this like a hobby of yours…?

MALCOLM TURNBULL
Why don’t you just tell me everything you can remember about that phone call.

NEVILLE DINKUM
Well, all right. Shrimpbarbie was calling because he wanted to make a change to his will. He’d just had a big fight with his wife, and he wanted to take her out of his will and leave his entire fortune to his pet kangaroo, Hiphop.

MALCOLM TURNBULL
(raising a single eyebrow in surprise)
Isn’t that a little unusual?

NEVILLE DINKUM
Nah, it’s a fairly standard clause.

MALCOLM TURNBULL
I see. If it’s not too much trouble, do you think I could have a copy of Shrimpbarbie’s will?

NEVILLE DINKUM
Sure, I don’t see why not. It’ll give me a chance to try out my new printer!

Dinkum hits a few computer keys and a large printer in the corner whirrs to life.

MALCOLM TURNBULL
Crikey, that’s some printer! Is that wi-fi enabled?

NEVILLE DINKUM
It is. Top of the line! I just had it delivered this morning.

Dinkum goes retrieve a stack of a papers from the printer and hands them to Turnbull.

MALCOLM TURNBULL
(scanning the will with a knowing smile)
Thank you, Mr. Dinkum. You’ve been more helpful than you even know.

NEVILLE DINKUM
With all due respect sir, I think I know exactly how helpful I’ve been.

MALCOLM TURNBULL
(chuckling)
No, I don’t think you do.

NEVILLE DINKUM
We’ll just have to agree to disagree then!

END ACT THREE

ACT FOUR

INT. – POLICE COMMISSIONER’S OFFICE – LATER THAT AFTERNOON

The POLICE COMMISSIONER is seated behind his desk. BARNABY JOYCE, JANET SHRIMPBARBIE, JANET SHRIMPBARBIE’S LAWYER, and HIPHOP THE KANGAROO sit in chairs opposite him. MALCOLM TURNBULL is standing.

COMMISSIONER
(annoyed)
Oi, Mr. Prime Minister, why have you called this meeting in the middle of me office? I’m trying to get some work done here!

MALCOLM TURNBULL
If you give me a few minutes of your time, Commissioner, I think everything will become clear.

COMMISSIONER
Well, go on then!

MALCOLM TURNBULL
I called you all here to tell you that I have solved the mystery of who murdered Angus Shrimpbarbie!

Turnbull waits a beat while everyone gasps in surprise.

COMMISSIONER
Was it Janet Shrimpbarbie? Because if so then you didn’t really—

JANET SHRIMPBARBIE
(shouting)
I already told you, I couldn’t have murdered Angus because I was all alone on an unscheduled walkabout!

MALCOLM TURNBULL
(calmly)
No Commissioner, it wasn’t Janet Shrimpbarbie. I thought so too at first, until I saw Angus Shrimpbarbie’s body. He shows every sign of having been attacked…by a kangaroo!

JANET SHRIMPBARBIE
(shouting)
Hiphop! How could you?

MALCOLM TURNBULL
Now, now, I know what you’re all thinking. But Hiphop was NOT the murderer.

Another pause while everyone gasps in surprise.

BARNABY JOYCE
Tell us, Mr. Prime Minister! Who was the murderer?

MALCOLM TURNBULL
All in good time, Barnaby. There’s just one matter I need to attend to first, and that is to confront the killer, by myself, down by the docks at midnight.

COMMISSIONER
Crikey, have you gone troppo? At least let me come come along and give you some cover!

MALCOLM TURNBULL
No thanks, I’ll be fine!

END ACT FOUR

ACT FIVE

EXT. – A VACANT DOCK – MIDNIGHT

MALCOLM TURNBULL stands alone underneath a streetlight, surrounded by a dense fog. You can hear gentle waves lapping at the shore and the sound of approaching footsteps. A shadowy figure steps into the light. It’s NEVILLE DINKUM.

MALCOLM TURNBULL
Mr. Dinkum. Thank you for agreeing to meet me on this vacant dock at midnight.

