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The following is an episode list for the crime fiction television series Columbo. After two pilot episodes, the show originally aired on NBC from 1971 to 1978 as one of the rotating programs of the NBC Mystery Movie. Columbo then aired more infrequently on ABC beginning in 1989. The most recent episode was broadcast in 2003.

Because the Columbo episodes from 1989 to 2003 were aired very infrequently, different DVD sets have been released around the world. In the UK (Region 2), all episodes have now been released as ten seasons, with the tenth season covering the last 14 shows from "Columbo Goes to College" (1990) to the most recent "Columbo Likes the Nightlife" (2003). In Region 1, seasons 8 and 9 are grouped differently: all the 5 episodes that originally aired in 1989 were released on The Mystery Movie Collection 1989 DVD, while another DVD covers those episodes that were broadcast in 1990.

Season Episodes Originally aired DVD Release
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
Pilots 2 1968–1971 September 7, 2004 [DVD 1] September 13, 2004 [DVD 1] December 3, 2004 [DVD 1]
1 7 1971–1972
2 8 1972–1973 March 8, 2005 July 18, 2005 July 13, 2005
3 8 1973–1974 August 9, 2005 November 14, 2005 July 20, 2006
4 6 1974–1975 March 14, 2006 September 18, 2006 September 19, 2006
5 6 1975–1976 June 27, 2006 February 12, 2007 Unknown 2007
6 3 1976–1977 November 21, 2006 [DVD 2] April 30, 2007 [DVD 2] May 2, 2007 [DVD 2]
7 5 1977–1978
8 4 1989 April 24, 2007 [DVD 3] March 31, 2008 June 4, 2008
9 6 1989-1990 February 3, 2009 [DVD 4] March 30, 2009 May 6, 2009
Season 10 and special episodes 14 [DVD 5] 1990-2003 N/A June 15, 2009 [DVD 6]
July 27, 2009
2009
  1. ^ a b c Both pilots are included in the Season 1 DVD
  2. ^ a b c Both Season 6 and Season 7 were released on the same DVD
  3. ^ The Mystery Movie Collection 1989 DVD released in Region 1 covers all the episodes that originally aired in 1989: All 4 episodes from Season 8 and the first one from Season 9
  4. ^ The Mystery Movie Collection 1990 DVD released in Region 1 covers all the episodes that originally aired in 1990: The last 5 episodes from Season 9 and the first one from Season 10
  5. ^ The Season 10 DVDs released in Regions 2 and 4 cover the last 14 episodes. As of 2010, these shows have not yet been released on DVD in Region 1.
  6. ^ In Region 2, Season 10 was released into two volumes: Of those final 14 episodes, Volume I covers the first 8 while Volume 2 contains the last 6.

Contents

Episodes

Pilots

"Prescription: Murder" (2/20/68)
Gene Barry is Dr. Ray Flemming, a psychiatrist who murders his wife and uses an actress/patient/lover to impersonate her to create an alibi.
"Ransom for a Dead Man" (3/1/71)
Lee Grant is Leslie Williams, a powerful egotistical lawyer and aviatrix, who murders her husband to get his money by making it look as if he had been kidnapped and killed by kidnappers. Columbo and Leslie's step-daughter, who hates her, successfully work together to get Williams to implicate herself by revealing where the money is.

Season 1

"Murder by the Book" (9/15/71)
Jack Cassidy is Ken Franklin, one-half of the "Mrs. Melville" mystery writing team, who kills his partner, Jim Ferris (Martin Milner). Ferris wants to break up the team and write solo, but this would expose Franklin as the non-writing half of the "team." When a witness (Barbara Colby) tries to blackmail Franklin into a relationship, he finds he must kill her too. Franklin soon realises, though, that no murder is perfect, and that one of his books may return to haunt him. Steven Spielberg directed and Steven Bochco wrote this episode, which was voted by TV Guide as one of the top ten television episodes of all time.
"Death Lends a Hand" (10/6/71)
Robert Culp is Brimmer, the head of a private detective agency. His agency is hired by Arthur Kennicut (Ray Milland), a powerful publishing magnate (modeled after William Randolph Hearst). Kennicut suspects his trophy wife (Pat Crowley)'s extracurricular activities are less than honorable. Brimmer reports to his client that the wife has a "clean bill of health", and then attempts to blackmail the wife into revealing secrets about her husband. She refuses his offer and threatens to expose his plot to her husband, at which point Brimmer accidentally kills her in a fit of fury. Series creators Richard Levinson and William Link won an Emmy for writing this episode.
"Dead Weight" (10/27/71)
Eddie Albert is Major General Martin Hollister, a "Patton"-esque retired Marine Corps General who kills his partner in a defense embezzlement scheme. Suzanne Pleshette is Helen Stewart, the witness who first reports the crime and is then wooed by the General into doubting her own story.
"Suitable for Framing" (11/17/71)
Ross Martin is Dale Kingston, an art critic who murders his uncle and frames his aunt, all to obtain what is considered to be one of the most valuable art collections in the world. Kingston believes in his carefully wrought plan to frame her, and refuses to believe that Columbo can be taken seriously. Kim Hunter guests as Edna Matthews, the aunt briefly under suspicion. Don Ameche portrays the family lawyer Frank Simpson.
"Lady in Waiting" (12/15/71)
Susan Clark is Beth Chadwick, the milquetoast younger sister of a domineering brother played by Richard Anderson. Her determination for freedom leads her to murder him and assume control of both her own life and the family business. She arranges for it to look like an accident but is tripped up by her own fiancée. Her mother is played by veteran actress Jessie Royce Landis, in her last performance before her untimely death from cancer. Leslie Nielsen portrays Peter Hamilton, the suitor with the perfect memory. Steven Bochco chalks up another writer's credit.
"Short Fuse" (1/19/72)
Roddy McDowall is Roger Stanford, a chemist whose uncle (James Gregory) has taken over the business his parents built and his aunt (Ida Lupino) controls. When Uncle David proposes selling the business to a conglomerate in return for a seat on the board of directors, Roger decides to remove his uncle from office with a box of exploding cigars. William Windom guests as the next-in-line VP who must be removed by suspicion before Roger can move into the corner office.
"Blueprint for Murder" (2/9/72)
Patrick O'Neal is Elliot Markham, an architect with a vision for a city of the future and a penchant for classical music. Forrest Tucker is Bo Williamson, a cowboy with a ton of money, a beautiful trophy wife, and a still-close relationship with his first wife Goldie. Markham needs Bo dead in order to gain access to his money through the younger Mrs. Williamson, yet he also needs Bo alive to prevent Bo's money from going into a trust. Markham must therefore come up with a clever way to dispose of the body and make it look as if Bo is simply on extended overseas business trip. Peter Falk made his directorial debut with this episode.

