An Exercise in Fatality

Episode 24 – An Exercise in Fatality

The twenty-fourth episode of Columbo was titled An Exercise in Fatality and was the first episode of the show’s fourth season. A health and fitness entrepreneur kills to prevent his dodgy dealings being exposed. In this podcast Gerry and Iain look at the leads and deductions that leave Columbo convinced the death was no accident.

 

 

The killer in An Exercise in Fatality is Milo Janus, played by Robert Conrad – perhaps best known for his work on The Wild Wild West  in the late 1960s. Janus has franchised a chain of Health Spas bearing his name, but the contracts include requirements to purchase products and services from his other companies at inflated prices. This catches the attention of Gene Stafford – depicted by Philip Bruns – who threatens to bring Janus’ little empire crashing down around his ears, with predictable consequences.

 

Collin Wilcox as Stafford’s widow, Ruth, and Pat Harrington as Janus’ shady business associate Buddy Castle provide strong support to Peter Falk and Conrad, but the most expanded secondary role is Janus’ secretary Jessica Conroy, played by Gretchen Corbett, who is called on both to provide an alibi for Janus and to provide Columbo with the vital link that cracks the case.

 

Jude Farese as Health Spa janitor Al Murphy, Darrell Zwerling as forensic accountant Lewis Lacey and Victor Izay as a quick-witted medical examiner all play entertaining and important, if brief, roles.

 

Director Bernard Kowalski returned after helming the show’s second ever episode, Death Lends a Hand. Kowalski would go on to direct two more Columbo episodes. Writer Peter S. Fischer went back-to-back with another script here, based on a story by Larry Cohen.

 

If you have thoughts on any aspect of An Exercise in Fatality 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.

 

An Exercise in Fatality was released in 1974. It is 98 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

    I dare you to knock Robert Conrad’s performance in the Columbo Mystery Movie, “An Exercise In Fatality.” I double dare you, eh. Aw, heck — I’m now going to go for broke here and I’m going to triple-dog dare you to knock Robert Conrad’s performance as health and fitness guru, Milo Janus, in this Columbo episode! I personally feel that Robert Conrad is just plain awesome in this episode and that he makes a fascinating murderer and quite a formidable opponent for Lieutenant Columbo. Conrad is so perfectly cast as a health and fitness instructor as well as a shady business entrepreneur who’ll stop at nothing to acquire a massive fortune for himself. Robert Conrad’s Milo Janus is crafty, cunning and quite the charmer when he needs to be. But Janus’ slick and suave facade hides quite a ruthless operator underneath — one who doesn’t even hesitate to select murder as his weapon of choice to settle a business dispute.

    I think Robert Conrad is just plain cool. His aura of ‘coolness’ is similar to Robert Culp’s, except that Conrad presents himself in a more concise, compact and energetic form of ‘cool’ in most of his performances. Robert Conrad is probably best known for his character of James West from the classic television series, The Wild Wild West. The Wild Wild West was essentially, “James Bond in the wild American West,” for this was the mandate handed down from the CBS network to the series’ creator and executive producer, Michael Garrison (and thus, the James Bond Connection continues on within the Columbo Mystery Movies). What really impressed me as a child while watching The Wild Wild West was how well done the fight sequences were choreographed and produced. Even as a child I could tell that Conrad was doing all of his own fight scenes and just how well he kept himself in such fantastic shape to continue on in these particular stunt sequences throughout this series.

    So it was quite a pleasant surprise a few years later when the Columbo producers cast Robert Conrad as fitness tycoon, Milo Janus, in the fourth season premiere episode of Columbo. Conrad’s Milo Janus not only can keep up with all of the verbal sparring in the various interviews conducted by the little detective, but he also gets to utilize his physical prowess to attempt to literally wear the Lieutenant down to a frazzle in that jogging sequence. However, poor Columbo may be a bit winded, but his mind stays as sharp as ever after all is said and done. Columbo is even up to the physical challenge later on when he signs up for that free 30-day trial offer at one of Janus’ fitness centers (the very one that was formally run by the murder victim, Gene Stafford). Here he continues to badger Milo Janus with his questioning. But Conrad’s Milo Janus stays on course and does his very best to evade Columbo’s various verbal traps and so the ‘cat and mouse’ sequences between these two ‘tiny titans’ are quite a joy to watch. Robert Conrad is excellent not only in all of these particular scenes but throughout the entire episode. Milo Janus is a very, very dangerous foe for our homicide detective!

