Columbo (1971–2003)
19 user 6 critic

Mind Over Mayhem 

The director of a government institute that employs various scientific geniuses commits a clever murder. But another kind of genius is on the case: Lt. Columbo.


Alf Kjellin


Steven Bochco (teleplay by), Dean Hargrove (teleplay by) | 4 more credits »

On Disc

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Peter Falk ... Columbo
José Ferrer ... Dr. Marshall Cahill (as Jose Ferrer)
Lew Ayres ... Dr. Howard Nicholson
Robert Walker Jr. ... Neil Cahill (as Robert Walker)
Lee Montgomery ... Steve Spelberg (as Lee H. Montgomery)
Jessica Walter ... Margaret Nicholson
Lou Wagner ... Ross
Arthur Batanides Arthur Batanides ... Murph (as Art Batanides)
Darrell Zwerling ... Motel Manager
Charles Macaulay Charles Macaulay ... Farnsworth
John Zaremba ... Coroner
William Bryant ... Fields
Bert Holland ... Whitehead
Ed Fury ... Plainclothesman
Jefferson Kibbee Jefferson Kibbee ... Jeff


Dr. Marshall Cahill is the director of a government institute that employs various scientific geniuses, including the elderly Dr. Nicholson, who knows that Cahill's son Neil has plagiarized a dead man's theory of molecular structure. When Nicholson threatens exposure, Dr. Cahill murders him and cleverly makes the killing look like the job of a heroin junkie who needed his fix. But clever or not, another kind of genius is on the case: the rumpled, redoubtable Lt. Columbo. Written by J. Spurlin

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

10 February 1974 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Au-delà de la folie See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
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Technical Specs



Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Screenwriters Steven Bochco and Dean Hargrove pay tribute to Steven Spielberg, who had directed Columbo: Murder by the Book (1971) earlier in the series: the boy genius character is called Steve Spelberg. See more »


In the "home garage laboratory", there is a shelf of chemical containers marked with their respective formulas. The formulas are written incorrectly. See more »


Neil Cahill: [about Columbo] I'm telling you, he thinks I did it.
Margaret Nicholson: I don't think he does. He's a lot wiser about people than he cares to show, or perhaps than we recognize.
Neil Cahill: He's a cop. He's gotta hang this on SOMEBODY.
See more »


References Forbidden Planet (1956) See more »

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User Reviews

Confusing plot?
31 August 2007 | by last-picture-showSee all my reviews

I have just seen this for the first time in years and still love the unusual setting, the cheeky reference to 'boy genius' Stephen Spelberg and of course Robby The Robot.

But I cannot for the life of me fathom out why on earth someone as intelligent as the murderer Cahill (Jose Ferer) would give himself away by smoking a cigar just after killing the victim. An obvious giveaway and seemingly only included as a clue for Columbo to find.

And what was the point of the brandy glasses? Presumably Cahill was hoping to frame someone else but this point is never properly addressed. Anyone else have any theories?

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