Columbo: Season 8, Episode 1

Columbo Goes to the Guillotine (6 Feb. 1989)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 792 users  
Reviews: 9 user | 4 critic

An egocentric psychic murders his old mentor, a magician charged to expose him as fraud, by beheading him while he's rehearsing his guillotine trick.



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Title: Columbo Goes to the Guillotine (06 Feb 1989)

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
James Greene ...
Dana Andersen ...
Sgt. Russo
Colonel Eckherdt
Milt Kogan ...
Medical Examiner
Rob Garrison ...
Young Man
Polygraph Operator
Lenny Hicks ...


Famous (and fraudulent) psychic Elliot Blake uses his old mentalist skills to live a lavish lifestyle at the expense of a psychic research institute and hopefully, the US Government. What seems at first like a threat, a test devised by a well-known magician and debunker of psychics, turns out to be his chance for revenge against his former mentor. What he can't foresee is a police lieutenant who knows all the tricks. Written by Mark Cabot Robinson

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Release Date:

6 February 1989 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The first Columbo episode to air under "The ABC Mystery Movie" (1989). See more »


Elliott Blake: You know, Max, for a moment this afternoon, I really thought you were going to betray me. Again.
Max Dyson: What do you mean?
Elliott Blake: Well, that show that you put on? Well, I thought it might be to, uh, make it up to me, you know? For what happened, in the prison?
[pulls out a revolver and points it at Max]
Elliott Blake: REMEMBER, Max? The escape we planned? And then, one day, you vanished! 'Max the Magnificent' was out. And the guards knew exactly where to look for my clever little escape tools, hm?
Max Dyson: My God, is that what you ...
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User Reviews

One of the best of the "new" Columbos
20 November 1999 | by (Ottawa, Canada) – See all my reviews

This is not the first time Columbo has entered the world of magic and illusion in the course of his investigations; it is an ideal setting for murder, with its built-in "things are not what they seem to be" theme. This movie, however, goes into greater detail exploring the mechanics of trickery, and adds in the richer theme of (supposed) paranormal phenomena to make things more confusing. A renowned magician and debunker of fake mystics (perhaps modelled somewhat on James Randi) declares that a celebrated young psychic is the genuine article, and has actually succeeded in passing rigorous laboratory tests to prove his psychic ability. In fact, the psychic is a fake, as the magician is fully aware, but a combination of guilt and sentiment over some shared history between the two men leads him to cover up for the young man, who takes advantage of this weakness to kill him. Columbo must not only work his way through the tricky surfaces presented by professional magicians, he has to also deal with a murderer who has been authoritatively declared a genuine psychic by the victim. The most useful advice he gets comes from a rather snotty little boy who is a magic buff and tells him "It's a trick. You start out knowing it's a trick, and then you figure out how to do it." Watching Columbo learn how to duplicate the apparently mystical feats of his opponent is highly enjoyable.

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