How to Dial a Murder

Episode 43 – How to Dial a Murder

The forty second episode of Columbo was titled How to Dial a Murder and was the fourth episode of the show’s seventh season. A behavioural psychologist seeks revenge on his best friend for an affair with his wife, with the help of his well-trained dogs. In this podcast Gerry and Iain look at an episode that tests the boundaries of criminal responsibility.

 

 

Nicol Williamson stars as Dr Eric Mason, an apparently grieving widower whose wife – we learn – has recently died in an accident. Ultimately it transpires that Mrs Mason had been engaging in an extra-marital affair with Dr Charles Hunter (Joel Fabiani), ostensibly Eric’s best friend. Unaware that his secret is out, Hunter visits Mason’s home, where he is tricked into uttering a word that Mason’s dogs have been trained to respond to violently. The dogs kill Hunter, with Mason’s alibi established.

 

There is a small principal cast in this episode, with primary support offered by Sex and the City’s Kim Cattrall as Joanne Nicholls, a student lodging with the Masons, Tricia O’Neil as a specialist dog trainer, Frank Aletter as Mason’s physician Ernie Garrison and a young Ed Begley Jr. as the police officer charged with guarding Mason’s dogs before their scheduled destruction.

 

Director James Frawley returned after helming both Try and Catch Me and Make Me a Perfect Murder in Season 7 and would return for three further episodes. Writer Tom Lazarus produced a teleplay from Anthony Lawrence‘s story in the sole contribution to the series for both men.

 

If you have thoughts on any aspect of How to Dial a 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.

 

How to Dial a Murder was released in 1978. It is 73 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.

  • Peter

    Have not heard entire podcast but wanted to chime in that Eric Mason may be the most fiendish murder of all. The fact that he talk such glee in hearing his former friend get torn apart by his dogs was truly chilling, Great episode and definitely one of my favorites. The last season had great villains IMO.

    • I agree, Peter. After ‘Any Old Port’, this is my second favourite of all time (so far)…

    • To be fair to Mason, he had a pretty solid reason for despising his “friend”!

  • Red Hobbes

    I agree that while he was, from his POV, justified in killing Charlie he was also ruthless as hell. If he’d contrived a shooting or something that’d be almost preferable to training two dogs to maul his “friend” to death while he listened in. I’m no expert, although I’m almost certain that Mason is a sociopath. His attitude towards his dogs afterwards is also another big clue to that.

    Two Star Trek guest stars this week, and Merlin from Excalibur? Kim Cattrall was in Star Trek 6, and Tricia O’Neil was in the TNG episode “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” as the captain of the Enterprise-C. I think Ed Begley also guested on a couple episodes of Star Trek Voyager.

    This was a solid episode, with a true villain this time around. Not truly exceptional, save for Mason.

  • Ian Baxter

    My comments are having to wait as I scored very badly in response to a couple of key words… ‘commodore’ and ‘Margaret’… 100, 99, 98, 97, 96 95, 94, 93, 92, 91, 90, 89, 88…

    • Largo

      You’re playing with fire, Ian! Margaret has a very, very delicate condition. If she were to stumble upon this comment of yours, she might very well go absolutely ballistic! Just sayin,’ dude. 🙁

      • Ian Baxter

        It’s okay, I’ve recovered 🙂

        • Margaret Williams

          I’ve got a can of whoop@ss with your name written on it, Baxter! And it will take you a lot longer to “recover” from it after I’ve opened it up on you! I borrowed a friend’s smart phone and I’ll do it again just to keep an eye on you, buster! I’ll be watching you, Baxter!

          • Ian Baxter

            Have pity young lady, and accept my apologies! ?

          • Margaret Williams

            Oh, look – flowers! Okay, Ian …. I forgive you.

        • Largo

          You see! You see! I told you Margaret would flip out over your forum post, Ian! Don’t say I didn’t warn you! Now repeat after me, Ian: “kid gloves – kid gloves – kid gloves … “

          • Ian Baxter

            Thanks for the warning, I’m fairly confident that Gerry and Iain wont mention the beautiful and talented one next week!

          • Largo

            Hey now — don’t you think you’re laying it on a bit too thick, Ian? Eegah! This whole thing might blow up in all of our faces!!!

          • Margaret Williams

            Cool it, guys. Ancient Chinese proverb says: “It is better to press your shirt than to press your luck.” Words of wisdom, boys ….. words of wisdom.