Season 2

"Étude in Black" (9/17/72)
John Cassavetes is Alex Benedict, the conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. Benedict is having an affair with Jennifer Welles (Anjanette Comer). When Jennifer insists on "outing" their relationship, Benedict devises a clever plan to murder her and make it look like a suicide. Columbo pesters the maestro with questions as he searches for clues to place Benedict at the murder scene. Blythe Danner guests as the jilted wife. Steven Bochco wrote this episode. Nicholas Colasanto (Coach on Cheers) has the director's credit.
"The Greenhouse Jungle" (10/15/72)
Ray Milland is Jarvis Goodland, uncle of Tony Goodland (Bradford Dillman). Together they come up with a plan to break Tony's trust fund by staging a kidnapping. Uncle Jarvis has an extra twist in mind; he kills his nephew once the ransom is paid. A careful swapping of guns with Tony's philandering wife casts suspicion in her direction. This episode marks the debut of Sgt. Wilson (Bob Dishy) as the normally solo Columbo's departmentally assigned "partner."
"The Most Crucial Game" (11/5/72)
Robert Culp returns, this time as Paul Hanlon, general manager of Los Angeles Rockets, a pro football team. Dean Stockwell is the young, indifferent owner Eric who inherited the team but whose lack of ambition stands in the way of Hanlon's plan to create a major sports empire. Hanlon concocts a plan to kill Eric in his home swimming pool during a football game that Hanlon is attending, thus creating a seemingly airtight alibi. Valerie Harper has a small role as a call girl.
"Dagger of the Mind" (11/26/72)
Richard Basehart is husband Nicholas Frame and Honor Blackman (Pussy Galore in Goldfinger) is wife Lillian Stanhope. Together, the two hatch a plan in which she sweet talks elderly Sir Roger Haversham (John Williams) into backing their theatre production with promises of romance. When he realizes he is being teased, he confronts the couple and decides to cancel the show. A fight ensues and the old man is accidentally killed. The pair must cover up their accident by stuffing the gentleman in a trunk, taking him home to his estate, and staging an accident of a different sort. Columbo is visiting London as the guest of Scotland Yard Detective Chief Superintendent William Durk (Bernard Fox), who stops by the estate to investigate the "accident" the two actors have staged. Columbo sees things differently, and the chase is on.
"Requiem for a Falling Star" (1/21/73)
Anne Baxter is Nora Chandler, an aging former movie queen. Pippa Scott is her personal assistant Jean Davis. Mel Ferrer is gossip reporter Jerry Parks, who has secret information about Ms. Chandler and is newly engaged to Jean. Jean and Jerry switch vehicles one night and Nora sets Jerry's garage alight just as his car pulls into it. Was it a case of mistaken identity or an attempt to stem the possible flow of confidential information? The truth is unraveled by Columbo as he digs into the case. Oscar winning costume designer Edith Head has a cameo as herself.
"A Stitch in Crime" (2/11/73)
Leonard Nimoy is Dr. Barry Mayfield. Will Geer is Dr. Edmund Hidemann. Together, the two have pioneered a major medical breakthrough which Mayfield wants to publish ASAP, while Hidemann wants to continue testing. When Dr. Hidemann has a heart attack and needs an emergency bypass, Mayfield performs the surgery and plans to kill his partner by placing dissolving sutures in his heart. Their nurse Sharon Martin (Anne Francis) discovers the plot and attempts to expose the suture situation before it dissolves into disaster. Mayfield has to kill her before she can expose him, so he stages a mugging and attempts to pin the murder on an ex-boyfriend drug addict. It doesn't take Columbo long to discover the true motive, but proving it takes a bit more sleight of hand.
"The Most Dangerous Match" (3/4/73)
Laurence Harvey is chess Grandmaster Emmett Clayton. Jack Kruschen is an Eastern European champion Tomlin Dudek. When Clayton loses an unofficial game to Dudek at a restaurant the night before their official match, he realizes that he must kill his rival to keep from losing the next day. So hard of hearing Clayton lures him to the basement and shoves him into the garbage grinder. But his hearing aid is broken and he doesn't realize that the grinder automatically shuts itself off when anything big falls into it. Dudek survives and now Clayton must poison his rival in the hospital before he regains consciousness. All the while, Columbo investigates the accident...
"Double Shock" (3/25/73)
Martin Landau portrays twins Dexter and Norman Paris. When Uncle Clifford becomes engaged to Julie Newmar, the boys decide to get rid of their uncle before he can change his will. Dexter, a free-spending cooking show host, and Norman, a banker with a gambling habit, conspire to pass off the murder (by mixer-in-the-bathtub electrocution) as an accidental heart attack. Clifford's lawyer reveals that indeed a new will already exists and that he will be willing to "lose" all copies of it for a price. The one hitch is that the fiancée has a copy of it too, so the boys decide to kill the fiancée and frame the lawyer.

