Columbo: Season 12, Episode 3

Undercover (2 May 1994)

TV Episode  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery
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Lt Columbo investigates men and women who are being killed over pieces of a photo they have, that shows where 4 million dollars in stolen money is hidden.



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Title: Undercover (02 May 1994)

Undercover (02 May 1994) on IMDb 7/10

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Irving Krutch
Mo Weinberg
Geraldine Ferguson
Bramley Kahn
Suzie Endicott (as Kristin Bauer)
Detective McKittrick
Hank Garrett
Dorothea McNally
Penny Santon ...
Marla Adams ...
Sheila Byrnes
Nurse Hilda


Cigar-chomping Lieutenant Columbo's investigation into the odd death of two men flings him headlong into a mystery revolving around the long-lost loot from an unsolved bank heist. Insurance investigator Irving Krutch asks for Columbo's assistance in tracking down the pieces of a photograph that will reveal the location of the hidden millions. To do so, Columbo must go undercover in various guises to obtain the pieces from the various people who now possess them. But in the course of the investigation, more than one of these people will be murdered, and Columbo can't shake the feeling that Krutch is somehow responsible for the entire bloody business... Written by Leaper

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Release Date:

2 May 1994 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This was Tyne Daly's second appearance in a "Columbo" episode. See more »


Follows Columbo: Death Hits the Jackpot (1991) See more »


This Old Man
Traditional children's song
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User Reviews

OK try at something different but Columbo fans will miss the character and the formula
11 December 2005 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Columbo is called to a clear-cut case of double homicide in a dead end apartment block, where a robber has been shot at the same time as stabbing the owner in the neck. The only thing not clear is the motive as all Columbo can find is a section of a photograph that has been neatly cut out. Stumped by what it all means Columbo and his partner listen with interest when an insurance investigator tells them that the photograph in question will lead to a stash of stolen cash. With Columbo's Italian background, Krutch suggests that Columbo help out by going undercover and trying to recover all the elements and recover the cash.

The last couple of "new" Columbos that I've watched have messed around with the formula with, at best, mixed results. So with the title clearly telling me that things are very different from normal I must admit to approaching this film with a certain amount of trepidation. I assume that the changes are down to the influence of Peter Falk as executive producer for the series – no matter how much I enjoy it, it must be a bother to him to be stuck with one performance in one character in one formula. This change isn't great but it does still produce a so-so story that moves along well enough despite having nothing of the original Columbo about it. What it does lack though is mystery and the steps just feel flat and be more about the undercover gimmick rather than the plot.

Columbo fans will probably find it difficult to get past the fact that he is such a different person here than normal – he plays bad cop, he puts on accents and he plays Italian stereotypes like it was going out of fashion; it is all a far cry from the cat n' mouse stuff while his brain whirrs along in the background. Falk seems to enjoy playing the different roles and getting to be tough etc and that helps the film but I still didn't think it was a good idea to move away from not only the formula but the character himself. Begley is OK but hardly a good foil for Columbo. Young is amusing, Page does OK with the unenviable role of Columbo's partner. Tyne Daly follows up her performance in "Columbo A Bird in the Hand" where she was a drunken lush with a performance as a drunken prostitute. She is OK but not as amusing as another person making a return to the Columbo series – Donner.

Overall this is an OK Columbo that I suppose deserves some credit for trying to do something different. However different does not mean good and it isn't as engaging as the classic episodes were and the undercover thing does become a bit of a gimmick after a while. It is distracting enough and certainly not as bad as some of the other new Columbo films but you can't help but look back more fondly on the classic series.

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