Eight months is a long time in television, but that’s how long Columbo was away from screens in 1992 – perhaps to give us all time to forget the nightmare wedding we endured in No Time to Die.
Resurfacing on November 22, the Lieutenant had put the trauma of the Parma/Hayes matrimonial debacle behind him and was much more back to his old self to investigate not one, not two, but THREE MURDERS in A Bird in the Hand…
Awash with explosive action and surprise twists, and featuring guest appearances from Tyne Daly and the very dishy Greg Evigan, can Bird in the Hand exorcise the demons from eight months earlier and get the series back on the straight and narrow? It’s time to find out…
Lieutenant Columbo: Peter Falk
Dolores McCain: Tyne Daly
Harold McCain: Greg Evigan
Big Fred: Steve Forrest
Detective John Robertson: Frank McRae
Bertie: Don S. Davis
Fernando: Leon Singer
Mr Hacker: Michael Gregory
Directed by: Vince McEveety
Written by: Jackson Gillis
Score by: Dick De Benedictis
Episode overview: Columbo A Bird in the Hand…
Mulleted pillock Luckless playboy Harold McCain owes $30,000 to menacing bookmaker Mr Hacker. If Harold doesn’t pay up, he’s going to have a can of whoopass opened on him so bad that he’ll … . Help ought to be at hand in the form of Harold’s uncle ‘Big Fred’ McCain – the millionaire owner of the Stallions football club, who is Harold’s only living relative. Only Big Fred sees Harold for the low-life he is and refuses to pay his nephew a dime.
Fred’s down-trodden wife Dolores (also Harold’s lover) offers Harold $20,000, but it’s not enough – especially when he bets against the Stallions winning a crunch match that they nick due to a key player defying an injury that was meant to side line him. Desperate to save his own skin, Harold plans to do what any self-respecting nephew would do: kill his uncle and claim the cash he needs from the easily manipulated Dolores, who’ll inherit Big Fred’s wealth.
Utilising a handy ‘How to make a pipe bomb’ article from Soldier for Hire magazine (presumably all subscribers to which are immediately placed on a CIA watchlist), Harold rigs up a rudimentary explosive device, sneaks into Big Fred’s garden after dark and plants the bomb in the engine of his uncle’s Rolls Royce. When Fred starts the motor the next day he’ll be blown to Kingdom Come and Harold can bask in the knowledge that his financial woes will soon be at an end.
Things take a wretched turn, though. Harold receives a call from Fred’s sidekick Bertie to alert him to his uncle’s no-show at an important meeting. Agreeing to look into it, Harold heads off fully expecting to find Fred’s charred remains in what’s left of the Roller. What he finds, though, is a major police presence blocking the road and a panic-stricken Dolores standing by as a shrouded corpse is loaded into the back of an ambulance. Turns out that Big Fred was slain during his early-morning jog in a hit-and-run incident. What a stunner!
This, of course, gives Harold an almighty problem. Police officers – including one Lieutenant Columbo – are swarming around Big Fred’s house, where his unmoved Rolls Royce is still blocking the driveway. Columbo speaks of shifting the car out of the way, forcing Harold into a desperate scramble to find and hide both Fred’s and Dolores’s set of keys. He then has to abort a risky attempt to remove the pipe bomb from the car’s engine when the police attention switches to the mysterious disappearance and reappearance (with dents) of gardener Fernando’s truck, which seems to have been the vehicle that ran Big Fred down.
More cops arrive, along with Bertie from the Stallions who has a film crew in tow in order to maximise publicity for this tragic event. The logjam of cars on the driveway is now so severe that they simply must find a way of moving Big Fred’s car. If only someone knew where the keys were! Then helpful Fernando pipes up! He has a key so he can move the car when it needs washing. He dashes off – much to Harold’s alarm – and is promptly blown sky high when he turns the ignition. Ay caramba! The explosion is caught on film, so expect that to have a bearing on Columbo’s investigation in due course.
Before Fernando’s charred skeleton has even cooled, Columbo and Harold discuss aspects of the case that are bothering the detective. He has spotted some unusual scratch marks on the ground beside where Big Fred’s roller had been. They appear to point towards the area of the car where the bomb was planted, but beyond that they’re a mystery. When Harold tries to promote a theory that a hired hitman must be responsible due to a lack of fingerprints and the perp’s ability to dodge all the mansion’s security devices, Columbo isn’t convinced. It could just as easily have been someone who knew the household inside out.
Dolores saves Harold from a potential grilling by ushering him aside to begin planning Big Fred’s funeral, the aftermath of which is our next scene. It is at the wake that Harold sees the first signs that his cash-grab scheme might not run as smoothly as he had hoped. Dolores has no intention of staying in the shadows now that Big Fred is out of the way. She plans to run the Stallions herself, sack Bertie and is resistant to any idea of Harold telling her what to do. While she’s happy to keep leaping into bed with him, Harold mustn’t get the impression that he’s the boss. Looks like it’ll be Dolores, not he, that will be wearing the trousers from now on.
Seeking inspiration on the modus operandi of the car bomber, Columbo visits a luxury dealership and starts rolling around underneath the bodywork of a Rolls Royce model the same as Big Fred’s. Having already deduced there was only one viable entry point the bomber must have used to access the car’s underside, he learns that the killer was likely left-handed, because only a southpaw could easily reach a crucial nut and bolt used to attach a wire that ran from the bomb to the starter motor.
It’s all a bit of a faff, though, meaning Columbo leaves a lot of heel marks on the floor of the dealership as he squirms about. Although irksome to the prissy car dealer, these marks of are material importance to the case. They give the detective an indication that mysterious scratches on the driveway beside Big Fred’s car were caused by the killer having to overcome a similar struggle to rig the bomb.
Of course, such scratches were most likely made by someone wearing boots with metal ornamentation on the heels – just like the cowboy boots Harold favours. This isn’t the sort of footwear a pro would wear when rigging up a car bomb, meaning that the killer is probably someone close to the family who knows his way around Big Fred’s grounds. Kinda looks like Harold might be that man, doesn’t it? As one might expect, Harold is distinctly unimpressed when Columbo puts these facts to him, raging that the detective has singled him out for attention because he’s an easy target. He then sneaks off for an afternoon of sin with Dolores at his rustic cabin.
The post-romp glow quickly cools on their dinner date that evening, however. Harold spins a positive yarn about just needing $15,000 to get Hacker off his back, at which point he can propose to Dolores. But Dolores ain’t playing ball. Having been emancipated from Big Fred, she’s seeing the world differently and it’s obvious that Harold wants to use her just like her late husband did. This looks like an issue impossible to resolve – until Harold reveals that he has figured out Dolores was the one who killed Big Fred in the hit-and-run. Unless he gets the money from her tomorrow morning, he’ll spell out his suspicions to Columbo.
