Make Me a Perfect Murder

Episode 42 – Make Me a Perfect Murder

The forty first episode of Columbo was titled Make Me a Perfect Murder and was the third episode of the show’s seventh season. A television executive seeks revenge after she is betrayed by her lover. In this podcast Gerry and Iain look at an interesting episode with echoes of previous shows throughout.

 

 

Studio executives Kay Freestone (Trish Van Devere) and Mark McAndrews (Laurence Luckinbill) are involved in a secret relationship at the outset of this mystery, a pairing that Freestone believes comes with an implicit (or perhaps explicit) arrangement for each to support the other’s career. When McAndrews is promoted to the network’s New York office and refuses to either take Freestone along or to promote her into the post he is vacating, she interprets his behaviour as a betrayal and sets in motion a plot to kill him and escape suspicion.

 

James McEachin‘s Walter Mearhead is a projectionist, unwittingly recruited to support Freestone’s alibi, while Patrick O’Neal returns to the show, after featuring in Season One’s Blueprint for Murder, as network boss Frank Flanagan. There are other minor supporting roles, but the episode focuses heavily on Freestone and her ultimately futile efforts to escape Columbo’s suspicion.

 

Director James Frawley earlier helmed this season’s Try and Catch Me and would return for four future episodes. Writer Robert Blees made his only contribution to Columbo with this tale.

 

If you have thoughts on any aspect of Make Me a Perfect Murder, 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.

 

Make Me a Perfect Murder was released in 1978. It is 100 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.

  • Sorry guys, but I felt that this episode was a bit of a shocker. Granted, it started off well but then from the point at which Columbo started pressing those buttons and gazing adoringly at the waves, it seemed to go downhill. It was so bad, in fact, that I even started comparing it with ‘Last Salute…’.

    I may try and give it another chance, but for me it was somewhat of a yawnfest.

    Observations:
    I didn’t like the way that Bruce Kirkby was demoted to a TV repairman. Frankly I found that just ridiculousl as he has been established as a long term Columbo character (Sgt George Kramer).

    The main character was extremely unlikeable and so from that point of view it was good acting (unless she’s like that in real life of course).

    I would give this 5 out of 10 and will be very interested to see what Gerry and Iain have to say about it. In fact, I’m positively looking forward to a rant from Gerry, so don’t let me down, fella!

    • Arabian Knights

      I thought that Ms DeVere played her role quite well in her usual fashion. Life had made her hard-boiled, but she could have been nicer to her subordinates. You know the saying: be nice to those you meet on the way up, because you’ll meet them on the way down.
      The padding was quite annoying and unnecessary, but I usually fast forward past those instances, knowing them well. The script was rather disjointed, probably why that was the writer’s only effort in the series.

    • Can’t guarantee a rant. Been a few weeks since we recorded though, can’t quite remember!

    • Nelson Heyward

      Have to totally disagree its a great ep and definitely a top tenner, the only thing don’t like is and I agree with I & G Columbo pressing the buttons far too long the rest is quality and I totally disagree with I & G about the start I love it. It’s hilarious especially Yankee Doodle Dandy and the of scenes with the doctor give so much to the episode.

      Another great podcast guys loved it apart from opening scene comments.

      By the way what has happened to Largo? Has Santini made him disappear

      • Thanks Nelson. It seems this is an episode that splits opinions. I certainly didn’t expect it to be so controversial!

    • Agreed, on the Bruce Kirby thing. Makes no sense at all to take an established character and recast him that way. And I’ve always really liked him as the sergeant. Anyway, he won’t have a very long career (or life) as a repair man if he keeps working on live electronics like that.

      • I’m pretty sure there are guidelines about working inside a TV while it’s on!

  • Red Hobbes

    Yeah, I was never a big fan of this episode. Everything seemed… by the numbers I guess would be the best description. I put it down to no one of the guest cast making a great impression, which could be why Columbo’s end of the episode was so heavy on the humor.

    It was a hoot to see Luckinbill in the episode though. He indeed was in Star Trek 5: The Final Frontier, playing the half brother to Mr Spock. An aside about that movie was that Sean Connery was considered for that part.

    Aside from this, I’d put this in the bottom tier of Columbo episodes. It was just too boring and slow to be memorable, in my opinion. I’d put the Commodore episode ahead of it to be honest, because as poor as it was, it wasn’t boring.

    Still, another great podcast fellas! I’m looking forward to the Conspirators, it’s perhaps my favorite episode of the entire run.

    • Thanks Red. Recorded Conspirators recently. Hope you enjoy when it comes around!

  • Roberto

    Posting initially, as is my wont, before listening to Iain and Gerry. Make Me A Perfect Murder is a fairly memorable Columbo episode due entirely to Trish Van Devere’s performance. I am not saying that it is a very good episode or all that enjoyable to watch. Indeed it is surely in my bottom half of all Columbo episodes.

    The pacing is slow at times and the show definitely seems padded (I think it was a two-hour episode). The execution and detection of the murder are alright, but permit me to wonder. Why did Ms. Freestone think it was a good idea to kill MacAndrews* late at night in a locked office building with security guards monitoring anyone going in or out of the building (presumably with cameras in the lobby)? There had to be better places to knock him off.

    And what about getting rid of the gun? Was the best plan really to throw it up on the elevator ceiling and then leave it there for days? I will admit that it was a neat scene when Kay was struggling to eventually get the gun down from the elevator ceiling. Very tense and well acted.

