A storyline on a newly imported British mystery series was eerily similar to the real-life story of Alec Baldwin and the prop gun he fired last year on a movie set that was loaded with live bullets.
In the show, seen Tuesday night on public TV station WLIW in New York, a prop gun on the set of a popular TV show being filmed in a convent also turned out to be loaded with a live bullet instead of a blank.
The convent just happened to be the home of a plucky, motor scooter-riding Catholic nun turned-amateur sleuth -- the titular character in “Sister Boniface Mysteries.” Sister Boniface is played by Lorna Watson (pictured above).
The show is a co-production of BBC Studios and BritBox, where it premiered last February. It is now apparently making its way to U.S. public television.
Sister Boniface quickly deduced that the bullet, which narrowly missed the show’s leading actor, was meant for the producer of the show within the show, a fictional spy series called “Operation QT.” The producer was murdered later in an apparently premeditated electrocution.
The “Sister Boniface” episode was possibly inspired by the real-life story of Alec Baldwin, who fired a prop gun on a movie set in Santa Fe, New Mexico, last year.
The gun was also loaded with a live round, killing cinematographer Halnya Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza. Baldwin has not been charged with any crime.
The “Sister Boniface” episode, titled “Lights, Camera, Murder!,” was the second in the 10-episode first (and so far, only) season of “Sister Boniface.” Fans of “Father Brown,” the series about a crime-solving priest, are well-aware that “Sister Boniface” is a spinoff of that show.
The storyline in “Sister Boniface” also echoed one of the best-known episodes of the old “Perry Mason” show. It was the series’ finale seen at the end of the 1965-66 season and titled “The Case of the Final Fadeout.”
It goes without saying, but the plot of “The Case of the Final Fade-Out” preceded the Alec Baldwin story by 55 years.
In the episode, a prop gun loaded with bullets was used in a shootout in a TV western series and the show’s obnoxious star ended up dead.
The show aired on May 22, 1966. It brought the curtain down on “Perry Mason” after 9 seasons.
The episode is famous in “Perry Mason” lore for including members of the long-running show’s production staff as extras.
Erle Stanley Gardner, creator of the Mason character, appeared as one of two judges, and executive producer Gail Patrick Jackson was seen as “Woman at bar.”
In addition to its regular stars -- Raymond Burr as Perry Mason, Barbara Hale as his confidential secretary Della Street, William Hopper as private eye Paul Drake and William Talman as district attorney Hamilton Burger (literally “Ham” Burger) -- guest-stars in the episode included Dick Clark, Jackie Coogan (renowned as Uncle Fester in “The Addams Family”) and as the other judge, Kenneth MacDonald, best known for guest-starring in 15 Three Stooges movies.