We don’t find out straight away how Harold spends the rest of the night after dropping Dolores at home, but he’s up with the larks the next morning, returning home with a cowboy boot full of cash. He makes a call to Dolores to find her willing to pay him the cash, although, she says as she flicks the safety catch off on her pistol, this will be the last time. Oblivious to this threat to his existence, Harold takes off for her house with a whoop and a glad heart.
When we next see Harold he’s back at his house lying dead on the floor in only his socks and pants. An hour or two earlier, it seems like he was disturbed by an intruder (likely a mob heavy) and shot dead – at least that’s what Columbo’s dumb-as-rocks fellow cops think. The Lieutenant himself is late to the scene having been caught up on a crossword. As he solves one tricky poser he rests his newspaper on the hood of Dolores’s car, which has been there since the previous afternoon’s love-in. Something he notices about the condition of the car makes him stop and stare, although we won’t find out what it was until later.
Columbo lerns that Dolores was the one who found Harold’s body when she stopped by to help him out of a crisis situation. According to the emotional dame, Harold received a call from Hacker at midnight that scared him sufficiently for him to decide to leave town for Chicago on the 2.30pm train. Dolores came over at 10.30am with enough money for him to secure lodgings there for a short while – and found him dead.
Columbo permits Dolores to leave, but before she can drive home she is puzzled by the crime scene photographer taking a number of photos of the hood of her car at Columbo’s behest. He then heads back indoors to take a closer look at the crime scene where he isn’t buying into the widely accepted theories espoused by his fellow cops. Columbo notes that Harold’s bed doesn’t appear to have been slept in. That hardly tallies with Dolores’s claim that he received a menacing phone call at midnight.
There’s also the sticky (almost literally) issue of Harold’s socks. The cops found $5000 in cash stashed in the toe of one of Harold’s boots behind a damp and stinky sock. Dead Harold is wearing white sports socks, but if the boot socks are still damp they can’t have been taken off too long ago. How strange! Finally, Columbo examines Harold’s alarm clock, which was thought to have woken him at 8am. Winding it forward, the Lieutenant finds that it was actually set for 8pm. Harold was planning to sleep all day and then head out to poker tournament taking place that night. Curiouser and curiouser!
A quick call to the casino confirms that Harold bought his ticket for the tournament at 6.30am that morning, and had been at the tables all night. Columbo can only conclude that either Harold was lying to Dolores, or Dolores is lying to them.
To find out which, Columbo visits Dolores at home, ostensibly to show her video tape evidence that suggests Harold knew the Rolls Royce would blow up when its engine was started (and to collect personal effects Harold left at her house), but just as much to test the conviction of her earlier statement. Why would Harold be catching the 2.30pm train to Chicago when he had a ticket to a poker comp in LA that night, he asks? Why would he ask for money from her when he had $5000 in cash? Agitated by his line of questioning, Dolores ejects the Lieutenant from her home.
His investigations then take him to the Commerce Casino, where Harold had spent his last night on earth. There Columbo discovers that after collecting his winnings, Harold tucked into a good breakfast and then went to the in-house barbers for a manicure, facial, shave and haircut. And it is the last of those little treats that will do in for Dolores.
The Stallions are playing a home game the following afternoon, and Dolores is entertaining a bevvy of hunks in Big Fred’s private box when Columbo shows up with a box of evidence. The first things he whips out are photos of Dolores’s car hood from the morning of Harold’s death. They clearly show dew on the hood. If Dolores had driven to Harold’s at 10.30am as claimed, how can the dew be explained? The question is shut down by lawyer Bertie before Dolores incriminates herself further.
Luckily, that wasn’t Columbo’s ace in the hole. He produces the hat he collected from Dolores’s house on the day of Harold’s murder. Casino staff confirm the dead man had worn the same hat when he pulled the all-nighter before getting his hair trimmed. The lab boys have found lots of small hairs in the hat. Harold must have been at Dolores’s house on the morning of his death, been killed there, and then driven back to his own place where his corpse was stretched out on the floor.
That’s method and opportunity covered, but Dolores demands to know what Columbo believes her motive to be. “Maybe it’s because he suspected you killed Big Fred,” the Lieutenant calmly responds. “And I suspect Harold was right.” When challenged to prove it, Columbo shrugs. He doesn’t have to prove she killed Big Fred, because he’s only charging her with the killing of Harold. “One in the hand is worth two in bush,” he says, pointing the firm finger of justice at Dolores.
Cornered, the murderess comes clean. She raises a glass to Columbo in recognition of his outstanding detective abilities and is escorted away as credits roll…
My memories of A Bird in the Hand…
It’s been so long since I last watched this one that I had an awful lot of blanks to fill. Chiefly, I barely recalled the hit-and-run death of Big Fred at all, nor remember anything about the Big Fred character (sorry Freddy, no disrespect intended). I knew Fernando to be an innocent victim, and that Harold was ultimately slain by Dolores, but hadn’t recollected the nature of their relationship, nor her motives for doing so.
The only solid memories I could fall back on were a hatred of Harold (whom I’ve always found to be a shallow, worthless SLUG), a great deal of sympathy for poor Fernando and a soft spot for Dolores, which I attribute more to my affection for Tyne Daly than any particularly memorable aspects of Dolores’s character. That’s about all I had in the locker, though, meaning this viewing was certain to serve up a whole host of surprises – hopefully more good than bad.
After the massive departure from the series norm No Time to Die represented last time out, Columbo was treading more familiar territory in A Bird in the Hand. The Lieutenant was back investigating a murder at the top end of town, back in his rumpled suit and mac, and back employing his ‘shop-worn bag of tricks’ to track down a killer.
A Bird in the Hand, however, is Columbo on steroids. One planned murder is knocked off-kilter by a hit-and-run killing, leading to the unintended demise of an innocent victim. When Harold McCain, key suspect for the latter, turns up dead at the end of Act Two the Lieutenant’s investigation is turned on its head and we find ourselves in the most murder-filled Columbo adventure to date. Throw into the mix the lurking menace of the heavies out to reclaim a debt from Harold, plus the love affair between Harold and Dolores, and you have a mystery virtually overdosing on intrigue.
Is there too much going on in A Bird in the Hand to allow any aspect of it to reach its full potential? Arguably so – especially when you consider that many salient plot drivers take place off-screen, thus leaving the viewer in the dark on a number of crucial matters. These include the death of Big Fred, Harold’s all-night stint at the casino, the nature of Columbo’s interest in Dolores’s car hood, and the precise details of Harold’s death at Dolores’s hands.