  • Roberto

    Very nice podcast as usual Iain and Gerry. You guys often pick up on things that slip right by me. While this is a very good episode of Columbo, it is far from one of my favorites. I have tried to explain the dichotomy before but it is hard to put into words. To me one of the most critical aspects of a Columbo episode is how well thought-out is the murder plan. The better the plan, the harder it is to crack, and the more enjoyable it is to watch Columbo solve it.

    The murder planning in “How To Dial A Murder” seems a bit off to me. Dr. Mason spent months training his dogs to attack Charlie with a specific set of cues (phone ringing and then a certain word) so that Mason would have an airtight alibi. But during all of those months, not once did he envisage the flaws in that plan regarding the aftermath of the crime. Charlie would be dead in his kitchen next to the phone. The phone would be off the hook. Police would try to trace the call (even if Mason did not know about the fast busy-signal aspect). I cannot imagine that Dr. Mason did not know about call logs.

    Also, why did he do it while Joanne was on the premises? Couldn’t Joanne have been with Dr. Hunter in the house? Or even in the kitchen at the time of the phone call? At a minimum, Joanne could have been seriously injured in the dog attack. Or she could have stopped the attack in some way. More importantly, from the perspective of a murder plan, Joanne could know that Charlie was talking to Mason over the phone at the time of the attack (by overhearing the conversation, or Charlie could say to her that he is talking to Mason, etc.). Joanne could also know that the dogs attacked right after Charlie said Rosebud, for goodness sake. If that is your plan, make sure Joanne is away at school or something.

    What would have been better in my devious mind would have been for Mason to go home with someone else in the car with him as an alibi (like Joanne), and “clean up” the incriminating clues (like in Bye Bye Sky High) before the police come on the scene. Hang up the kitchen phone, plug in the hall phone, remove the straw from the kitchen floor, etc. As I have opined in other episodes, surely there was a better way to commit this gruesome murder.

    Don’t even get me started discussing the problems with killing your wife and making it look like a car accident. Unfortunately, Columbo did not investigate this first killing (if it was six months ago I reckon he was busy trying to catch Ruth Gordon at the time) or else Mason would surely not have been able to commit the second murder.

    Anyway, it was a good episode as I have said. Acting was first-rate throughout though I didn’t quite enjoy all of Kim Cattrall’s scenes. A little creepy to me at times. Nicol Williamson is, of course, a great actor and did a superb job as Dr. Mason. Strange and a little sad that Mr. Williamson had no lasting memories of this role later in his life.

    You guys already covered the Star Trek tie-ins with Kim Cattrall and Tricia O’Neil. Did you also mention that Ed Begley Jr. was in Voyager?

    Looking forward to reading what other folks think of this episode too.

    • I agree, Mason made a mess of things and was lucky to get as far along as he did with this one. And Columbo agrees with us as well. He did tell the man, right to his face, that he made a lot of terminal blunders.

  • I also really liked the killer’s performance this time around. A pretty darn good episode, overall.

    I noticed, Gerry and Iain, you commenting on how unlikely the dogs could be retrained overnight. I said the same thing to my wife, as the montage made it look like a 24 hour thing. But then I noticed, in the showdown scene, Columbo mentions it had been “a few weeks ago” when they played the word game and Columbo taped their conversation. But, again, that training montage sure made it look like an overnight thing. So, maybe Falk noticed it too and was trying to make up for it with a bit of exposition.

    As for the way in which Falk delivers his lines in this last season, I prefer the previous seasons. His previous delivery may have been a little uneven at times, but they felt more natural, more authentic, to me. More like an eccentric policeman doing his job. This later Columbo feels more like an actor reading his lines the way the brass wants him to. Not that he reads them poorly, it just feels less “lifelike” to me. My two cents.

    • Peter

      I noticed there is a difference in tone in the last season. He comes across as more sly,more cynical and less self-deprecating,less charming and less good-natured.

    • Milia Dick Ziegler

      Yes, I agree, saltyessentials (and with you, too, Peter, whose remark is below). I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until you mentioned it. Compared to his earlier performances, I wouldn’t exactly say that he phoned in his later ones, but…it’s like he’s getting ready to retire as a cop. His adorable quirkiness and family stories…the overall “lightness” of his character…they don’t seem to be there in the later seasons.

  • Largo

    I’d like to introduce to all of you a very special colleague of mine. His name is Joshua and he’s my very special executive assistant and consultant. Joshua’s advice has always been impeccable. I never go anywhere without him!

    • Arabian Knights

      But does Sigmund approve?

