The Bye-Bye Sky High IQ Murder Case

Episode 39 – The Bye-Bye Sky High IQ Murder Case

The thirty eighth episode of Columbo was titled The Bye-Bye Sky High IQ Murder Case and was the final episode of the show’s short sixth season. On the brink of exposure for embezzlement, a genius uses his ability to plot the perfect murder. In this podcast Gerry and Iain look at a contest between two highly intelligent characters.



Although not sticking to a classic head-to-head format throughout, this episode is nevertheless dominated by Peter Falk’s Columbo and Theodore Bikel as Oliver Brandt, killer of Sorrell Booke‘s Bertie Hastings. Hastings has uncovered evidence of embezzlement by Brandt, but is unaware that Brandt knows all about his investigations. When the matter comes to a head Brandt shoots Hastings dead before executing a plan, which has been prepared with precision, in order to cover his tracks.


Brandt and Hastings are members of a MENSA-style high IQ organisation called the Sigma Society. Also attending the meeting on the night of Hastings’ murder are Jason Danziger (Basil Hoffman) and Caroline Treynor (Carol Jones), amongst others. Kenneth Mars plays a new member who is proud to be accepted into the society. Additional support comes from Samantha Eggar as Brandt’s two-dimensional wife Vivian, Howard McGillin as George Camponella – an employee loyal to Brandt – and Peter Lampert in an uncredited role as Alvin Metzler, Hastings’ secretary who later becomes the target of Brandt’s ire.


Jamie Lee Curtis makes one of her earliest television appearances as a disgruntled waitress who insists Columbo purchase a new donut if he is to eat on her restaurant’s premises. Curtis, of course, follows in the footsteps of her mother, Janet Leigh, who starred as the killer in Season Five’s Forgotten Lady.


Sam Wanamaker directs the first of his two Columbo episodes, working with a script by Robert M. Young. Young did not write for Columbo before or since and is probably better known for his screenplay for 1975’s Escape to Witch Mountain.


If you have thoughts on any aspect of The Bye-Bye Sky High IQ Murder Case, 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.


The Bye-Bye Sky High IQ Murder Case was released in 1977, six months after Old Fashioned Murder. It is 70 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 the show’s seasons released by Universal.


The Columbo Podcast Team

The Columbo Podcast Team

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

  • Johnny

    Pretty sure Susie is talking about self-help type activities and spiritual practices.

    Quick Google.,_You%27re_OK

    Now to unpause the podcast. Also don’t spoiler Gerry before the follow up TNG podcast.

    • Red Hobbes

      That’s how I took it. She was also hitting on Columbo pretty hard too, lol.

      • Arabian Knights

        A strange characterization. Why would a 20 something be interested in a rumpled, middle-aged cop? Agree about the self help, etc. That was all the rage in the 70s.

        • Red Hobbes

          Well, she did come across as not exactly sober, and the club seemed pretty dark.

    • Christopher Roberson

      The American podcast Just One More Thing did this episode a few months back, and I made a quick primer about all the things Susie mentions. Here’s a link:

  • Red Hobbes

    Like I said on Facebook, this is one of my favorite episodes, lots of subtext to infer as well as great performances.

    I think Columbo zeroed in on Brandt mainly because when a business partner is killed you immediately look at who benefits from the crime. I think he discounted the burglar because of the extra time that was unaccounted for, so that pointed him in the direction of people in the house, and when he found that the victim was also in business with his friend and co-member of the Society, that got Columbo on his trail.

    And btw, the Spenser books are my absolute favorite books, period. Robert B Parker was a genius and my favorite writer, glad to hear you enjoy his books too.

  • Arabian Knights

    It’s hard to get a handle on this episode. I have never really liked it much, mostly because of the slow, dragging delivery of Peter Falk’s lines. Perhaps he was having health issues, or perhaps the series was just written out. Some future episodes are still among my favourites when they stick to the formula. I exempt Murder Under Glass from this list, because Louis Jourdan just grates.