While this level of subterfuge certainly demands the viewer pay close attention to fully understand the intricacy of the episode, it’s still only partially successful. The concealment of Harold’s killing, in particular, seems to be intrigue for the sake of intrigue and one gets the feeling that episode writer Jackson Gillis was looking to insert one of his trademark mid-episodes twists (or “the Act II Switcheroo” to quote author David Koenig), the sort of which he’s been lobbing in to the mix since Suitable for Framing in 1971.
A Bird in the Hand is a mystery virtually overdosing on intrigue.
Gillis’s past twists include the possibility of Wayne Jennings having shot an already-dead body in Murder in Malibu; and suspected murderer Charles Clay being found slain an hour into Last Salute to the Commodore. Harold’s death, however, comes as no surprise to the viewer because we’ve already seen him threaten to blackmail Dolores, and we subsequently see her prepping a handgun for use when agreeing to pay off his debts. We know she’s his killer, so hiding it from us at this late stage seems rather pointless.
Similarly, having to find out about Harold’s good night at the tables via casino staff instead of seeing it play out for ourselves feels rather gratuitous. Witnessing a smirking Harold claiming the loot and celebrating with a breakfast and haircut would actually have been helpful to the viewer in cottoning on to the relevance of Columbo picking up the dead man’s cowboy hat during his post-murder visit to Dolores.
The hat containing newly-cut hairs definitively places Harold at Dolores’s home on the morning of his death, and is the only really damning evidence Columbo collects in the whole episode. What’s frustrating is that the detective does nothing to earn it, instead simply noticing the hat lying around in the den and taking it away with the other personal effects Harold had left at the property. Granted, a detective needs a slice of luck to help solve cases but this is gifted to him far too easily for it to satisfy.
Of the major plot points unseen by the viewer, the best and most essential is the first: Big Fred’s hit-and-run death. This works because it comes completely out of the blue, stunning the viewer and placing Harold in a pressure-cooker situation knowing that anyone attempting to move Fred’s car before the pipe bomb is removed will be toast. We’ve seen so little of Dolores up to this point (and what we have seen is a washed-up alcoholic who fawns over Harold) that there’s no real reason for us to suspect her of mariticide. It just looks like Harold has taken another gamble and lost out to bad luck rather than a premeditated crime.
I give Gillis credit here, because he deftly provides a reason for why the cops don’t instantly swarm all over Dolores. As Big Fred’s wife, she’s statistically likely to have been involved in his death, and had easy opportunity to swipe Fernando’s truck to run him down. This ought to be reason enough to be asking her some stiff questions, but Detective Robertson concisely explains to Columbo that a recent spate of garden truck thefts in the area (some 50 per month!) is the probable reason why Fernando’s vehicle was taken and subsequently abandoned after accidentally hitting Big Fred. It’s a plausible enough reason to sideline Dolores as a suspect for now.
It’s probably just as well the episode doesn’t look too closely into Dolores’s motivations for killing Big Fred, because the answers provided may have been unsatisfying. It’s revealed that Big Fred held little regard for Dolores (“he didn’t know you were alive,” Harold tells her), while she admits that she was used and abused by her husband. The marriage was clearly not a happy one, but why Dolores felt compelled to bump off Big Fred at this particular juncture is never divulged, making her actions convenient to the plot if not necessarily credible for the character.
However, Columbo covers off this potential plot hole himself in the episode gotcha scene. He doesn’t need to prove Dolores’s motive for killing Big Fred because he’s arresting her for the murder of Harold McCain, which is a much more open-and-shut case. Again, this is good writing by Gillis, who doesn’t allow the episode (or the Lieutenant) to get mired in the murky swamp surrounding Bird in the Hand’s first killing.
Dolores is the most interesting character in the main cast but is prevented from being considered a top-drawer Columbo villain by the nature of the story, which spends much more time focusing on Harold. Because Harold’s the centre of Columbo’s investigation, Dolores remains in his shadow until the final act when she fully frees herself of patriarchal shackles. She has wised up and progressed to drinking for fun, not self-pity, is determined to run the football club on her own terms and is enjoying being on the receiving end of attention from beefcake footballers.
While this does represent a character arc of sorts, it’s hardly the Beth Chadwick-style rebirth we witnessed in Lady in Waiting years ago. Dolores’s journey could have been more compelling if we’d spent more time with her earlier in the episode and seen first-hand the miserable nature of her life with Big Fred. As it is, it’s hard to care about her plight or sympathise with her cause.
Columbo doesn’t spent enough time with Dolores to figure out who she really is and what her qualities are.
Even Columbo doesn’t seem to have much of a relationship with Dolores, and that’s pretty telling. She’d normally be the sort of downtrodden character he’d have a level of empathy with, and that he’d treat as gently as the circumstances allow. That doesn’t happen here. Witness his conduct towards her during the gotcha scene, when he appears to be enjoying laying down the law. It’s reminiscent of his mildly aggressive takedowns of Milo Janus and Vivian Dimitri. Despite her brazen lies to his face, Columbo does seem a bit harsh in his judgement of Dolores given the systematic misuse she’s suffered at the hands of the men in her life.
Columbo, like the viewer, doesn’t spent enough time with her to figure out who she really is and what her qualities are. All this puts Dolores in some sort of halfway house, rendering her quite forgettable by Columbo standards. None of that is Tyne Daly’s fault, though. She gives everything that is required in the script. It’s just a shame that so much of Dolores – especially in the first half of the episode – is a by-the-numbers loveless alcoholic of the sort Daly could play in her sleep. It’s only when she does away with Harold that she becomes a more stimulating presence – but by then the episode’s almost over.
Someone else lumbered with a hackneyed character is Greg Evigan. His Harold McCain is a textbook archetype of the hard-gambling scoundrel, a man whose moral compasses points directly towards his next payday whatever it takes to get there. Harold could have been cut-and-pasted into any one of thousands of shows and made-for-TV movies over a period of decades. For a series that has had so many multi-layered, charismatic and engrossing baddies over the years (yes, even in the show’s comeback era), Harold represents a retrograde step.
Again, I can’t blame the actor for that. Evigan actually plays the part extremely well and makes Harold a loathsome, self-centred prick with no redeeming features besides his good looks (terribly dated haircut notwithstanding). However, Harold is such an unadventurous representation of a TV jackass that it’s impossible to get excited by him. He shares many scenes with Columbo but not one of their exchanges stands out as being funny or memorable: a major downer for the episode as a whole.
Harold McCain is a textbook archetype of the hard-gambling scoundrel.