    As good an acting job as Robert Conrad’s Milo Janus truly is here in “An Exercise In Fatality,” the superlative acting performance quite easily goes to Collin Wilcox as Ruth Stafford. Collin Wilcox is probably best known for her role as Mayella Violet Ewell, the abused and neglected daughter of the racist monster Robert Ewell, in the film classic To Kill A Mockingbird (1962). Once again, Collin Wilcox is suffering from neglect — but here it is because of her husband abandoning her through divorce. I remember first watching this episode and thinking to myself, “Sheesh, doesn’t this woman ever catch a break?” as I witnessed Colin Wilcox creating yet another heart-wrenching performance.

    Ruth Stafford seems to be just drifting around in an alcoholic fog because she is still so numb and shellshocked about her husband leaving her behind. Then later, the full impact of her ex-husband’s death doesn’t hit her until after her confrontation with Milo Janus in the restaurant. This soon leads to her accidental self-abuse through the mixing of booze and pills and poor Mrs. Stafford ends up being hospitalized and medically rescued in the nick of time. Columbo rushes to her bedside to offer her his support and some words of comfort in a sweet scene that shows how much this detective cares. But Collin Wilcox does so much with so little in this role that one quickly forgets that they’re merely watching an actress when they suddenly find their heart reaching out to her Ruth Stafford character — at least this is the way I feel whenever I watch this episode. This isn’t just superb acting — this is a gift!

    This rather touching hospital scene between Ruth Stafford and the Lieutenant quickly leads to another type of sequence that shows another side of Columbo: just how tough and tenacious this detective can be when he openly confronts Janus. In a hospital scene reminiscent of the one in “A Stitch In Crime,” once again Columbo drops all the pretense as he places the entire blame for Ruth Stafford’s condition upon Milo Janus’ head. In addition to this, Columbo also accuses Janus of murdering Gene Stafford. Needless to say, a heated argument quickly ensues between the homicide detective and the murderer (humorously observed by three startled bystanders). As a viewer and a fan, it is here that I not only really despise Milo Janus and everything he stands for, but I also despise the horse that he rode in on! It is also here that I really want Columbo to drop the net on this lousy crook. This happens in a pretty solid (but flawed — more on this in a follow-up post) “Gotcha!” scene at the finale where Columbo confronts Milo Janus with his own sworn statement that is ultimately “gonna hang” Janus. All in all, a really great episode and a wonderful start to the fourth season of Columbo. Be seeing you!

    • Ian Baxter

      Good stuff Largo, completely agree about Conrad. Great pic of the two cowboys… both of them were particularly mean killers in Columbo. I’ve never seen The Wild Wild West, did they play heroes or villains in this series?

      • Largo

        Thanks, Ian! Robert Conrad and Ross Martin played the two main hero characters on The Wild Wild West (1965-69) for four seasons on the CBS television network. Conrad portrayed special government agent, James West, and Martin’s character was the master of disguise, Artemus Gordon, who was also West’s partner agent. This series was a lot of fun to watch when I was a kid, but many of the episodes were just pure cornball.

        The Wild Wild West was at its best when it had a bit of a Jules Verne vibe and some of the episodes you could even say were on the “steam punk” side of things. Along with it being “James Bond in the wild American West” it was sometimes just pure fantasy as well as having a strong science-fiction element. Unfortunately, The Wild Wild West was a victim of the fall-out from some idiotic Congressional hearings concerning violence on television and it was abruptly canceled despite still having solid ratings. So it’s a good thing that all four seasons of The Wild Wild West are available on DVD and I can watch it any ol’ time I want, eh!

        • Largo

          For those of you who might be unfamiliar with the classic series, The Wild Wild West, here is a Robert Conrad WWW tribute video I found on YouTube:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnmlBH0IiJ8

          • Ian Baxter

            Absolutely brilliant! And did I spot Mr Panghorn of Swansong fame? Thanks for sharing… on the Christmas list 🙂

          • Ian Baxter

            Just watched ‘The night of the Inferno’ The Wild Wild West Season 1 Episode 1, online. Very enjoyable, and quite a big Columbo guest stars connection: Robert Conrad, Ross Martin, Suzanne Pleshette, Nehemiah Persoff, James Gregory.