      • Largo

        My guess is that Sigmund probably wouldn’t approve. You see, Joshua is a grizzly bear and they can get rather ornery from time to time. 🙂

  • Jenn Zuko

    Did you really just say, “At least there hasn’t been Irish,” re: accents??
    Ohhh dearie me….

    • We had already watched next week’s episode (the conspirators) and this was a reference by Iain to the somewhat ropey Irish accent coming up. Not a general observation or remark on our celtic cousins delightful brogue!

      • Jenn Zuko

        Oh no, I didn’t think you were being insulting, but that it must have been the craziest coincidence! That explains it…

      • Largo

        Ireland and Scotland. Irish brogue and Scottish brogue. All of this talk reminds me of a routine a certain comic did years ago using these brogues in alternation. From what I can recall, part of it went something like this:

        Irish Dude: (in an overly happy, sing-song voice) “In Ireland, we’ve got Leprechauns.”
        Scottish Dude: (in a very deep, macho voice) “In Scotland, we’ve got the Loch Ness Monster!!!”
        Irish Dude: (in an overly happy, sing-song voice) “In Ireland, we enjoy playing the Irish fiddle.”
        Scottish Dude: (in a very deep, macho voice) “In Scotland, we play the Great Highland bagpipe — the world’s worst musical instrument!!!”

  • Largo

    I’m with Roberto for the most part on this one, eh. Except I would add that “How To Dial A Murder” is a Columbo episode that at times disgusts me, depresses me and offends me. There’s also a certain creep out factor involving the Joanne character that is already painfully obvious and so I won’t belabor this particular aspect. But to add insult to injury, the producers of this Columbo Mystery Movie name the two terrible killer dogs after one of the most beloved comedy duos of all time: Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. Shame on these Columbo show runners! They all should be horsewhipped for such an outrageous and insensitive act and if I had a horse I would do it myself, eh!

    I’m not going to knock any of the performances here (they are quite solid), but poor Nicol Williamson is sure saddled with a horribly conceived and written character. His Dr. Eric Mason should be highly intelligent, cunning and clever and should also be honorably added to a fine roster of rich and arrogant murderers in the Columbo pantheon of villains — albeit in a better script. Instead what we actually get here is a very hollow shell of a man who is impotent on many levels. Plus, Dr. Eric Mason leaves such an embarrassing and amateurish trail of obvious clues that any rookie cop would be able to solve this crime in a matter of minutes.

    Nicol Williamson’s Eric Mason is just a straw man hanging on a hook and listlessly swaying in the breeze while Columbo continually and very easily thwacks Mason into submission with his righteous staff of justice. Now if that series of perfectly awful metaphors caused you to cringe, I assure you that it was written with that exact intention. I wrote that particular sentence so all of you would understand my big beef with Nicol Williamson as an actor and my horrified and cringing reaction to a particular performance: Williamson’s trashing of the title character in the BBC production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth (1983). In short, he actually dared to reuse his highly eccentric ‘Merlin voice’ from the film Excalibur (1981) for the dark king of Scotland! This drove me and my father to distraction and to a point where we both wanted to throw our respective Shakespeare volumes at the television screen.

    But enough about that — now I want to talk about the very lovely Kim Cattrall. How do I love her? Let me count the ways: Kim Cattrall starred in (1) Big Trouble In Little China (1986) and (2) Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991). Besides her performance in this Columbo episode, there are no other parts of hers to discuss in my book. Kim is not only very beautiful, but she’s also very talented and …. she’s a Trekker. So in other words, if I were Dr. Eric Mason I would have:

    1. Hired a private detective to get the goods on my adulterous wife and my backstabbing “best friend.”
    2. Used the above gathered information to quickly divorce said adulterous wife and then fire said “best friend.”
    3. Marry the very, very lovely Joanne Nicholls.
    4. Live happily ever after.

    Yes, indeed! I’m not biased at all here with my Columbo rewrite and I’m definitely NOT a hopeless romantic. There’s also nothing silly about me wanting to kiss Gracie Law like there was no tomorrow and then sweeping her off of her feet if I were Jack Burton at the end of Big Trouble In Little China. I mean, to discuss any other options here would just be crazy talk! Gadzooks, a blind man could see all of this and would yield to the logic of the whole situation, eh! Am I right? I said — am I right, folks? [insert chirping cricket sound] Oh, dear, oh dear! Gosh — look at the time! Gotta vamoose now. Be seeing you!

    • Peter

      Largo, this is one of few times I will disagree with you. I don’t find Cattrell all that attractive. I find Tricia O’Neill far more fetching.