Season 3

"Lovely But Lethal" (9/23/73)
Vera Miles is cosmetics queen Viveca Scott, whose company has developed a seemingly magic wrinkle remover. The formula has been stolen by Karl Lessing (Martin Sheen), a chemist who refuses to sell it back to her at any price. Ms. Scott then kills her employee and former lover before he can sell it to her competitor, cosmetics king David Lang (Vincent Price). When her rival's secretary (Sian Barbara Allen) reveals that she recognizes the young victim and suspects the motive for the murder, Viveca decides she must kill her too. Only Columbo has the mental acumen to see through the beauty to the truth. French film director Jeannot Szwarc directed this episode.
"Any Old Port in a Storm" (10/7/73)
Donald Pleasence is Adrian Carsini, owner of a small winery that specializes in unprofitable but prized wines. While Adrian inherited the winery, spendthrift playboy half-brother Rick got the land. Tired of Adrian's indulgences, Rick tells him that he has agreed to sell the land to the TV equivalent of the Gallo Brothers, mass producers of cheap, profitable wines. In a fit of anger at the news, Adrian clubs Rick over the head, ties him up, and leaves him to die in an airtight wine cellar, while Adrian jets off for a week in New York to accept an award and attend wine auctions. Upon his return, Adrian concocts a scuba diving accident to cover the crime. Columbo suspects Carsini almost immediately, and he befriends Carsini while slyly searching for clues to link him to the murder. This episode was shot on location at the Mirassou Winery in San Jose, CA. The title of the episode references a popular song composed in 1908.
"Candidate For Crime" (11/4/73)
Jackie Cooper is Senatorial candidate Nelson Hayward. His domineering campaign manager Harry Stone is getting in the way of his womanizing, so Hayward plots to remove him. He trades places with Stone and then kills him in Hayward's garage, thus making it seem to be a case of mistaken identity by assassins after Hayward. Columbo hits the election campaign trail to catch the killer.
"Double Exposure" (12/16/73)
Robert Culp returns in his third appearance as a murdering mastermind. He is Dr. Bart Keppel, who pioneered the infamous subliminal cuts. He uses this technique to kill a major client who is about to fire his company. When his projectionist (Chuck McCann) discovers the "cuts" and then pieces together the plot, Keppel kills him as well. Columbo does not fall for Keppel's psychological tricks, however. This episode, written by Stephen J. Cannell, received the Emmy Award in the category for Outstanding Limited Series.
"Publish or Perish" (1/18/74)
Jack Cassidy returns in his second stint as a murderer. This time around, he is Riley Greenleaf, a publisher with author Alan Mallory under contract, but not for long. {Mallory is ironically portrayed by real-life fictional crime author Mickey Spillane}. When Mallory decides to leave Greenleaf for another publisher, Riley has no choice but to kill the goose that lays his golden eggs. He hires ex-con and avid homemade bomb enthusiast Eddie Kane (John Chandler), to do the actual job while Riley is off creating an alibi for himself. To cover his tracks, Riley must then kill Kane with one of his own bombs, making it look like an accident. But Columbo discovers the link between the two crimes and the plot blows up in Greenleaf's face. (This episode has a "Split Screen" showing Kane killing Mallory while Riley establishes an alibi).
"Mind Over Mayhem" (2/10/74)
José Ferrer is Dr. Marshall Cahill, head of a huge high tech Pentagon think tank. Cahill's son Neil (Robert Walker, Jr.) plagiarizes a paper from a recently deceased scientist and passes it off as his own work. When his colleague Dr. Howard Nicholson (Lew Ayres) threatens to expose Neil, Cahill resorts to murder to protect his son. Even Columbo immediately picks up clues that will demolish Cahill's carefully planned murder. Jessica Walter portrays Howard's wife and Neil's psychiatrist Margaret. Robby the Robot appears as the intelligent robot in the cybernetics institution. Steven Bochco also wrote this episode.
"Swan Song" (3/3/74)
Johnny Cash is Tommy Brown, gospel singing superstar. Ida Lupino is his wife Edna, head of the ministry seeking to build a new tabernacle. Since Edna caught Tommy cheating on her with an underage girl, she has been blackmailing Tommy into donating all of the proceeds from his concerts and records to the building fund. When Tommy decides he has had enough, he slips the girls drugged coffee to put them to sleep on their small private plane while flying into Los Angeles and then bails out with a homemade parachute. Edna's brother Luke (Bill McKinney) insists that the police handle the case as a homicide, while the FAA is ready to write it off to an unfortunate accident. In the course of the investigation, Columbo comes to realize that Tommy Brown is one of the most sympathetic murderers he has ever pursued. Nicholas Colasanto (Coach on Cheers) took his second turn behind the camera to direct this episode.
"A Friend in Deed" (5/5/74)
Richard Kiley is police commissioner Mark Halperin. When neighbor Hugh Caldwell kills his wife in the heat of a fight, he seeks help from his friend. Halperin sees an opportunity to kill his own wife, an heiress who refuses to share her wealth. He helps Hugh cover up the first crime and forces Hugh to assist him a few nights later. They arrange it so that a cat burglar who has recently been active in their neighborhood is seen as the culprit. Columbo soon realizes what has actually happened and utilizes the burglar to help him catch the real perpetrators. Actor Ben Gazzara took his second turn behind the camera to direct this episode.

