Murder with Too Many Notes

Episode 68 – Murder with Too Many Notes

The sixty sixth episode of Columbo was titled Murder with Too Many Notes and was the fourth episode of the show’s final season. Columbo calls the tune as a legendary film composer tries to lead him on a merry dance. In this podcast Gerry and Iain consider the show’s third and final Scottish killer.



Legendary Scottish comedian and actor Billy Connolly was handed the killer’s gloves as Columbo returned after a two-and-a-half year hiatus with a clunking, ill-conceived disaster of an episode. Connolly’s Findlay Crawford is a composer of film soundtracks who has been propped up in recent years by the uncredited work of his protégé Gabriel McEnery (Chad Willett) as his own talents waned. Threatened with exposure of this charade, Crawford kills McEnery using a long-abandoned elevator to knock him off the roof of a concert venue while apparently on-stage.


Richard Riehle makes his second and final Columbo appearance as Sergeant Degarmo, while additional support is provided by Charles Cioffi as movie director Sidney Ritter and Hillary Danner as McEnery’s girlfriend Rebecca. Obi Ndefo plays sound engineer Nathaniel Murphy, while Miguel Pérez is uncredited as security guard Freddie.


Patrick McGoohan returns for his final stint as director, working (and apparently heavily adapting) the work of writer Jeffrey Cava (who apparently was not best pleased at the result).


If you have thoughts on any aspect of Murder with Too Many Notes, please share them below, or find us on Twitter at @columbopodcast.


The Columbo Podcast is widely available – on iTunes, Stitcher, tunein, Pocket Casts or pretty much wherever you choose to receive and manage your podcasts. If you enjoy the show it would be greatly appreciated if you consider leaving ratings and reviews on these sites – particularly iTunes – as that can make a big difference to growing the podcast’s audience.


Murder with Too Many Notes was released in 2001. It is 88 minutes long and originally aired on the ABC network. This episode is not available on Netflix, but can be found on the Season 10 or complete collection DVD box sets from Universal (all remaining episodes are considered ‘Season 10’ in the DVD collection).


The Columbo Podcast Team

The Columbo Podcast Team

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

  • Ian Baxter


    “Life, the Universe and Columbo” ** 🙂

    — On Saturday, March 19th, 2016 at 8pm GMT time / 3pm Central time / 4pm Eastern time / 1pm Pacific time [USA observes Daylight Savings on March 13th / the UK on March 27th] —

    Ian Baxter and Largo are planning on co-hosting a Skype audio chat session with as many of the Columbo Podcast Forum folks that want to join in! So please mark your calendars and download the free Skype application and establish your free Skype account, if you haven’t already done so. Then please add the following to your Skype contacts by entering this link via Skype:

    This is the link to our Skype conversation, which is named “Columbo Podcast Forum Chat Group.” Within the Skype application, one can have a group call with a total of 25 participants. So please join up for a Columbo audio chat on Saturday, March 19th! Thank you!!!!

    ** Yeah, it’s a tad pretentious, but in a good way. In short, we’ll discuss all things Columbo!

    Oh, and Mrs B may just make an appearance too…

    • I (Iain) am going out to an early evening cinema showing tomorrow, but hoping to get back in time to participate in at least part of the event!

      • Ian Baxter

        You’d be very welcome, hope you can stop by

      • I assume it’s a John Cassavetes film… :p

        • Margaret Williams

          Nope. Iain is finally getting around to taking his family to see Kung Fu Panda 3! Tee hee hee hee! 😉

          • Saw Kung Fu Panda 3 last week. 10 Cloverfield Lane at the IMAX tonight.

          • Margaret Williams

            Drat! And I was so close, too! Here’s the “official” MPAA Rating for your flick tonight: PG-13 for thematic material including frightening sequences of threat with some violence and brief language. Iain, please look out for that “thematic material” and, more importantly, that “brief language!” Truly frightening! 😉

    • Ian Baxter

      Many thanks to Largo, Kieran and brief cameos from Iain and Mrs Baxter. Great to discuss our favorite episodes, the podcasts, classic movies and so much more. ?

    • Daniel Hanrahan

      I don’t suppose there’s a recording of the Skype session?

      • Ian Baxter

        No, it was quite informal, not recorded.

  • I’m anticipating this episode being a fan favourite. Who doesn’t love a well thought out murder?

    • Margaret Williams

      Sure, sure. Yeah, yeah. But only if you’re living in The Twilight Zone! Tee hee hee hee!

    • Just remember…sarcasm is the lowest form of wit!

      • Margaret Williams

        But sarcasm is oh so biting — and that’s the beauty of it, Kieran! 🙂

  • Roberto

    Popping in before I listen to the gents’ podcast …

    This episode is rather strange, right? It is slow-paced in places and rushed in other places. Much of the plot is kinda meh. Nothing really makes a great deal of sense. However much you like Billy Connolly, his performance here and his interaction with Columbo is rather weird. The acting in general was a little weak, and Falk is starting (lol) to show his age. McGoohan’s direction was problematic to be kind. And the less said about the ending the better.

    But having said all that overall this episode is not all that bad. It is bad, alright, but not cringeworthy, and we all realize that we won’t have our dear Lieutenant around much longer.

    Looking forward to hearing what our genial hosts have to say about “Murder with Too Many Notes”.