Harold’s rationale for murder is also pretty shaky. While there’s no love lost between himself and Big Fred, and Harold needs cash quick to appease sinister debtor Mr Hacker (another tepid cliché), it’s an insanely high-risk strategy to create a home-made bomb to kill his only living relative in the hope that Dolores inherits and agrees to pay off his gambling debts. Despite Harold’s cosy relationship with Dolores, there’s no guarantee that she’ll play the game by his rules – as the episode’s events make abundantly clear.
And even when Harold does figure out the how and why surrounding Dolores’s involvement in Big Fred’s death, he fails to fully take advantage of his trump card by leaving her adequate time to plot her counterblow to his threat of blackmail. On top of that, he is yet another Columbo victim to neglect to leave the police incriminating evidence against a would-be foe should he himself succumb to foul play. Geez, Harold! No wonder this guy always loses at the casino tables.
With both Dolores and Harold largely playing prosaic roles, A Bird in the Hand would have benefitted from some engaging support characters. Alas, this is another aspect of the writing that disappoints, with just about every other significant player similarly sketched out in humdrum tones. Big Fred is so underdeveloped he may as well have been a cardboard cut-out, while his righthand man Bertie is a mere parody of useless legal counsel.
More regrettable is the depiction of Detective Robertson (pictured), who deserved better treatment in the script. Played by man-mountain Frank McRae, Robertson is a rare thing for the series being a black character in a semi-significant role. It’s such a shame that the character as written is such an uninspired, workaday detective who leaps to every obvious conclusion available to him.
There’d be no harm in giving Columbo a gifted sidekick from time to time, and a black man in that role would have been most welcome considering we’re in the series’ 61st episode and 25th year of existence. As it is, Robertson joins the long list of blundering police underlings that includes such luminaries as Sergeants Grover, Wilson, Vernon and Theodore ‘Mac’ Albinsky.
Just about the only bit-part player I have any time and affection for is poor Fernando. Despite fulfilling yet another boilerplate role (Hispanic hired help), he has some spunk about him and actor Leon Singer puts in an energetic turn that endears him to viewers and Columbo alike. An honest toiler who just wants to please, Fernando’s death in the pipe-bomb explosion is a genuinely sad moment in an episode that largely fails to wring emotional responses from its audience.
More should have been made of this tragedy in the script. Once Fernando is blown into smithereens, he’s essentially forgotten about and never mourned over by any of the on-screen characters. Even Columbo – usually such an ally of the put-upon man on the street – is strangely quiet on this matter. When he drops in on the funeral of Big Fred, I fully expected Columbo to compare the spectacle with the modest send-off afforded to Fernando, which I feel sure he would have attended. But no, nada, zip. These last two paragraphs of mine are almost certainly the most heartfelt eulogy Fernando has ever received.
His lack of apparent concern for Fernando aside, Columbo is generally on watchable form here – although his nonchalant handling of Harold’s sweaty, stinking socks does traumatise my inner germaphobe. Nevertheless, Columbo’s prevaricating in conversations with Harold before delivering a telling aside that potentially links Harold to the car bombing is straight out of the 70s’ playbook, so much so that Dr Mark Collier’s 1975 observation about how the Lieutenant “gets to the point without ever really getting to the point” looms large in the mind.
His directness when confronting Dolores about her lies, and again during the gotcha scene, also demonstrate a pleasing level of awareness of how the Lieutenant should behave in these circumstances. For the most part I think it’s fair to say that Falk is playing Columbo as a believable extension of the character we came to love in the 70s. Had he been able to fully contain himself, this would go down as one of Falk’s best performances of the comeback era. Sadly though, his asinine antics during the excruciating luxury car salesroom scene undo much of the good work.
Columbo’s nonchalant handling of Harold’s sweaty socks does traumatise my inner germaphobe.
Had this scene been played straight, it would have worked well as a means of giving Columbo a reason to suspect a lefthanded person (i.e. Harold) of rigging the pipe bomb in Big Fred’s car. Similarly, I have no problem with Columbo connecting the heel marks he leaves on the salesroom floor to the scratches on the asphalt beside the exploded vehicle that again point towards Harold’s involvement. Conceptually, all this is OK. It is the execution of this scene that is hard to forgive.
In an episode that is tonally sombre and complex, why turn this moment into a comic farce? The camp and snooty salesman is a comedy trope as tiresome as any in TV history, while Columbo gleefully rocking his knees up and down like a kiddie in a sandpit to celebrate his heel mark Eureka moment is utterly cringeworthy. The crowning turd, though, is the crowd that mystifyingly gathers by the salesroom window to watch the Lieutenant writhe about. What is going on?
There’s so much wrong with this it’s hard to know where to begin. Why would a crowd gather to watch a total random lying under a car anyway? And what are they applauding him for? These people have no idea who Columbo is, nor what he has achieved in this scene! Go and do something more important with your days! As a viewer, it makes the blood boil to be treated with such contempt. As the sole Executive Producer of the show at this stage, I’m putting 100% of the blame on Falk for this disgraceful inclusion.
When allied with the unimaginative character writing, this awful scene goes a long way to counteracting the episode’s good intentions. A triple homicide, feuding lovers and several surprise revelations mark A Bird in the Hand as having a level of scope and ambition in excess of the norm. And they spent some money on this, as evidenced by the destruction of at least one Rolls Royce in an explosion that blows two cops off their feet: an action-packed, big-budget set-piece by series’ standards. Just about the only parts of Bird that look cheap are the scenes in Big Fred’s private box, which is obviously a set with football action unrealistically projected through ‘windows’ behind the actors. Paul Hanlon’s corporate box in Most Crucial Game 20 years earlier was much more convincing.
We should also remember that Tyne Daly was hot property in those days, while Greg Evigan was no slouch himself, his recent three-year stint as cool-cat heartthrob Joey Harris on My Two Dads doubtless enhancing the episode’s appeal to a younger audience. They must have pocketed a small fortune between them in appearance fees. A final indicator that money was no object is the use of Tony Bennett’s Rags to Riches during the opening and closing credits. The rousing showstopper provides an immediate air of quality and is a superb pre-cursor to Harold’s early episode gambling woes.
It’s also notable that Bird in the Hand welcomes regular 70s’ Columbo composer Dick De Benedictis back to the fold after a 16-year hiatus. He created scores for 15 episodes between 1972-76 (including Etude in Black, Any Old Port in a Storm, Swan Song and Old Fashioned Murder) and would contribute seven more after this. DBD is one of the series’ best musical contributors, who had a knack for creating scores that perfectly matched the mood and settings of their partner episodes. The same applies here and his return to the series is to be celebrated given the varying quality of scores since Columbo’s 1989 comeback.