    The musical score was quite dramatic (melodramatic?) at times and was one of the best parts of the episode.

    Supporting cast in this episode was fair-to-middling with the exception of the great Patrick O’Neal and that anonymous tv studio technician. Sybok was merely okay, not enough gravitas for what I think a tv network executive would have to have. Lainie Kazan sub-plot didn’t work for me and they could have done so many better things here. Hard Boiled Haggerty was an old timey professional wrestler from the 1950’s and 1960’s who appeared in a few tv shows in the 1970’s.

    Bruce Kirby left the police force and opened his own business, and it was nice to see that Columbo takes his tv to be fixed to Kirby so they can reminisce about the good times working together. And, Sgt. Burke really changed his appearance for, I am assuming, some top-secret undercover mission he is not at liberty to divulge.

    Anyway, looking forward to listening to Gerry & Iain’s podcast.

    * In reference books and IMDB his name is spelled “McAndrews” but I am almost positive that his name is spelled “MacAndrews” on his personal stationery shown in the episode.

    • Ian Baxter

      I agree that the music is one of the best parts

  • Peter

    Where’s Largo?

    • Ian Baxter

      Margaret shot him a couple of weeks ago… but I hope we get an ‘it was all a dream’ type return soon

  • Ian Baxter

    Just a brief comment… I thought this was so much better than last weeks, but I agree with you thoughts about it being too long.

    Er… by the way, Mrs B wants Iain to give Gerry a break, as Gerry is her favourite! (sorry Iain)

  • digger01

    This is a pretty quirky episode, with some elements that are classic Columbo being encumbered by a not-so-tight script.

    I think Trish Van Devere is an effective villain. She has a strange, detached quality… an aloofness that lends itself to her portrayal of a self-absorbed amoral ladder-climber.

    The sub-plot with Valerie, the singing/dancing variety show performer (was she supposed to be a thinly-veiled Liza Minelli, a notoriously unreliable performer in the ’70s due to her admitted drug abuse?) was kind of a dud and seemed only to apply brakes to the story.

    I thought there were some decent clues, with the car model numbers and the dry cleaning delivery to the beach house. It’s fun to watch Columbo nip at his suspects with these things as they slowly implode.

    All in all, it’s not a favorite of mine but it has enough entertaining elements to make it enjoyable. It might have cracked along pretty well if they had made it a 74-minute episode.

    Cheers to all!

    • Thanks digger. Always good to hear from you.

    • I thought of Liza Minnelli, too, with Valerie. And I agree, that whole subplot felt like padding.

  • Great podcast, guys. As informative and witty as ever.

  • Huh. That article on George C. Scott and Trish Van Devere is a fascinating look into both actors; nice spot.

    Also really enjoyed the article on O’Neal. Imagine being sued by a beer maker for acknowledging you’re an alcoholic. Ridiculous. Only in America. Between our politicians and our lawsuits, I never know whether to laugh or cry.

    And what’s this? James McEachin’s link mentioned a short lived TV show, Tenafly, which I’d never heard of. Turns out it was another Levinson and Link creation, and part of the Mystery Movie lineup to boot. That would be an interesting one to see.

    As for this week’s Columbo episode, it’s another fairly mediocre one for me. I liked Van Devere’s performance, which is to say I really disliked her character. Like Ransom for a Dead Man’s Lee Grant, I think she had to be a pretty good actor to come across as so unlikable, here. She played a great psychopath, and I thought she played her character’s unraveling, as the story progressed, really well. But the overall feel for the episode was just middle tier for me.

    Now you guys have got me thinking in terms of tiers for these episodes. Maybe I’ll actually end up with a top ten of my own, before this is all over.

    That silliness with the buttons and weird graphics and music playing from monitors that wouldn’t actually do anything like that–they were TV monitors, for crying out loud. That was way too much for me. It took me out of the story, it was so ridiculous. It’s heading into some of the weirdness of a few of the 90s episodes. Anyone remember Columbo magically turning into a ringmaster? Ugh.

    • Ian Baxter

      The ringmaster! *groan*

    • Is that a future episode? If so, sorry, I have no idea!!!

      • Is this Gerry or Iain having no idea? Any chance you guys might separate your comment team into individuals? That way we’d know who we were talking to. 🙂

        • It’s almost always me. Gerry usually identifies himself if he’s replying. Usually!

          • Ah. Well, Iain. I’ll say no more about the ringmaster. You can be pleasantly surprised when he makes his grand appearance….

          • But I (Gerry) read all comments. Iain is just faster with his fingers.

      • Largo

        Iain — it’s just the director having a rather gratuitous, Fellini-like flourish to end this particular episode (which I call “Painfully Spielberg”).

  • By the way, Gerry and Iain, I’ve tried a few other podcasts on various subjects and am realizing what a treasure you two are producing, here.

    I’ve come across podcasts out there with interesting subjects, but one or two listens to them and I’m unsubscribing. I’ve run across some presenters who are overly self absorbed and really just pod casting for themselves, and others who are so intent on putting on a show they’ve gone overboard and all the sound byes, etc. eclipse the conversation they’re trying to have.

    But you guys are doing it just right. So, kudos to you.

