Columbo: Season 10, Episode 1

Columbo Goes to College (9 Dec. 1990)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 713 users  
Reviews: 17 user | 3 critic

Two college students who believe that their wealth and status allow them to do what they want. But one of them has been placed on notice by his father that if he messes up he's on his own. ... See full summary »


(as E. W. Swackhamer)


(creator), (creator), 3 more credits »
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Title: Columbo Goes to College (09 Dec 1990)

Columbo Goes to College (09 Dec 1990) on IMDb 7.5/10

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Stephen Caffrey ...
Justin Rowe
Cooper Redman
Prof. D.E. Rusk
Dominic Doyle
June Clark
Mr. Redman
Bridget Hanley ...
Mrs. Rusk
Jim Antonio ...
Joe Doyle
Guy Stockwell ...
Club Owner
Jordan Rowe
Les Lannom ...
Elizabeth Swackhamer ...


Two college students who believe that their wealth and status allow them to do what they want. But one of them has been placed on notice by his father that if he messes up he's on his own. And they cheat in one of their classes. The professor discovers what they did. And he tells them that he will either flunk them or have them expelled. They later follow him and see him with someone. That's when they decide to kill him. They decide to do it during their next class wherein Columbo is teaching. And they do it despite being in the class when it happened. Columbo investigates and the two guys would like to help. Written by

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Release Date:

9 December 1990 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This was Robert Culp's fourth and final appearance in "Columbo", but the only time he did not play the murderer. See more »


When Columbo is sitting in Justin's room with him and Cooper he is given a can of Budweiser which he holds in his right hand. When the camera is on a close up of Columbo he is shown using both hands freely without holding the can of beer. When the camera goes back to the original view he is shown holding the can again. See more »


Cooper Redman: Your father's pretty wacky.
Justin Rowe: Yeah, he's a sick man. I hate him.
See more »


Followed by Columbo: A Bird in the Hand... (1992) See more »


Poor Rich Boy
(uncredited) (opening title)
Written by Burt Bacharach, David Pack, Joe Puerta
Performed by Ambrosia
Produced by Val Garay, assisted by Niko Bolas at Record One
Drums: Burleigh Drummond
Bass: Joe Puerta
Keyboards: Christopher North and David Lewis
Background vocals and guitar: David Pack
Background vocals and percussion: Royce Jones
(from Arthur (1981) The Album")
See more »

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User Reviews

Problems with the plot development but still quite enjoyable stuff
11 October 2005 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

When Justin and Cooper face expulsion from their university, they plot to kill their tutor and thus remove the threat. So while they are in class having a lecture from a police officer on technique, they arrange Rusk to meet someone Justin's father in a restaurant. Of course there is no such meeting and, while getting in his car he is shot dead. Everyone is shocked and all clues seem to point to either a scorned lover or Rusk's naming of mobsters in his books. However the police officer giving the lecture is none other than Columbo and parts of the general consensus just don't ring true and he starts picking. Being criminology students, Justin and Cooper know they can direct Columbo down the wrong path under the pretence of wanting to learn.

As with many TV film series (such as Perry Mason), if you like one or two of them then you'll pretty much like them all. This entry in the Columbo series pretty much follows the usual formula – we know the killer and the "perfect" plan but then watch Columbo follow his hunch and gradually starts to pick holes in the story he is told before eventually finding enough to prove his suspicions. Knowing this ahead of time won't ruin anything for you; it is simply what happens in all the films. With this strict adherence to formula it is usually down to several factors whether or not the Columbo film stands out or if it is just average. Having had my fingers burnt with my first "new" Columbo, I wasn't sure if I should bother going back or should just rewatch the original series from the seventies, but I thought that the formula can't be that hard to pull off and figured that it was worth another pass. With the opening music and college gimmick I feared the worse but for the majority of the film the formula worked quite well despite problems in the plot.

These problems exist across the reasons why Columbo starts to suspect the boys. The film does it reasonably well by showing us Columbo tweaking that he is being played but the rest of it doesn't fall into place and the ending, although neat, just comes out of nowhere. The story does enough to keep you watching but it could have been better developed rather than coming over as a series of jumps. Falk is good here though, not his classic self but better than some of the other "new" Columbo's. He plays his doddery character well but has enough of a touch to show a cunning side. His adversaries are OK but weak by series standards; their plot is OK but they are too obvious and lacking substance to work. The fact that both Caffrey and Hershberger are annoyingly little tw*ts also means you want them to go down, which does add entertaining to Columbo slowly moving around them to trap them. The support cast is OK but it was Culp I tuned in for (thinking he was the murderer) and, although in a smaller role than I had hoped he was still good – tearing Columbo a new ass, perhaps enjoying the tables being turned from their last meeting.

Overall, not a great Columbo due to the lack of development across the plot but it is still enjoyable. The cast are roundly good even if most viewers will come away annoyed at the two students for just being spoilt brats. Fans will enjoy it even if new viewers would do well to start a decade or so back.

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