Columbo (1971–2003)
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Murder by the Book 

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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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Ken Franklin
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Joanna Ferris
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Jim Ferris
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Lilly La Sanka
Lynette Mettey ...
Gloria Jr. (as Lynnette Mettey)
Bernie Kuby ...
Mike Tucker
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Sergeant
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Woman (credit only)
Haven Earle Haley ...
2nd Reporter
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Storyline

Ken Franklin is a rich socialite living in a luxurious coastal mansion bought from his years in connection to a series of popular crime and mystery books written entirely by his business partner. He turns his one and only original idea for fiction into reality as he murders his exiting partner to maintain his lifestyle and then desperately tries to cover up his crime due to a blackmailing witness. Columbo arrives on the scene to begin pestering his suspect with questions about the murder. Mr. Franklin soon realizes that no murder is perfect, and his own clever plot may return to haunt him. Written by Scott Dawson <sdawson@easynet.co.uk> / revised by statmanjeff

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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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

Marcia Wallace receives a credit for this episode but does not appear in it. She appears in Columbo: Lady in Waiting (1971) as a spectator at the inquest, but receives no on-screen credit. See more »

Goofs

When Ken and Lilly are having champagne, they clink their glasses twice, but both times, the clinking noise comes before the glasses actually touch. 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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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

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


16 of 19 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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