  • I haven’t listened to the podcast yet, but here are my thoughts on this episode which was so good I watched it twice:

    There is an obvious continuity error with Peter Falk’s hair in one particular scene. See if you can spot it.
    The interplay between Columbo and the 14-year whizkid when he compliments her make for particularly uncomfortable viewing. I’ll be flabbergasted if this isn’t mentioned in the podcast.

    Some nice tense moments such as the gun in the bin and good direction by Wanamaker make this a pleasurable episode.
    A bit of a nod to ‘Dagger of the Mind’ with the brolly.
    Bit of an unrealistic ending with Ollie effectively finishing off Columbo’s theory
    I don’t recall Ollie wiping his fingerprints off the gun, although maybe we’re meant to assume that he does.

    Despite its flaws it makes it into my top 10.

    • Arabian Knights

      Ah yes, the whizkid. I agree. At the time, the media really had no idea of how to present women’s issues. Hence the heavy handedness of trying to present her intellect along with her pubescent appearance.
      And I truly disliked Oliver’s cold wife. Good acting, though.
      I always enjoyed Bikel’s role as the Soviet submarine commander in “The Russians are Coming”. Alan Arkin was fantastic in his role as the second-in-command.

      • Red Hobbes

        I always figured an extra line or two could’ve made the whole exchange with the whizkid much less borderline creepy. Like Columbo mentioning he had a niece that was her age and was quite bright as well.
        I haven’t seen The Russians Are Coming, but I did like Bikel’s performance in the Defiant Ones, as the sheriff hunting for Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier. And his performance on TNG as Worf’s adopted father was very good too.

  • Roberto

    My pre-listening-to-the-podcast post:

    This is one of my favorite Columbo episodes. It has always baffled me that many Columbo fans do not like this episode, or are lukewarm at best to it.

    The story is very good (well-written for sure) and the acting generally superb too. There are few forced clues or plot holes regarding the murder and its detection. Ted Bikel does a great job showing the agony and depth of Oliver (remember his glee in setting up the murder). His interactions with Columbo are fun to watch including the introduction of Columbo in this episode. There was tension from the very start.

    Random observations. Columbo again creepy towards a teen-age girl. I really cannot comprehend why this is in so many episodes (or in one for that matter). Columbo not wearing his rumpled raincoat when it finally rains in dry southern California (ha ha). We get a poignant peek into Columbo when he gives his little speech about what it was like as a young policeman. Scene with Jamie Lee Curtis was well done and fun to watch.

    Whole thing with wife (Samantha Eggar) was strange and uncomfortable. I guess it was written this way to give Oliver motive for the embezzlement. Besides that it made Oliver more sympathetic as a villain which is not how Columbo usually works. Also that phone call in the final scene is silly, counterproductive and unnecessary.

    Switching umbrellas plays another crucial role here as in a previous episode that shall not be named. Danziger vs. Danzinger pronunciation debate part deux. Thunderclaps and music score are well done and build the suspense (however cheezy they may be). Comments about women’s lib seem ridiculous to us today and much of the scene with the receptionist was cringe-worthy. Columbo’s bad driving almost causes a car accident was a nice touch.

    Finally, of course, the gotcha was the greatest Columbo gotcha ever. Some fans don’t like the slow-pacing of the episode but even they must admit that the final scene was well-paced and highly-tense. The looks on Columbo’s and Oliver’s faces were priceless.

    All in all I find this episode very entertaining and one of the very best of the series. Looking forward to listening to the podcast to hear what Gerry and Iain think of the episode (and, of course, the other posters on this fabulous forum).

    P.S. Why did Oliver rig the record player to start in the middle of the album? I dunno understand.

  • Ian Baxter

    One of my favourite episodes, and the first I turned to after buying the box set (strongly recommended). Quite enjoy seeing Columbo less dependent on his entourage of useless sidekicks and reverting to a good old battle of IQ and wits. I particularly enjoy the comedy with the hapless Sigma Club members and the scene with the donut.