          • Largo

            Indeed! Yeah, that first season of The Wild Wild West was quite tumultuous: seven changes in producers! The series doesn’t really hit its stride until the last few episodes of the first season, starting with the Gene L. Coon (of Star Trek fame) produced “The Night Of The Burning Diamond.” But there are other top first season episodes, such as the two starring Michael Dunn as arch-nemesis Dr. Miguelito Loveless: “The Night The Wizard Shook The Earth” and “The Night Of The Murderous Spring.” One of my personal favorites is “The Night Of The Puppeteer,” which stars Lloyd Bochner as Zachariah Skull, a mad puppeteer who controls life-size steam-driven puppets. Lloyd Bochner portrayed Berozski in the Columbo episode, “The Most Dangerous Match.”

    • That is an unbelievably tenuous link to James Bond, Largo.Unless I misread your comment, the only connection is that the WWW was a kind of JB in the wild west, but there’s no direct link to JB, say like Cubby Broccoli. Also, you – my accuser – are now held guilty of the same crime, as you clearly have a man crush on Mr. Conrad. Touche, my friend. TOUCHE.

      I do agree with your evaluation of Collin’s performance in this. It was very good.

      • Largo

        Yes, yes — I fully admit to having a “man crush” on Robert Conrad! I also confess to having an even bigger “man crush” on Sean Connery, the completely awesome Scottish actor and producer! I am Largo and I am a flaming heterosexual who has the occasional “man crush,” but I am not ashamed! Having the occasional “man crush” is NOT a crime and is absolutely nothing to feel guilty about, Kieran! I’m okay and you’re okay! 😉

        [NOTE: Just like the previous Largo forum post on the “A Friend In Deed” discussion thread that Kieran Wright has made reference to, this current Largo forum post has been entirely sponsored by the all important 😉 wink emoticon: which means that the writer has just been having some fun. All of this must never be misconstrued as “umbrage.”]

        • Ian Baxter

          Touche indeed… Kieran and Largo you do brighten things up around here 😉

          By the way I’ve tried to take some inspiration from Conrad and see if I can impress the wife, thought it would be nice if she had a crush on me… I’ve been walking around with a battery on my shoulder for two days now saying ‘I dare you!’… it is not having the desired effect 🙁

        • Well said, Largo!

      • MLCBLOG

        Who needs a direct link in these things? I am good with the Bond idea.

    • CarlosMu

      I get the “I dare you” reference, nicely done Largo!

      Am I the only one who got it or is it so obvious no one bothered mentioning it?

      • Largo

        Thank you, Carlos! Yeah — I just had to open my review with that Eveready Batteries reference, since it’s such a 70s icon and it fits in so well with this particular Columbo episode. It’s great that you remember these commercials starring Robert Conrad. 🙂

    • No Half Measures

      Lots of random comments from me today regarding this episode:

      I definitely remember that Energizer commercial! Much better than the Energizer bunny one (-; .

      OK, is it just me, or does the pretty lady with the hat in the waiting room of the hospital remind you of Doris Day? I think that every time I see this episode.

      And, Largo, I always imagine you as that little old guy with a patch on his eye who is your avatar, but now I realize you must be much younger since you said that you were a child when you watched The Wild West, which was on in the mid-to-late 60s. PLEASE don’t think that I’m trying to get you to say how old you are, but now I’m left with no little person’s face to associate you with since you’re obviously MUCH younger )-: .

      That was very observant of you to notice the left-handedness of good ol’ Gene. They obviously could have used you in the making of this episode!

      Does anyone remember Robert Conrad as the cop in the movie “Jingle All The Way” who keeps running into Arnold Schwarzenegger? Man, he was cute even eleventy-kabillion years after An Exercise in Fatality (-; !

      I, too, really liked Collin Wilcox’s portrayal as Ruth Stafford. She seems so…real, down-to-earth, just plain nice. I wish she had had more scenes. I love it when she throws the drink in Conrad’s face after he totally comes on to her in the restaurant. He’s lucky she didn’t turn the table over on him (-; !

  • Largo

    During the finale scene in “An Exercise In Fatality,” the ‘Gotcha!” moment entirely depends upon the way Gene Stafford’s gym shoes are tied. However, this is based solely on the assumption that Gene Stafford is right-handed. So why did the director and the continuity person let this one slip by: the actor portraying Gene Stafford is actually left-handed! Gene Stafford favors his left hand when writing and when handling the coffee pot in this Columbo episode. Here is the documentary evidence:

    • This does seem a fairly elementary thing.

