Dr. Bart Keppel has a very high opinion of himself. Notwithstanding that opinion, he is being fired by Vic Norris, so Bart plans a murder, constructing a perfect alibi for himself while building evidence against the victim's wife. He kills Vic while running commentary on a promotional short film; but, even in the most perfect planning, there are bound to be some failures, and you can be sure that Lt. Columbo will find them out. Written by
Baldinotto da Pistoia
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When Columbo arrives at a back office with monitors, he's being tracked by a videocamera. He arrives and sees himself live on the monitor, filmed from behind. What he sees doesn't match with his actual position, judging by a hand resting against a wall. See more »
A Season 3 Columbo episode that is particularly underestimated for its engrossing qualities, which are facilitated by a very tightly-structured plot and script with very few secondary characters, brisk pacing and an enormous amount of screen time between Columbo and villain.
Robert Culp makes his third and final appearance as a Columbo villain, playing a motivational research specialist whose blackmailing scheme, involving his potential (married) business clients and a model he is using for the advertising campaigns, is threatened to be exposed by one of his clients...
Quite possibly this is Culp's best performance of the three; remarkably calm, assured and purposeful throughout despite the increasingly intrusive nature of Columbo's questioning. There are some great scenes between the two in a supermarket and (even better) on a golf course.
The quality of the episode is all the more remarkable given the moderate quantity of circumstantial clues, yet the basic murder set-up is really quite ingenious, particularly as the murderer is able to hide the murder weapon in a very clever and almost foolproof manner. This accentuates the lack of predictability in this story as Columbo has to be really smart to uncover the truth: the finale is superbly ironical and the elements of smartness possessed so markedly by the villain in the preceding sequences are wonderfully transferred to the dogged and ultra-persistent hero.
Addicts may also note that Columbo mentions the "Hayward case" early on in this story, which interestingly refers to the previous episode entitled "Candidate for Crime."
An undoubtedly solid episode, which is precise in its intentions and very competent in its delivery.
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