Columbo: Season 6, Episode 1

Fade in to Murder (10 Oct. 1976)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 777 users  
Reviews: 21 user | 3 critic

An egotistical but successful star off a TV detective show murders his blackmailing producer and makes it look like a robbery.


(teleplay), (teleplay), 3 more credits »
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Title: Fade in to Murder (10 Oct 1976)

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Episode complete credited cast:
Alan Manson ...
Sid Daley
Lola Albright ...
Clare Daley
Danny Dayton ...
Tony (as Timothy Agoglia Carey)
Sgt. Johnson
Assistant Director (as J.P. Finnegan)
Jimmy Joyce ...
Camera Operator
Frank Emmett Baxter ...
Walter Gray
Fred Draper ...
Joseph (first scene, flubbed line)


Ward Fowler is an actor of a soap opera and his character is Detective Lucerne. His producer is Claire Daley, once his lover and now his blackmailer. Fowler decides to kill Claire and to do in such a way as to accuse her husband. Lt. Columbo begins to investigate and he is helped by Detective Lucerne who at a certain moment suspects the actor Fowler... Written by Baldinotto da Pistoia

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

detective | actor | blackmailer | star | murder | See more »


See all certifications »




Release Date:

10 October 1976 (USA)  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Sid's comb-over hairstyle is a little windswept from one camera angle, but not others, as Columbo is speaking to him beside the "Jaws" shark pool. See more »


Detective Lucerne: Is there anything that doesn't bore you, Clare?
Clare Daley: Yes, silver certificates. I'd paper my bedroom with them.
See more »


References Jaws (1975) See more »


"This Old Man' (uncredited)
Traditional English children's counting folk song.
Hummed by Peter Falk while in Shatner's dressing room.
See more »

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User Reviews

A curious, patchily enjoyable Columbo yarn
14 July 2005 | by (Port Talbot, South Wales,UK) – See all my reviews

Decently plotted and reasonably originally conceived Columbo Season 6 opener, which sees him square-off, rather interestingly, against an actor renowned for his portrayal of the television detective Lt. Lucerne (played by William Shatner) who murders his blackmailing ex-lover (the show's producer) in a made-to-look-like robbery.

The most noticeable thing about this episode is the inordinate amount of screen time between Columbo and murderer, which therefore places a heavier emphasis than normal on having a quality script. In this respect, the scenes are carefully drawn and many of them are executed in a pleasing style, particularly as we get more information on the murderer's motives behind his crime. Nevertheless, the playful style of Columbo's interfacing with his rival (which may be too strong a word) is not a particularly rewarding approach by the script-writer, who almost airs on the side of caution to maintain a lighter atmosphere than is often the case in Columbo adventures. This style also renders a lack of build-up to the conclusion, which with all the open-mindedness in the world, is very inauspicious and unsatisfying.

Shatner's performance is carefully executed but overly hammy; although he probably does everything he is asked of in the script, particularly in conveying his character's deep-rooted insecurity, which is rather heavily portrayed at the end as he tries to seek sympathy for his crime.

I especially liked the final piece of dialogue after Columbo collars the murderer: Lt. Lucerne to Columbo - " would do me a enormous favour if you would stop calling me sir...."

It's a very curious episode with positives and negatives in equal measure; perhaps the script-writer could have allowed Lt. Lucerne's character to possess more self-assuredness, particularly as he gifts Columbo evidence off and on during this adventure.

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