Season 4

"An Exercise in Fatality" (9/15/74)
Robert Conrad is Milo Janus, an exercise guru, who is squeezing the franchisees who operate his namesake gyms. When one of those owners threatens to expose Janus and open his operation to fraud and extortion investigations, Janus kills the man in his own gym. He then concocts a complicated plan to create the perfect alibi, and as Columbo eventually reveals, "You tried to create the perfect alibi, and it's your perfect alibi that's going to hang you." Pat Harrington, Jr., Gretchen Corbett and Collin Wilcox also guest star on this episode.
"Negative Reaction" (10/6/74)
Dick Van Dyke is Paul Galesko, a professional photographer. In order to kill his domineering, nagging wife Frances, Galesko hires ex-con Alvin Deschler (Don Gordon) to take pictures of country property for him, while he stages a kidnapping of his wife. Galesko then kills his captive, and proceeds to meet Deschler at a staged ransom drop, where he proceeds to kill his unsuspecting dupe. He then shoots himself in the leg, plants the gun on Deschler, and reports that he killed the "kidnapper". Columbo, as usual, doggedly digs at the details until he unravels the plot. Larry Storch and Joyce Van Patten also guest star on this episode.
"By Dawn's Early Light" (10/27/74)
Patrick McGoohan is Colonel Lyle C. Rumford, head of the all-boys military-style Haynes Academy. William Haynes is the head of the Board of Trustees who has decided that the answer to declining enrollment is to make the Academy a coed school. The Colonel's answer is to rig the school cannon to explode and finesse Mr. Haynes into firing the cannon on Founder's Day. He then tries to pin the "accident" on a cadet who had gun cleaning duty that week. Ironically, Rumford is tripped up by his own fanatic sense of duty. Bruno Kirby, son of Columbo regular Bruce Kirby, plays one of the academy students. McGoohan won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Comedy or Drama Series for his portrayal of Colonel Rumford.
"Troubled Waters" (2/9/75)
Robert Vaughn is Hayden Danziger, an auto executive who is having an affair with the cruise's lounge singer Rosanna Wells. When she threatens to expose the affair to his much older wife Sylvia (Jane Greer), Hayden plots to stop her from "singing". Columbo happens to be on board, as his wife won the cruise in a church raffle. He is pressed into service by the ship's captain (Patrick Macnee) once the murder is discovered, much to Danzinger's bad luck. Dean Stockwell, Bernard Fox and Robert Douglas also guest star on this episode. Actor Ben Gazzara took his third turn behind the camera to direct this episode.
"Playback" (3/2/75)
Oskar Werner is Harold Van Wick, an electronic-gadget obsessed man, who runs his mother-in-law's company. When his mother-in-law Margaret Meadis (Martha Scott) decides to remove him from his position, he retaliates by removing her instead. He uses his high-tech home security system to tape the murder, which he then plays back to the guards' monitor on a time delay, making it appear as if the murder occurred after he had left the house for a party. Columbo uses the same system to break his alibi. Gena Rowlands portrays Harold's wheelchair bound wife Elizabeth, who proves instrumental in convicting her husband. Robert Brown and Trisha Noble also guest star on this episode.
"A Deadly State of Mind" (4/27/75)
George Hamilton is Dr. Mark Collier, a psychiatrist having an affair with patient Nadia Donner, portrayed by Lesley Ann Warren. When confronted by her cuckolded husband Carl Donner (Stephen Elliott) in their beach house, Collier kills him with a fireplace poker. He then concocts a cover story involving a home robbery gone astray. When Nadia's resolve begins to weaken, Collier uses hypnosis to trick her into diving into an imaginary swimming pool from her fifth story balcony. Ironically, the only witness to the original crime, a blind man walking past the house as Collier was leaving, proves to be his undoing.

Season 5

"Forgotten Lady" (9/14/75)
Janet Leigh is Grace Wheeler, an aging former movie star, now married to a wealthy doctor, Henry Willis (Sam Jaffe). John Payne is Ned Diamond, her long time song and dance partner. The pair is fashioned after Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. When Henry refuses to finance her return to the spotlight, Grace coldly kills him in his sleep, and tries to pass it off as a suicide. Her butler, played by Maurice Evans, believes she was in the screening room the entire time, watching one of her classic films. This is the only episode where the murderer is not arrested as Diamond falsely confesses, to save Grace, knowing that she is dying of a brain disease she herself is unaware of. Columbo goes along with the ploy, and by the time Diamond is cleared, Grace would have passed away after spending her last days living happily in the past.
  • This episode features excerpts from the 1953 musical comedy Walking My Baby Back Home which starred Janet Leigh.
"A Case of Immunity" (10/12/75)
Hector Elizondo is Hassan Salah, the chief diplomat of the Legation of Swahari, an Arab nation with a new young king. Hassan enlists Rachman Habib, played by Sal Mineo, to help him stage a robbery at the Legation; the real aim is to murder the head of security. Hassan pins the murder on the now absent Habib, who as part of the plan has gone into hiding. Columbo quickly unravels the truth, but finds himself stymied by the fact that Salah has diplomatic immunity and cannot be arrested. Columbo gets Salah to confess the murder with his monarch in the next room listening. To stay in this country rather than face Middle Eastern justice, he waives his immunity from prosecution. The King himself offers a warning: "In case you are thinking of rescinding your waiver of immunity, we will be waiting to welcome you home."
"Identity Crisis" (11/2/75)
Patrick McGoohan is back as the villain, this time as CIA operative Nelson Brenner, who is really a double agent. The Agency sends an operative, codenamed "Geronimo" (Leslie Nielsen), to cut a deal with Brenner's alter ego. Geronimo recognizes Brenner as a double agent from the past and puts the squeeze on him. Brenner must kill Geronimo before he can reveal his secret. In the course of his investigation, Columbo finds himself blocked at every turn by a man accustomed to keeping secrets secret. But not even a visit from the Director of the Agency, portrayed by David White, can deter the determined Lieutenant. McGoohan directed the episode as well as starring in it. Note: The name used by the Director of the Agency on his identity card bluntly reveals him to be "Phil Corrigan" — from the Secret Agent X-9 comic strip! (McGoohan also twice uses the "Be seeing you!" line so prevalent in episodes of The Prisoner.)
"A Matter of Honor" (2/1/76)
Ricardo Montalban is Luis Montoya, a former matador renowned throughout Mexico for his courage in the ring. Retired from bullfighting, he raises the bravest bulls in the world. His long time assistant and friend, Hector Rangel, sees a chink in Montoya's armor when they must face a bull that has gored Hector's son. Montoya realizes, that to protect his own reputation, he must kill his lifelong friend, which he does cleverly using the same bull and a small amount of tranquilizer as the murder weapon. Surely nobody would dare to question the word of Luis Montoya. Well, nobody that is except Columbo, who just happens to be in Tijuana for the weekend when the murder takes place. The local chief of police recognizes Columbo as the man who solved the mystery on the cruise ship the year before and enlists his help in solving this crime as well.
"Now You See Him..." (2/29/76)
Jack Cassidy returns for a third bout as a murderer. This time he is the Great Santini, a magician extraordinaire. It turns out however that he is also Stefan Mueller, formerly a Nazi SS prison guard. Jesse Jerome (Nehemiah Persoff), owner of the Cabaret of Magic, the club where Santini is headlining, discovers the secret and blackmails Santini. If Santini refuses to pay, Jerome promises to turn him over to the Immigration Department. Santini conjures up a murder. A true magician, Santini commits the murder in the middle of his famed water tank escape act, thereby giving himself what he believes to be an airtight alibi. But then, Santini has never matched wits with Columbo before. Sgt. Wilson is back to lend a hand, and is actually instrumental in solving the case. Robert Loggia portrays the club's maitre d' and Jerome's partner Harry Blandford.
"Last Salute to the Commodore" (5/2/76)
Someone has killed Commodore Otis Swanson (John Dehner), a retired ship builder who would rather sell his business than let his son-in-law Charles Clay continue to run it. It looks as though the deed was done by Clay, played by Robert Vaughn, the cruise ship murderer from a prior Columbo episode. But when he turns up dead as well, the mystery deepens with surprises that even Columbo would not expect. This episode departs from the normal Columbo format in that we do not know whodunit until the end of the show. Sgt. Wilson is gone, presumably promoted after his pivotal role in capturing Santini, but Columbo has a new sidekick, Sgt. 'Mac' Albinsky. Diane Baker portrays the Commodore's alcoholic daughter Joanna, and Wilfrid Hyde-White is his lawyer Kittering. Patrick McGoohan took his third turn behind the camera to direct this episode.

Season 6

"Fade in to Murder" (10/10/76)
William Shatner portrays egocentric actor Ward Fowler, who ironically portrays Det. Lucerne on a weekly TV show. Ward has a secret from his past. His producer and ex-paramour, Claire Daley (Lola Albright) knows it and has been blackmailing Ward for years. Now that he has finally made it big, he doesn't want to pay any more, but there is only one way to "convince" Claire to stop. He then steps in and out of character to assist Lt. Columbo with the investigation. "Hi, I'm not a detective, but I play one on TV..." A young actress, Shera Danese, plays the part of Mr. Daley's secretary. Peter Falk was so taken with the young lady that they started dating and married just a year later. Walter Koenig also guest stars as a police sergeant.
"Old Fashioned Murder" (11/28/76)
Joyce Van Patten is Ruth Lytton, Tim O'Connor is her older brother Edward. Celeste Holm is the older sister. Together they run the family business, the Lytton Museum. When Edward decides to sell the museum to which Ruth has devoted her life, she decides to remove her brother from the chain of command. She is assisted by an ex-con whom Ruth kills shortly before killing her brother when he comes to investigate the sound of her shot. Her plan is to make it look like the two men killed each other in the middle of an attempted robbery. Columbo sees through the plot and digs to the bottom of the case.
"The Bye-Bye Sky High IQ Murder Case" (5/22/77)
Theodore Bikel is Oliver Brandt, a genius senior partner in an accountancy firm. Sorrell Booke (Boss Hogg from The Dukes of Hazzard) is his lifelong friend Bertie Hastings, partner and fellow genius. Samantha Eggar is Oliver's very beautiful, very expensive wife Vivian. To support her in the lifestyle to which she has become accustomed, Oliver must embezzle from his clients. When Bertie discovers this and promises to blow the whistle, Oliver must "write off" his old friend. He chooses to do so right at the Sigma Society clubhouse. This is a club (modeled on Mensa) of the very brightest people in the area. With a house full of geniuses as witnesses, Columbo should have no trouble cracking the case. A young Jamie Lee Curtis has a cameo role as a coffee shop waitress who sells Columbo his own doughnut. Actor Sam Wanamaker has the director's credit for this episode.