    Once more it marks out Columbo from the other detectives of his time and the many who have followed. Not only is Columbo the everyman amongst the rich and socially elite he is revealed as the clever hard grafter amongst the self absorbed intellectuals.

    I’m sure part of this episodes popularity is the way in which so many viewers can relate to Columbo, see themselves in his shoes. Next week is another favourite of mine!

    Enjoyed the podcast but can’t understand Gerry’s downgrading of this episode! It’s all subjective I know; but this is top ten material… I’ll put your crazy talk down to the muggy weather!

    • Maybe the mosquitoes have finally got to him. 😉

  • Roberto

    Just finished listening to Iain and Gerry. Another great podcast. You two definitely put out a great Columbo podcast.

    Random comments on the podcast:

    1. Sorry to hear that Gerry, who once considered this Columbo episode among his favorites, now rates this episode not as high and maybe outside of his top ten. My view is that no episode can be scrutinized to this degree and not come up wanting, especially from a perspective nearly forty years later. I still greatly enjoy this episode and consider it one of my favorites.

    2. Suzy’s list was of 1970’s self-help and self-realization methods she had tried, unsuccessfully, alas. Her final phrase about still being a target is uncomfortable to listen to and really makes no sense. Maybe put it down to the unenlightened times, I guess, and the fact that the story was written by a middle-aged man (a Scotch, no less).

    3. Like Iain, I too originally thought the gold sacks puzzle was unsolvable since Oliver did not make clear that the difference in weights between the real and fake gold pieces was known (clearly, if you don’t know this difference there is no way you can ever learn anything from only one weighing). However, I went back and re-watched that scene and Oliver says that the weight of the fake pieces can be “anything you want” (as Gerry says) and Columbo immediately says how about if the fake pieces weigh one pound and one ounce (compared to one pound for a real gold piece), and Oliver says “Splendid”.

    4. In a modern fan fiction novelization of this episode (like Star Trek fans did with TOS Star Trek episodes), I would expect Vivian Brandt to be having an affair with either George or Alvin. It would be interesting either way, especially if Oliver learns/knows about the affair.

    5. By the way, I think the first person (face) you see in this episode was none other than the ubiquitous Mike Lally playing chess at the Sigma Club.

    6. Kenneth Mars, who plays Mike the welder, was a gifted comedian. So I wish they had given him more to work with. I can only imagine what a comic routine he could have delivered as his introductory speech in front of the stuffy members like Hastings and Danziger.

    7. Why wasn’t Peter Lampert (Alvin Metzler) credited in this episode? He was in several scenes and had several lines of dialog. I thought the unions back then had rules about who had to be credited in shows like this. Can anyone confirm it really was Peter Lampert (IMDB website has been wrong before)?

    8. I will repeat here a comment I made in my initial post above. What was so critical about starting the record player in the middle of the Tchaikovsky record? Why did Oliver do it? Oliver should have picked some record that he knew that Bertie listened to and simply started it at the beginning so as to leave no clues, right? As I have said in previous episode threads, maybe I am missing something obvious. Anyone?

    (Maybe only by programming a track would the record player arm do its double move, but if so why not just shoot Bertie once and have only one squib go off?? If Oliver was worried about the time it would have taken to play an entire album, Bertie’s dead body being detected in the interim, he could have manually started the record in the middle, just as Bertie could have done.)

    9. As Gerry and Iain point out, season six only had three episodes of our beloved Columbo, with the last episode appearing almost six months after the penultimate episode. Does anyone know why? I think the NBC Mystery Movie was winding down at that point, but that does not explain a six-month absence of its leading show. My uneducated guess was that Falk may have been away doing one or more movies such as The Brink’s Job or those Neil Simon movies at the time. By the way, in order to get some information on this question, I looked up what NBC aired the following Sunday during this time slot. I won’t give it away but I suggest only those with a strong heart and stomach look it up (it is not another Columbo episode but there is definitely a Columbo tie-in)!