As for the overall calibre of the episode, that’s tricky to qualify. As I said in my review of No Time to Die, ambition should count for something when passing judgement, and A Bird in the Hand tries very hard to be a spectacular and compelling addition to the canon. What lets it down are the stale characters and a proclivity for prioritising stunning plot twists and reveals over meaningful storytelling. As a result, this is probably most enjoyable on its first viewing because when you take away the surprise factor and start looking more closely at the minutiae, A Bird in the Hand becomes much less than the sum of its parts.
How I rate ’em
Like Big Fred on his morning jog, A Bird in the Hand is firmly middle of the road territory. Neither the best nor worst of Columbo, its ambitious scope is limited by some questionable writing and production decisions.
To read reviews of any of the ‘new Columbo‘ episodes reviewed up to this point, simply click the links in the list below. You can see how I rank all the ‘classic era’ episodes here.
- Columbo Goes to College
- Agenda for Murder
- Death Hits the Jackpot
- Columbo Cries Wolf
- Rest in Peace, Mrs Columbo
- Columbo Goes to the Guillotine
- Sex & The Married Detective
- Caution: Murder Can Be Hazardous to Your Health
- A Bird in the Hand…
- Murder, A Self Portrait
- Columbo and the Murder of a Rock Star
- Murder, Smoke & Shadows
- Uneasy Lies the Crown
- No Time to Die
- Grand Deceptions
- Murder in Malibu
Now it’s over to you. Spill your thoughts on the highs and lows of A Bird in the Hand and let us all know how you rank it in the grand scheme of things. Are you a fan of the many twists and turns? Or is there just too much to take in? Have your say in the comments section below.
Next up on our seemingly endless Columbo voyage is It’s All in the Game – a story initially cooked up by Peter Falk 20 years earlier that he finally managed to put finishing touches to. It was good enough to tempt Hollywood goddess Faye Dunaway to the small screen, but how does it stand up to the test of time? Tune in soon to find out…
Look, we need to talk about the awesome radio combo of Jack and Jill. A duo who are supposed to provide some background patter as Harold is driving his car in the morning, but whose radio presentation skills are so terrible and so incredibly stilted that it’s hard to imagine how they could ever have become any radio station’s flagship trail radio presenters. Jack and Jill are the true criminals in this episode. They have clearly murdered breakfast radio.
This is a favorite of mine. I think Evigan and especially Tyne Daly are great. Each time I watch I see another nuance in her performance. Columbo is in excellent form as well. I would knock it up a couple notches in the rankings. The comedy relief of Columbo in the auto showroom with the background string (quartet?) playing is fine too.
I disliked this episode more than Mr. Columbophile. I would rate it lower than any other except No Time To Die, whose villain is nauseating and it’s only a cheap thriller. Admittedly Murder in Malibu is almost as bad as A Bird in the Hand. But at least the unbelievable lover is barely tolerable. But the Tyne Daly and her victim are extremely unattractive. What Mr. Columbo mentions as a problem in this episode makes it insufferable to me. The quick shifts in the story. And I dislike episodes with too many gratuitous murders. Undercover is horrible too for that reason and the uncharacteristic Columbo. But at least it was an engrossing puzzle. Both all those murders for so little money? Anyway, those are my least favorite new Columbo episodes and probably worst among all. I liked the self portrait show better though than this excellent critic because of the dream puzzles. He spells out a lot of things wrong that I only notice subconsciously.
I have to admit I enjoyed watching this one. Greg Evigan was good at portraying the indebted gambling addict Harold. Columbo was in his true form and was clever at solving the case. The pacing, acting, and writing were good. Everyone wanted to be friends with Big Fred. The plot twists were good and kept the viewer guessing. Tyne Daly was good as Big Fred’s wife and widow Dolores. Good episode overall.
Thought Greg and Tyne were magnificent in their roles. Did not see the twist coming regarding Greg figuring out murder.
I thoroughly enjoyed this episode, mainly because of the formula change-up and Tyne Daly’s performance. And that Falk played it mostly straight except for the dealership scene, which I actually didn’t mind. Handsome Greg Evigan was also totally convincing even though his role was pretty stock. I used to watch BJ and the Beat religiously when I was a kid. 🤓😎
I love Tyne Daly in this. She’s smartly sassy – I love CP’s observation of how she liberates herself from two bossy jerks – she’s a magnetic sexpot, and she’s a juicy actress!
hard to add intelligent commentary when you keep falling asleep each time you attempt towatchit
How in the world could Harold make whoopee with Dolores, regardless if they were family or not? In addition to his gambling addiction, he must have also been a monstrous drunkard to ever have….well, you know….even the thought of Dolores in any phase of undress is truly horrifying.
Big Fred must have also had substance abuse issues at one point, but eventually overcame them, only to be sober, stuck with dastardly disgusting Dolores, the troglodyte from H. E. double L, during his final days. His passing may have been a blessing in disguise for him. T. Daly did an excellent job of creating a truly horrendous character.
As always, excellent analysis as well as follow up remarks.
Agree, the thought of being with Delores would cause major shrinkage! Despite that, the first time I watched this episode I was not fond of it. Watched it years later and actually liked it, it was actually a pretty entertaining later years episode.
And the beat (misogyny) goes on…
What misogyny are you taling about? In the episode or the comments? Just because Tyne Daly doesn’t turn everybody on doesn’t make one misogynystic.
Very true A.A…. A horrible person is a horrible person (Delores character), woman, man, does not matter.
The misogyny is that Delores was so unattractive that that even Fred (who ain’t exactly Brad Pitt) would be repulsed by her. That’s a double standard.
In fact a lot of men found Tyne Dailey cute. And she was smarter than Harold and played him like an out of tune piano. At least some men like a smart woman.
The hateful comments about her undesirability. I haven’t noticed any such comments about a single man in the show, although there are plenty of older, “unattractive” men featured coupled with young, conventionally “beautiful” women. It’s the contemptuous expression of disgust toward the women who don’t fit your standard for feminine attractiveness – and the assumption that your contempt is natural and acceptable.
It’s a good point. I’ve never seen any comments here about any male character’s sexual desirability. Interesting! I wouldn’t call it misogyny, but it’s a very odd thing, for sure. Why do male never get judged (so far) in terms of “shrinkage?”
Females are no different from males, they too judge men by looks, it’s just human nature. In this case though it’s more the characters awful personality than looks (kind of half and half i guess).
Has CP ever written an article on all the female murderers in the series?
