Columbo (1971–2003)
17 user 5 critic

A Bird in the Hand... 

Harold likes to gamble, but as a rule he loses and he is heavily in debt. His uncle is the famous Big Fred who is the owner of a football team and he is a millionaire. But Harold can't get ... See full summary »


Vincent McEveety


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

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Peter Falk ... Columbo
Tyne Daly ... Dolores
Greg Evigan ... Harold McCain
Frank McRae ... Lt. Robertson (as Frank Mc Rae)
Don S. Davis ... Bertie
León Singer ... Fernando (as Leon Singer)
Michael Gregory ... Mr. Hacker
Steve Forrest ... Big Fred
Stephen Liska ... Casino Manager
G.F. Smith G.F. Smith ... Salesman
Carol Swarbrick Carol Swarbrick ... Casino Waitress
Ed McCready Ed McCready ... Ed
John Petlock John Petlock ... Medical Examiner
Joel Beeson Joel Beeson ... Clyde
Kay Perry Kay Perry ... Honey


Harold likes to gamble, but as a rule he loses and he is heavily in debt. His uncle is the famous Big Fred who is the owner of a football team and he is a millionaire. But Harold can't get a dime from him. So Harold decides to kill his uncle by a pipe bomb under his car. He is not surprised when he is told Big Fred is dead. He is surprised however that the death is due to a road accident. He rushes to his uncle's house and he finds Lt. Columbo getting excited about the car with the bomb... Written by Baldinotto da Pistoia

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TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

22 November 1992 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Bird in the Hand See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The football footage which shows two mock American football teams are excerpts from an actual Canadian Football League game shot in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Edmonton Eskimos. See more »


When Columbo shows Dolores the video playback of the Rolls Royce exploding, a crew member can be clearly seen in front of the car kicking a piece of bodywork (presumably a wing or bonnet section) across the shot. See more »


Rags To Riches
Written by Richard Adler & Jerry Ross
Performed by Tony Bennett
See more »

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User Reviews

A lesser investigation
25 August 2015 | by Leofwine_dracaSee all my reviews

A BIRD IN THE HAND... is one of my least favourite COLUMBO TV movies thus far, and I blame that on the quality of the writing. Although this episode is unique in terms of the intricacy of the murder - the actual murderer's plans go awry when his intended victim is in fact killed by somebody else - the execution is strictly so-so, and disappointing considering the quality of the detective's other stories.

What we get here is Peter Falk on autopilot, going through the motions rather than getting to the heart of his character as he does elsewhere; he's good in the goofy humour scenes (like the car showroom highlight) but elsewhere nothing special. Even worse is the supporting cast: there are two 'guest stars' here, and both are poor. The moustachioed Greg Evigan is an unpleasant scheming villain, while Tyne Daly's performance as a horny drunk is, frankly, embarrassing.

It turns out that the complexity of the opening murder(s) is the best thing about this story, which is otherwise unfocused and somewhat strained. The clue-solving stuff is simplistic and things particularly fall apart in the final act, ending in a most ordinary fashion. Columbo could do better, and he frequently did.

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