Columbo: Season 4, Episode 1

An Exercise in Fatality (15 Sep. 1974)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 833 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 »
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Title: An Exercise in Fatality (15 Sep 1974)

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

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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 ...
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 »


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Release Date:

15 September 1974 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


| (DVD release)

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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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 Columbo finishes walking on the treadmill at the gym he enters the office to talk to Milo Janus. Just before he leaves the office he borrows a pencil from a black box on the desk. When the camera switches from Columbo to Janus the number of pencils change from three to one, and they are also pointing in a different direction. When Columbo puts the pencil back in the box there are two pencils, but the next angle shows three pencils as Columbo is heading toward the door. See more »


Columbo: [on the phone with his wife] I'm gonna hang up. You can keep talkin' but I'm gonna hang up.
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 »


This Old Man
Traditional English children's song
Sung by Peter Falk on beach
See more »

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User Reviews

A great detective
28 August 2007 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I think the thing that makes Columbo such a compelling series is that as the audience you see the murder. Then what makes Columbo so fascinating is that while you see the murder you do not see the mistakes that the murderer makes so you can actually be surprised as the murderer is when mistake after mistake is unravelled by Columbo. In this episode what was extra compelling was that the murderer really tried to take Columbo on. He was not trying to solve the case with him, he was indulging Columbo instead he was making it very clear that Columbo was an irritant. Then finally when confronted he still tried to front it out (The can you prove it scenario) until at the very last Columbo provided that proof. I liked this episode a lot and I only wish I had it on DVD so I could replay the moment the murderer got his. Excellent stuff.

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