    • Ian Baxter

      This has always bugged me, so glad you pointed it out.

    • Gummo Marx

      That’s a pretty funny catch, well done Lego

      • Largo

        “Well done Lego” ??? As a matter of fact, Gummo, I actually collect Lego sets. It’s a very expensive hobby. Here is the latest Lego set that I’ve acquired:

        • Ian Baxter

          Big fan of Lego but I still prefers Columbo’s car…

          • Largo

            Ah, now isn’t that just too cute, eh? But I hear what you’re saying, Ian: if I were to actually obtain a real “Tumbler” Batmobile, I’d be way too tempted to start fighting crime with it. So for now, I’ll have to settle for fighting crime within the confines of whatever Lego scenarios my nephews come up with whenever they visit. 🙂

          • No Half Measures

            I can’t believe that!! That is SO cool!! You don’t happen to make and sell them on Etsy or ebay, do you? I would SO buy it (-: !!

          • Ian Baxter

            I wish I did, but no, just shared the image I found… very cool indeed 🙂

          • No Half Measures

            Thanks for letting me know! If you ever do find the creator of that, please let me know (-: !

          • No Half Measures

            Thanks! That IS good, isn’t it (-: ?! I love stuff like that!!

        • MLCBLOG

          You guys are so sharp. I am glad to have found your company. I am a woman named Lou. mlcblog

          • Largo

            Thanks, Lou! Glad you could stop by and join in on the fun, eh! Please feel free to chime in here on the forum as often as possible. 🙂

  • Largo

    To get the full ‘3D effect’ of the opening dare in my “An Exercise In Fatality” review, I’m posting this YouTube link to a classic commercial with Robert Conrad:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUSnEmgNvNM

    • MLCBLOG

      Thank you. It was formerly obscure.

  • Largo

    This is for all of the folks that were whining about the use of “I Saw The Light” in the Columbo episode, “Swan Song.” For a comeuppance, I present to you the ‘ball-peen hammer to skull’ inducing Milo Janus jingle from “An Exercise In Fatality.” Everybody sing now:

    Feelin’ flat, tired and fat,
    Milo Janus is where it’s at.
    Keepin’ trim, healthy and slim,
    With Milo Janus you’re in the swim.
    Your new life is waiting to begin at Milo Janus,
    Gettin’ shape will see you through thick and thin.
    Every–body!
    Start the day, shed pounds away,
    To star with your commonwealth,
    The only thing you have to gain is your health!

  • Johnny

    Also Iain’s use of adage was correct. I think.

  • Ian Baxter

    Season 4 and the standard stays high with an entertaining X-rated podcast! I’ve invited some of the gang from work round for a private viewing…

    I like most elements of ‘An Exercise in Fatality’, but mainly the tension between Milo and Columbo (and Largo rightly praises Conrad’s performance). For me it culminates in the scene in the hospital not the office, it is good to see Columbo show a bit of righteous anger. I’m afraid the final scene has always left me cold, a bit of an anti-climax, but not enough to ruin the episode.

    I disagree a bit with Gerry wanting Columbo to stand his ground and drag Milo to the station for questioning instead of running after him on the beach. It does frustrate me in so many detective dramas that the police turn up and people just talk over their shoulder while going about their work. If a detective called to my home or work they would have my undivided attention! However, for me Columbo is meant to be different. It’s about how our lieutenant allows the suspects to underestimate him. He’s not supposed to be tough guy cop beating a confession. It’s more about the battle of wits.

    Lots of fun with this one though. And here’s a wee Star Trek nod to those who wear the red tops…

  • Roberto

    Very good episode and very good podcast.

    My only quibble, shared by Gerry and Iain, is the ending. There is something not quite right about it. Maybe it is too rambling, maybe it is too ambiguous. As gotcha’s go, it leaves a little to be desired.

  • Peter

    I might be in minority but I like the “padded” scene only because the woman behind the desk played a condescending, impatient, patronizing brureaucrat so well. I tried finding who the actress was but was unable to.

    • Largo

      I absolutely love this particular sequences as well, Peter! This actress never fails to bring a smile to my face whenever I watch this episode and I totally agree with you: this woman is the perfect patronizing bureacrat. 🙂

      I would also like to remind everyone here at The Columbo Podcast Forum of Ian Baxter’s great observation about said “padding” in the Columbo episodes thus far:

      For me there is padding and there is padding… the filler in this episode I enjoy as it does attempt to add a bit of humour. By the time you guys get to around November, I promise you, you are going to experience the type of padding that gives you enough time to daydream about the great padding you once knew. They are not one and the same!

