Columbo: Season 6, Episode 1

Fade in to Murder (10 Oct. 1976)

TV Episode  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 941 users  
Reviews: 21 user | 3 critic

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


(teleplay by), (teleplay by) (as Peter Feibleman) , 3 more credits »
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Episode complete credited cast:
Alan Manson ...
Sid Daley
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


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Release Date:

10 October 1976 (USA)  »

Filming Locations:


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Production Co:

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Ward Fowler's (william shatner) livingroom was also used in the Columbo episode "Identity Crisis" where Peter Falk sparred with Patrick Mcgoohan See more »


Ward Fowler draws a chalk circle on the back of Columbo's raincoat. Quite a few scenes earlier, we see Columbo with that chalk circle already on his back when beside the "Jaws" pool. See more »


Lieutenant Columbo: How does a smart man like Lieutenant Lucerne make a mistake like THAT?
Ward Fowler: Because you're not talking to Lieutenant Lucerne at the moment, are you, Lieutenant? You're talking to Ward Fowler.
Lieutenant Columbo: Well, what's the difference, sir?
Ward Fowler: The difference is Ward Fowler's under suspicion of murder, and a man under that kind of threat is... apt to make mistakes. He's apt to get rattled.
Lieutenant Columbo: Well, who ever said anything about Ward Fowler being under suspicion of murder?
Ward Fowler: Lieutenant Lucerne did.
Lieutenant Columbo: He did? Well, how did he ...
See more »


References Jaws (1975) See more »


This Old Man
Traditional English children's counting folk song.
[Sung without words by Columbo (Peter Falk) while walking towards Fowler'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.

21 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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