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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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Roger Stanford
Valerie Bishop
David L. Buckner
Doris Buckner
Everett Logan
Steve Gravers ...
Lawrence Cook ...
Quincy [Murphy in credits]
Rosalind Miles ...
Lew Brown ...
Annette Molen ...
Jim Neumarker ...


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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Release Date:

19 January 1972 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Doris Buckner's house is the same house from Ransom for a Dead Man redressed. See more »


In the elevator up the cliff in the last scene. Throughout the scene, the black tape strips on the box disappear and reappear without anyone removing or reapplying them. See more »


Doris Buckner: Roger, I called the Commissioner of Police, and he said he'd send over his very best man.
Roger Stanford: [looking Columbo over] Is that a fact?
Lt. Columbo: Lt. Columbo: Well, my wife, she says I'm second-best, but, uh... She claims there are eighty fellas tied for first.
See more »

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User Reviews

Lacklustre Columbo
24 November 2015 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Being a huge fan of the Columbo films, it's hard for me to find ones I don't enjoy, but SHORT FUSE is one such production. It's a Columbo story that nearly sent me to sleep, which is saying something because these films usually have me totally entranced.

The problem with SHORT FUSE is the writing. The running time is mercifully short but the writing is below par compared to what we're used to from this series. The opening murder seems rushed and ill thought out, and the villain is so obviously guilty that there's little suspense from watching Columbo work his magic around him. It's a particular shame because the guest star is Roddy McDowall, and I love McDowall, just not his annoying, man-child character here.

Other than McDowall, we get Ida Lupino (again, after SWAN SONG) and William Windom in the supporting cast, so the actors are fine. Falk is on as good form as ever. But this is simplistic stuff indeed, there's nothing here that hasn't been done elsewhere, and other than a dark room encounter there's very little humour on display.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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