    And I have found a couple of other good pod casts I am keeping on my phone, so that’s good. But there are a lot more people out there doing it wrong than are doing it right, so you guys are pleasantly in the minority. Well done.

    • Thanks Salty, we appreciate the support and the feedback. There’d be no point making the show if people weren’t listening!

  • You guys just don’t get it, do you? Is your reading comprehension that shockingly limited? Largo is dead! I shot him and he’s dead! But knowing how all of you are such huge Star Trek fans (snicker-snicker), I’ll just leave you with the Chief Medical Officer of the USS Enterprise and his prognosis:

    • Margaret, I can’t help pointing out that, when a full colon is used, grammatical speaking it should always be followed by further text. I shall be corresponding with your tutors in Switzerland to clarify this point (sic).

      • Ian Baxter

        Well I think we know who Margaret is going to bump off next 🙂

        • LOL

        • Margaret Williams

          “Bump off” ??? I didn’t bump off anybody. It was all just a terrible accident and that was also the coroner’s verdict at the conclusion of the inquest. Didn’t you get the memo, Ian?

          However, I do have a beef against Gerry and Iain. They both took a powder when it came time for that cage match I had set up weeks ago. I was so looking forward to giving them a good pounding for all of those nasty things that they’ve said about me! But Gerry and Iain were ‘no-shows’ for this event. Cowards!!!

          • Game’s up, Largo. Come on, may as well get it over with and fess up.

          • Margaret Williams

            My, my, Kieran! You are one confused little boy. I do believe that you need to talk things over with my therapist. Dr. M. Chair is just dying to rap with you and to knock some sense into your noggin. Well, I need to dash off now. Toodles!

      • Margaret Williams

        Kieran — do you see that dialogue bubble by Dr. McCoy’s head? It contains the “further text” that you mentioned in your post. I just thought I’d give you a heads up. Ta ta for now!

  • Roberto

    Okay, now we have something! In addition to the great Columbo podcast that Iain and Gerry produce (and if I haven’t said how much I love the podcasts lately, then shame on me), we get theater of the absurd performances in the show’s forum for its listeners to perform and witness.

    Oh, great fun. And a “He’s dead Jim” trope! I can hardly contain myself.

    • I guess there’s an audience for almost everything!

      • Margaret Williams

        Right — like for your incredibly tedious podcasts, for instance. How and why there’s any kind of an audience for these is rather hard to fathom.

        • Rather suspect that’s a niche view around here, Margaret!

          • Margaret Williams

            I strongly suspect that your response here is a call to arms for you and your pals to dog-pile on this poor schoolgirl once again. You big bully! I have a mind to head over to your studio and open up a can of whoop@ss on you!

          • resedaman

            I love the podcasts

          • Margaret Williams

            My apologies, resedaman. Please ignore these early caustic comments of mine on this forum. I was still suffering from the neurological side effects caused by a rather rough journey through a trans-dimensional vortex. Once my mental trauma was stabilized and I fully adjusted to this space-time dimension, I quickly began to contribute constructively on this CPF website. I sure hope that you enjoy the Columbo episode reviews that I wrote on the later discussin threads. Toodles! 🙂

          • resedaman

            No harm done

  • Largo

    I have returned so everyone can sit back and relax now — please. I would also like to take this opportunity to apologize to everyone here for my ward’s poor forum etiquette recently. Margaret has been through quite a lot of late and really hasn’t been herself for several weeks now. But Margaret is getting some professional help and is in very good and caring hands as I write this. I’ve also had the administrators at her private school take away her internet privileges pending further review. So there won’t be any more rude outbursts from her on the Columbo Podcast Forum.

    I’m sure quite a few of you have been wondering what in the Sam Hill has been going on at the Largo homestead these past few weeks and just why I’ve been absent from this forum. Well, I can’t really explain these things in very much detail due to the fact that almost all of it is on a ‘need to know’ basis. Suffice it to say that I’ve been involved in some real hush-hush type government work. In other words, I’m a major part of some deep cover operations and projects in the middle of “Dreamland” Nevada — popularly known as Area 51. But first let me address this nasty little business concerning my “murder” at the hands of Margaret Williams.

    Needless to say, the reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated and I am very much alive — thank God! Margaret didn’t kill anybody …. well, anybody truly human, that is. Margaret actually shot one of my Life Model Decoys or LMD for short. An LMD is an extremely advanced android or artificial person. Unfortunately, I had to leave one of my LMDs “in charge” within my home while Margaret was finishing her Summer break from her private school. It was a quick solution to a problem that suddenly arose when my government called and I had to be secretly whisked away to Area 51 on such short notice. The last thing I expected to happen while I was gone was for Margaret to fill my LMD full of hot lead. What a mess that left!

    However, I’m still out here in Nevada, but I’m currently on a short vacation from the Area 51 projects and am now residing in the very luxurious Las Vegas Bellagio Hotel in one of their deluxe suites. Since my government has been so generous toward me here, I’ve been feeling a lot like James Bond — so naturally I’ve been living the high life while enjoying some gambling at the Baccarat tables out here in Vegas. I’ll chime in whenever I can, courtesy of the Bellagio’s free Wi-Fi. But right now, I need to get back to the Baccarat tables and rescue some Hong Kong multi-billionaires from their money! Be seeing you!

