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
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 »
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.
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