A war hero shoots and kills his business partner; an easily manipulated young divorcée is the only witness.



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Episode complete credited cast:
Maj. Gen. Martin J. Hollister
Mrs. Walters
Helen Stewart
Col. Roger Dutton
Harry Barnes
Clete Roberts ...
TV Newsman
Ron Castro ...
Officer Sanchez
Glen Vernon ...
1st Officer
Jim Pelham ...
2nd Officer (as Jimmy Pelham)
James Halferty ...
1st Marine Cadet (as Jim Halferty)


While on a sailing-boat, Helen Stewart witnesses far-away, inside a room, a man with a gun killing another. She notifies the fact to the Police and Lt. Columbo begins to investigate. The man is the famous General Martin Hollister, a war hero. Lt. Columbo searches his house and afterwards he is very doubtful about Helen's statement. Written by Baldinotto da Pistoia

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Release Date:

27 October 1971 (USA)  »

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


When Columbo flashes his badge in this episode, his first name, "Frank" can be seen alongside his photo. See more »


It would be totally impossible to witness the shooting inside a house from the distance that the witness was from the house, especially during the day since the interior of the house would be much to dark to see anything. See more »


Maj. Gen. Martin Hollister: You know, Lieutenant, I don't see how a man, with the name of Columbo... shouldn't he be more at home on a boat?
Lt. Columbo: Must've been another branch of the family, sir. How soon before we land?
See more »

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User Reviews

Feet of clay
5 January 2016 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Gosh, I'm disappointed.

I was privileged to interview both Peter Falk and Eddie Albert, and I loved both of them. Eddie Albert was at the end of his life and such a dear man, and Peter Falk and I had a blast, and even some correspondence afterward.

So it wounds me to read that Suzanne Pleshette had known Falk since her teen years and stopped speaking to him after this episode, and that Eddie Albert said to him, "I always wanted to meet you and work with you. You're an a***ole." What could have gone on?

"Dead Weight" is from Columbo's first season and concerns a General Hollister (Albert). He has a construction company that does business with the military, and the procurer, Colonel Dutton (John Kerr) has been giving him business and allowing him to put in ridiculously low bids. Now there's an investigation, and Dutton is fleeing the country. He promises Hollister that his name will never come into it should he be found, but that's not enough for Hollister, so he shoots him.

Just as this happens, Helen Stewart (Pleshette) and her mother (Kate Reid) are sailing by the house (which was actually one of Peter Falk's homes) and sees the murder. She reports it to the police, and they're skeptical. This is the great war hero, General Hollister, as famous as Patton, whose materials and artifacts from the war are about to be put on exhibit. (In real life, Eddie Albert was a major war hero as well.)

Helen insists that she saw what she saw; General Hollister tracks her down and starts wining and dining her. Soon her story changes.

This is a good episode, with Columbus suspecting the General right away. The only problem with the episode is that Helen should have realized what the General was up to, but we're supposed to understand it's because of her past history. If you can buy it, that part works.

Especially good here are the performances, done, it seems, under duress. Eddie Albert has the soldier's coldness and arrogance but can turn on the charm; the beautiful Pleshette, so young here, is vulnerable as someone hurt by her divorce and in need of attention. Kate Reid's sharp retorts are fun.

Falk, of course, is perfection as Columbo. At one point, Hollister takes him out on his boat, and Columbo becomes seasick. "It's amazing to me that someone named Columbo is so uncomfortable on the water," Hollister says. "Must have been another branch of the family," Columbo tells him.

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