Columbo: Season 4, Episode 1

An Exercise in Fatality (15 Sep. 1974)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.5/10 from 865 users  
Reviews: 27 user | 4 critic

A health club owner murders one of his franchisees; Lt. Columbo is on the case.


(as Bernard Kowalski)


(teleplay), (story), 2 more credits »
0Check in

On Disc

at Amazon

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 8379 titles
created 07 Nov 2012
a list of 2596 titles
created 16 Apr 2013
a list of 21 titles
created 9 months ago
a list of 69 titles
created 3 months ago
a list of 2717 titles
created 2 months ago

Related Items

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: An Exercise in Fatality (15 Sep 1974)

An Exercise in Fatality (15 Sep 1974) on IMDb 7.5/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Columbo.
« Previous Episode | 25 of 68 Episodes | Next Episode »


Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Gretchen Corbett ...
Jessica Conroy
Buddy Castle (as Pat Harrington)
Ruth Stafford (as Collin Wilcox)
Philip Bruns ...
Gene Stafford
Jude Farese ...
Darrell Zwerling ...
Dennis Robertson ...
Raymond O'Keefe ...
Sgt. Rickets
Medical Examiner
Eric Mason ...
J.R. Clark ...
Harry Lassiter (as J. R. Clark)
Mel Stevens ...
Dr. Freeman
Manuel DePina ...


Milo Janus owns a chain of health clubs, but one of his franchisees discovers the man is cheating him - and can prove it to the authorities. Janus responds by murdering his partner and making it look as if he had accidentally killed himself trying to lift a barbell that was too heavy for him. Janus creates a would-be perfect alibi for himself involving a tape recording of his victim's voice, a phone that doesn't light up, a sexy secretary, a party for friends at his house, and a pornographic horror movie. But no alibi is perfect when the rumpled Lt. Columbo is on the case. Written by J. Spurlin

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

alibi | spa | barbell | police | murder | See more »


See all certifications »




Release Date:

15 September 1974 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (DVD release)

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Even architecture has been known to make a comeback appearance in "Columbo". A Columbo film that displays the opening street scene to "An Exercise In Fatality" on a TV monitor is Columbo: Death Lends a Hand (1971), near the beginning, in Brimmer's office. See more »


When Milo opens the door of his Rolls Royce, the film crew is reflected in the door. See more »


Columbo: I'll tell you how you did it if you're interested.
See more »

Crazy Credits

During the end credits the usual theme music is not heard. In its place is a jingle for the fictional Milo Janus fitness club instead. See more »


Stout-Hearted Men
Music by Sigmund Romberg (1928)
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Instrumental variation heard satirically whilst Columbo (Peter Falk) is jogging.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Conrad kills
26 November 2012 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I say the summary line in more ways than one, as Robert Conrad is the main guest star and arrogant killer, and he excels at performing both of them. He plays Milo Janus, who runs several health clubs, and even has a cheesy theme song/commercial for the spas, although the song may be the worst recorded jingle in the history of jingles. Janus is as shrewd as they come, as he does things his own way basically, and when someone calls him out on it, he gets himself murdered by Janus. The victim, a man named Gene Stafford(Philip Bruns), makes the stupid mistake of telling Janus to his face that he's going to tell the authorities about some shady business practices, so of course, he's going to get himself killed. This is one of a few pet peeves of mine about Columbo; too many people tell others how bad they are and threaten to expose them, and too many killers show no remorse when questioned by Columbo himself. Look for familiar faces in Gretchen Corbett(Jessica Conroy) and Pat Harrington(Buddy Castle), but the real star is Conrad, who is great in every scene and very arrogant. The ending was a bit underwhelming, as Columbo uses a shoe trick with laces as evidence that Janus killed Stafford, although I seriously doubt that his speculations would hold much water in court, and you know that Janus could afford an expensive attorney. It was a relief that Janus didn't confess like most killers do on this show. I still recommend this episode, especially for the performance of Conrad and for the different type of setting than usual.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Guest stars you would've love to have seen in the 70's episodes old-skool101
An Exercise In Fatality: 'He Slipped'? newdickmorris
Favorite Detectives? newdickmorris
Has this ever happened in Columbo? Nexusfactor
Question on lawyer hearing shots first damonn
Question for Columbo Experts: Episode set in Seattle (Underground). davidcklann
Discuss An Exercise in Fatality (1974) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: