Dr. Bart Keppel has a very high opinion of himself. Notwithstanding that opinion, he is being fired by Vic Norris, so Bart plans a murder, constructing a perfect alibi for himself while building evidence against the victim's wife. He kills Vic while running commentary on a promotional short film; but, even in the most perfect planning, there are bound to be some failures, and you can be sure that Lt. Columbo will find them out.Written by
Baldinotto da Pistoia
When Kepple leaves Columbo in the grocery, he walks along the back of the store, passing by a lady in red heading in the opposite direction. When Keppel reaches the far corner of the store, the lady in red is there ahead of him, shopping. See more »
Dr. Bart Keppel:
Tanya Baker is the kind of girl that a man doesn't like to admit he knows at all, and certainly not if he's married, and I am married. I hope I can rely on your discretion, Lieutenant, now that you know?
Oh, absolutely, sir. Nothing to worry about. No, I'm from, uh, homicide. I'm not from the vice squad.
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Can subliminal advertising help you commit a murder? Find out on today's episode of "Columbo"!
Dr. Bart Keppel (Robert Culp) styles himself as a "motivation research specialist," and it's true he has written several books on marketing and made a name for himself on the subject of "subliminal advertising"—which involves inserting frames of an advertised product into the reels of a film. The frames go by too fast for the conscious mind to note them; but subconsciously the mind picks them up and makes the viewer crave what is pictured. But this advertising expert's more lucrative sideline is blackmail. He takes secret pictures of his married clients with a girl hired to tempt them. His latest victim, Vic Norris (Robert Middleton), balks and wants to turn in Dr. Keppel (don't call him Mr. Keppel) to the D.A. The blackmailer prevents this by murdering Norris during a screening of a promotional film. He finds a clever alibi and an even cleverer way of tempting his victim into the wrong place at the wrong time. But his projectionist (Chuck McCann) finds out and blackmails the blackmailer. It's up to our rumpled Lt. Columbo (Peter Falk) to use subliminal tricks of his own to unmask the killer.
This enjoyable "Columbo" episode, directed by Richard Quine from a script by Stephen J. Cannell, bears resemblance to "Columbo: Death Lends a Hand," which also featured Robert Culp as a killer who blackmails one victim too many. The subject of subliminal advertising is amusing, though I think the idea was discredited at some point. The last I heard of it was when some Japanese animators innocently inserted frames of American flags into episodes of the TV cartoon, "Alf." There was an uproar, but the idea of hypnotizing people with frames of film came to look silly. Still, give this episode your willing suspension of disbelief, and you'll enjoy it.
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