An infamous 'psychic' abandons his public persona, outing himself as a fake, to focus on his work as a consultant for the California Bureau of Investigation in order to find "Red John," the madman who killed his wife and daughter.
The show follows a crime, usually adapted from current headlines, from two separate vantage points. The first half of the show concentrates on the investigation of the crime by the police, the second half follows the prosecution of the crime in court.
S. Epatha Merkerson,
Jesse L. Martin
Leslie Williams, a brilliant tort attorney is bored by her husband, a respected member of the state supreme court. After trading on his famous name to get ahead, she tries to get her freedom by murdering him and concocts a scheme to make it appear that he's been kidnapped and held for ransom. After she pays the ransom to herself, his dead body is found. She may have fooled the FBI but Lt. Columbo, who is aided by her vengeful stepdaughter. Written by
Although Billy Goldenberg scored the opening "Columbo" stories in 1971, his commercially released "Columbo Theme" recorded as such by Norrie Paramor and His Orchestra ("Law Beat" album, Contour Records 2870 369) did not become a regular feature of the show. The theme is first heard during the helicopter sequence of "Ransom for a Dead Man" but Goldenberg did not use it as a title theme and composed mainly fresh music for "Murder by the Book" and all his subsequent scores. The "Columbo" series never had any recognizable theme tune of its own. See more »
When Columbo and Mrs. Williams are ordering drinks at the airport bar, a Boeing 747 can be seen taxiing toward them in the background. In the time it takes for Columbo to say "I'll have a Root Beer", the plane vanishes. 20 seconds later you can see the same plane taxiing farther into its parking space. See more »
Middling murder-mystery with Lt. Columbo indeed resorting to a shopworn bag of tricks...
Lee Grant, smirking and narrowing her eyes like a cat about to pounce, plays a hotshot lady lawyer who kills her attorney husband and makes it look like a kidnapping-turned-homicide; Lt. Columbo, curiously on the case from the very beginning (before there is a dead body), matches wits with Grant, eventually using Lee's hostile step-daughter as a tool to uncover the truth. This early "Columbo" teleplay by Dean Hargrove, with an original story conceived by the team of Levinson & Link, gives us some fun background details on Columbo himself (he's nervous in planes, likes root beer and always orders chili at Barney's Beanery in Los Angeles), but skimps a bit on the lieutenant's investigation. Without showing us the homework involved, Columbo seems to be picking details out of the air (always the right details, naturally), and when he talks about the victim's car keys missing, or the car-seat being too close to the wheel, it's unfair to spring these details on us as afterthoughts (there's no suspense involved when Columbo does his puzzle-solving off-camera). Aside from cunning Grant--and Peter Falk doing his usual solid work--the acting here is relatively mediocre, and the cut-and-dried climax seems a little flat.
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