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The final 14 episodes of Columbo were produced sporadically as a series of specials, spanning 13 years from 1990 to 2003. These episodes have since been released on DVD in several regions as "season 10".[1][2] Two of the episodes, "No Time to Die" and "Undercover", were based on 87th Precinct novels by Ed McBain and thus do not follow the usual Columbo format.

Columbo (season 10)
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes14
Release
Original networkABC
Original releaseDecember 9, 1990 (1990-12-09) –
January 30, 2003 (2003-01-30)
Season chronology
← Previous
Season 9
List of Columbo episodes

Contents

Broadcast historyEdit

The "season" aired different nights of the week on ABC.

DVD releaseEdit

The "season" was released on DVD by Universal Home Video.

EpisodesEdit

No. in
series
No. in
season
Title Directed by Written by Murderer(s) played by Victim(s) played by Original air date Runtime
561"Columbo Goes to College"E.W. SwackhamerStory by : Jeffrey Bloom & Frederick King Keller
Teleplay by : Jeffrey Bloom
Stephen Caffrey and Gary HershbergerJames SutoriusDecember 9, 1990 (1990-12-09)98 min

Criminology professor D.E. Rusk threatens to expel spoiled fraternity brothers Justin Rowe (Stephen Caffrey) and Cooper Redman (Gary Hershberger) for cheating by stealing the final exam. The two students decide to kill Rusk instead. They use a note to lure him away from class and shoot him in the parking garage via a remote control gun installed in their pickup truck's engine while they are sitting in class listening to Columbo deliver a guest lecture, giving them an airtight alibi. The boys then plant evidence to make it look like the professor was killed because of a Mafia exposé on which he was working.

Final clue/twist: Columbo tricks the murderous duo into planting evidence for the murder into a car that he leads them to believe is owned by a suspect, but is actually his wife's. Because only they could know the license plate of the car (Columbo slipped the info to them), they must be the murderers.

Robert Culp returns to the series, playing Justin's powerful lawyer father. (This is the only time, in his four appearances, that Culp is not the killer. See Repeat Offenders.)
572"Caution: Murder Can Be Hazardous to Your Health"Daryl DukeSonia Wolf & Patricia Ford & April RaynellGeorge HamiltonPeter HaskellFebruary 20, 1991 (1991-02-20)98 min

Wade Anders (George Hamilton) is a former security expert and host of the popular America's Most Wanted-esque crime show CrimeAlert. One day, he gets an unexpected visit from his rival, chain-smoking newscaster Budd Clarke (Peter Haskell), whom he blocked from becoming the CrimeAlert host. Clarke has resented how he was snubbed in favor of Anders, but now, he has got some leverage that he hopes will get Anders out of the CrimeAlert chair: a porn video Anders starred in many years ago, and Clarke plans to go public with the tape unless Anders resigns from the show. Anders decides to kill him rather than be disgraced. He palms a pack of Clarke's cigarettes, which he doctors with a few drops of alkaloid poison nicotine sulfate. Anders then pays two visits to his production office, once that night and again the next morning – so a surveillance tape there will show him at the office all day. Anders then drives to Clarke's house, and switches a cigarette pack for the poisoned pack. Once Clarke takes one of the poisoned cigarettes and dies, Anders makes it look like Clarke had a heart attack at his desk.

Final clue/twist: Columbo can prove that the surveillance tape was fabricated, because the trees and bushes visible in front of the office appeared to have been trimmed in the morning, but had supposedly grown again by the evening. The fact that Clarke's dog scratched Anders' car, making distinctive marks because of its missing claw on one of its paws, provides further evidence that Anders visited Clarke's house during that night.

Shown under the ABC Movie Special brand.[3]
583"Columbo and the Murder of a Rock Star"Alan J. LeviWilliam Read WoodfieldDabney ColemanCheryl ParisApril 29, 1991 (1991-04-29)98 min

Rock star Marcy Edwards (Cheryl Paris) has been having an affair for several years with high-priced murder lawyer Hugh Creighton (Dabney Coleman). One day, he learns that she is having an affair with someone else and throws her out of his house. However, Marcy blackmails Creighton into letting her stay, at least until he comes up with the $5 million she is demanding in exchange for not filing a palimony suit against him or exposing his unconventional methods. Creighton's response is to drug the champagne in her beach house and waits until she shows up there with her current lover. As Marcy does not drink, Creighton waits until her new lover is passed out, then he strangles her. Her lover awakens and flees the scene. Creighton enlists his associate, Trish Fairbanks (Shera Danese), to help him concoct an airtight alibi, but when she finds out what he has done, she blackmails him into a full partnership in the firm, wisely going the extra mile by creating a contingency plan to ensure that killing her is not an option for Creighton. Columbo cracks the case, despite the existence of a speeding ticket which appears to exonerate Creighton completely.