    • Ian Baxter

      Nice spot of Mike Lally playing chess

  • Peter

    I have to admit that I am in the minority here on this won. I thought it a mediocre episode. There were certainly some good scenes and Hitchcock suspense, such as with the gun in the garbage pale, some definite humor such as the donut scene, but I thought Oliver to be a somewhat obnoxious character and hated the interactions between him and Bertie. I would certainly not put this in the top 10.

  • Roberto

    Has anyone heard from Largo lately? Last I heard he was having a heated exchange with Margaret Williams who happened to have a gun and was willing to use it. Oh my.

    • He’s been about on twitter. No doubt we’ll hear from him next time he has something to say!

  • Having listened to the podcast – twice! – once while I was fully awake and the second time to help me get back to sleep (work that one out!), I felt that it was a good podcast – not quite in my top 10, as it wasn’t as peppered with wit as some of the best ones, however still a good standard.

    In terms of the episode, I can’t imagine anything to come will knock it off its top 10 spot for me, but I’m always up for being proved wrong. My two viewings of this episode were around 1 week ago, so I’m obviously looking forward to the next episode. My overall memory of this episode is positive though, with Peter Falk on absolute top form, both in terms of verbal and non-verbal acting. There’s no-one who quite does a look like Peter Falk – God rest his soul. Incidentally, I’m just getting to the end of a John Wayne biography in which Murder Inc. was mentioned in passing. Also numerous mentions of Harry Cohn, who immediately discounted Peter on meeting him, due to his having a prosthetic eye. It really is a fickle industry and Peter did incredibly well in playing it the way he did, because not only did he provide a superlative product, as well as a lasting legacy, but he also made enough for he and his family to ‘get by’.

    In case you were wondering, my top 5 are:

    1. Any Old Port in a Storm (aka the Moreno Brothers!!!)
    2. By Dawn’s Early Light
    3. Murder By The Book
    4. Etude In Black
    5. Now You See Him

    Largo, if you’re reading this, I’m sure you’ll be feeling mightily relieved that ‘Etude In Black’ has slipped down my rankings from its former number 1 spot. This is testament to the quality of some of the episodes that I’ve seen since that one and also a re-evaluation of ‘Murder By The Book’. Some may question how I could possibly feel that ‘By Dawn’s Early Light’ is superior to ‘Murder By The Book’. It literally just comes down to the story and the performances. For me they just edge out the ones in ‘Murder By the Book’, as good as they are. Again, testament to the acting skills and charisma of a certain Mr. Cassidy, he appears twice in my top 5. Even so, for me there is one and only one episode which can be classed as vintage and that’s ‘Any Old Port’, which impressed me to the point of me providing my own creative output. For something to capture one’s imagination so takes real talent and I could quite happily watch that one repeatedly.

    • Roberto

      Here is my current top 5 Columbo episodes (TOS), noting that my top 5 (top 10) is ever-changing:

      1. Now You See Him
      2. Bye-Bye Sky High IQ Murder Case
      3. Try And Catch Me
      4. Any Old Port In A Storm
      5. Murder By The Book

      One of these is coming up next on the Podcast. i fully realize that I like this episode far, far more than most Columbo fans. So I look forward to this week’s podcast episode by Gerry and Iain. And I am lining up my ammunition ahead of time in anticipation of excess criticality. 🙂

      • I don’t think you have to worry!

      • Interesting that we coincide with 3 episodes. Would be interested in seeing others’ top 5.

        • Ian Baxter

          1. Swansong
          2. Any Old Port in a Storm
          3. Try and Catch Me
          4. Bye Bye Sky High IQ
          5. Death Lends a Hand

          • Swansong? ‘I saw the light’ Swansong? Wow. Johnny Cash would approve.
            Pleased to see Any Old Port in there. Try and Catch Me is very good and would certainly make my top 10, as would BBSHIQ. DLAH is a very competent episode. We are spoilt really, in terms of choice!

          • Ian Baxter

            Swansong’s my wild card where I’m willing to overlook the shortcoming… I just enjoy it. As you say, we’re spoilt for choice.