    • I suspect you’re kinder than we were!

    • I’m with you, Roberto. I thought this had a strong beginning and went steadily downhill to an incomprehensible finish. But not nearly as cringe-worthy as some of the other revivals. I mostly enjoyed it (weird musical interludes aside) til the ending. Enjoy might be a little strong: I peaceably went along with it. And thought it had its enjoyable moments.

      I’ve yet to listen to the cast for the gents’ take on it. Doesn’t sound like they were too pleased, though….

  • IanGent

    I know the answer to a question you asked!

    Antepenultimate is second from last and (drum roll)

    Preantepenultimate is the third from last.

    Not even making this up – and makes some sense if you think it as


  • Ian Baxter

    A pointless waste of an episode… Iain summed it up well as quite simply ‘sad’. I suggest you all cheer yourself up with googling a bit of Billy Connelly in better comedy form.

    • Largo

      Sorry, no can do at the moment, Ian. I’m far too busy watching Danger Mouse videos! 🙂

    • Good advice!

  • Red Hobbes

    I like Billy Connolly… That’s all the good I’ll say for this episode. There was so much potential for this to be solid at least, but nope… It just fell apart. The plot must’ve been, “Conductor kills protege with elevator for some reason, and Columbo catches him 90 minutes later.”

    The final episode was much better than this. No Time to Die was better than this. Commodore was better than this.

    Oh well. The podcast was great as always.

    • Ian Baxter

      I agree, the last show is better than this

      • Largo

        “The final episode was much better than this.” — Red Hobbes
        “I agree, the last show is better than this” — Ian Baxter

        Hmmmm. “Columbo Likes The Nightlife.” Mmmmm — Jennifer Sky! YES!!!!

    • No way was Commodore better than this. That’s an insult!

    • Largo

      Hey there, Red Hobbes!

      Gerry and Iain have a new podcast going now: The Jonathan Creek Podcast!
      Please listen in and then join them on their new discussion forum —

  • Matt

    So, here’s my theory about the “GABE-BECCA” madness. At some point in the episode, Crawford says he’s going to compose a piece in honor of Gabriel. My guess is that, somewhere in the development of the episode, he did indeed “compose” something, by lifting another piece that Gabriel wrote, beginning with GABEBECCA and conducted it publicly. This would be kind of evidence of Crawford’s music actually being written by Gabriel, which might possibly provide a motive. I’m guessing this was originally in the script, but was taken out, while leaving in the resulting “gotcha,” which becomes a complete non sequitir. Would still be a pretty weak gotcha, but at least it would be something, as opposed to the absolute nothing that exists now. Just my theory!

  • Largo

    Just to add to the show notes: the ma’am who said “Wham” is none other than Patrick McGoohan’s daughter, Anne. We saw Patrick’s other daughter, Catherine, in the previous Columbo episode, Ashes To Ashes. Here, Anne McGoohan plays an eyewitness named Marcia, who (along with her husband) is almost hit by Gabe’s body as it plummets to the ground.

    • She was pretty irritating.

      • Ian Baxter

        Everyone was pretty irritating in this one!

      • Largo

        But the whole bloomin’ episode was irritating, man! The script and the direction were craptastic here, so we all should place the blame on Anne McGoohan’s papa. 🙂

  • hungbunny

    So now you know why I was so down on Billy Connolly in my comments a few months ago. You’re quite right to flag up his dreadful conducting. I spent six long years studying classical music and the ten year olds at my school would have done a better job. Don’t get me wrong: Cassavetes wasn’t much better, but his acting chops made up for his cloth ears. The only chops Connolly possesses are made of pork and served with a Scottish salad! (French fries, for your American listeners.)

  • I think maybe some of us are guilty about becoming a bit too serious about this, an ‘occupational hazard’ with the level of review we’ve been giving all of these episodes. For me, this episode wasn’t a complete disaster, although admittedly there were a number of cringeworthy moments, but haven’t you noticed that there is always at least one every few episodes anyway… the ‘Name that tune’ segment was truly awful, as was the ‘Oh my darling Clementine’ one, although with the latter you can forgive Columbo as he’s literally being friendly. In general – and this is particularly noticeable when you listen to the audio segments in the podcast’, Connolly’s acting was far superior to the actor who played Gabriel. I honestly believe that Connelly is subject to ‘Cleopatra syndrome’ here, with his best moments arguably being on the cutting room floor, along with the best part of the script. With all that said, I would still watch this again and it should not be mentioned in the same breath as Commodore, unless it was a serious discussion of McGoohan’s directing skills, which at best are hit and miss.

    • Margaret Williams

      Picture if you will a very lonely man: alone in his thoughts and in his opinions. Picture if you will a man isolated from his fellow Columbo fans due to his contrary views, separated from them because of his wild and eccentric observations — his notions and ideas warped beyond all recognition. Submitted before you is a portrait of a man whose world perspective has been formed from the fabric of a nightmare. This man’s name is Kieran Wright … and he has been engulfed within one of the darkest regions of The Twilight Zone! 😉

  • Guys: check this out by Jeffrey Cava:

    • Largo

      What a superb tribute piece on Patrick McGoohan! Thank you so much for posting this link, Kieran. Be seeing you! 🙂