Final clue/twist: Due to different shadow angles in the picture of the speeding ticket, Columbo can prove that Creighton's face was just a flat cut-out mask and that Fairbanks must have been driving Creighton's speeding vehicle, and Creighton's alibi is broken. Another piece of evidence was that the glove prints on Edwards neck matched those found in a gardener's truck that had been stolen and later recovered. The truck was stolen while it was parked on a particular street where a unique type of tree grows. The windshield wiper wells on Fairbanks' car collected the berries and droppings of these unique trees, proving that Creighton drove her vehicle to that street to steal the truck.

Little Richard cameos as himself.
594"Death Hits the Jackpot"Vincent McEveetyJeffrey BloomRip TornGary KroegerDecember 15, 1991 (1991-12-15)98 min

Down-on-his-luck photographer Freddy Brower (Gary Kroeger) wins a $30 million lottery. But he wants to keep the money a secret from his wife Nancy (Jamie Rose), who is divorcing him, so that she cannot make a claim for the money. Freddy goes to his uncle, wealthy jeweler Leon Lamarr (Rip Torn), and convinces Lamarr to pretend that the lottery ticket is his until Freddy's divorce is finalized. Unfortunately, that is where Freddy's luck runs out: he does not know that his uncle has recently gone bankrupt, and is also having an affair with Nancy. Lamarr decides to kill Freddy in order to keep the lottery winnings for himself. He schedules a Halloween costume party at his house, during which he sneaks out to Freddy's apartment, knocks him out, undresses him, then drowns him in his bathtub.

Final clue/twist: Columbo's encounter with Brower's loose chimpanzee brings him the final clue. He confronts Lamarr with the fact that the ape's fingerprints are on the costume he wore (for the first time) at the time of the murder, although Lamarr claimed that he was at a party all night.

Betsy Palmer co-stars as Lamarr's wife.
605"No Time to Die"Alan J. LeviStory by : Ed McBain
Teleplay by : Robert van Scoyk
(No murder.  Daniel McDonald plays the would-be murderer.)(None)February 15, 1992 (1992-02-15)93 min

Columbo attends the wedding of his police officer nephew Andy Parma (Thomas Calabro). While Andy is showering, his new bride Melissa Hayes (Joanna Going), a fashion model, is abducted from the bridal suite. Andy enlists Columbo's help in unraveling the case. Melissa has been kidnapped by Rudy Strassa (Daniel McDonald), a sadistic psychopath who intends to kill her once he consummates "their marriage".

This episode is based on the 87th Precinct novel So Long As You Both Shall Live by Ed McBain, although not credited as such. Uncharacteristically dark, this is the only episode in which no murder occurs and in which Columbo does not meet the criminal.

Aired under ABC Sunday Night Movie.[4]
616"A Bird in the Hand ..."Vincent McEveetyJackson GillisTyne Daly and Greg EviganSteve Forrest and León Singer and Greg EviganJune 19, 1992 (1992-06-19)98 min

Given a deadline to pay his debts, or else, chronic gambler Harold McCain (Greg Evigan) plants a bomb under the Rolls-Royce of his uncle, professional football team owner Big Fred (Steve Forrest). The bomb is set to explode when the engine is started. However, someone else gets to Big Fred before Harold's bomb does by stealing the gardener's pickup truck and running him over while he is jogging. Harold tries to remove the bomb before it kills someone else, but cannot get near the Rolls Royce due to police and security on the premises. When the gardener tries to move the Rolls Royce out of the way of the TV camera crews, the bomb explodes, killing the gardener. Columbo investigates and discovers clues that link Harold to the car bomb, but Harold denies any involvement and tries to divert suspicion away from himself. Fred's wife Dolores (Tyne Daly), appears traumatised at losing her husband but has a good time as Fred's team's owner, but after Harold tries to squeeze her for money, he is shot dead in his cabin, making it appear obvious who is responsible.

Final clue/twist: The TV news tape shows Harold closing his eyes before the Rolls-Royce exploded, thus proving that he knew there was a bomb under the car. Columbo discovers that Harold set his alarm to 8 pm, not 8 am, and had spent the entire night at a casino where he won $5,000 and had breakfast. Harold then had a haircut and went to Dolores's house, which Columbo proves with recently cut hairs found inside Harold's hat which he found in Dolores' den. Dolores shot Harold and moved his body to his cabin, but left Harold's hat at her house. Before Harold planted the bomb, Dolores moved the Rolls-Royce onto the driveway so the gardener could not drive his truck in. Dolores then sent the gardener to the back of house so that he would not see her steal his truck and run Big Fred over. Harold suspected Dolores was involved and was implying blackmail when he asked her for money. When Dolores demands Columbo to prove it, he replies, "I don't have to prove it, ma'am. One in the hand is better than two in the bush," and arrests her.

