Columbo: Season 1, Episode 2

Death Lends a Hand (6 Oct. 1971)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 1,310 users  
Reviews: 17 user | 6 critic

When the CEO of a private detective agency threatens the wife of a publisher with blackmail and she threatens to expose him, he accidentally kills her.


(as Bernard Kowalski)
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Episode complete credited cast:
Investigator Brimmer
Mrs. Lenore Kennicut (as Patricia Crowley)
Arthur Kennicut
Ken Archer
Eric James ...
Medical Examiner
Len Wayland ...
Capt. Of Detectives
Ceil Gentry
Barbara Baldavin ...
Brimmer's Secretary


Brimmer, a short-tempered private detective, is hired by Arthur Kennicut, a prominent Los Angeles publisher, to investigate the publisher's wife's activities under suspicion of an extra-marital affair. Although his investigation discovers an affair with a golf instructor, Brimmer chooses not to tell Kennicut about it and proposes Mrs. Kennicut to act, in return for Brimmer's silence, as a "pipeline" for information involving powerful persons with whom her husband is involved. When Mrs. Kennicut refuses to cooperate and threatens to tell her husband about Brimmer's unsavory proposal, Brimmer becomes enraged and accidentally kills her. He then transports her body across Los Angeles and dumps it in an industrial area, hoping her death will look like a robbery gone awry. Enter Lieutenant Columbo, the cigar-smoking detective in a rumpled raincoat, who does not accept the murder-by-mugging theory surrounding the woman's death. When Kennicut assigns Brimmer to assist Columbo in the murder ... Written by Kevin McCorry <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Release Date:

6 October 1971 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The first regular Columbo episode filmed, after two pilot movies. It was the second episode aired, however. See more »


When Brimmer, seated at his desk, is writing the receipt for Columbo he's writing on the folder cover in the first shot. In the second shot he's writing on a receipt pad. See more »


Teddy: [Columbo's pushing Teddy on a swing] Higher!
Columbo: Higher? If I push you any higher you're going to go clear over the top.
See more »

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User Reviews

The accidental murderer
11 March 2013 | by See all my reviews

After Culp's character, a private detective named Brimmer, inadvertently kills Kennicut's wife, the lieutenant must show how, and even why. This is going to be interesting, because Brimmer himself isn't sure why: this is the first accidental killing in Columbo.

Not that it matters: it's Brimmer's temper — he's … well, brimming … with it — and there would certainly be a legal situation here, anyway. And in fact there is.

Because Brimmer had already been trying to blackmail the missus, who was making time with someone who was not the master. Culp's character hopes to use this as leverage against her, or more precisely with her for leverage against her husband, who owns newspapers.

He looks that part, too: much more Charles Foster Kane than the goofy dude in the first episode of next season — a guy who also supposedly owns a newspaper.

So when Mrs. Kennicut makes the classic TV mistake of telling the major bad guy everything you're going to do, well her trajectory is set. Of course she didn't know he would … well watch.

In this episode, I think Columbo suspects the killer fairly quickly: he seems "on" immediately … he gets a sense of Brimmer's temper … and really, there aren't many other options.

Culp's Brimmer merits special mention: he's excellent. The terseness in speaking, in actions — he is precise, cutting, and careful, and not careful enough. And you'll like watching him try not to bust out laughing when Falk is into his patter.

Meanwhile, Columbo is always noticing, always asking questions — and he's funny about it, as in the palm reading scene, and he's audacious, as when he's riffling the golf pro's appointment book.

He keeps moving forward — what's the other guy going to do? Resist?

Culled from The Columbo Case Files: Season One.

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