NEVILLE DINKUM
(sarcastic)
Anything to be of help, Mr. Prime Minister.

MALCOLM TURNBULL
I have to admit, you almost had me fooled, Dinkum. That is, until I saw that new laser printer in your office. I thought to myself, how does a small-town solicitor afford a brand-new laser printer? Then I looked at Angus Shrimpbarbie’s will, and there was my answer. You are Hiphop’s trustee—the person who is supposed to use Shrimpbarbie’s fortune to care for Hiphop.

NEVILLE DINKUM
Is that all you’ve got, Mr. Prime Minister? It’s not a crime for me to use Hiphop’s money to buy him a new printer. Kangaroos love printers. Everything I’ve done is perfectly legal.

MALCOLM TURNBULL
Everything—except for murder! You might be interested to know, Mr. Dinkum, that your earring was found at the scene of the crime.

Turnbull produces an earring from his pocket with a dramatic flourish and holds it up for Dinkum to see.

NEVILLE DINKUM
(obviously lying)
I’ve never seen that earring before in my life.

MALCOLM TURNBULL
Then why are you wearing it in this photo?

With another dramatic flourish, Turnbull reaches into his pocket and pulls out a framed photo of Neville Dinkum wearing an earring.

NEVILLE DINKUM
How the—? Did you steal that off my bloody desk? Stealing is a crime too, you know!

MALCOLM TURNBULL
(smiling)
I’m the prime minister of Australia, Dinkum. I’m legally allowed to steal things.

NEVILLE DINKUM
(clapping slowly)
Well good for you, Mr. Prime Minister. You figured it out. I confess everything! After Shrimpbarbie called to change his will, I saw my chance. I’ve always wanted a laser printer and finally, it was as good as mine. So I went to Shrimpbarbie’s house and gave him a little whack on the head…with this.

Dinkum pulls a didgeridoo out of his his trenchcoat. He holds it with one hand and slaps it into the palm of his other hand in a menacing way.

NEVILLE DINKUM (CONT’D)
I shredded his coat, of course, to make it look like a standard kangaroo attack. But you saw through that, didn’t you Mr. Prime Minister? You’re quite the amateur detective! You just made one fatal mistake. Instead of bringing this matter to the police, you decided to confront me alone on a vacant dock in the middle of the night!

Dinkum raises didgeridoo like a baseball bat, ready to strike the prime minister. Turnbull lifts his hands to block the blow, but then out of nowhere, a boomerang flies toward Dinkum and hits him in the back of head, knocking him down.

MALCOLM TURNBULL
(retrieving the boomerang)
I thought this might happen. So just in case, I threw this boomerang a few minutes before you showed up, timing it so that you would have exactly long enough to confess your crime and explain how you did everything before the boomerang came boomeranging back.

Red lights flash as a swarm of police cars pull up to the dock, even though no one called the police. (But that’s a mystery for another day!)

END ACT FIVE

ACT SIX

EXT. THE LODGE’S BACK PATIO – THE NEXT MORNING.

BARNABY JOYCE and MALCOLM TURNBULL are seated at Turnbull’s back patio again.

MALCOLM TURNBULL
…so Janet Shrimpbarbie and Hiphop agreed to share the laser printer, and now everything is back to normal.

BARNABY JOYCE
Good on ya, Mr. Prime Minister! That’s ripper.

MALCOLM TURNBULL
Yes, Barnaby, it is ripper. Very ripper indeed.

BARNABY JOYCE
I just have one question. How did you know to throw that boomerang right before you confronted Neville Dinkum?

MALCOLM TURNBULL
Well Barnaby, in my line of work, you can never be too careful. It’s actually a precaution I take quite often, before meeting with an acquaintance or colleague.

Out of nowhere, a boomerang flies toward Barnaby and hits him in the back of the head, knocking him down.

MALCOLM TURNBULL (CONT’D)
(chuckling)
Oh, Barnaby!

END OF SHOW