Pressured to give up his birthright, a chemical company heir enacts a clever plan to get rid of his blackmailing uncle and take over the family business. But Lt. Columbo suspects the man's death was not just a tragic accident.

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
...
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Roger Stanford
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Valerie Bishop
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David L. Buckner
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Doris Buckner
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Everett Logan
Steve Gravers ...
Sergeant
Lawrence Cook ...
Quincy [Murphy in credits]
Rosalind Miles ...
Nancy
Lew Brown ...
Farrell
...
Policeman
Eddie Quillan ...
Ferguson
...
Pinstripe
Annette Molen ...
Girl
Jim Neumarker ...
Plainclothesman
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Storyline

Stanford Chemicals CEO David Buckner wants to sell the business, but he is overruled by several people: his wife Doris, company lawyer Everett Logan, and his nephew Roger, the lighthearted young genius whose late father founded the company. But he has a plan: he has uncovered some very embarrassing and illegal past activities on the part of Roger. He demands that his nephew change his aunt Doris's mind about the sale, or he'll tell Doris about all the nasty things her precious Roger has done. But Roger is one step ahead of him, and initiates a plan to murder his uncle with dangerous explosives. Unfortunately for him, he didn't count on Lieutenant Columbo investigating Buckner's "car accident." The Lieutenant quickly suspects Roger, and puts together a web of evidence to trap the young scientist in his own lies. Written by Anonymous

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19 January 1972 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

During his first deposition by Lt. Columbo, Roger Stanford (Roddy McDowell) casually mentions that his parents died in a freak explosion", not unlike the one that befalls David Buckner (James Gregory) and his chauffeur. See more »

Goofs

In the last scene, the door on the cable car switches from opened to closed between shots and reverse shots. See more »

Quotes

Roger Stanford: [annoyed] Lieutenant, you take an inordinate length of time to come to the point.
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User Reviews

 
Reasonably enjoyable but fell short
10 April 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I am a huge Columbo fan, but while Short Fuse is not one of the worst of the series(Last Salute to the Commodore is for me the worst of the pre-1989 episodes, and No Time to Die, Murder in Malibu, Grand Deceptions and Dead Weight were also underwhelming) it was one of the weaker and blandest entries of that time period. I'll start with the good points. The locations and photography are stunning, the direction was solid enough and the music is well composed and fitting with the mood and period. Peter Falk is brilliant as always, embodying the iconic detective in the way that only he can do. In terms of any effective scenes, the best were the pretty clever murder sequence and the ending.

However, there are a number of problems, including a script that is lacking in wit and fluidity, a story that is good in concept and reasonably well paced but with plot twists that feel laboured and a lack of chemistry between Falk and MacDowell(when there is any it feels vague), disappointing considering that this is one of the best things about Columbo. Roddy MacDowell's performance is nowhere near the worst of the series(Andrew Stevens in Murder in Malibu and almost the entire cast of No Time to Die) but it was a performance lacking in subtlety and felt over-the-top in places, especially the laugh. In conclusion, enjoyable but fell short.

6/10 Bethany Cox


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