Season 7

"Try and Catch Me" (11/21/77)
Ruth Gordon is award winning mystery author Abigail Mitchell. Charles Frank is her nephew-in-law Edmund Galvin. Abigail is convinced that Edmund murdered his wife 4 months ago in a boating "accident" in which his wife goes overboard, and has apparently gotten away with it. So she decides to take matters into her own hands. She tricks Edmund into retrieving something from inside her airtight walk-in safe, which she then closes and locks before flying off to New York. Many minor errors leave her vulnerable. Mariette Hartley is Veronica, her trusted assistant, who becomes embroiled in the crime herself. Abigail ackowledges Columbo's cleverness by remarking to him as he is arresting her, "Just think Lieutenant, if only you had been the one to investigate the death of my niece, then all this need never have happened."
"Murder Under Glass" (1/30/78)
Louis Jourdan is Paul Gerard, a restaurant critic with a lucrative extortion scheme that falls apart when one of the restaurant owners decides he's through paying and convinces the others to rebel as well. To avoid exposure, the critic "cooks" up a way to murder the restaurateur Vittorio Rossi (Michael V. Gazzo) and Columbo has to figure out how. Richard Dysart and France Nuyen also guest star on this episode. Falk's now real-life wife Shera Danese is back as Gerard's loyal secretary/treasurer. Jonathan Demme directed this episode.
"Make Me a Perfect Murder" (2/28/78)
Trish Van Devere is Kay Freestone, a high-powered TV programmer with a talent for picking hits. Laurence Luckinbill is her lover and West Coast Network boss Mark McAndrews. When he is promoted to a high level position in New York, he gives Kay a Mercedes instead of his job. So before he can name his replacement, she executes a hostile takeover by "cancelling" him in his office. The pressure of leadership proves too much and her job and her alibi begin to crumble under the pressure. Columbo, even with an injured neck, unravels her plan with all the practiced ease of an expert screenwriter.
"How to Dial a Murder" (4/15/78)
Nicol Williamson is Dr. Eric Mason, a mind-control seminar guru. Mason knows that his friend was having an affair with his recently-deceased wife. He decides to take control and extract his revenge via his two trained Doberman Pinschers, Laurel and Hardy, who maul the man to death in Mason's kitchen. Mason, an avid film buff, has a house full of priceless Hollywood memorabilia, which Columbo enjoys to the hilt as he wastes no time in unraveling Mason's story. Columbo tells him, "You know doctor, I'm very disappointed. For someone so smart, you made a lot of dumb mistakes." A young Kim Cattrall lives in Mason's guest house and discovers the body. A young Ed Begley, Jr. co-stars in a minor role as an animal control officer.
"The Conspirators" (5/13/78)
Clive Revill is Joe Devlin, famous Irish poet/author who is secretly a fund-raiser and gun-runner for the IRA. When his latest gun supplier tries to double-cross him, he kills the man before he can supply the goods. Now with Columbo hot on his trail, Devlin must find his guns and arrange their purchase and shipment out of the country. In order to prove his case, Columbo must also find the guns. Just when all seems lost, Columbo gets the final piece of the puzzle and moves in for the arrest. This is the last episode of the original Columbo TV series after its seven year run. Leo Penn directed this episode.

Season 8

"Columbo Goes to the Guillotine" (2/6/89)
Anthony Andrews is Elliott Blake, a fake psychic who is trying to swindle the government into giving him a lucrative contract based on his ESP abilities. He conspires with an old colleague, Max Dyson (Anthony Zerbe) who is a magician known to expose frauds. After their trickery is successful the psychic takes his revenge on the magician by tricking him into his own guillotine. Columbo has to unravel all of the tricks of the trade before the government agency whisks the fake psychic beyond his reach.
"Murder, Smoke, and Shadows" (2/27/89)
Fisher Stevens is boy genius Hollywood director Alex Bradey, whose character bears an uncanny resemblance to an early Steven Spielberg, who directed an early Columbo himself. It turns out that Alex made a movie back home with an 16 mm camera in which a young woman was killed in a motorcycle accident. Alex and his cameraman conspired to pretend that the accident did not happen on their "set" and that they weren't present when it happened, causing the official investigation to conclude that it was an accidental death. When the cameraman dies, he leaves a copy of the 16 mm film to the young woman's brother, who then shows up in Alex's Hollywood office demanding an explanation. Alex, of course, stages another "accident" to befall his old friend that night on the set of his most recent movie.
"Sex and the Married Detective" (4/3/89)
Lindsay Crouse is Dr. Joan Allenby, a renowned sex therapist. When her flight is delayed, she returns to the office only to find her lover in bed with her assistant. As a "game", she invents the "lady in black", in which disguise she meets with her lover in public and leaves for a tryst. Then she kills him and naturally everyone begins looking for the mystery woman. Everyone, including Lt. Columbo who is brought in to investigate the murder.
"Grand Deceptions" (5/1/89)
Robert Foxworth is Colonel Frank Brailie. He runs a paramilitary mercenary school owned by General Padget (Stephen Elliott), whose wife just happens to be the Colonel's lover. It also seems that the Colonel is siphoning money into what he calls "The Special Projects Fund". The suspicious General asks an employee to look into the matter, but instead of reporting his findings, he decides to blackmail the Colonel into sharing the profit. Taking the offensive, the Colonel arranges for an unfortunate accident to befall his colleague, making it appear he died in a landmine explosion. Leave it to Lt. Columbo to unravel the mystery. Actor Sam Wanamaker takes a second turn behind the scenes to direct this episode.

