Mrs. Columbo (1979–1980)
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Murder Is a Parlor Game 

A retired Scotland Yard homicide inspector and author of a best seller on perfect murders is forced to kill in self-defense.


Don Medford


Howard Berk, Jeff Freilich (executive story consultant) | 3 more credits »


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Episode cast overview:
Kate Mulgrew ... Kate Columbo
Henry Jones ... Josh Alden
Lili Haydn ... Jenny Columbo
Donald Pleasence ... Ian A. Morly
Elizabeth Cole Elizabeth Cole ... Emily
Dolph Sweet ... Sergeant Boone
Ian Abercrombie ... Carmichael
Joe Baker Joe Baker ... Merlini
Don Potter Don Potter ... Archie Welborn


Retired Scotland Yard Chief Inspector I. A. Morly is the author of a best-selling book on perfect murders and a popular lecturer on the ladies' club circuit. However, one of his cases, the killing of a prostitute, is was really committed by Morley himself although officially it's attributed to a presumed dead prime suspect whose body was never found. The innocent man turns up in America determined to make Morley pay for his crime. In the ensuing struggle, the accused murderer becomes Morly's second victim. Although the wily sleuth plants red herrings to confuse the police, he hasn't reconvened with the dogged and persistent Mrs. Columbo. Written by

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Crime | Drama | Mystery





Release Date:

1 March 1979 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Donald Pleasance is one of the murderers that appears on both "Columbo" and "Mrs. Columbo." Pleasance had previously appeared in 1972's "Any Old Port in a Storm." See more »


Kate Columbo: I'll bet you're enjoying yourself more than you want to admit.
I.A. Morly: [Obviously uncomfortable and with irony] I'm having the time of my life, Mrs. Columbo.
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User Reviews

Donald Pleasence is worth watching
12 March 2013 | by kevinolzakSee all my reviews

Three episodes of the short-lived spin off MRS. COLUMBO (only 13 episodes) were included as part of the COLUMBO series DVD releases, with no actual connection to its celebrated predecessor, and all references to Peter Falk's character quickly dropped. Kate Mulgrew, at age 23, with only 5 television credits on her resume, was far too young to have any credibility as a mother with a near teenage daughter, doing part time work as a journalist when not solving cases that would be child's play for Lt. Columbo. It's difficult to guess which of the 3 might be most worthwhile, but "Murder is a Parlor Game" at least features the eminently watchable Donald Pleasence, a previous COLUMBO culprit in "Any Old Port in a Storm," playing retired Scotland Yard Chief Inspector Ian A. Morly, now reduced to teaching self defense, with Kate Columbo revealing herself to be a great admirer of his latest book, "Seven Who Beat the Hangman," covering unsolved crimes wherein the murderers were never caught. Morly soon receives a call from Carmichael (Ian Abercrombie, previously seen in COLUMBO's "Dagger of the Mind"), who reveals that one of the murders covered in the book was committed by Morly himself, for which Carmichael was framed and then presumed drowned, but now set to avenge himself. The well armed Morly foils his attacker with a handy pen full of mace, killing Carmichael with his own gun, then planting evidence to make it look like suicide. What made COLUMBO so enjoyable was the camaraderie between Peter Falk and the prime suspect, slowly pricking holes in the killer's alibi, and this series just didn't have the same kind of writing, with the police coming off as imbeciles. Kate Mulgrew was a charming and excellent actress, but ill served by this one note character, quite incapable of carrying a succession of thin story lines with weak conclusions. All three episodes conclude with Kate simply confronting each of the three killers all alone and without any police protection, smugly putting herself in danger in an unbelievable act of arrogance. Pleasence gets caught under the same mechanics used by Peter Falk, yet there is an air of let's-just-get-this-over-with-quickly, leaving viewers with a similarly uncaring attitude.

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