Gary Basaraba in Recipe for Murder (2002)

Making a Meal Out of Murder

Chief medical examiner Murray Maguire (Gary Basaraba) is proud of his actress god-daughter Leona Spencer (Anne Openshaw), especially as for the last 2 years she had been clear of drink and drugs. So when he gets a late night call to say she has died in a car accident it knocks him back especially when the police suspect she fell a sleep at the wheel. Suspicious that all is not as it seems Murray takes it upon himself to investigate bringing him face to face with some very powerful people who don't take kindly to his dogged questioning.

The whole concept of "Recipe for Murder" is not in the least bit original because here we have a medical professional believing that what appears to be death from falling asleep at the wheel is in fact something more sinister. It means that Murray Maguire decides to poke around to discover the truth and whilst it is his god-daughter who died it adds little to make it feel any different to say an episode of "Diagnosis Murder". And to be honest the way his investigation develops and pieces things together is not the most believable, oh there are some nice touches as he discovers why his god-daughter Leona fell asleep at the wheel but there are a lot of holes. In fact "Recipe for Murder" suffers from one major issue, typical of these sorts of TV movies and that is when Murray does discover who is behind her death it is plucked out of thin air as nothing had pointed to this fact.

Carlo Rota in Recipe for Murder (2002)

But the actual solving of the mystery is not really why you would watch "Recipe for Murder", trust me if you want a clever crime mystery where a doctor investigates a suspicious death there are a lot better movies to watch. Nope the reason you watch this TV movie is because of the character of Murray Maguire, chief medical officer with a slightly quirky style. He is a complete mix of nationalities delivering quirky Irish sayings but has an almost Mafia menacing side. He is a lover of cooking and loud music and also acts hip around young people yet can turn serious in the blink of an eye. He's not afraid of those people he suspects may behind the murder and usually has some sort of humorous put down as he leaves a room. It is not a real character but the easy going humour makes him pleasant and to be honest entertaining despite being false.

As such Gary Basaraba does a nice job of playing Murray, oh there are some shaky moments especially in the opening scene where his character seems seriously mixed up but he actually grows into the character. In fact if Dick Van Dyke hadn't been giving us "Diagnosis Murder" then Basaraba could easily have done something similar using "Recipe for Murder" as a pilot movie for a TV series. And it is a good job that Basaraba makes Murray entertaining because the rest of the cast fail to deliver, then again every character in this TV movie is a cliche from Murray's quirky lab friend through to the various men who could be behind the murder.

What this all boils down to is that technically "Recipe for Murder" is not good; weak storyline, weak characters and shaky acting are just a few of the reasons why you may find it poor. But if you enjoy the sort of comedy crime investigation set up as in "Diagnosis Murder" then "Recipe for Murder" will probably entertain with Gary Basaraba providing an amusing distraction as Murray Maguire.