Columbo: Season 9, Episode 3

Agenda for Murder (10 Feb. 1990)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 670 users  
Reviews: 19 user | 3 critic

This time Columbo is put on a murder that was made to look like a suicide. However, he notices some loose ends, and asks a lawyer and a governor to clear these problems up.



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Title: Agenda for Murder (10 Feb 1990)

Agenda for Murder (10 Feb 1990) on IMDb 7.3/10

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Paul Mackey
Frank Staplin
Penny Fuller ...
Mrs. Finch
Anne Haney ...
Tim Haines
Toby Ritt
Arthur Hill ...
The Governor
Michael Goldfinger ...
Laundry Truck Driver
Annie Stewart ...
Rebecca Christy
Carol Barbee ...
Security Man #1


Oscar Finch is a lawyer, who uses illegal and underhanded methods to get his clients off, like coercing young men into destroying evidence, like Paul Mackey who worked for the D.A.'s office twenty years ago and whom he bribed into destroying some evidence against a client of his. Today they are joined at the hip and Mackey is a congressman and who has been asked by the Governor who is running for president to be his vice president. Finch hopes that this will mean a cabinet position for him. Finch is then contacted by Frank Staplin, the client that Mackey helped get off twenty years ago. Now unless Finch helps Frank again, he will tell everyone that Finch and Mackey were the ones who helped him avoid prosecution twenty years ago. Finch then kills him and makes it look like a suicide. But a few inconsistencies lead Lt. Columbo to believe that it was not and the fact that Staplin made a few phone calls to Finch before he died leads Columbo to see him. Written by <>

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Release Date:

10 February 1990 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Last film of Arthur Hill. See more »


After the Lieutenant has told Finch the joke (in front of the Court), Finch drives off in his BMW (you can hear Finch shutting the door of the car when the shot shows Columbo). The shot with Columbo in view however, clearly shows an open driver's area. See more »


Oscar Finch: He didn't have a hope in hell, so I told the guy to get lost. And, boy, did he ever.
See more »


References Singin' in the Rain (1952) See more »


Mystery Movie Theme
by Mike Post
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User Reviews

Brilliant Handling of a Typical Murder
27 March 2003 | by (Austin, TX) – See all my reviews

At face value, "Agenda for Murder" seems pretty average: the typical Columbo-esque villain is a businessman who commits a simple murder to keep some professional skeletons in the closet. The crime is simply executed, without the usual bells and whistles of a complicated alibi or execution.

Patrick McGoohan, however, is brilliant. In "Braveheart" he chewed the scenery as the evil King. In this Columbo episode, he's a high-priced attorney vying for the position of U.S. Attorney General. He's efficient, wealthy, pompous ("If you can answer that question, Lieutenant, you're a smarter man than I"), intelligent, and underestimates Columbo by a long shot. McGoohan played different shades of the same role in other Columbo outings (a domineering commander of a military school, a secret government agent, and a suave funeral director), but he's at his best here.

Peter Falk as the Lieutenant is also top form - watch the scenes between Falk and McGoohan closely and you'll see how Columbo slowly manipulates Oscar Finch from a self-confident businessman into a man who is inwardly afraid of his own shadow but must keep his stern outward demeanor. As was mentioned in other reviews, their game of cat and mouse is a delight to watch, rivaled only by Falk's performances with William Shatner in "Fade in to Murder" and "Butterfly in Shades of Grey."

The episode is abound with clues that will make the viewer slap his head and exclaim "Why didn't I think of that?" Particularly clever are the faxed jokes and the drop of blood. I do think, however, that Finch was far too clever to mess up and leave behind the final clue that proved his guilt - he was, after all, a criminal attorney!

This episode is a must for new Columbo fans (after "Caution: Murder Can Be Hazardous to Your Health") and, should a distribution company ever decide to release the newer episodes on DVD, "Agenda for Murder" should be on the top of the list.

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