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.



(teleplay by), (story by) | 4 more credits »

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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

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


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


In the tramcar high above the valley, the cable car guide is lecturing Columbo on the safety of the tramway. When viewed arriving at the top platform, Columbo is clearly visible but the guide is nowhere to be seen in the glass-windowed car, and presumably there was no way to get off before the top. See more »


Lt. Columbo: You know something, Roger? The truth is hard to find - sometimes - but sometimes it's right in front of ya and ya can't prove it.
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.

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

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