Columbo (1971–2003)
23 user 5 critic

Agenda for Murder 

This time Columbo is put on a murder that was made to look like a suicide. However, he notices some loose ends, and asks a lawyer and a governor to clear these problems up.


Patrick McGoohan


Richard Levinson (created by), William Link (created by) | 1 more credit »

On Disc

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Peter Falk ... Columbo
Patrick McGoohan ... Oscar Finch
Denis Arndt ... Paul Mackey
Louis Zorich ... Frank Staplin
Penny Fuller ... Mrs. Finch
Bruce Kirby ... Sergeant George Kramer
Anne Haney ... Louise
Stanley Kamel ... Tim Haines
Steven Ford ... Toby Ritt
Arthur Hill ... The Governor
Michael Goldfinger Michael Goldfinger ... Laundry Truck Driver
Shaun Toub ... Amir
Annie Stewart Annie Stewart ... Rebecca Christy
Carol Barbee Carol Barbee ... Diane
Peter Allas ... Security Man #1


Oscar Finch is a professional lawyer, who uses illegal and underhanded methods to get his clients off, like coercing young men into destroying evidence, like Paul Mackey who worked for the D.A.'s office twenty years ago and whom he bribed into destroying some evidence against a client of his. Today they are joined at the hip and Mackey is a congressman and who has been asked by the Governor who is running for president to be his vice president. Finch hopes that this will mean a cabinet position for him. Finch is then contacted by Frank Staplin, the client that Mackey helped get off twenty years ago. Now unless Finch helps Frank again, he will tell everyone that Finch and Mackey were the ones who helped him avoid prosecution twenty years ago. Finch then kills him and makes it look like a suicide. But a few inconsistencies lead Lt. Columbo to believe that it was not and the fact that Staplin made a few phone calls to Finch before he died leads Columbo to see him. Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

10 February 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Agenda per omicidi See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Last film of Arthur Hill. See more »


After Columbo demonstrates to Finch how the gun had fallen on top of a drop of blood, Columbo says: ''The information that you just gave me is priceless'' and he picks up the gun with his right hand, keeping his arm stretched next to his body. Halfway the sentence the shot changes and Columbo now has his right arm in front of his chest with no gun in sight. See more »


Oscar Finch: [laughing at Columbo] You know, uh, you're rather subtle for, uh, a man who seems so, uh, overt!
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References Singin' in the Rain (1952) See more »


Mystery Movie Theme
by Mike Post
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User Reviews

Brilliant Handling of a Typical Murder
27 March 2003 | by shomrigSee all my reviews

At face value, "Agenda for Murder" seems pretty average: the typical Columbo-esque villain is a businessman who commits a simple murder to keep some professional skeletons in the closet. The crime is simply executed, without the usual bells and whistles of a complicated alibi or execution.

Patrick McGoohan, however, is brilliant. In "Braveheart" he chewed the scenery as the evil King. In this Columbo episode, he's a high-priced attorney vying for the position of U.S. Attorney General. He's efficient, wealthy, pompous ("If you can answer that question, Lieutenant, you're a smarter man than I"), intelligent, and underestimates Columbo by a long shot. McGoohan played different shades of the same role in other Columbo outings (a domineering commander of a military school, a secret government agent, and a suave funeral director), but he's at his best here.

Peter Falk as the Lieutenant is also top form - watch the scenes between Falk and McGoohan closely and you'll see how Columbo slowly manipulates Oscar Finch from a self-confident businessman into a man who is inwardly afraid of his own shadow but must keep his stern outward demeanor. As was mentioned in other reviews, their game of cat and mouse is a delight to watch, rivaled only by Falk's performances with William Shatner in "Fade in to Murder" and "Butterfly in Shades of Grey."

The episode is abound with clues that will make the viewer slap his head and exclaim "Why didn't I think of that?" Particularly clever are the faxed jokes and the drop of blood. I do think, however, that Finch was far too clever to mess up and leave behind the final clue that proved his guilt - he was, after all, a criminal attorney!

This episode is a must for new Columbo fans (after "Caution: Murder Can Be Hazardous to Your Health") and, should a distribution company ever decide to release the newer episodes on DVD, "Agenda for Murder" should be on the top of the list.

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