Columbo (1971–2003)
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A Bird in the Hand... 

Harold likes to gamble, but as a rule he loses and he is heavily in debt. His uncle is the famous Big Fred who is the owner of a football team and he is a millionaire. But Harold can't get ... See full summary »



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Harold McCain
Lt. Robertson (as Frank Mc Rae)
Fernando (as Leon Singer)
Mr. Hacker
Big Fred
Casino Manager
G.F. Smith ...
Carol Swarbrick ...
Casino Waitress
Ed McCready ...
John Petlock ...
Medical Examiner
Joel Beeson ...
Kay Perry ...


Harold likes to gamble, but as a rule he loses and he is heavily in debt. His uncle is the famous Big Fred who is the owner of a football team and he is a millionaire. But Harold can't get a dime from him. So Harold decides to kill his uncle by a pipe bomb under his car. He is not surprised when he is told Big Fred is dead. He is surprised however that the death is due to a road accident. He rushes to his uncle's house and he finds Lt. Columbo getting excited about the car with the bomb... Written by Baldinotto da Pistoia

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Release Date:

22 November 1992 (USA)  »

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Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Repeated "stock footage": The film of two police cars racing to the scene of the second murder in "A Bird In The Hand", swerving around the corner by the liquor store is the same film seen in Columbo: No Time to Die (1992), as police rush to rescue Melissa. These two episodes were originally broadcast during the same year, one after the other. See more »


The morning after Harold places the pipe bomb on the car he is shown lying in bed on his back (from a top down camera angle). The phone rings and the camera angle switches to a side shot and he is now lying on his right side. No time had passed to allow him to switch positions. See more »


Followed by Columbo: Ashes to Ashes (1998) See more »


Because Of You
Music by Dudley Wilkinson
Lyrics by Arthur Hammerstein
See more »

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User Reviews

A lesser investigation
25 August 2015 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

A BIRD IN THE HAND... is one of my least favourite COLUMBO TV movies thus far, and I blame that on the quality of the writing. Although this episode is unique in terms of the intricacy of the murder - the actual murderer's plans go awry when his intended victim is in fact killed by somebody else - the execution is strictly so-so, and disappointing considering the quality of the detective's other stories.

What we get here is Peter Falk on autopilot, going through the motions rather than getting to the heart of his character as he does elsewhere; he's good in the goofy humour scenes (like the car showroom highlight) but elsewhere nothing special. Even worse is the supporting cast: there are two 'guest stars' here, and both are poor. The moustachioed Greg Evigan is an unpleasant scheming villain, while Tyne Daly's performance as a horny drunk is, frankly, embarrassing.

It turns out that the complexity of the opening murder(s) is the best thing about this story, which is otherwise unfocused and somewhat strained. The clue-solving stuff is simplistic and things particularly fall apart in the final act, ending in a most ordinary fashion. Columbo could do better, and he frequently did.

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