Dead Weight

Episode 3 – Dead Weight

The third episode of Columbo was titled Dead Weight and focused on not just a murder investigation, but on the relationship between the killer and a witness to his crime. In this podcast Gerry and Iain consider the highs and lows of Dead Weight and how it compares to the two earlier episodes.



There was a slightly expanded cast for this episode, compared with the compact groups from Murder by the Book and Death Lends a Hand. Eddie Albert‘s military-hero-turned-killer Major General Martin Hollister is the driving force in Dead Weight, but the arc of the story is really the journey of Helen Stewart, played by Suzanne Pleshette.


Supporting these key characters are four more, each with their own role to play. John Kerr‘s Colonel Roger Dutton is our unfortunate victim and Kate Reid plays Mrs Walters, the carping mother of Helen Stewart. Minor roles are also played by Val Avery (as Harry Barnes) and by Timothy Carey as café owner Bert.


There was no trivia question this week, but if anyone is able to provide clarity on the military ranks we discussed or would simply like to discuss anything covered in the podcast or related to Dead Weight then please feel free to comment here, or find us on Twitter at @columbopodcast.


The Columbo Podcast is available on iTunes, Stitcher, tunein, Pocket Casts or pretty much wherever you choose to get your podcasts from. If you enjoy the show then please do consider leaving ratings and reviews on these sites as those help the podcast a great deal.


Dead Weight was released in 1971. It is 76 minutes long and originally aired on the NBC network. It can be viewed on Netflix in the United States and is available on DVD in other countries, including a comprehensive box set of all eleven seasons released by Universal.


The Columbo Podcast Team

The Columbo Podcast Team

The Columbo Podcast team develops, produces and promotes The Columbo Podcast.

  • Largo

    Greetings from the Midwest, USA!

    Thanks for another great Columbo podcast. This is one of my least favorite episodes from the first season, but I feel that it’s superior to “Short Fuse.” However, both of these weak episodes are completely carried by the great ensemble of actors that are involved in each production. I think that “Dead Weight” would have benefitted with a more polished script and one that was expanded to fill in as a two-hour Columbo episode. However, it was a very nice touch to have the murderer actually fall in love with his accuser.

    Be seeing you!

    • Ian Baxter

      I tried to watch “those bonus episodes” and shudder is the word… don’t do it Largo… don’t open that box…

      • Largo

        Universal has wacked out ideas as to what constitutes “bonus” content on a lot of their DVD releases. They pulled the same stunt with their first season DVD set for Night Gallery: they included some tepid third season NG episodes as a “bonus” instead of producing an original documentary on this series.

  • Ian Baxter

    I’m not a big fan of this episode.

    It’s quite simple… I just don’t buy into the chemistry between Hollister and Stewart. Her failure to see what he’s up to just bugs me too much in the end.

    As to the trivia question, I did finally work it out and shared on Twitter, but have to agree with Largo that ‘Mrs Columbo’ is not canon! Very sneaky!

  • Comes With Wings

    According to the Wikipedia entry for the Columbo series, it was Trivial Pursuit that triggered the copyright trap, not set it.

    “Several sources cite the lieutenant’s name as “Philip Columbo”. Columbo’s first name Philip was conceived by Fred L. Worth. In Worth’s book, The Trivia Encyclopedia, the fictitious entry about Columbo’s first name was actually a “copyright trap” – a deliberately false statement intended to reveal subsequent copyright infringement. When his false information was later included as one of the questions in the board game Trivial Pursuit, he filed a $300 million lawsuit. The publishers of Trivial Pursuit
    did acknowledge that Worth’s books were among their sources, but argued
    that this was not improper, as facts are not protected by copyright and
    the name appeared across several sources. The district court judge
    agreed, ruling in favor of the Trivial Pursuit publishers. The decision was appealed, but in September 1987 the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the ruling. Worth asked the Supreme Court of the United States to review the case, but the Court declined, denying certiorari in March 1988.”