Like "Last Salute to the Commodore" many years earlier, the real killer is not revealed until nearly the end of the episode. In both episodes, murders occur off screen, and both were scripted by Columbo veteran Jackson Gillis (this was his final contribution to the series). The episode used footage of a Saskatchewan Roughriders vs Edmonton Eskimos CFL game.

This is one of two episodes (the other being Season 2's "The Most Dangerous Match") in which Columbo is present at the death of a victim.
627"It's All in the Game"Vincent McEveetyPeter FalkFaye Dunaway and Claudia ChristianArmando PucciOctober 31, 1993 (1993-10-31)98 min

Wealthy socialite Lauren Staton (Faye Dunaway) and her daughter Lisa Martin (Claudia Christian) conspire to murder their abusive, two-timing lover Nick Franco (Armando Pucci). Lauren commits the actual murder, going to Franco's apartment and shooting him. Lisa then stays in the apartment, keeping the body warm for several hours with an electric blanket until Lauren returns with the building manager (Bill Macy). While they're knocking on the door, Lisa fires a shot into the air, then flees through the patio. Lauren takes all the heat from Columbo in order to protect Lisa, even going so far as to romance him; after he (along with the viewer) finally learns that Lisa is Lauren's daughter, he buys Lauren's confession by allowing Lisa to flee to Europe.

This is one of two episodes (the other being "Forgotten Lady") in which Columbo allows a murderer to go unpunished.

Dunaway won an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her performance. This is the only episode written by Falk. Aired under ABC Sunday Night Movie.[5]
638"Butterfly in Shades of Grey"Dennis DuganPeter S. FischerWilliam ShatnerJack LauferJanuary 10, 1994 (1994-01-10)98 min

Domineering radio host Fielding Chase (William Shatner) faces a crisis when his ward, 25-year-old Victoria Chase (Molly Hagan), decides to spread her wings and leave for New York. Chase is a national celebrity thanks to his call-in radio show and while Victoria works as his producer, his affection for her runs deep. An ex-employee, the homosexual Gerry Winters (Jack Laufer), has been encouraging Victoria and has even found a literary agent for her book. Chase decides to kill Winters. He first instructs Winters to call him at a certain time. Exactly at that appointed hour, Chase drives to Winters's house and sneaks inside. Winters makes the phone call, unaware that Chase is actually behind him in the same room. Once the phone goes to voicemail, Chase picks up an extension in another room of Winters' house and begins speaking with him. At that point, Chase enters the next room and shoots Winters, then makes it look like Winters was shot by a gay lover.

Final clue/twist: A cell phone is a key to Columbo's solution of the crime. Columbo realizes that Chase could not have called 911 to report the murder (which he claimed to overhear on the phone from his mountain home) while speeding in his car down the mountain road, as there is no cell coverage where his car would have been.

After three unconventional episodes, Butterfly in Shades of Grey marked a return to the standard Columbo style.
649"Undercover"Vincent McEveetyStory by : Ed McBain
Teleplay by : Gerry Day
Ed Begley Jr. (Jon Beshara and an uncredited actor also portray two characters who kill each other)Burt Young and Shera DaneseMay 2, 1994 (1994-05-02)98 min

Irving Krutch (Ed Begley, Jr.), a crooked insurance investigator, enlists the help of Columbo to solve a series of murders that starts when two men, each of whom possesses a piece of a photograph, kill each other in a burglary gone wrong. Some years back a group of four men robbed a bank, but all of them were killed by the police in a shootout after they were caught in a car accident. But before they died, they hid their loot somewhere which can only be found through the assembled photograph. Columbo must go undercover to recover some of the pieces, solve some murders to get some others, and all the while trying to figure out what Krutch might be after.

