Columbo (1971–2003)
19 user 4 critic

How to Dial a Murder 

A behavioral psychologist whose wife died under suspicious circumstances trains his dogs to kill on command using a telephone.



(teleplay by), (story by) | 2 more credits »

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Episode complete credited cast:
Dr. Eric Mason
Joanne Nicholls
Dr. Charles Hunter
Dr. Ernie Garrison
Miss Cochran - the dog trainer
Officer Stein
Technician (as Fred J. Gordon)


Dr. Eric Mason is a self-controlled man who teaches how to get control over one's own life. Six months earlier, his wife died suddenly in an inexplicable car accident. Now his best friend, Dr. Charles Hunter, dies when Eric's two Doberman pinschers, Laurel and Hardy, suddenly tear him apart in Eric's kitchen while Eric is away. Lt. Columbo love dogs and needs to figure out what happened before Laurel and Hardy are put down and Dr. Mason gets away with murder. Written by Baldinotto da Pistoia / revised by statmanjeff

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Release Date:

5 April 1978 (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?


The word "Rosebud", in reference to the sled in Citizen Kane (1941), is used as an important plot element in the episode. Kim Cattrall, who plays the girl who discovers the murder victim, made her film debut in the movie Rosebud (1975), where a yacht named after the same sled serves as the movie's setting. See more »


The pool balls that Mason sets up to for Columbo to hit change between shots. First they are all solids and what appear to be two cue balls set up in a triangle shape. The scene cuts to Columbo for a few seconds, then back the Mason and the pool balls. Now there are a mix of solid and striped pool balls and the two cue balls are gone. See more »


Lt. Columbo: [trying to trigger the attack word for the dogs] Kill! Kiss! Diamonds! Rubies! Sneakers!
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References The Silver Bullet (1942) See more »


This Old Man
Traditional English children's marching song
Whistled by Peter Falk
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User Reviews

The Dobermans
27 February 2016 | by (North America) – See all my reviews

Nicol Williamson stars as a behavioral psychologist named Eric Mason whose wife recently died in a car crash, and whom he believes was having an affair with his best friend Dr. Charles Hunter, so Mason decides to murder him by cruelly using his specially trained Dobermans to attack him when the phone rings and a certain control word is spoken aloud. The crime is discovered by his young live-in girlfriend(played by Kim Cattrall) whose call for help brings in Lt. Columbo(Peter Falk) who admirers Eric's taste in Cinema, but is appalled by his murder method, so making this arrest will be especially satisfying... Unusually violent episode with Williamson a particularly odious villain who gets his much deserved comeuppance.

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