            I’m wondering if I could come up with a top 5 for the podcasts… I’d be bias towards a couple where I get a mention!… but a surprise number 1 could well be Dagger of the Mind 🙂

    • Largo

      This is still my top five favorite Columbo episodes list:

      1. Identity Crisis
      2. Murder By The Book
      3. Death Lends A Hand
      4. Swan Song
      5. Now You See Him

      I do believe that my top five (as well as my top ten) favorite Columbo episodes has shifted around at least three times since I joined up here at the Columbo Podcast Forum. “The Bye-Bye Sky High I.Q. Murder Case” rests comfortably at the number six spot for now. But I would never consider dropping it out of my Top Ten Columbo episodes list. So, in other words, I strongly disagree with Gerry on this aspect. I’ll admit that I’m astounded at how Gerry nitpicked this episode to death in the podcast. Be that as it may, I would still like to share a pint with Gerry and discuss all aspects of Columbo until the cows came home.

      I love the gimmicky nature surrounding the actual crime (one of my favorite board games while growing up was Mouse Trap by IDEAL) in “The Bye-Bye Sky High I.Q. Murder Case” and the very strong motive behind it. Oliver Brandt has a trophy wife and he seems almost compulsively obsessed with keeping her satisfied despite the fact that he can no longer afford her extravagant material appetites. So he is forced to embezzle from his own clients. Oliver’s obsessive-compulsive behavior along his own arrogance blinds him to the fact that he could get caught by the authorities — let alone his very own business partner. And thus, Oliver Brandt’s downfall is assured — and then immediately guaranteed once Lieutenant Columbo arrives on the scene.

      The entire Largo Clan sat down to watch “The Bye-Bye Sky High I.Q. Murder Case” on Sunday evening, May 22, 1977. My whole family truly enjoyed this one and I also recall discussing this episode among some of my high school pals the very next day. We didn’t stand around a water cooler, but we did have a small conference room to chat in that was a part of our high school’s large library area. So I have very, very fond memories surrounding “The Bye-Bye Sky High I.Q. Murder Case” Columbo episode. And then Gerry had to go and rain on them in the podcast with his needless negativity. Oh, the humanity! But I forgive you, Gerry! To each his own, eh. 🙂

      But returning to my yesterdays in 1977: it was just three days after “The Bye-Bye Sky High I.Q. Murder Case” had premiered on the NBC television network that a profound event occurred, not only in my life but in millions of others that same year. For on May 25, Star Wars (1977) first opened in theaters, but only in around 40 different cities across America. I got to see Star Wars on opening night because one of those aforementioned cities was just 30 minutes away from my hometown. Unfortunately, the Columbo Mystery Movie series took a back seat for most of the rest of that year for me. But that was then and this is now — for Columbo is reigning supreme in my mature years and the Star Wars franchise is no longer that important to me. Be seeing you! 🙂

      • Ian Baxter

        Great to see Swan Song reaching No.4 🙂

  • I love the speech Columbo gives about why he had to work so hard to become a Lieutenant. And also Brandt’s response. There’s so little info about Columbo’s past, that I really savor that scene when I watch it. When I first saw it, I thought it would be interesting to see a “Young Columbo” TV show with him just starting out as a cop. Maybe showing him making mistakes, and honing his skills.

    One of the things Susie mentions is “EST”, which I have heard of.

    • Largo

      I concur, Ian Cognito! This speech that Columbo gives in this episode is worth repeating, too:

      Columbo: “You know, sir, it’s a funny thing. All my life I kept running into smart people. I don’t just mean smart like you and the people in this house. You know what I mean. In school, there were lots of smarter kids. And when I first joined the force, sir, they had some very clever people there. And I could tell right away that it wasn’t gonna be easy making detective as long as they were around. But I figured, if I worked harder than they did, put in more time, read the books, kept my eyes open, maybe I could make it happen. And I did. And I really love my work, sir.”

      Oliver Brandt: “I can tell you do.”