This episode is based upon the 87th Precinct novel Jigsaw by Ed McBain, although not credited as such. This installment thus departs from the usual format by not revealing the culprit until the end of the show. Unlike the previous episode based on McBain source material, No Time To Die, this features a regular character from the 87th Precinct series, Arthur Brown, played by Harrison Page.
6510"Strange Bedfellows"Vincent McEveetyLawrence VailGeorge WendtJeff Yagher and Jay AcovoneMay 8, 1995 (1995-05-08)89 min

Graham McVeigh (George Wendt) is a thoroughbred ranch owner, and he is tired of his brother Teddy being in constant debt to mob bookie and restaurateur Bruno Romano. He decides to kill Teddy and frame Romano for the crime. To do so, Graham makes Teddy take a big loss at the race track by drugging his own horse so that it loses, leaving Teddy in deeper debt to Romano. Graham then disguises himself and goes to Romano's restaurant, where he sets mice loose in a bathroom. While Romano is distracted setting traps for the mice, Graham calls Teddy from a restaurant phone so that the phone records will suggest Romano called to set up a meeting. Graham and Teddy then drive out to a secluded section of road. Under the pretense of getting fresh air, Graham gets out, walks around the car, steps up to Teddy's window and shoots him, then rides home on a folding bike he stashed in the trunk. The next day, Graham invites Romano to come out to the ranch, ostensibly to pay Teddy's debt. When Romano looks at a briefcase containing the money, Graham shoots him, switches Romano's revolver for the identical murder gun, and makes it look like self-defense. Romano's boss Vincenzo Fortelli (Rod Steiger) becomes involved, exerting pressure on McVeigh. To solve the crime before Fortelli takes matters into his own hands, Columbo must work with the gangster.

Final clue/twist: Columbo invites McVeigh to dinner at Romano's restaurant. McVeigh accepts the invitation, but Columbo does not turn up. After the last dinner guests leave, McVeigh quickly suspects that it is a set-up and that Fortelli and his men are planning an ambush. Fearing for his life, McVeigh contacts Columbo who says that he never invited him to the restaurant but quickly makes his way there. After Columbo arrives, Fortelli threatens to kill McVeigh unless he confesses to murdering Teddy. Mcveigh denies it at first, but fearing for his life even more, he eventually gives in and confesses to the murder. He also reveals where he hid the gun and Columbo has two officers quickly locate it. After McVeigh is arrested, Columbo reveals that the whole confrontation was staged to get McVeigh to confess and Fortelli is impressed – as he and Columbo had both planned the set-up.
6611"A Trace of Murder"Vincent McEveetyCharles KippsDavid Rasche and Shera DaneseRaye BirkMay 15, 1997 (1997-05-15)98 min

Cathleen Calvert (Falk's wife Shera Danese, in her sixth and final appearance) and her lover, crime scene investigator Patrick Kinsley (David Rasche), are weary of having to see each other on the sly. She will not divorce her husband, rich businessman Clifford Calvert (Barry Corbin), due to their prenuptial agreement. So the lovers scheme to get him out of the way by killing Howard Seltzer (Raye Birk), an investment broker who is suing him, then framing Clifford for the murder. To do so, Patrick drives to Seltzer's house and tricks Seltzer into letting him inside by claiming that his car phone has died and that he has to make an urgent phone call. Patrick then shoots Seltzer and plants evidence to suggest that Clifford was responsible. Columbo's work is cut out for him, because Patrick is on the team handling the investigation. In this episode it is inferred that Columbo only has one eye as of course Peter Falk has.

Final clue/twist: Seeing Kinsley open the front door of a car for Cathleen Calvert instead of the back door, Columbo realizes that despite their claims otherwise, the two knew each other. If they had never met, as they claimed to Columbo, Kinsley would not have known that Cathleen prefers the front seat because she easily gets car sick when sitting in the back. A wedding photographer's shot of the Calvert couple dancing also helps reveal that the cat hair found on Clifford's suit jacket was planted by Cathleen.

Billed as the "25th Anniversary Movie", it aired under ABC Thursday Night Movie.[6]
6712"Ashes to Ashes"Patrick McGoohanJeffrey HatcherPatrick McGoohanRue McClanahanOctober 8, 1998 (1998-10-08)90 min

Patrick McGoohan stars in and directs his final appearance, his fourth time playing the murderer. As funeral director to the stars Eric Prince, he murders gossip columnist Verity Chandler (Rue McClanahan) when she attends his latest funeral, that of actor and war hero Chuck Houston. Chandler threatens Prince that her next exposé will be about him. (Two decades earlier, he stole a valuable diamond from the body of a deceased silent film star.) Prince bludgeons Chandler with a tool in his storage room, then hides the body in a compartment used for corpses. After the funeral, Prince takes the casket containing Houston's body to the preparation room, where he puts Chandler's body into the casket in its place. It next enters the cremation oven, and afterwards, the ashes are scattered by helicopter over the Hollywood hills. Prince then goes to Chandler's house and fakes evidence of her abduction. So that no one will become suspicious, he cremates Houston's body by piggybacking him onto another corpse scheduled to be cremated.

