A gadget-happy inventor murders his mother-in-law; Lt. Columbo is on the case.


, (as Booker T. Bradshaw) | 2 more credits »

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Episode complete credited cast:
Harold Van Wick
Elizabeth Van Wick
Arthur Meadis
Margaret Meadis
S. Baxter (as Herb Jefferson Jr.)
Trisha Noble ...
Marcy Hubbard
Officer Banks
Joe Ohar ...
Attendant (as Joe O'Har)


Electronics expert Harold Van Wick has wired his estate-home with closed-circuit television cameras and video recorders. His costly fascination with gadgetry raises the ire of his frugal mother-in-law, who owns the firm where Van Wick is the chief executive. She orders him to resign, threatening to reveal his philandering ways discovered by her private detective, but Van Wick has already set in motion a scheme to murder his angry mother-in-law, recording her demise on video tape while feeding a recording of an empty study to the guard monitoring the estate's rooms on television screens at the gate to the Van Wick estate. Having already forced open a window and planted footprints outside it to make the kill look like the deed of a burglar, Van Wick timer-sets the recording of the murder to play while he is away at a social function, thus giving him an alibi. But Lieutenant Columbo - that super-smart detective in a rumpled raincoat - suspects Van Wick and asks incessant questions as he ... Written by Kevin McCorry <mmccorry@nb.sympatico.ca>

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Release Date:

2 March 1975 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Gena Rowlands was the wife of actor/director John Cassavetes, who had been the killer in the 1972 episode "Etude in Black". Cassavetes and Peter Falk were friends and ultimately worked together on six films. See more »


Columbo has the security video (a wide shot of the room) enhanced and is able to read the wording on a card which is on the mantelpiece, thereby breaking the suspect's alibi. This would have been impossible. It is stretching technology and image-enhancement way too far to be able to extract a clear image of the card from something that occupies only a few lines of the video image and to manufacture information that was simply not there in the original image. See more »


Columbo: [looking over several modern pieces at an art gallery] Um, now, this here... I see it doesn't have a title.
Francine: That?
Columbo: Yes.
Francine: That, sir, is the ventilator for the air conditioning.
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References Candid Camera (1948) See more »


Ballade No.1 in g-minor, op.23
Written by Frédéric Chopin
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User Reviews

Electronics expert murders his mother-in-law to retain possession of the family business.
7 May 2006 | by (Massachusetts, United States) – See all my reviews

This is one of the better "Columbo" episodes. Oskar Werner is excellent as Harold van Wyck. The company name is "Midas Electronics." The previous reviewer misspelled that. Van Wyck is an inventor ahead of his time. The gadgets portrayed are now everyday things so someone on the production staff did a bit of research in '74 when the episode was filmed. It was originally broadcast during the spring of '75. Van Wyck is a complex genius as the character shows. He clearly enjoys creating the new "inventions." But, he is no saint in that he does apparently like the ladies, and has several extra marital relationships going on. The acting is excellent from an excellent cast. Martha Scott as the mother-in-law is suitably nasty as the company owner out for profit over ideas. Gena Rowlands is, as usual, equally good. This episode of "Columbo" is a rarity. It is the only work done by Oskar Werner on American television.

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