Columbo: Season 2, Episode 3

The Most Crucial Game (5 Nov. 1972)

TV Episode  |  Not Rated  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 1,085 users  
Reviews: 26 user | 5 critic

The manager of a football team murders its callow owner, making it look as if the young man had had an accident in his swimming pool. Lt. Columbo is on the case.



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Episode complete credited cast:
Paul Hanlon
Walter Cunnell
Coach Rizzo
Eve Babcock
Shirley Wagner
Eric Wagner
Ralph Dobbs
Kathryn Kelly Wiget ...
Miss Johnson
Richard Stahl ...
Mr. Fremont
Deputy Coroner
Cliff Carnell ...
Joe Renteria ...
Box Attendant Jimmy
Ivan Naranjo ...
Sgt. Hernandez, L.A.P.D.


The owner of a football team is found dead in his swimming pool. It looks like an accident, a slip and fall; however, Columbo doesn't really believe in this being an accident and investigates as if it was a murder case - but the person he suspects has a powerful alibi. Written by Maarten Hofman <>

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Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

5 November 1972 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?


The basketball players at the gym practice are all members of the Los Angeles Lakers. See more »


At the start of the game after the kickoff, it is 1st and 10 at the 38 yard line. The quarterback is sacked for a 5 yard loss and the radio announcer states that it is now 2nd and 15 but the ball is on the 30 yard line. That would make it 2nd and 18. See more »


Lt. Columbo: You know, when I'm listening to a game and my wife interrupts - I can't help myself - I want to hear that game, and I don't care how important the interruption.
Paul Hanlon: [trying to hear a game himself] Your wife has my sympathy.
See more »


Edited from A Gathering of Eagles (1963) See more »


Eine kleine Nachtmusik
composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
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User Reviews

Fast-Moving, Interesting Episode But Ending Was Disappointing
12 August 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Robert Culp is the "bad guy" here, after killing his boss: a young, spoiled owner of a pro football team who is basically a good-for-nothing. Culp, the general manager of the team, does all the work for the team and has little use for the "kid."

He decides to kill the owner while the latter is in his swimming pool during the middle of the one of the team's games. (The owner could care less about his club play) Culp has to make it look like he never left the stadium during the murder, so they can't blame it on him.

In the end, Lt. Columbo figures a flaw in his alibi, but I thought it was kind of weak, to be honest. I wonder, if it was real-life story, if the court would have gone along with it. I doubt it; Culp probably would have walked.

Nonetheless, it's an interesting 75 minutes. It also was interesting to see Valerie Harper's very short (too short) appearance near the end as a call girl. That was bizarre. There were good "names" in here with a young Dean Stockwell playing that owner; James Gregory as the coach and Dean Jagger as the man who used to be the lawyer for Stockwell's dad. Lots of other interesting characters in here, too. Too bad the ending was so abrupt and weak.

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