    P.S. — My alternate title for the current Columbo episode is “Why NBC Really Dislikes Network Programmers Of The Female Persuasion.” Oh, and just one more thing before I go: there has NEVER been a broadcast network premiere movie that has sported those ugly reel change marks. What a stupid blunder — but not too surprising since it is found within a rather craptastic episode. ‘Nuff said!

    • Roberto

      Largo wrote: P.P.S. — Oh, and just one more thing before I go: “Make Me A Perfect Murder” was actually the last Columbo episode to air (May 14, 1978) on the NBC Network during the seventh season. “The Conspirators” was the third Columbo Mystery Movie to air in this same season and it premiered on February 26, 1978.

      That does not jibe with my memory. I remember the Conspirators being the last NBC Columbo episode to air.

      Maybe I am misunderstanding Largo’s post.

      • Netflix and IMDB agree with you, Roberto. Though I have heard MMaPM referred to as the last episode somewhere else. A mystery!

        • Largo

          Netflix and the IMDB are both incorrect. In fact, IMDB lists all the seventh season air dates wrong: Columbo aired on Sundays and all the dates IMDB lists are for Saturdays. Please check the IMDB trivia section for “The Conspirators.” This jibes with my actual memory, as well as my little brother’s. When I first received my 7th season Columbo DVD box set years ago, I was rather perplexed about this incorrect episode order on these discs.

          • Nelson Heyward

            I’d heard on another Columbo pod that How to Dial a Murder was the last of the original run hmm confused ?

      • Largo

        Let there be no misunderstanding: Largo is always right! 😉

        This is a definite conundrum, eh. Perhaps there was a weird space-time distortion in my television viewing area back in 1978. D-:

        • Roberto

          I lived in the Milwaukee area at the time and watched Columbo on channel 4 (WTMJ) the local NBC affiliate.

          Being curious, I have just searched the Milwaukee Sentinel newspaper archive (the local newspaper) to see what they had listed regarding Columbo episodes.

          On Saturday February 25, 1978 (sic), the Sentinel TV listings for 8:00-10:00 pm on channel 4 show Columbo: Make Me A Perfect Murder (with a short description of the episode).

          In addition, on the very same page of the newspaper is a pretty large ad for Columbo: Make Me A Perfect Murder which NBC or the local TV station paid for — “Tonight at 8:00 TV exec X-ed — Columbo discovers television isn’t all fun and games when he looks into the death of a network executive.” And a decent picture of Columbo and Kay Freestone is shown with the caption “Columbo Movie!”

          So I am pretty sure I watched Make Me A Perfect Murder on Saturday night February 25, 1978.

          When I searched for The Conspirators episode in the Milwaukee Sentinel archives around May 13 or May 14, 1978 I could not find it. Channel 4 was broadcasting a Milwaukee Brewers baseball game on Saturday night May 13 (which could have “preempted” Columbo locally).

          I will continue to search through the Milwaukee Sentinel archives looking for when The Conspirators Columbo episode originally aired locally and will post anything I find.

          • Ian Baxter

            Good bit of detective work Roberto

          • Largo

            Indeed! 🙂

          • Largo

            Tonight on the NBC Television Network: “Make Me A Perfect Columbo Mystery Movie Episode Guide,” starring Roberto!

          • Outstanding research!!

        • Roberto

          Continuing my search. I looked at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newspaper archives for the Pittsburgh tv listings at the time. The NBC affiliate station was channel 11 (WIIC, I think).

          On Saturday February 25, 1978 from 9:00-11:00 pm Channel 11 aired Columbo: Make Me A Perfect Murder.

          On Saturday May 13, 1978 from 9:00-11:00 pm Channel 11 aired Columbo: The Conspirators.

          (For whatever reason, I am having difficulty finding the original air date of Columbo: How To Dial A Murder in these local tv listings.)

          • Largo

            Roberto —
            So what exactly was NBC airing on Sunday nights from 8:00 to 11:00 and what ever became of the NBC Sunday Mystery Movie rotation? This old man ……… would really like to know, eh. 🙂

          • Roberto

            As I am sure most of us are well aware, the NBC Sunday Mystery Movie died a sad and lonely death in the spring of 1977. It had a glorious run for the most part featuring our beloved Lieutenant Columbo who would live on in different incarnations for years to come.

            The following fall (the 1977-1978 TV season) NBC didn’t really know what to do with Sunday night. Of course, it still had The Wonderful World of Disney as a lead-in (7-8 pm East and West coast) but at least partially due to a recent FCC ruling, Disney was pitted head-to-head against CBS’s 60 Minutes juggernaut. Disney’s decline continued and was soon off of NBC.

            NBC aired a new show called “Project UFO” (created and produced by Jack Webb) Sunday nights from 8-9 pm. Truthfully, it wasn’t horrible but it wasn’t very good either. Some overly-generous TV historians have called the show a forerunner to The X-Files, which in some ways I guess it was.

            From 9-11 pm, NBC programmers labeled their fares under the umbrella “The Big Event”. They didn’t want it to be obvious that there were throwing a whole bunch of disparate programs into that critical time slot so they came up with this snazzy marketing term (that never caught on).

            Since I have the Pittsburgh Gazette newspaper archives at my fingertips, I thought I would list what NBC broadcast on Sunday nights from February 26 – May 14, 1978. It is hard to summarize or do justice to what they aired, so here goes.

