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
A health club owner plots the perfect murder in this enjoyable entry, with a fine supporting castand one bad scene
Milo Janus (Robert Conrad) owns a chain of health clubs, but one of his franchisees (Philip Bruns) discovers the man is cheating himand he can prove it to the authorities. Janus responds with a carefully planned murder. He finds his snooping business partner alone in the club andafter an unexpected strugglecrushes the man's windpipe. He puts the corpse in gym clothes, sets it on a bench, places a 180-pound barbell over its neckand there you go. It looks as if the guy 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 (Gretchen Corbett), a party for friends at his house and a pornographic horror movie. But no alibi is perfect when our rumpled Lt. Columbo (Peter Falk) is on the case.
This is a good episode with only one bad scene: the one where Columbo waits for a snippy secretaryor rather the supercomputer she operatesto provide him with a simple bit of information. His endless wait is the point of the gag, but it's not funny and seems to exist only to pad the running time. Otherwise we have a good villain in Conrad, a man in his late 30s playing a man in his early 50s who looks like a man in his late 30s. The supporting cast is typically good. I especially liked Corbett as the sexy secretary (not the snippy one) who is amused then bemused by our crafty lieutenant; and Collin Wilcox as the inebriated wife of the victim. Both give performances that are rich and varied beyond the call of duty.
The best moment: Columbo drops the pretense and loses his temper with his suspect. Before this point in the series, he had done this only in "Prescription: Murder" and "A Stitch in Crime." Its rarity makes it all the more delicious.
I don't know if I really buy Columbo's damning bit of evidence at the end; but it's so amusing that I can't criticize it. I especially like how a brief moment between a mother and her small child inspires him to look for it. In any case, few "Columbo" fans will find this entry wanting.
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