  • Harold Chattaway

    I love this episode if for nothing else Columbo’s speech on how he became a detective and the hard work he had to put in…. it really gave a great insight into his work ethic and background which we really never hear anything about…

    ” I figured, if I worked harder then they did, put in more time, read the books, kept my eyes open… I could make it happen, and I did… ohhh and I really love my work sir!”

  • Mike White

    Another fantastic episode. Really enjoyed your breakdown of it.

    Why had I never made that connection between Bernie Hastings also being Boss Hogg? My goodness, that’s a testament to what an actor Sorrell Booke must have been.

    In my mind, I had William Finley in this episode. I guess because he would have fit in so well at the club.

    I had never heard the term “Dutch Uncle” until Columbo mentions it.

    Keep up the great work, guys!

  • Milia Dick Ziegler

    Hi, everyone! I am a new listener and am enjoying this web site very much. I was surprised to hear the awesome accent of Mr. Gerry & Mr. Iain. Please forgive my un-worldliness, but are you guys Scottish? You sound so much like Robert Carlyle, one of my favorite actors, who is Scottish but has somewhat of a British accent in ABC’s Once Upon A Time, in which he plays Rumplestiltskin.

    Columbo is one of my all-time, very favorite shows. My sister put me on to it about 16 years ago when it was regularly on one of the cable channels. So I have to say that my very favorite episode is Étude in Black, the first one I saw (b/c my sister is an adoring fan of John Cassettes (-: ). However, I think that it would most likely be my favorite, anyway, despite the sentimentality. JC’s Maestro is just so fascinating to watch. He’s such a you-know-what (-; , but he’s funny at times, too. The whole storyline is just really enjoyable to me. I love pointing out to my kids that Blythe Danner is Gwyneth Paltrow’s mother. This is one of those episodes in which they had to add in some parts later to make it fit the 2 hour time span (I think that’s right). Many people complain that the padded scene of Columbo going to the Maestro’s house and asking him all of those “impertinent” questions (-; is obvious filler and ridiculous. I might have agreed when I first began watching Columbo, but now that I’ve been watching for so many years, I actually like a lot of the scenes I used to find unnecessary or boring (and that includes all of the episodes). I think the questions he asks are funny, plus JC’s reactions to them are amusing, as well. A side note, which many people probably have already noticed: JC’s hair is shorter since he was already doing another show when they had to film this extra scene. Some of the other scenes (from all of the episodes) which I used to find eh now seem more meaningful to me now in respect to what is being said. Maybe I just had to get older to appreciate the wisdom in them (-; .

    Two things I wanted to comment on: 1) I guess I’m in the minority, too, b/c this episode just isn’t that enjoyable for me. I can appreciate everything everyone has said regarding it, but it just doesn’t pack the emotional/fascinating punch that my favorite episodes do. I totally get what everyone is saying about how well Theodore Bickel played the role of the emotionally overwrought Oliver Brandt. But it just doesn’t have that “Wow” factor for me. It’s also a wee bit too confusing to me. I always have trouble following the gold coin riddle as well as how Oliver constructed his murder plan. Maybe I’m not smart enough (-: .

    The second thing I on which I wanted to comment is the Columbo-as-seeming-perv. type of guy. Maybe b/c I am so desperate to see things from long ago as more innocent

    than they are now in this cesspool of a world we live in, but I just never saw that scene from that point of view. Columbo is such an innocent, kind person that, in the words of a commentator on Youtube, he simply said what he thought the girl needed to hear. The public is MUCH more aware today of pedophilia b/c of the Internet, TV, and magazines. So, sadly, it makes sense that people watching today would be inclined to think that. But listen to his tone when he says it as well as her reaction. It’s simply an adult trying to be kind to a brainy kid to whom being pretty is a very nice change (especially a teenaged girl). And Columbo has always been known for his manners and tact, so to say otherwise is, I believe, to inject too much of today’s society into that scene.

