Columbo: Season 12, Episode 2

Butterfly in Shades of Grey (10 Jan. 1994)

TV Episode  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery
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L.A. radio moderator Chase kills Jerry Winters, a member of his staff who tried to help Chase's daughter Victoria (also a staff member) to leave her father and become a novelist in New York... See full summary »



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Title: Butterfly in Shades of Grey (10 Jan 1994)

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Victoria Chase
Gerald 'Gerry' Winters
Louis 'Lou' Cates
Station Manager
Mark Lonow ...
Theodore 'Ted' Malloy
Deirdre 'DeeDee' Ross
Deirdre's Agent
Robin Clarke ...
Senator Gordon Madison
Christopher Templeton ...
Marian Burke
John C. Anders ...
Officer Davis
Denice Kumagai ...
Martha (as Denice Kumagi)
D.V. Caitlyn ...
Second Biker (as Deryl Caitlyn)


L.A. radio moderator Chase kills Jerry Winters, a member of his staff who tried to help Chase's daughter Victoria (also a staff member) to leave her father and become a novelist in New York. Chase presents a fine alibi: Winters was shot dead while speaking to him on the phone, even the shooting was recorded on his answering machine. Everything seems perfect, but will Lt. Columbo really believe this story? Written by Otto Oberhauser <>

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Release Date:

10 January 1994 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Second appearance by William Shatner as the villain in an episode of Columbo. See more »


When Fielding is talking to a woman in the hall, she gets in the elevator. As the doors close, you can tell the elevator isn't real. It has only one set of interior doors. Real elevators have 2 doors, one that closes on the outside and one that travels up or down with the car on the inside as well as rubber levers to detect an object in between the doors as they close. See more »


Soap Opera Director: Okay... homeless people, go home!
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Followed by Columbo: Ashes to Ashes (1998) See more »

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A weak motive hampers the development of the story in a film that will probably please fans despite not being that strong a film
20 June 2006 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Fielding Chase is a popular if outspoken talk radio host. His foster daughter works alongside him as his assistant, always in his shadow, which is pretty much how he likes it. However he learns that one of his staff, Gerry Winters, has been helping Victoria and encouraging her to write a novel and get it published. When Fielding finds this out he goes behind his daughter's back and convinces the publisher (an old friend) to drop the deal. Victoria is crushed but Gerry reckons he knows why the deal fell apart and convinces her to come away with him anyway. To prevent this Fielding asks Gerry to call him at a set time but actually sneaks into the house at that time. While the answer machine catches them both chatting, Fielding shoots Gerry in the back – making it appear that he was miles away at the time of the murder. However one slip of the tongue is all it takes of Columbo to suspect that it is not as clear-cut as all that.

Although it is not one of the routinely better classic episodes in the Columbo series (the newer ones tend to be more hit and miss) I decided to give it a go because generally they are OK plus this had the added interest of old ham Shatner making his second appearance in the series. The film doesn't open well though, with a seemingly poor motive from Shatner for the crime and a murder that wouldn't have taken much to have it all fall to pieces. With this as the basis for the mystery, it doesn't develop that well Falk himself is pretty good as per normal, showing himself the usual good sport with the running gags about his appearance (a nice moment on a TV set). The problem does lie with Shatner unfortunately. He is too hammy and forceful – it felt like he was pushing a one-note character too hard. The two men don't work that well together because, like other average Columbo murderers, Shatner plays it confrontation and thus loses the fun of the cat'n'mouse game that usually makes for a strong chemistry. Support is unmemorable from Hagan, Laufer and a few others – nobody bad but certainly nobody is given much to do.

Overall this is an OK Columbo film but the weaknesses in the plot setup and the lack of spark between the two actors means it never gets up a good head of steam. Fans of the series will still enjoy it because it holds pretty well to the formula but just don't expect it to be any where near the standard of the series at the height of its powers.

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