Columbo: Season 2, Episode 3

The Most Crucial Game (5 Nov. 1972)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 928 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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Title: The Most Crucial Game (05 Nov 1972)

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Episode complete credited cast:
Paul Hanlon
Walter Cunnell
Coach Rizzo
Eve Babcock
Susan Howard ...
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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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 »


As Hanlon's secretary greets lawyer Cunnell, she holds a telephone receiver in her left hand. In the following scene Columbo enters the room and suddenly the receiver is on-hook again, while the phone starts ringing. See more »


Walter Cunnell: What is all this? Autopsy? Lab crews?
Lt. Columbo: Well, just part of a routine murder investigation, sir. Excuse me.
Walter Cunnell: Murder?
See more »


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


Eine kleine Nachtmusik
composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
See more »

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User Reviews

Murder Making No Sense But Subtle
29 December 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

It is interesting that the writer of Bonanza episodes (Dugan) got tapped to write a Columbo episode. There is plenty of humor present from the Ding-A-Ling brand of Ice Cream to Rhoda (Valerie Harper) performing a call girl routine on Columbo.

The cast here is quite strong as Robert Culp is at his prime here. It is amazing but it appears that if Culp didn't need to hose off the pool deck, he would get off on this one. Susan Howard's role as the widow is really very limited, like her role on Dallas as Ray Krebs wife often seemed. She only has 3 scenes here.

What hits the formula here is how Columbo trips up Culp though I am at a total loss how Culp benefits from murdering a boss who he was in complete command of when he is alive. The performances are good enough that you don't mind.

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