    And if anyone is interested, my favorite episodes are:

    1) Étude in Black

    2) Now You See Him

    3) Candidate for Crime (I love Jackie Cooper – what an incredible man he was!)

    4) Murder by the Book

    However, the pilot episode, Prescription for Murder, is toe-to-toe with Étude in Black. I’m not counting it among my favorite episodes since it was the pilot (that way I get to list another one I really love (-; ). There are certainly other episodes that are more…intellectual, I guess…more meaty…but I just absolutely love the ones I listed (plus others) b/c they are always the ones I can watch again and again and still thoroughly enjoy them.

    I love how nice & respectful everyone is to each other on this site! You sure don’t see that every day, so I’m sure I will be coming back to listen to more episodes as much to converse, so to speak, with all of you (-: !

    • Hi Milia, we are definitely Scottish!

      Thanks for listening, glad you’re enjoying the show – I think your top 4 episodes would make many people’s list as well!!

    • Largo

      “The second thing I on which I wanted to comment is the Columbo-as-seeming-perv. type of guy. Maybe b/c I am so desperate to see things from long ago as more innocent than they are now in this cesspool of a world we live in, but I just never saw that scene from that point of view. Columbo is such an innocent, kind person that, in the words of a commentator on Youtube, he simply said what he thought the girl needed to hear. The public is MUCH more aware today of pedophilia b/c of the Internet, TV, and magazines. So, sadly, it makes sense that people watching today would be inclined to think that. But listen to his tone when he says it as well as her reaction. It’s simply an adult trying to be kind to a brainy kid to whom being pretty is a very nice change (especially a teenaged girl). And Columbo has always been known for his manners and tact, so to say otherwise is, I believe, to inject too much of today’s society into that scene.”

      Thank you so much for sharing your feelings about this particular scene, Milia. I completely agree with you and share your feelings on this: Columbo is the hero and despite his shabby appearance, he is very soft spoken and kind and has a gentle spirit. I’ve never viewed this particular scene or any of the similar type scenes involving children within the Columbo series through the fascistic-like lens of ultra- Political Correctness and I refuse to do so. Which reminds me of what Charlton Heston once said about our so-called ‘more enlightened’ and more modern PC culture: “Political Correctness is tyranny with manners.” I heartily agree here and I would also add that the PC mindset is rather soul-crushing.

      • Milia Dick Ziegler

        OK, now I’m really happy b/c YOU replied! To me, you’re something of a star b/c I see your comments and think, “This guy is really smart thoughtful!” 🙂 . So I feel extremely flattered that you took the time to respond to my comment. And to further my admiration of you, you mentioned one of my top three heroes, Charlton Heston (he is only bested by Fess Parker and St. John Paul II (-; ). I love that man!! I know that he passed away (I think it was 2007), but he will always remain someone who I greatly admire. He tells it like it is but is never crude or inconsiderate. He was a true gentleman, and I love him b/c of his values, strength in his convictions, and just plain old niceness Have you read his autobiography, In the Arena? It’s terrific! I actually found it difficult to put down b/c it was so interesting. Thank you so much for making my day (-: !

        • Largo

          Thank you so much for your kind words, Milia! But I’m not so sure that I’m smart — I’m more of a crazy cat than a smart guy. Thanks for that book recommendation, Milia. I’ll have to check out Heston’s autobiography sometime soon. Be seeing you!

  • CacacataCarta

    I think this hasn’t been previously mentioned: Theodore Bikel and Samantha Eggar starred in the same episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation — “Family.” Bikel played Lt. Worf’s (adoptive) father, and Eggar played Mary Picard, Captain Picard’s sister-in-law. Mary, in fact, is instrumental in reuniting Captain Picard with his brother and is described as being an excellent wife in the episode. I wonder whether the TNG casting director was a Columbo fan because s/he cast Eggar as a good spouse, perhaps to redeem her from being remembered only as Vivian Brandt.

    • That’s a great connection! Thanks!

    • David Robbins

      She is also in Star Trek Generations as Picard’s nexus’ wife.