            February 26, 1978: 9-11 pm “Loose Change” the first of three 2-hour TV mini-series episodes which trace three women who met at Berkeley in the 1960s. Based upon a best-seller by Sara Davidson. Cast included our friend Theodore Bikel.

            March 5, 1978: 8-9:30 pm “TV: The Fabuous 50’s”. 9:30-11 pm “The National Love, Sex, and Marriage Test”.

            March 12, 1978: 9-11 pm “When Every Day was the Fourth of July”. TV movie starring Dean Jones. Cast includes the lovely Louise Sorel and the hard-boiled HB Haggerty.

            March 19, 1978: 9-11 pm “Police Story”. Very good anthology show created by Joseph Wambaugh. (This was the show’s last season.)

            March 26, 1978: 9-10 pm “Tribute to Milton Berle”. 10-11 pm “Hollywood Outtakes”.

            April 2, 1978: 9-11 pm “Love’s Dark Ride”. TV movie starring Jane Seymour.

            April 9, 1978: 9-11 pm “A Family Upside Down”. TV movie starring Fred Astaire and Helen Hayes.

            April 16, 1978: 8-11 pm. “Holocaust”. First of four episodes (total was 9-1/2 hours) of historic TV mini-series. Ensemble cast included Meryl Streep.

            April 23, 1978: 9-11 pm “Moneychangers”. TV mini-series based upon the novel by Arthur Hailey. Ensemble cast included Kirk Douglas, Anne Baxter, Joan Collins, Robert Loggia, and Patrick O’Neil.

            April 30, 1978: 9-11 pm “Police Story”.

            May 7, 1978: 9-11 pm “Wheels”. TV mini-series starring Rock Hudson.

            May 14, 1978 9-11 pm “Wheels”. TV mini-series starring Rock Hudson.

            These few shows reflect the good, the bad, and the ugly of what was network TV in the 1970s.

          • Largo

            Thank you, thank you, thank you, Roberto! It’s all coming back to me now. So I guess I won’t have to change my medication after all, eh! You are truly a great detective and archivist extraordinaire, Roberto! You rock!!! 🙂

          • Roberto

            I finally tracked down the airing of Columbo episode “How To Dial A Murder”. In none of the previous newspaper archives I searched could I find this darned episode (most of the April 1978 newspapers were not archived by these newspapers for some strange reason — surely some sort of evil conspiracy).

            Well, the good folks at the Pittsburgh Gazette did archive the majority of their April 1978 newspapers and made them available free of charge over the interwebs. I can even access the desired April 15, 1978 edition of their wonderful newspaper. Their fantastic TV listings for that Saturday night show that Columbo was airing from 9:30-11 pm on the local NBC affiliate. But that is all they showed. No name of the episode, no episode description, no ad on the page, no nothing. It is conceivable that this episode could have been a rerun.

            Not to be unduly discouraged, I expanded my search to other newspapers archived and freely available via the internet. Well, the really good folks at the St. Petersburg Times came through like champs.

            In their TV listings for Saturday April 15, 1978 it shows that there is an NBC Saturday Night Movie airing from 9:30-11 pm called “How To Dial A Murder” on their local NBC affiliate channel 8 WFLA. Is it Columbo or maybe McCloud? They refuse to say!

            But wait, there is more. Below the listings is a box for “Movies Today”. And in that glorious box is the following “9:30 pm, Ch. 8: “How To Dial A Murder.” In a new 90-minute episode, Lt. Columbo (Peter Falk) goes into his usual cat ‘n mouse act with a suave psychologist, Dr. Mason, played by guest Nicol Williamson. You might remember him as Sherlock Holmes in the movie “The Seven Percent Solution”. The slick doctor employed a pair of Doberman pinschers to rid himself of his supposed best friend.”

            Oh joy and rapture. But wait, dear sir, there is even more more. Next to the movies box, underneath the listings, is a picture of Columbo and Dr. Mason! The picture is captioned “Peter Falk (left), as Lt. Columbo, matches wits with a behavioral psychologist (Nicol Williamson) who has conceived an unusual plan to slay his colleague in ‘How To Dial A Murder’ at 9:30 pm on Ch. 8.”

            I think that clinches it. How To Dial A Murder did indeed originally air on Saturday April 15, 1978 (not on April 5, 1978 as per IMDB).

            I need a drink.

          • Largo

            Just to reiterate — Roberto, you rock! Tonight the drinks are on Largo! Thank you so much again for tracking all of this Columbo episode air date information down to a very fine point. Now let’s contact the IMDB and tell them that their Columbo episode guide is full of it! 🙂

          • This is really first-rate work. Thanks Roberto!

  • CallMeSu

    It baffles me that so many are referring to Kay as a “self-absorbed, ladder climber”. I think that this is the mentality that women in high corporate positions have had to fight in perpetuity. A woman at the top is never assumed to have gotten there by her professional merits alone. She must have either viciously scratched and clawed her way to the top or she must have earned it on her back.