Season 9

"Murder: A Self Portrait" (11/25/89)
Patrick Bauchau is temperamental artist Max Barsini. Max lives with his current wife Vanessa (Shera Danese), his current model/lover Julie, and they all live next door to Max's first wife Louise. Louise knows Max's darkest secret, that he killed his first agent, who was robbing him blind. She has faithfully kept the secret for years, but now that she is getting remarried to another man, Max is getting nervous. To ensure her continued silence, Max decides to silence her permanently. Turns out though, she has been having dreams which allude to the earlier murder. And she has been telling those dreams to her therapist. Columbo gets hold of the tapes of those dream sessions and begins to put together the pieces of the puzzle.
"Columbo Cries Wolf" (1/20/90)
Ian Buchanan is Sean Brantley, a Hugh Hefner type, who together with partner Diane Hunter (Deidre Hall) publishes Bachelor's World magazine. With circulation down and Hunter wanting to sell her 51% interest in the magazine, the pair concoct a publicity stunt sure to revive their sales. They stage a fight, then Diane disappears, leading to speculation that Sean has killed his partner. Columbo becomes convinced that foul play has indeed occurred and sets out to find the body, eventually digging up much of the estate. Only when it has turned into a full-blown media event does Diane resurface, saying she simply needed some "alone time". Now that sales have increased, so has the value of her share of the magazine. When she informs Sean that she still intends to sell out, Sean actually kills his partner and hides the body, believing that Columbo won't fall for the same trick twice. But Columbo has a trick or two up his sleeve too and the case is soon solved.
"Agenda for Murder" (2/10/90)
Patrick McGoohan returns for a third go-round as a featured murderer. This time out he is high priced lawyer Oscar Finch, whose best friend is Congressman Mackey, and who just happens to be running for Vice President. Arthur Hill portrays the Governor who is now a Presidential candidate. Mobster Frank Staplin, facing an imminent indictment, calls Finch and asks for his help in squashing the indictment, reminding him of a favor Finch and Mackey performed earlier in their careers for Staplin. It would be a shame for that earlier incident to come to light, considering the current political situation of the two men, Staplin reasons. Naturally Finch resorts to murder and attempts to make it look like a suicide. McGoohan won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for his portrayal of Finch.
"Rest in Peace, Mrs. Columbo" (3/31/90)
Helen Shaver is Vivian Dimitri, wife of a con that Columbo sent to prison some years ago, but who recently died. Vivian now returns to Los Angeles, determined to extract her revenge on Columbo by first killing his wife, then killing the detective. But first she must kill her boss, who just happened to be her husband's partner in crime, but who skipped jail by ratting out his partner. Once Columbo begins investigating that murder, Vivian moves on to her next target. But as usual, Columbo is one step ahead of his suspect.
"Uneasy Lies the Crown" (4/28/90)
James Read is Dr. Wesley Corman, dentist to the stars. What he really wants is to be rid of his loveless wife. When the current Hollywood heartthrob, who happens to be a patient, has an affair with the dentist's wife, our dentist hatches a plan. He puts timed-release poison under the star's dental crown, timed to release as he is making love to the dentist's wife that evening, framing her for the murder. Columbo must unravel the plot and find the real murderer.
"Murder in Malibu" (5/14/90)
Andrew Stevens is playboy/tennis bum Wayne Jennings. Janet Margolin is author Theresa Goren who is twice Wayne's age but his fiancée nonetheless. Brenda Vaccaro is Theresa's sister Jess McCurdy, who absolutely abhors that her sister has fallen for such an obvious gold digger. After a night of drinking at Theresa's Malibu beach house, Jess finally convinces her sister to call off the wedding, but Theresa can't bring herself to disturb Wayne who is off playing tennis in Palm Springs. So Jess makes the call for her, imitating her sister and berating Wayne to no end. Wayne decides to return to Malibu and kill his jilting lover. Further complications ensue, leaving a mess that could only be untangled by the industrious Columbo and revealing Columbo's surprisingly detailed familiarity with women's panties.