  • Ian Baxter

    Great line from this episode… 🙂

  • Kevos

    This episode always reminds me of the Knight Rider episode ‘Chariot of Gold’ Theo Bikel plays an almost identical character. Check it out.

  • Daniel Hanrahan

    Here’s a goof:
    Columbo worked out that it would have taken 40 seconds from the time of the gunshots until they all got to the room, but in the actual show it only took 20 seconds (and there were no editing time jumps)

    • We’ve not really covered goofs on the podcast, but it’s always interesting when people notice them! Maybe this one falls under ‘magic of tv’!

  • Joel Shore

    I strongly agree with the theory that Columbo makes the umbrella switch on purpose and, in fact, that is the purpose of his visit. Besides the fact that he has no other real good reason to be there, there is also the fact that he has some excuse about his wife wanting to remove a stain from his overcoat as the reason why he is not wearing his overcoat (and hence needs the umbrella).

  • David Robbins

    Brandt’s wife also played Picard’s wife in Star Trek Generations when he is in the Nexus.

  • David Robbins

    Would a forensics team really miss an umbrella up the chimney? Somehow I doubt it.

  • Ryan Mages

    I love that there’s a Columbo podcast. My friend and I were tripping one night and we were exchanging columbo lines all night laughing our asses off. Ever since then I realized that there’s still a fan base for that wonderful show…even for younger people like myself. Oh…and one more thing…this is one of my favorite episodes. 😉 Tickle tickle.

  • Abigail

    I really like this episode, particularly the scene you focused on near the end where Columbo gives an insight into how he worked his way up, making you realise that he’s been underestimated his whole life.

    I have to say, it takes a bit of the shine off some of the episodes when you point out that Columbo’s detective work almost certainly wouldn’t lead to a guilty verdict in some cases. I prefer to imagine that all the perpetrators willingly relent and confess in the face of Columbo’s superior intellect… As unlikely as that may be!

  • Lawrence Bennie

    If I remember, I wasn’t too impressed with the episode the first time around. The plot / murder was over-elaborate to the point where it seemed like a parody. I’ve watched it a few times since. I like the episode and it’s become a bit of a fave, even though it’s not among the best of the series.

    The reason why it’s a fave for me is the extended finale / Act Three. It makes the episode. We have a stand-out scene between Columbo and Brandt; Columbo’s speech about his early days in the force is a wonderful moment in the series and Peter Falk simply shines here. The final confrontation is brilliantly played out and very effective; as I said, it just makes the story worthwhile.

    On the negative side, watching the episode today, I realised how quickly and easily Columbo suspects Brandt. Unless I wasn’t paying much attention, there wasn’t much in the way of clues and wit-battling between Columbo and the murderer. It’s as though Columbo meets him (which he would being the head of the club / friend of the victim) and before you know it, he’s called before Columbo for the pay-off.

    The other thing I picked up on is how Theodore Bikel’s villain becomes quite flustered and bumbling soon after he commits the crime. For someone so-super intelligent, he comes across as quite hapless. Despite this, I do like Bikel in the role.

    It is all about the ending; it really lifts the episode.

  • Jeffrey Morrissey

    Did Bikel contribute ideas to this episode? He was in Mensa and he was also an accomplished musician….

  • resedaman

    As a public school teacher in LA I would NEVER talk to a student the way Columbo does to the youg girl, however at that time I see it as Columbo trying to be fatherly and kind to the girl

    • Kathy Dreher

      I don’t understand the creepy factor some of the above fans see in that scene. Columbo just said she was a remarkably pretty girl, and his response to her “…for my body” remark, as he turned away, was a spot-on almost condescending smile.
      But I really only responded to say two things about teaching: you are all hidden heroes to me. I don’t know how you do it (after first grade, anyway) and I’m so glad people still want to teach kids.
      And I find it sad that teachers today can’t give a kid a hug. So many kids from bad home lives need one…

      • resedaman

        Thank you for the compliment that you can’t hug kids you can be kind to them in a way that will be meaningful without touching them