Mrs. Columbo (1979–1980)
5.5/10
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A Riddle for Puppets 

A ventriloquist finds his dummy is acting independently of his will and kills the man who carved it. It's up to Kate Columbo to solve the murder.

Director:

(as Edward Abroms)
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Cast

Episode complete credited cast:
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Kate Columbo
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Josh Alden
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Jenny Columbo
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Noel Abbott
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Sergeant Caplan
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Victor March
Erica Yohn ...
Aunt Lucy
Helena Carroll ...
Nora Phelps
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Nurse
David Himes ...
Knapp
Tom Scott ...
Officer Morrison
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Nun
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Storyline

The ventriloquist Noel Abbott is performing at a children's hospital when his dummy, Archie, begins saying unpleasant things. Noel knows it's time to get help, but he doesn't seek a psychiatrist. His next stop is the home of the woodcarver Victor March, who is crestfallen to see his one-time protégé gone mad. He learns too late the young man is also homicidal. When the police show up, they have no reason to suspect this personable entertainer is the one who murdered the kindly Mr. March. But Kate Columbo, an intrepid reporter for a neighborhood newspaper, notices a few things the police don't. Written by J. Spurlin

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Genres:

Crime | Mystery | Drama

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Release Date:

15 March 1979 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Kate Mulgrew went on to play the first female captain on Star Trek: Voyager as Captain Janeway. See more »

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User Reviews

Erich Von Stroheim, Michael Redgrave, Cliff Robertson, Jackie Cooper, Anthony Hopkins—and now Jay Johnson, in yet another ventriloquist vs. dummy tale
19 January 2007 | by See all my reviews

The ventriloquist Noel Abbott (Jay Johnson) is performing at a children's hospital when his dummy, Archie, begins saying unpleasant things. Archie turns slowly to his manipulator and says, "I hate you"—and the hunk of wood means it. Noel knows it's time to get help, but he doesn't seek a psychiatrist. His next stop is the home of the woodcarver Victor March (Al Ruscio), who is crestfallen to see his one-time protégé gone mad. He learns too late the young man is also homicidal. When the police show up, they have no reason to suspect this personable entertainer is the one who murdered the kindly Mr. March. But Kate Columbo (Kate Mulgrew), an intrepid reporter for a neighborhood newspaper (and the unlikely wife of Lt. Columbo from another TV series), notices a few things the police don't.

How many of these ventriloquist vs. dummy stories are there? Let's see, there's "The Great Gabbo," "Dead of Night," two different episodes of "The Twilight Zone," "Magic"—too many to mention. As these obscure old TV shows keep popping up on DVD, we'll probably find dozens of them. This one has a good twist: the ventriloquist thinks his own dummy is the killer and that Mr. March's dummy, Clown, is the witness; and he wants to silence both of them. The burial of Clown and the ventriloquist's method of "silencing" the dummies are both good ideas. Some enterprising TV writer might want to steal a couple things from this story, since this crew did nothing with it.

Jay Johnson, who toted another uncanny dummy in the TV series, "Soap," may be a fine ventriloquist, but he's only a passable actor. His performance is good only for a laugh. Kate Mulgrew is supposedly the star of this series, but she seems extraneous to this story. A quick rewrite could have removed her character and had the sergeant (Michael Durrell) figure everything out. He would have been much more likely than she to meet the killer in a basement—which is what she does in the final scene.

The makers of "Columbo" had nothing to do with this series, and it shows. With her husky voice and elegant manners, Kate Mulgrew is a young Patricia Neal type. How many people think the wife Columbo describes is a young Patricia Neal type?


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