Columbo: Season 7, Episode 4

How to Dial a Murder (5 Apr. 1978)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 803 users  
Reviews: 16 user | 4 critic

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



(teleplay), (story), 2 more credits »
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Title: How to Dial a Murder (05 Apr 1978)

How to Dial a Murder (05 Apr 1978) on IMDb 7.7/10

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Episode cast overview:
Dr. Eric Mason
Joanne Nicholls
Joel Fabiani ...
Dr. Charles Hunter
Dr. Garrison
Tricia O'Neil ...
Mrs. Cochran - the dog trainer
Officer Stein


Dr. Eric Mason is a self-controlled man and he teaches how to get control over one's own life. His wife died suddenly because of an inexplicable accident and his best friend is Dr. Garrison, or so it seems. Eric has two dogs and his two Doberman pinschers will be his arms to kill Dr. Garrison. But Lt. Columbo love dogs... Written by Baldinotto da Pistoia

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Release Date:

5 April 1978 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Dr. Mason addresses Columbo as "Lieutenant" when they first see each other at the crime scene, even though they hadn't met yet. Then the detective introduces himself as Lieutenant Columbo. See more »


Lt. Columbo: Who knows what goes on in the head of a dog?
See more »


References King Kong (1933) See more »


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

Columbo learns about movies
9 April 2005 | by (Odense, Denmark) – See all my reviews

A very good, and above average, Columbo episode. This is caused by that it makes small variations from the classic scheme. The motive of the murder isn't present at the beginning, which is something, that really improves the movie. Columbo is playing up against Dr. Eric Mason (nicely played by Nicol Williamson), who doesn't loose his temper as much as the characters that Columbo previously met.

The third main character, Joanne Nicholls, should have a special mention, since she is not only played extremely well - by Kim Cattrall, later of "Sex And The City" fame (however her role in this movie is the complete opposite, a true romantic who has her teddy bear as her true companion) - but also that her unbalanced character adds well to the movie plot.

And ad with that, some great incidental music, good directing spots (particularly in a wordless sequence with Columbo and the dog trainer), a generally good script(rarely have I laughed so much in a Columbo movie, and the many references to old movies - particularly Citizen Kane

  • and psychology are well-put and well used), and that Peter Falk seems
in top shape makes it a great movie, and a Columbo classic.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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