Columbo (1971–2003)
7.6/10
2,636
36 user 9 critic

Murder by the Book 

When one member of a mystery writing team wants to break from his less talented partner, he becomes the victim in a real-life murder mystery.

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Cast

Episode complete credited cast:
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Lynette Mettey ...
Gloria Jr. (as Lynnette Mettey)
Bernie Kuby ...
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Sergeant
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Woman (credit only)
Haven Earle Haley ...
2nd Reporter
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Storyline

One half of a murder-mystery writing team kills his more talented partner after the latter announces his intentions to go solo which would ultimately leave the former in financial ruin. Later a grocery store owner, who has important information pertaining to the case and has romantic desires for the killer, sees this incident as an opportunity to blackmail him into having a relationship with her. Feeling cornered, he kills her and tries to make it look like she'd fallen off a boat and drowned in a drunken stupor.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Details

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Release Date:

15 September 1971 (USA)  »

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Technical Specs

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(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

First episode in which Columbo's signature Peugeot 403 is seen. See more »

Goofs

Lilly La Sanka dips strawberries in sugar and eats them, while talking to Ken Franklin. In a shot looking toward Franklin, Lilly is holding an entire strawberry, still coated with sugar at the tip. A moment later (and also in the previous shot), before she can take a bite, Lilly's strawberry is half-devoured. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
[Jim works in his office]
Jim Ferris: [knock on the door] Who is it?
[another knock on the door]
Jim Ferris: [He opens the door - Ken is aiming a gun at his face. Jim laughs]
Ken Franklin: Oh, you're not intimidated.
Jim Ferris: Oh, come on, Ken. You're forgetting that I'm one-half of the world's greatest mystery-writing team? You, ah, don't have gloves on, your finger's not on the trigger, and there are no bullets in the cylinder.
Ken Franklin: [smiling] You're right. I'm a lousy practical joker.
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Connections

Referenced in Jeopardy!: Episode #22.52 (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Love Theme from 'Red Sky At Morning'
Composed by Billy Goldenberg
Heard during the bar scene
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User Reviews

 
First "Columbo" series episode
21 April 2007 | by See all my reviews

Peter Falk's third appearance as Columbo (after a pair of two-hour NBC World Premiere Movies) officially kicked off the "Columbo" series, as well as the "NBC Mystery Movie" in September 1971.

Filmed after the superior "Death Lends a Hand," but aired first, it has the distinction of having been directed by Steven Spielberg in those days before "Jaws" when he was still cranking out episodic television on the backlot of Universal. There are some smart directorial touches, particularly in the opening scenes where the sound of Martin Milner's typewriter serves as the sole soundtrack, but this a disappointing episode overall.

As the less talented half of a famous mystery writing team (not unlike Richard Levinson and William Link, "Columbo"'s creators), Jack Cassidy makes a classy villain, one who would be invited to square off against Peter Falk on two more occasions (including season three's "Publish or Perish" which was also set against a publishing background). Unfortunately, Steven Bochco's script drags along, making this a frequently dull episode. Worse, the denouement finds Columbo wrapping things up based on flimsier than usual evidence. Had the killer not confessed, he could have walked away from his crime.

Still, Peter Falk is terrific, and makes it worth watching.

Brian W. Fairbanks


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