How can we know who is female, who is male, or who is trans, etc., among those who post here? Answer: We can’t. So I’m not judging the “gender” biases in this thread based who posts them, but merely commenting on what we all say here. And as I mentioned, I’ve never seen comments here about a male character’s sexual desirability (in a negative way, that is). So I think the thread is very interesting.
I did make some comments on the slimy AWFULNESS of David Kincaid and the sheer lechery of wannabe lothario Charlie Lenz from Sex and the Married Detective. Both were disgusting examples of manhood. Commentary around the general un/attractiveness of men in the show does come about on the site, but less frequently than it does about women.
Actually there’s a Psychology Today article (among others) about the differences between male and female sexual desire mechanisms, which are quite different.
But one in factinate dot com is better – about “45-scientific-facts…” (differences in male and female brains).
I thought it was funny that Harold was sleeping with the blonde “It’s Clyde” cheerleader. And Fernando used the expression, “I have one key” instead of “I have a key.” I had a friend from Mexico who used the same locution.
One thing which has always bugged me (well, two; Tyne Daly butchering every accent she tries is the other); how does Dolores gun down Harold, drag his body to her car, drive up to his hideaway, and drag his body into the house? I seriously doubt she used a fireman’s carry or hired help; the fact that we see nothing of this indicate the writer and director didn’t know how, either!
It did briefly show a folding wheelchair at her house, which Columbo deduces she used to shift Harold’s body to the car. She’d have had to lumber the corpse into the cabin by herself, though.
Another “minor” thing I noticed in this episode is that the football game/highlights they show is of the Canadian Football League. (Note the 55-yard line; which is unique to only the CFL)
The NFL is very strict about using stock footage of its games, and so it the NCAA, albeit much less strict.)
Columbo is far from the only show/movie which uses CFL footage. Far more easier.
I cannot agree with your overall assessment at all – despite your very thorough analysis, to which I was really looking forward. In fact BitH is one of the very best Columbo episodes ever. It’s completely absurd to down-grade it on such comparatively trivial grounds as e.g. the brief sillinesses in the RR showroom scene (do please get a grip !). This …(agreed) …somewhat laboured comic business is, in any case, a welcome break from all the torrid goings on at Big Fred’s. (From memory) the episode contains two completely jaw-dropping moments involving Harold and the/a RR that pack punches greater than anything else in the entire cannon ! … I find it surprising that you did not refer to these outstanding ‘coups de télévision’ in detail …. first, when Harold sees the unexploded vehicle … second when, surreally, Harold encounters Columbo’s replacement RR. You are right about the music though, and especially the “Rags to Riches” opener. [Does anyone know how much money would have changed hands to make this happen ?] b.t.w. I don’t believe any actual functioning RR would have been harmed in any way in the course of production.
Heres todays line up on 5 USA ita ll starts
9 25 am
Uneasy lies the crown
Death lends a hand
A friend in deed
IDentity Crisis ( my top pick)
Dagger of the mind
CAandidate for crime
A very healthy line up with the exeption
Of dagger of the mind which i usualy
Avoid and today is no different despite it being jubilee weekend
Identity crisis with mcgoohan, death lends a hand ,candidate for crime and a friend in deed are easily the best listed today .
Another thing I’ve always “sensed” about this episode was Columbo’s “lack of screen time” in this one, especially for a “longer” episode.
So, being the nerd that I am, I went back and watched again.
As in the case in almost every Columbo, we often don’t see Falk until a while into each episode. However, once we DO see him, Falk is always “popping up” in nearly every other scene through the remainder of the episode. So, Falk’s appearances are usually “backloaded.”
“Bird” is a rarity. After we see Falk in a few scenes, there is a full 14 minutes (from minute 50 to minute 64) where we don’t see Columbo at all. I can’t recall another episode where he is absent for nearly a quarter-hour AFTER we’ve already seen him.
(Tyne and Harold talk, Tyne and Harold go to dinner, Tyne and Harold talk again in the parking garage, etc.)
I think this extended absence of Falk just past the mid-point of this episode is a HUGE reason (for me) that I didn’t enjoy this episode. Throw in the fact that I didn’t like either Tyne or Harold’s character, and this makes for a very weak episode for me, personally.
Harold and delores are 2 of the most unlikeable charachters in the series espeically when thete together
Nothing much to say here on Bird, other than I didn’t enjoy it. Maybe I’ll give it another chance. (But I think twice is enough)
Also, I don’t get the Tyne Daly love. Maybe I just don’t like her character? (That, and I’ve never found her attractive)
The good news?
My FAVORITE “new” Columbo is on deck! Loved “It’s All in the Game.”
CNC, yep I tend to agree about Tyne. If one has never seen her previous work, she can be an aquired taste. But as with Shera Danese and Honor Blackman, I don’t mind them chewing the scenary as they say – even if it ruins the overall episode. Still, I draw the line with Andrew Stevens and Brenda Vacarro…
My wife, Mrs Acilius, she’s a remarkable woman.
Anyway, she and I recently watched a bunch of episodes of CAGNEY & LACEY, in which Tyne Daly played an NYPD detective with a working class origin and manner. In several episodes, she does an excellent Columbo imitation; in a couple, they explicitly mention Columbo. Seeing those for the first time this spring, my disappointment in Daly’s actual appearances on Columbo retroactively increased. As Mary Beth Lacey imitating Lieutenant Columbo, she showed a deep enough understanding of the character and the show that she could have been a Patrick McGoohan-level director/ guest star.combo. Terrible shame they threw her talent away as they did.
An interesting twist on the usual formula here: the would-be murderer is foiled when his intended victim is killed by someone else, then gets another person killed by accident, only to die himself at the hands of the original murderer! A shame it wasn’t executed better, judging by Columbophile’s review. I haven’t actually seen this episode, but I’m tempted to give it a watch now despite the shortcomings.
Enjoyable episode. Big Fred is evil Mannon from Gunsmoke. Tyne Daly is a treasure and Greg Evigan is just damn goodlooking. Maybe Delores killed Fred because ‘he didn’t know she was alive’. I mean, she killed Harold instead of letting him have a measly few thousand dollars…because he was using her, then blackmailed her. The first time I watched, I had no idea she would turn out to be the killer…so that was a twist. And hey, I believe there is a spate of gardener’s trucks being stolen-if it’s good enough for Hugh Creighton…..
Hilarious captions as usual 🙂
16 of 24 new-era episodes now reviewed and ranked by CP. With two-thirds of this run in the blog books, it’s a grim lot (to put it gently). And glancing at the final 8 titles, I expect more additions will be made to the bottom half of the rankings than the top. Sad.