Final clue/twist: Houston suffered a war injury in which a distinctively-shaped piece of shrapnel remained stuck in his body for the rest of his life. It was made of a strong metal that was not affected by the flames of the cremation process. As Columbo said when confronting Prince, "Perhaps you can explain how a piece of Mr. Houston's 50-year-old war record ended up in the urn of a leisurewear importer."

Sally Kellerman plays the dead man's widow, Liz Houston, and Catherine McGoohan, the real-life daughter of Patrick McGoohan, plays Rita, Prince's assistant.
6813"Murder with Too Many Notes"Patrick McGoohanStory by : Jeffrey Cava
Teleplay by : Jeffrey Cava & Patrick McGoohan
Billy ConnollyChad WillettMarch 12, 2001 (2001-03-12)98 min

Hollywood film composer and conductor Findlay Crawford (Billy Connolly) has been mentor to a talented young composer, Gabriel McEnery (Chad Willett), who has been ghostwriting most of Crawford's work for the last few years. Gabe even penned Crawford's last movie score, which won an Oscar. Crawford realizes he will be ruined and ridiculed if it ever becomes known. Aware that Gabe practices on the roof of a studio building, Crawford plots his murder. He promises Gabe will get to conduct the orchestra during a concert based on Crawford's "own" movie scores. While giving a toast, Crawford drugs Gabe, then takes his body up to his rooftop rehearsal place, which happens to be atop a trapdoor to a freight elevator. He makes it look like Gabe was there rehearsing; With the concert about to begin, Crawford starts the freight elevator, then makes it into the concert hall in time to begin conducting before the elevator reaches the top. When the elevator doors open, Gabe's unconscious body is pushed over the side and falls to his death, landing in front of a late-arriving couple.

Final clue/twist: Columbo finds it odd that the victim did not scream when he fell to his death; on the body Columbo finds a cut on his hand in which dried blood reveals the presence of barbiturate/sleep pills; this starts a chain of evidence that the only person who could have profited by McEnery's death was Findlay Crawford.

Aired under Monday Night Movie.[7]
6914"Columbo Likes the Nightlife"Jeffrey Reiner Michael AlaimoJennifer Sky and Matthew RhysCarmine Giovinazzo and Douglas RobertsJanuary 30, 2003 (2003-01-30)88 min

Los Angeles rave promoter Justin Price (Matthew Rhys) helps his girlfriend Vanessa (Jennifer Sky) get rid of the corpse of her ex-husband, mobster Tony Galper, who was backing Price's new club, after he drops dead in Vanessa's apartment. He disposes of the body for her but unknown to him, tabloid photographer Linwood Coben secretly photographs him getting rid of the body. He tells Price he can have the negatives and prints for $250,000 and Price agrees to pay him. They meet that evening but Price instead kills him and makes it look like a suicide.

Final clue/twist: Columbo points out that one of the fish tanks built into the dance floor at Price's club contains fewer fish and is smaller than the other tanks. Columbo has the floor scanned – revealing Tony's body hidden under the fish tank. After Justin and Vanessa are arrested, Columbo walks out of the club. One of Columbo's last punning remarks [from The Godfather Movie] is that Tony is "sleeping with the fishes".

(The club scenes use two tracks from the album Tweekend by The Crystal Method.)

This was the final episode of Columbo. It aired under ABC Thursday Night At The Movies.[8]


ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Columbo - Complete Series DVD UK". Retrieved April 2, 2012.
  2. ^ UK DVD Cover shows the complete collection, images-amazon.com; accessed June 28, 2017.
  3. ^ "COLUMBO: CAUTION: MURDER CAN BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH {ABC MOVIE SPECIAL} (TV)". The Paley Center For Media. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
  4. ^ "ABC Sunday Night Movie: Columbo: No time to die (TV)". The Paley Center For Media. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
  5. ^ "ABC SUNDAY NIGHT MOVIE: COLUMBO: IT'S ALL IN THE GAME (TV)". The Paley Center For Media. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
  6. ^ "ABC THURSDAY NIGHT MOVIE: COLUMBO: TRACE OF MURDER (TV)". The Paley Center For Media. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
  7. ^ "MONDAY NIGHT MOVIE: COLUMBO: MURDER WITH TOO MANY NOTES {TAPE 1 OF 2} (TV)". The Paley Center For Media. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
  8. ^ "ABC THURSDAY NIGHT AT THE MOVIES: COLUMBO: COLUMBO LIKES THE NIGHTLIFE (TV)". The Paley Center For Media. Retrieved September 10, 2013.