Season 10 and special episodes

"Columbo Goes to College" (12/9/90)
Stephen Caffrey is Justin Rowe, and Gary Hershberger is Cooper Redman. They are two of the most spoiled college students to ever exist (and live in a fraternity house decorated almost exclusively with paddles). When a professor catches them cheating for the umpteenth time, he promises to expel them. So they concoct a foolproof plan to shoot the professor in the parking garage, via remote control, while they sit in class listening to Columbo deliver a guest lecture. The boys plant evidence making it appear that the professor was working on a mafia expose, thus attempting to throw suspicion off themselves. Robert Culp returns, this time as Justin's powerful lawyer father, who pushes Columbo to arrest anyone other than his kid. When finally arrested and confronted with their guilt, the two state that the reason they resorted to murder was simply because they could do it (like Leopold and Loeb).
"Caution: Murder Can Be Hazardous to Your Health" (2/20/91)
George Hamilton is back, this time as Wade Anders, host of crime show "Crime Alert", patterned after real-life show America's Most Wanted. When Budd Clarke, (Peter Haskell), who was a rival to host the show, uncovers a porn video starring a young Anders, he threatens to release the video and take over the show. Anders kills his rival with a poison cigarette, using doctored surveillance videos to provide himself with an alibi. It really doesn't take Columbo long to piece together this one.
"Columbo and the Murder of a Rock Star" (4/29/91)
Dabney Coleman is high priced lawyer Hugh Creighton. He has been living with rock star Marcy Edwards for years, but now he has had enough of her cheating heart. But she threatens him with a palimony suit and claims she will take half of all his wealth if he tries to end their relationship. So he resorts to murder. He drugs the champagne in the beach house, waits until she meets with her current lover there, and then while he is passed out cold (she doesn't drink), Hugh shows up and snaps Marcy's neck. When her lover awakens he thinks he has done the deed and flees the scene. Hugh enlists his associate (Shera Danese yet again) to help him concoct an airtight alibi. But Shera has other plans and blackmails Hugh into a full partnership in the firm in return for her silence. Poor Hugh has the worst luck with women. And now he's about to have the same luck with a certain Detective.
"Death Hits the Jackpot" (12/15/91)
Rip Torn is "Uncle Leon" Lamarr, a wealthy jeweler. Gary Kroeger is Freddy, his nephew, a flakey, almost divorced, photographer with a chimpanzee and winning lottery ticket. In order to hide the proceeds, to the tune of $30 million, from his soon-to-be ex-wife, Freddy enlists Uncle Leon's help. Uncle Leon will pretend that it is his lottery ticket and he will return the money to Freddy once the divorce is final. Little does Freddy know his uncle is having an affair with his wife. Uncle Leon seizes the opportunity to kill his young nephew so that he can keep the lottery winnings for himself.
"No Time to Die" (3/15/92)
A most unusual Columbo, based on a story by Ed McBain. Seems that Columbo is attending the wedding of his nephew, who is also a police officer. After the wedding, while her husband takes a shower, the bride disappears from the bridal suite. Once he realizes that it is not just a prank perpetrated by his buddies, he enlists Uncle Columbo's help in unraveling the case. Seems she has been kidnapped by a psychopath who intends to kill her once he consummates their marriage. The race is on for Columbo to figure out what happened. This is the only time Columbo actually carries a gun. This episode has achieved the lowest user rating at IMDB of all Columbo episodes.[1]
"A Bird in the Hand..." (11/22/92)
Tyne Daly is Delores, wife of sports magnate Big Fred (Steve Forrest). Greg Evigan plays their nephew and chronic gambler Harold. When Harold is given a deadline to pay up or else, he plants a bomb under Big Fred's Rolls Royce. However, Big Fred is killed by a hit and run driver while jogging that very morning. And the Rolls Royce explodes when the gardener tries to move it out of the way of the TV camera crews. Just when Columbo thinks he has the goods on Harold, Harold turns up dead.
"It's All in the Game" (10/31/93)
Faye Dunaway is Lauren Staton, a wealthy socialite. Claudia Christian is her globe trotting daughter. Both have the same boyfriend, an abusive, mean tempered, gold digging gigolo. He was romancing the daughter in Europe when he found out about the rich mother back in the states. So unbeknownst to either woman, he showed up in Los Angeles and began to romance Lauren. Now the women have begun to compare notes and realized what has happened, yet his tendency towards violence keeps them living in fear. So together they plan another way out. Once the deed is done, Lauren takes all the heat from Columbo in order to protect her daughter, even romancing the Lieutenant.
"Butterfly in Shades of Grey" (1/10/94)
William Shatner (in his second appearance in the series) is Fielding Chase, a conniving right wing radio host (patterned on Rush Limbaugh), who has an adopted daughter of whom he is very protective. When someone tries to help her escape from under his smothering wing, he kills the offending party, making it look like the deed was done by the gay man's ex-lover. Everything seemed perfect, but Columbo is very doubtful about this story. Actor Dennis Dugan directed this episode.
"Undercover" (5/2/94)
Ed Begley, Jr. is Irving Krutch, a crooked insurance investigator. He enlists the help of Columbo to solve a series of murders that starts with two men, each of whom possesses a piece of a photograph. Some years back a group of men had committed a very large robbery and hidden the loot somewhere which can only be found by piecing together all of the pieces of the photograph. Columbo must go undercover to recover some of the pieces, solve some murders to get some others. Another Columbo based on an Ed McBain story, departing from the usual format and not revealing the culprit until the end of the show.
"Strange Bedfellows" (5/8/95)
George Wendt is Graham McVeigh, owner of a Thoroughbred Ranch. When he feels the need to kill his brother, he does it in a way that frames a local mob bookie. Then he lures the bookie to his house, under the guise of making good on his brother's debt, and kills him as well, claiming self-defense. When the mob boss, Vincenzo Fortelli (Rod Steiger), starts to exert pressure on McVeigh, McVeigh turns to Columbo for protection. Soon his choice becomes life in prison, or just life. To solve the crime Columbo must work with the boss, thus the title of the episode. In this episode Columbo claims to "not quite have the hang" of speaking Italian, although the parting conversation with Fortelli seems to make clear that this was a ploy (Fortelli makes it clear that he doesn't buy Columbo's pretended ignorance of the word "ciao").
"A Trace of Murder - 25th Anniversary Movie" (5/15/97)
Shera Danese is back, this time as Cathleen Calvert, one half of a murdering duo. She is married to Clifford Calvert, portrayed by Barry Corbin, a powerful businessman. She is also having an affair with Patrick Kinsley, a CSI portrayed by David Rasche. Together they plot to get rid of Clifford. But not by killing him. Instead they plot to kill his investment broker with whom he is currently feuding. And they plan to pin the murder on Clifford. As long as he is alive and in prison, Cathleen has full access to all his money. If not for a chance encounter, they might have gotten away with it.
"Ashes to Ashes" (10/8/98)
Patrick McGoohan is back to claim the record as the most frequent guest murderer. In his fourth and final appearance he portrays Eric Prince, Mortician-to-the-stars, who has a few skeletons in his own closet. The case involves the disappearance of a Hollywood gossip reporter, played by Golden Girl Rue McClanahan. She had the goods on Mr. Prince, so he managed to make her disappear. Now Columbo must figure out what happened to her and why.
"Murder With Too Many Notes" (3/12/01)
Billy Connolly is Findlay Crawford, a Hollywood film composer and conductor, and mentor to a talented young composer who has been ghostwriting most of Crawford's work for the last few years. In fact the young man penned Crawford's entire last movie score, which won an Oscar. Now the young man wants to venture out on his own. That would certainly ruin Crawford's career, as he seems to have no talent of his own. So he concocts the perfect murder, made to look like a suicide. But Columbo soon sees through the plot and has the case under wraps.
"Columbo Likes the Nightlife" (1/30/03)
Matthew Rhys is Justin Price, an LA rave promoter. His girlfriend (Jennifer Sky) was once married to the man who is backing Justin's new club. When the ex drops dead in the girls apartment, Justin helps her dispose of the body. When an investigative reporter pieces the crime together and threatens to blackmail Justin, well, the reporter will simply have to be dealt with. Columbo has to piece the puzzle together once again in what will prove to be the finale of the series.

External links

References

  1. ^ Comparison of ratings from [1], 3rd Sept 2009







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