That said, the more we reflect on each ep, the more drawn I am to the idea of a “Young Detective Columbo” reboot. There are legitimately good ideas introduced here, just horribly horribly executed on the whole. A new well-produced series could overcome the obvious unavoidable shortcoming (no Peter Falk) by simply doing everything else better. Rely less on the lead actor’s natural charisma (not to say that can’t also be a plus) and more on tight plausible scripts, fun guest stars, solid scores and lavish sets to recapture the strengths of the 70s run.
No argument here. https://columbophile.com/2020/05/31/playwright-pens-columbo-prequel/
No argument here. We’re approaching the second anniversary of CP’s May 31, 2020 blog post about my proposal for a prequel set in NYC in the late 1950’s (“Playwright pens Columbo prequel”). Work on this venture continues.
This is probably my favourite Columbo episode overall, not even quite sure why but I always find it enjoyable.
This review pretty much says it for me as well. I’m drawn to watching it because there is some 70s cleverness in Columbo in this episode, but I speed ahead when it comes to the car dealership. I think the gotcha was very cleverly figured out. We had a technology sighting where Columbo uses a (for the day) high-tech device to confirm an idea. And there’s just enough ooomph in Tyne Daly’s performance, like Rip Torn, that made it enjoyable.
Thank you for giving Fernando the testimonial he deserves. The least deserving victim since Harry Alexander in Stitch in Crime.
Another great episode review by CP. My big issue with this episode is the coincidence of two people, independently, trying to kill the same person at essentially the same time without a clear motive for each. For Harold, we do have a clear motive, but not for Dolores. Too much of a coincidence for me. I know we find out later that it was not a hit and run but a murder and then we find out if was committed by Dolores, but why now? It’s never made clear.
I would have loved a scene where we find out Big Fred was going to divorce Dolores (assume a prenup) and disinherit Harold. Even though we know Harold wasn’t in the will, if he were, and a divorce, then it provides motive and a clear reason why the murder has to happen at a specific time, i.e., before a divorce and rewritten will.
I think a clear motive for both and a rationale for the timing would have helped this episode immensely.
And a lack of clear motive for Dolores was also clearly spelled out by CP as a plot deficiency.
First off, big than you to CP for the latest awesome analysis! As always, reading your review is just as fun as seeing the episode itself. Now that we’ve had time to decompress, let’s talk about Tyne and Greg, and Columbo of course.
Speaking of which, I surprised Tyne and Greg didn’t ravage each other like Brenda Vacarro and Andrew Stevens. As CP pointed out: “Technically, they’re aunt and nephew. Think about that.” Eww!
No one has brought up what I consider to be the biggest gaffe/plot hole/cheap bit in this whole thing. Bernie brings one camera operator to the driveway scene, but when Columbo plays it back for Delores, it’s the final broadcast bit, complete with multiple angles, cuts, and a close up of Harold’s miserable cowardliness.
Frank McCrea was the ONLY Columbo assistant detective to break the “Bob Dishy magic” of ADDING to the Columbo who was respected by co-detectives, or whose questions were at least a bit scaled back in intensity by great respect from colleagues.
He is jarring, condescending and just rude and nobody seemed willing to tell him about the respect and compliance of sergeants, cops and countless patrolmen in the previous 60+ episodes!
His skin color is of NO importance to continuity of story lines, and shouldn’t have mattered in the show or my favorite blog ( yours!!).
As far as I can tell, this is the only episode that ended with the final murder resulting in an arrest. No matter how many victims in a Columbo, it seems the stories always end with a gotcha for the first killing and not the subsequent ones.
And how exciting would it have been to have Columbo nail Dale Kingston for the killing of girlfriend Tracy? Or for Columbo to Gotcha Dr. Keppel for shooting Roger White? Not very, I know.
Having the denouement focus on the later, secondary murder robs the episode of one of the key ingredients of a successful episode – the interplay between Columbo and killer. That’s what made the classics unique. Here, that’s largely cut away in favor of the Jackson Gillis plot twists and turns. Ho hum. Those aren’t what I tune into “Columbo” for. From his IMDb page, this looks to have been the last actual script Gillis wrote after a long and fruitful career with 31 Perry Masons, contributions to at least 9 first-era “Columbo” eps and countless other TV product. With this and “Murder in Malibu”, though, I can only wonder if Gillis was trying too hard to out-clever himself at the close of his career, coming at the expense of the classic “Columbo” elements.
Actually, I would have much preferred to see Mark Collier nailed for murdering Nadia Donner than the justified lash at Karl. Or Frame and Stanhope for murdering Tanner, rather than for killing Sir Roger with an errant cold cream throw. The same with Viveca Scott for the premeditated murder of Shirley Blaine, rather than the spontaneous, provoked swing at Karl Lessing. Too many initial “crimes” are problematic as murders. That’s probably why they’re followed by a clearly premeditated murder — to eliminate any sympathy for the killer. It often seems like Columbo is solving the wrong crime.
And let’s not be too hard on Jackson’s efforts to shake up the formula. His target audience was the devoted Columbo viewer — the ones who knew exactly what to expect when tuning in. He used their expectations against them. It’s the mystery writer’s form of jujitsu, using your opponent’s strength as your most potent weapon.
In some cases, like Frame and Stanhope, they may get nailed after all. With them on the hook for the murder of Sir Roger, and in both their emotional states, it’s not hard to imagine they’ll spill the beans on the Tanner frame-up under interrogation.
Interestingly, the one and only time the problematic murder wasn’t followed by a cleaner kill was with Brimmer in “Death Lends a Hand.” He’s the only one in countless episodes that accidentally kills someone, and doesn’t compound the act with a more premeditated killing.
Within the show’s structure, it would seem to make more sense for the first murder to be the one that Columbo follows through on to Gotcha. It’s that first killing where Columbo gets his initial clues, forms his first suspicions about the culprit, and hounds the villain about for much of the episode, sucking in the viewer to that specific crime. Columbo cuffing Ken Franklin for the murder of Lily LaSanka instead of Jim Ferris wouldn’t have been as dramatically satisfying IMHO.
And I totally agree that the balcony high-dive of Nadia Donner would have been the more interesting murder to solve. To make that effectively happen, though, it would have been better as the primary killing, so Columbo could painstakingly follow the breadcrumbs from the beginning, instead of rushing it to the finish line. Rich, you and I have used some blog space before to spitball how that might have been pulled off. I still see it as a missed opportunity for an outstanding episode.
One could argue that the Columbo formula works best when the first, perhaps only murder is a carefully planned, “perfect” crime (by one who thinks he or she can outsmart any cop). But Levinson and Link broke that mold with their own “Death Lends a Hand” — originally planned as the first series episode. Ah, well.