      Everyone please remember these very wise words, eh!

      • Peter

        I just wish I could identify the actress. Just love the way she cocks her head at home in total annoyance.

        • Largo

          I couldn’t agree more, Peter. Hopefully digger will come through for us and identify this wonderful character actress. 🙂

          • Susan Jacoby. See my comment above.

          • Peter

            When I researched her the one I found says born 1962?

          • Yes; according to discussion on other forums, they got her birth date wrong.

      • Ian Baxter

        Thank you Largo, I’m just going to pause and savour this moment 🙂

  • Peter

    On my way home from work tonight my wife coincidentally, while I was listening to podcast, called and asked me if I wanted Chinese food. In honor of Gene Stafford I said yes. Boy, could that guy eat. Can you imagine eating that much food?

    • Largo

      What an uncanny coincidence! Last night while writing my long-winded review for “An Exercise In Fatality,” I was eating some Chinese takeout. I had very generous helpings of orange chicken and black pepper pork along with fried rice and a vegetable egg roll — all for just $7.20! So come on, everybody: eat some Chinese food in honor of Gene Stafford, eh! 🙂

      • Peter

        I had ribs and pork fried rice, but I skipped getting murdered.

        • Largo

          Yes — this is the most important part when honoring Gene Stafford via a big Chinese food dinner: avoid getting killed by an enraged health and fitness instructor! 😉

          • Ian Baxter

            I’m on a diet… asked my wife about a Chinese takeaway… not a good response… I think she’d rather I was a bit more Milo Janus than Gene Stafford… including the money in an off shore account!

          • Arabian Knights

            I have never learned to tie my shoelaces properly and I am 68! Mom was too busy and no one else cared. I got by.
            Very glad my lace tying capability has never been called into question.

    • Interestingly I also had Chinese food last night. Spooky…or subliminal?!?

      • Ian Baxter

        Oh come on! Am I the only one who had salad!

  • Peter

    Did I miss you giving background on Gretchen Corbett? To me another 70’s icon, with her major role being on Rockford Files.

    • Largo

      Say it isn’t so, Gerry and Iain! The most adorable Gretchen Corbett as attorney, Beth Davenport, of The Rockford Files fame is most definitely a 70s icon, Peter. I really missed Gretchen when she left this series and was replaced by ….. Bo Hopkins as disbarred attorney, John Cooper — whaaaat! D:

    • I’m sure I remember Gerry talking about her…

    • Gummo Marx

      I’m hoping Gerry and Iaian do Rockford Files podcast after their done with Columbo.

      • Largo

        Please allow me to second that motion, Gummo. This is a tremendous idea, eh! But Gerry and Iain are probably going to have to take a year off before embarking on a Rockford Files podcasting endeavor. Producing these Columbo podcasts has to be exhausting work and there are a lot more episodes of Rockford for them to cover.

        • Way too much Columbo still to come for us to even be thinking about what happens afterwards!

          • Largo

            Well, shoot! I’m giving both of you guys a whole year to recuperate from all of the Columbo podcasting work. Are you telling all of us that you’ll both need another year of vacation, eh? 😉

  • Well, I have to admit that due to time constraints, I watched this in two halves. For me, this was a good and even enjoyable episode, but I completely concur with Iain and Gerry’s analysis in the podcast – which I listened to around 6am this morning – that Columbo traipsing after Janus was just plain ridiculous, or was it? Stick with me on this. How many times can you recall the good detective displaying his humility? ‘Pretty much every episode’, I hear you say. Correct. And this is where I disagree with the comments about the ‘obviously padded scene’, which I actually enjoyed. The reason I enjoyed it: Firstly, it supports my earlier comment about Columbo’s humility. He is respectful of the various roles that he relies on in his job. Secondly, I loved the range of facial expressions he displayed, which for me is a true test of any actor i.e. it’s not always about talking. You can almost read his mind. The interplay between him and the officious female character was very good. Thirdly, I enjoyed the humour around the cigar. As soon as he got in the lift, it crossed my mind that he’d forgotten the read-out sheet that he’d waited so long for, but then it turned out to be the cigar. I felt that this was intentional, but I wonder how many spotted the joke.