    During the podcast it was suggested that had Kay gotten the position she would have done the same thing as the victim and left her lover in the dust. I firmly disagree. There was no indication that this is the case. If anyone was using anyone I think its firmly established that it was the victim who was using Kay. When Kay gives her little speech as she prepares to leave she uses language that indicates to me that she viewed their relationship as a “team” a “super corporate couple”. She says “we” built to this point. “We” earned this promotion. I’m more likely to think that he told her what she wanted to hear, knowing that at the first opportunity he was going to bail on her. Like so many other women who have helped their men get to where they want to be and then they’re traded in for the latest model when their men reach the top or they are left behind al together as HE climbs the ladder. Kay’s loss is two-fold, she lost a lover and her professional relationship was impacted. She thought she was working towards something with someone who believed in her and that is why she was so disappointed and offended, because she thought he respected her both personally and professionally; when all they time she was just a good lay to him. He obviously didn’t view her as an equal.

    Here’s another thing I don’t understand…the victim claimed that Kay was the best as what she does. He says she’s the absolute best! So how does one become the best at what they do by making guesses?That’s bullshit.

    When I see Kay I think about all the women who have stood by and worked and watched kids and waited, kept house, cooked meals, for their men to better themselves, to get degrees, to break into an industry, and then when they do, when they finally make it, that woman is expediently discarded. I think if it happened to me I’d be mad enough to kill as well!

    • I reckon this is a very valid interpretation. Kay certainly wasn’t valued in her relationship at all.

  • Jasperoo

    Just re-watched this last night after a few years and was surprised at the number of contrived moments in the plot:
    (1) Columbo finding the discarded glove left in plain sight on the floor of the projection room Walter supposedly keeps so neat and tidy;
    (2) ditto the fragment of glass in Mark’s beach-house, (and how was that a clue to the crime and who committed it? It was just a piece of glass. It was only a clue because of the viewer’s knowledge of the story);
    (3) how did Columbo know Kay would just happen to glance up and see the gun on the elevator, then desperately try to retrieve it? Any murderer could have discarded the weapon in the building.

    There was also too much padding with the ‘playing with buttons’ scene and the Valerie Kirk sub-plot, which could have been told rather than shown. (Is Kay bisexual/closet lesbian, or am I seeing too much here?)

    I thought Trish Van Devere was good as the tough-nut who has scrabbled her way almost to the top, but lacks that final polish to play with the big boys. Patrick O’Neal’s featured role was very good, showing how a top exec should really act and behave. The scene where he verbally crushes Kay in the limo almost makes embarrassed for her. A lot of her lines seem to have been looped/post-sync’d?

    • With regards to #3, I think I can understand – he knew she’d left the gun in that vicinity and hadn’t been able to retrieve it. It stands to reason she’d glance up there, unless she was unnaturally relaxed about the weapon still being there!

      • Jasperoo

        Yes, that makes sense: a nervous glance to where she threw the gun, then the awful realisation it could be seen. Thanks for replying.

  • Largo

    Before I rip this Columbo Mystery Movie episode a new one, let me make it perfectly clear that I don’t hold anything against its cast, especially the very lovely Trish Van Devere. I first saw Trish in a wonderful made-for-television production of Beauty And The Beast in which she costarred with her husband, George C. Scott. This television film originally aired in 1976 as a Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation and I absolutely loved it. Four years later, I saw Trish and her husband George both starring in the spooky movie The Changeling (1979) in the Spring of 1980. I felt that Trish Van Devere was great in this production as well. So it’s really a shame that she was given such a craptastic script for her appearance as Kay Freestone in the Columbo episode, Make Me A Perfect Murder. This particular Columbo Mystery Movie is truly beneath Trish Van Devere and her superb acting talent. ’Tis a pity!

    Who exactly is Kay Freestone and what exactly is her job? Make Me A Perfect Murder first presents us with a Kay Freestone who is acting like a television producer. But when Kay begins to sweet talk the actual film producer and his dubbing crew about what she wants done on this made-for-television film, The Professional, it appears that she’s some type of network executive that is meddling with this film’s production crew. It seems Kay gets her way by massaging men both verbally and physically: “How’s that for a massage?” — indeed! But later on, we learn that Kay is simply an “executive assistant to the West Coast head of production” at the CNC Network. In short, a glorified gofer for programming executive, Mark McAndrews. Say what now?

    The script for Make Me A Perfect Murder is incredibly deceptive: it shows the viewing audience one thing and then tells us just the opposite and vice versa. We’re shown Kay Freestone acting like a network producer, but then we’re told that she’s just an assistant to the actual executive network programmer. We’re told that Kay is “the best” and that she won an Emmy Award for “Best Documentary,” but why isn’t Kay still in the news division of CNC instead of just on the entertainment side? If she produced and won for this same documentary (documentaries are actually produced by a network’s news division), why did she accept such a demotion to merely being an “executive assistant?” We’re told that Kay Freestone is the “television lady that knows everything,” but Kay makes two incredibly stupid, amateur hour type programming decisions: the Valerie Kirk debacle and the The Professional film instant substitute for said debacle. Kay can’t even find the main audio switch in a television control booth, for crying out loud!

    This type of scripted nonsense involving ‘tell one thing but show another’ even involves that insipid film within a film: The Professional. The footage that the viewing audience is shown makes it look like Roark (director James Frawley) is some hitman down on his luck and living on skid row. Roark appears to have anger management issues or something: he creeps around dark alleyways, shouts and kicks over garbage cans — only to annoy the neighbors, who respond to this noise by immediately closing their windows in disgust. But later, we’re told that all of this is “spy stuff” by a TV repairman that’s actually watching this nonsense. Say what now? The Professional: or crap within crap with James “The Muppet Movie” Frawley right in the middle of it. This speaks volumes — this whole mess of an episode is all his fault! HA!