One more thing: “Murder by the Book” is the rare example of an episode where the second murder is the key to Columbo solving the first. Had Columbo not recognized the contrast between the “clever” murder and the “sloppy” one, he would never have had the inspiration to look through Ferris’ papers for the proof he needed. In most two-killings episodes, the gotcha is independent of the second murder. That’s not true with MBTB.
The second murder in A friend of deed plays a big part in comissioner halperins conviction or gotcha in the episode although im not a big fan of the way halperin so casualy and quickly drowns his wife and how she was so conveniently in the bathtub.
Interesting because in AFID Columbo doesn’t prove who committed either crime. He only proves that Halperin helped in a cover-up. And, of course, Halperin isn’t responsible for the murder of Janice Caldwell, only its aftermath. The understanding at the end is that, once their cover story is blown, Caldwell will lower the boom on Halperin. So Columbo still has a lot of work to do after the episode ends.
My random thoughts and observations about this episode:
1) There is a very thin double for Big Fred in the very beginning running towards the house. I have watched this episode so many times that I used to think it was some random guy. Hilarious!
2)I never was 100% sure that Fernando wasn’t in on it with Delores when Harold mentions working on some shrub in the back.
3) Guinness Book would have to verify the 22 points made in a 2 minute football game. A bit extreme to include such a wide spread of points. It would have been much more sane if one great pass was made at the last second.
4) I am as appalled by the sweaty socks scene as CP. Just gross.
5)I absolutely love all the scenes involving Big Fred’s mansion. Just beautiful, especially around the staircase.
Fernando was a good man his desperation about his missing vehicle seemed genuine
“A Bird in the Hand …”￼ could be seen as Part III of a trilogy. Three different variations on the Columbo “inverted” (or open) mystery formula, where the audience is supposed to know whodunnit before Columbo even shows up. Part I is “Double Shock,” where we’re led to believe that Dexter Paris murdered Uncle Clifford single-handedly, and then twin brother Norman appears. The evident murderer becomes only one of two murderers working together. Part II is “Last Salute to the Commodore,” where we’re led to believe that Charles Clay is the murderer, until he becomes the real murderer’s second victim. The evident murderer becomes a different murderer entirely. And now Part III, where we’re shown Harold as a murderer (although not of the person he wants to murder), and then later learn that Delores is more of a killer than Harold. The evident murderer becomes one of two murderers working at cross purposes. And all three stories were written by Jackson Gillis (although Steven Bochco wrote the “Double Shock” teleplay) — whose technique, as CP notes, David Koenig (“Shooting Columbo”) called the “Act II Switcheroo.”
This structural departure is one of two big things “A Bird in the Hand …” has going for it. Gillis combines an open mystery (who killed the gardener), a closed mystery (who killed Harold), and one halfway in between (who killed Big Fred). The second big thing “A Bird in the Hand …” has going for it is Tyne Daly’s terrific performance as Delores.
But the clues Columbo uses to solve each of these mysteries aren’t especially persuasive. Many a right-handed person can turn a nut with his left hand if that’s the only hand that will reach. Columbo was in Harold’s closet but never checks his boots for signs of scrape marks. A person may close his eyes for lots of reasons. Columbo’s theory that Delores killed Harold is quite hollow. (Try getting a dead body in a wheelchair up all those steps to Harold’s cabin.) And Delores is quite right: unless Columbo can prove that she killed Big Fred (something Columbo admits he can’t do), she had no motive to kill Harold.
As for Harold’s hat, with his hair clippings inside, found by Columbo in Delores’ den after his murder, I gather that’s supposed to be the gotcha: proof that Harold went to Delores’ house after his morning haircut, thus refuting her statement that she first saw him that morning when she found his dead body on his cabin floor at 10:30 a.m. But how does this prove Delores shot Harold? Phone records confirmed that Harold called Delores from his cabin at 8:15. Harold could have driven to Delores’ house shortly after the 8:15 call and, when she didn’t answer the bell, left his hat on the doorknob as a calling card and gone home. That contradicts nothing anyone said. (Delores said she didn’t remember the hat being left.) I wasn’t impressed either with the clue’s value or its dramatic impact. Plus, it was part of a rambling discourse on damp socks that didn’t make too much sense.
Moreover, as is typical of too many “new” Columbos, the gotcha (such as it was) was among a collection of small clues: a prolonged show-and-tell about dew, socks, a poker ticket, pancakes, boots, clothing, a hat, and haircut clippings. Whatever happened to the big “pop” — the one, stand-alone conversation-ender that was a hallmark of Columbo at its best? I miss those days.
So a very good structural concept with an excellent performance ultimately was executed quite poorly in my view. Too bad.
One final note: CP discusses some budget-busting aspects to this episode. But the producers didn’t need to shell out much to create the opening kaleidoscope-like images of Las Vegas. These images are identical to footage used twenty years earlier to open the Season 1, Episode 4 of Banacek entitled “A Million the Hard Way.”
TV series always make moving a dead body an easy thing. As in Ransom for a dead man, where Leslie puts his husband’s corpse in a car trunk like it was a bag of groceries
Or how about smallish Richard Basehart (Nicholas Frame) and his wife moving that large trunk with a dead body in it onto the back of his car. And then positioning the body at the guy’s home?? All without being seen, no matter what time it was. And no evidence at the actual crime scene? Oh well, it was the 70’s when people didn’t bleed nearly as much.
The scene where Harold and Delores are talking on the phone is includes Delores saying “And Harold…this is the last time”. Those dots represent the sound of her chambering a round into her gun. Since the gun was so close to the phone, how could Harold not hear that? And we only have Harold and Delores’s word that “Big Fred” treated her badly. Would you trust them to be honest about that?
Good to see another review up and about and i think 9th spot at this stage is about right for a bird in the hand but i find all the scenes with harold and dolores unbearable bit like that guy and woman in murder in malibu sorry to say
they definetley changed the formula in this one
I used to find it confusing but with countless viewings ive now got it straight but its still not one of the better 90s episodes
I bet “How to make a pipe bomb” was written by Eddie Kane from Publish or Perish
Eddie kanes mitary backround
Is well highlited where he refers to his service in the vietnam war plus his love for chucking sticks of dynamite
Roger from short fuse being a chemical expert makes sense
harold being able to rig a pip e bomb from instructions from a magazine very far fetched but if he was desperte enough might just about pass most car s normally went over clifffaces that girl in lovely but lethal adam evans unesay lies the crown
habib a case of immunity
The jag in greenhouse jungle
There could be more examples more examples
For the people applauding Columbo I can only surmise they are Columbo fans crashing on the set and the producer deciding yo keep the silly scene. All in all it vas a so-so episode but with as many twists and turns to make it enjoyable