    Like Gerry and Iain though, I felt badly let down by the ending, which was just awful: arguably the weakest ending of any Columbo I’ve seen to date. This is regrettable, as the acting from everybody was strong, and but for the ending, this may well have made many people’s top 10.

  • digger01

    Great podcast again, guys. I agree with the consensus that this was a fun episode, albeit with a weak gotcha. The shoelace evidence was constructed from very tenuous logic.

    I guess I’m sort of forgiving when it comes to the gotchas in Columbo. The enjoyment is in watching Columbo work his methods, and in watching the suspects slowly implode. And in defense of the writers, it had to be incredibly difficult to imagine truly unique, amazing, and iron-clad smoking guns in every episode, while never re-treading over old ground.

    Continuing to enjoy the podcasts very much, Iain and Gerry.

    • Largo

      My sentiments exactly, digger. However, I guess I enjoy this episode’s ending a little more than most of the others here because of how well Peter Falk delivers that line about Janus’ own sworn statement that’s “gonna hang” him. I also love the look on Robert Conrad’s face when Falk delivers this same line.

  • CarlosMu

    Where did the secretary get the bikini? Did she bring it with her? Does Milo have a supply of bikinis at his home? Did he have one picked out for Ruth Stafford?

    • Largo

      Answers to your questions: 1) From her overnight bag; 2) Yes, it’s Gretchen Corbett and she always comes prepared — plus Jessica knew there was a swimming pool at Janus’ house; 3) Yes, Milo Janus is just the type of sexual Tyrannosaurus who would keep such a supply on hand; 4) Of course! 😉

    • Jenifesto

      Those were my exact thoughts! We missed a scene I guess where Janus tells her to pack a bathing suit!

  • Ian Baxter

    A nice wee (16 sec) reference to Columbo in a 70’s TV licence Advert. Found this the other day, thought I’d share it here for your enjoyment… I’m sure Gerry and Iain have paid all their bills… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tq7luWzbouo&feature=share&fb_ref=share

    • Scary stuff!

    • Largo

      As a free American citizen, all I have to say to this is, “Heavens to Murgatroyd!” 😉

  • Jenifesto

    I’m coming in days late on this one (it’s a holiday weekend in Canada, so forgive me!), but this episode just leaves me cold. There are so many good elements but I just find that the gotcha is so weak that it ruins it for me. I feel like a traitor saying that since I see this episode often listed among people’s favourites, but I don’t think I even understand, after multiple viewings, exactly what it is Columbo is getting at with Janus being the only person who knew he was in work out clothes. What am I missing!? Is their whole “conversation”on tape and that’s how he knows the guy didn’t mention he’d changed into his gym clothes? Because otherwise isn’t that the defence – he just told Janus over the phone that he had changed? WHAT am I missing??

    Conrad is excellent in this episode, and it’s good fun to watch an episode where Columbo outright doesn’t like the murderer.

    • Largo

      Milo Janus is the only witness who mentions that Gene Stafford was in his gym clothes. But Columbo can “prove” that Milo Janus faked that telephone call due to the following:

      1. Jessica’s statement on the time of the call and what line the call came in on and that Janus was alone in his office when the phone first rang.
      2. Columbo’s own observation that the second line’s light bulb was not functioning on Janus’ home phone located in the living room.
      3. The splice Columbo found on the original reel-to-reel recording tape recording of a call made to Milo Janus’ office by Gene Stafford.

      Columbo already found that Milo Janus’ alibi was bogus since the car dealership actually was closed at 9pm and not 8pm as Janus stated. So Milo Janus had plenty of time to murder Stafford, dress the victim in his gym clothes and then stage the accident scene in the gym before heading back home to the party. All of this “evidence” and the discrepancy between how Gene Stafford’s dress shoes and gym shoes were tied “proves” that Milo Janus is the only person who can be the murderer.

    • No Half Measures

      I totally hear you, Jenifesto (love the name, by the way (-; ) ! I had to watch this episode many times to even THINK that I had figured out what Columbo was getting at. I don’t know why it’s so confusing to us. Maybe it’s due to the fact that each clue doesn’t flow as easily from one to the next like they do in so many other Columbo episodes.

  • Steve Rasmussen

    Must be a generational thing, I was born in ’68 and would have said that Mr. Conrad was most famous for ‘Black Sheep Squadron’ with ‘Battle of the Network Stars’ and the Eveready commercial close behind.