    I’m not going to candy coat this: I despise this Columbo episode with the power of ten billion supernovas! It is very important to keep at the forefront that Make Me A Perfect Murder was written, produced and directed entirely by a group of men: Robert Blees, Richard Alan Simmons with Anthony Kiser, and James Frawley, respectively. In short, I feel that this Columbo episode is a totally sexist ‘sausage fest’ of a production that has poor Trish Van Devere so horribly placed in its midst with her Kay Freestone character getting metaphorically smacked around by a whole host of scripted misogynistic drivel. It’s as if all these men were operating under a chauvinistic mantra on the order of ‘a woman will always lie, cry and stab you in the back.’ Except these dudes have Kay Freestone murder her lover / boss with a pistole instead of a knife — as if they were all thinking ‘ya know, penis envy and all ‘cause Kay wants to be a regional head of network programming like the big boys, so symbolic, eh!’ I’ve got two words for all of these guys: grow up!

    To make matters even worse, the men responsible for this production make Kay Freestone a somewhat manipulative lover type to her television network superior: programming executive, Mark McAndrews. However, where Kay is at this particular point in her career is entirely due to her lover and boss, McAndrews. To put it bluntly, Kay Freestone is playing the harlot to get what she wants for her television career ambitions. We as viewers are never given enough backstory of Kay’s actual climb up the corporate ladder and the other men that she has worked alongside within the field of television production.

    I feel that we are left with the horrible impression that Kay Freestone just might have reached each step of her career by giving ‘executive relief’ to various males she has encountered that have been in a supervisory position. I know this sounds terrible, but we are never shown anything at all that approaches basic competence from Kay as an actual television programmer. In fact, we are shown the exact opposite — so all of this begs the question: how in the Sam Hill did Kay even get this far as a network employee in the first place? I’ll tell you what this story strongly suggests: apparently from a lot of sexual favors along with a bit of luck. How’s that for progress, eh?

    Why not have Kay Freestone presented at the start of this story as an energetic and ambitious television career woman — who isn’t romantically involved with anyone at this particular juncture? Why not have the backstory portion of the script inform us that Kay Freestone’s shining moment — winning an Emmy — came from a very lucky break and a set of circumstances that allowed her to show her television production acumen? And this chance moment in which Kay truly shined was resented by some of the other network executives. Mark McAndrews could have been presented as a career impediment for Kay, with him withholding her promotion as regional network programmer simply because he was a total sexist dick. Kay Freestone knows that she deserves this promotion because she has proven herself and has truly earned it. So this situation, coupled with her strong ambition, leads Kay to commit the horrible crime of murder in the first degree by killing Mark McAndrews in a state of extreme rage.

    Because of the fact that this homicide creates a new set of circumstances for the network, Frank Flanagan promotes Kay Freestone to the head of programming on the west coast and — Kay knocks it out of the park in this new power position. Everything is going just swell for Kay until a certain homicide detective from the LAPD comes calling on her. Doesn’t this sound a whole lot better than what we actually got? I believe it does because it totally eliminates the tired trope of ‘a woman scorned’ that surrounds Kay’s crime of murder like so much worn baggage as presented in the original script. This whole ’scorned lover’ aspect that was grafted onto the Kay Freestone character in the actual script sure makes it seem to appear that a good old boys group of sexist men produced this crap with a certain agenda.

    If the actual script for Make Me A Perfect Murder portrayed the Mark McAndrews character as just a sexist jerk that is simply holding Kay Freestone down, that would hit far too close to home by reflecting a true to life situation. The NBC Network wouldn’t want this at all for they have their ‘image’ to protect. So these seemingly sexist toads feel like they have to dumb things down and portray Kay as not only a harlot, but as totally incompetent in the position of a television network executive. How else can we explain that incredibly stupid ’Kay can’t find the right switch on the control board’ idiocy? It’s almost as if this Columbo production team is somehow rationalizing a type of ‘techno fear’ trope and placing it upon Kay — in which she frantically pushes all of the buttons until she finds the right one — ‘cause she’s just a girl. Ack!!!

    The producers of this crap continue to dumb the Kay Freestone character down and appear to ‘keep her in her place’ by having her make a terrible programing decision that is almost in the same league as the infamous ‘Heidi Game’ debacle of 1968 (please check out the links below).** Kay suddenly decides to substitute a major television film, that she helped to produce (which is referred to as “her baby”), to take the place of a live variety special starring a showbiz has-been named Valerie Kirk. Valerie just can’t hack it and resorts to drinking her anxiety away, and thus, leaving a lot of ‘egg’ on Kay’s beautiful face in the process. Here, the show simply can’t go on for poor Valerie, and so instead Kay throws on her television film production The Professional — a tale of a hired killer who eventually blows his brains out — which is definitely NOT family friendly fare for that allotted time slot. Thus, proving The Man to be absolutely right: Mark McAndrews stating earlier that Kay is totally incapable of making smart programming decisions, just only guesses. Ack and double ack!!

    Kay Freestone’s imbecilic programming decision is totally unbelievable here. Trish Van Devere imbues her performance with an obvious underlying intelligence that runs counter to what the script actually forces her character to do in this Columbo Mystery Movie (but this just shows us what an incredible talent Trish Van Devere truly is here). The Kay Freestone character as written comes across as shallow, cruel, vindictive and completely oblivious to her painfully obvious ignorance involving actual executive programming expertise. The only grown up thing Kay accomplishes within this story is also a huge negative: an adult level of evil called murder in the first degree. EEGAH! This whole Make Me A Perfect Murder Columbo production is a contemptible mess and is so beneath the superb acting abilities of the wonderful Trish Van Devere. My own alternate (and far more accurate) title for this debacle is Why NBC Really Dislikes Network Programmers Of The Female Persuasion. ‘Nuff said! Be seeing you!

    ** The Heidi Game — or how some network execs got buried in a deep hole somewhere. Here are some interesting links that are fun and educational. Enjoy!

    1. http://www.sbnation.com/2008/11/11171968-heidi-game.html

    2. http://www.npr.org/2012/11/17/165359212/heidi-the-little-girl-who-changed-football-forever

    • Largo

      Here is a short documentary on the infamous “Heidi Game.” Enjoy!

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJAn3cTMXW8

      • Largo

        I just wanted to add another anecdote about the Largo Clan watching Heidi (1968). As the film’s director, Delbert Mann, was howling in anguish at the NBC Network’s insensitive decision to run that crawl graphic (ruining the part where Heidi’s wheel chair bound friend, Klara, is trying to walk for the first time) for the final score of the interrupted Raiders vs. Jets football game — a similar scene was occurring in the Largo household. Once my father spotted that NBC crawl graphic creeping along the bottom of our Sylvania color TV screen and over the Heidi film broadcast, he started to really cuss up a storm. The Brothers Largo had quite a struggle holding that laughter inside, eh. So take that NBC Network!!! 🙂

      • Ian Baxter

        Nice link into this episode, I’d not heard of ‘the Heidi game’ before. The decisions behind the camera that bother me most these days are the ones around the broadcasting of politics. We are given so much build up to a speech or debate, then we get the first few minutes and go back to the studio for analysis instead of hearing the full debate unfold. The audience are not treated with respect, we are fed soundbites and the assumption is that we won’t have the attention span to listen. Having been told how important something is we are then patronised by reporters and producers who essentially tell us it’s too dull for us to be shown so we’ll sum it up, as it’s happening, in a more interesting way! No!

        • Largo

          That’s outrageous, Ian! Talk about mass media spoon feeding the public with whatever treacle the broadcasters choose. EEGAH! Ian — I’m afraid that we’re in The Village …. because it’s everywhere! D-:

      • As a Jets fan I’m obliged to hate Heidi for costing us this victory.

        • Largo

          But that doesn’t make any sense, Iain! The Jets went on to beat the Raiders in their second match-up and — most important of all — they beat the Colts in Super Bowl III! It’s my theory that Heidi inspired Namath for the big win, eh! 🙂

          • That’s one way to look at it, but we were winning this one until she showed up!

          • Largo

            Iain — a message from a little Swiss girl that meant you no harm at all ….

          • No forgiveness.

          • Margaret Williams

            Oh, give it up, Iain! This “Heidi Game” thing went down way before you were even born!!!

          • Margaret Williams

            What’s this “we” business all about, Iain? Do you mean you and ‘Hollywood’ Joe were winning this game? Please explain this to all of us here on the CPF.

  • Largo

    Despite the fact that I despise this particular Columbo episode, I did enjoy your “Make Me A Perfect Murder” podcast. Of course, both of you gents could have taken this episode to the woodshed if you were so inclined. Needless to say, I was disappointed that you did not take the opportunity to do this, eh. Be that as it may, here are a few tidbits that will assist in clarifying some factoids that both of you gents missed in your podcast:

    1. The editor gloves that Walter Mearhead (James McEachin) uses are actually white cotton gloves, not latex. Those are the exact same gloves that I used in film school — and they really, really work! But I never used them whenever I put together models. Just sayin’ 🙂

    2. As I mentioned on another thread, there has never been an original made-for-television film that has sported those reel change marks or “blips” during an actual network broadcast. This is a totally outrageous piece of overly contrived nonsense. However, commercial syndication film prints are another story.

    3. George C. Scott and Trish Van Devere were married on September 14, 1972 and remained married until Scott’s death in 1999. Although Trish Van Devere was George C. Scott’s fourth wife, this was his fifth marriage, since he had previously married and divorced Colleen Dewhurst twice.

    4. And about the rather egregious use of padding in this episode, it always helps to keep these words of wisdom in the forefront:

    “For me there is padding and there is padding … 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!”

    — Ian Baxter, from the “Candidate For Crime” discussion thread

  • Taxman

    Guys, I could be wrong, but the guard is credited as Buck Young, not Michael Lally.

  • resedaman

    The music when Columbo is playing with the controls watching the graphic is from Tchaikovsky’s’ nutcracker Ballet music

  • resedaman

    I heard one of the boys remark that The Sting is a favorite movie. The Carousel where Redford meets Newman, is the same one Columbo finds K at at the end. Santa Monica pier, A famous authentic old Carousel still there

  • dtrieber

    The only reason I can think of why anyone would threaten you is when in the middle of the story, you name the bit part actors and where and when they’re born and every job they’ve ever had, who they’ve acted with, the roles they play, when they died or… you get the point. I Know you guys are constantly assessing your product, and I wd never wish any harm to you. Maybe I’m just whining sorry,Nevermind.