      • Largo

        This reminds me of the time when one of my best friends said that he didn’t think much of Grace Kelly. I turned to him and quickly retorted with, “Are you insane!?!” in my very best Dr. Leonard McCoy voice. Of course, I can’t reproduce that here on the forum, so you’ll just have to use your imagination, Peter. 😉

      • Arabian Knights

        Really? I thought she was bitchy and actually wanted to pop her one. To be fair, that was how they presented powerful women back then.
        As a Canadian, I always cheer for out Canadian born Kim Catrall. She was pretty funny in the original episode of Police Academy. I wouldn’t watch the others if you paid me.

        • Peter

          I thought she came across as more strong than bitchy.

          • Arabian Knights

            You could be right. We women tend to bitch about other women – meow! But I didn’t like the dog trainer at all. She could have been nicer about Columbo’s prospects of training his slug of a dog.

          • Largo

            And did that trainer really have to sic that German shepherd on poor Columbo with the command word, “Kill!” and all??? Yup — she’s a real meanie alright!

    • Milia Dick Ziegler

      I hear you regarding the characterization of Eric Mason. He really has that ick factor in the high percentages, doesn’t he? I know that you probably see him from a different angle since you’re a guy, but YUCK! Why in the world did Joanne want to have an affair with HIM?? Geez, you think she’d be like all the others and go for Dr. Hunter (-; ! I’m certainly not saying that you have to be attractive to be FOUND attractive, but he seemed like a real loser simply as a human being. Yes, I do believe it IS a tragedy when your mate cheats on you, but he actually killed her, and not in a heat-of-the-moment kind of thing, either. Ditto for the killing of his “friend.” Those were deliberate, well planned murders that, to me, suggest he is sociopathic. That plus his hollowness, as you said, Largo, add up to one UN-fine man (-; !

      And I can’t sign off without commenting on Kim Cattrall. I’m so sorry, Largo, but I just really don’t like her. Again, you’re a man and I’m a woman, so we’re seeing her from different viewpoints, but I guess after watching her as Samantha in Sex & the City, I was pretty grossed out. I knew that the show wasn’t for the 8 and younger set (-; , especially with a title like that, but still…they definitely pushed the limits with that show (even thought it was on HBO). Then to find out that she and her then-husband wrote some book about sex stuff as well as her writing on her own about the same topic…well, to me it sounds like her character (Samantha Jones) overtook her as a person. So this might make you like her MORE (-; , but since I’m a girl, I was put-off of her forever. She gives the acronym TMI a whole new meaning (-; ! However, I still remain a faithful fan of YOURS, Largo (-; !

      • Largo

        Thank you so very much for being a fan, Milia. I’ll try to not let that go to my head and let it inflate into a William Shatner type of huge ego trip for me! 😉

        All of that stuff concerning Kim Cattrall in the last part of my review was just over-the-top ‘Largo antics’ or comedic exaggeration. I’ve only seen Kim in the three films (including this Columbo episode) that I mentioned earlier in my review and that’s it. My opinion of her acting is based solely on these three films and I refuse to watch her in that show that shall not be named on HBO — or anything else for that matter. So I’m not what one could call an obsessive fan of Kim Cattrall at all. I just wrote all of that stuff for some cheap laughs. But I actually do find Kim to be beautiful in said three films, and especially so in Big Trouble In Little China. Eyes of the beholder and all, eh. 🙂

        Dr. Eric Mason is most definitely a sociopath. He is a ruthless and coldblooded killer, no doubt about it. But he’s also a bone-chilling sadist as well. But he isn’t a sexual threat to Joanne at all, since Mason is impotent. Mason is also impotent on a power level in most cases and all of that psychological “control” nonsense of his is simply Mason overcompensating for his own failures in life (his marriage being a prime example). Unfortunately, Joanne is one of the few who have fallen under Mason’s spell and this is where that “ick” factor that you mentioned goes off the scale.

        Joanne’s fascination with Mason is creepy, her thing with that teddy bear is creepy and her complete run of Mason’s house is creepy. When I first saw this episode back in 1978, I thought Joanne would either end up committing suicide or she would go after Mason in a “fatal attraction” type psychosis at the finale. I never saw Mason as even being a physical threat to Joanne at first, because I dismissed that ‘Mason’s hands on Joanne’s throat’ scene as shameless directorial nonsense. But that was back in the late 70s. Watching it over the years, I can see that Mason could still be a physical threat to Joanne by way of him causing yet another homicide — in spite of the that directorial fake-out sequence. In short, it’s a great relief that Joanne decides to leave Dr. Eric Mason far behind — a most healthy choice!!! Be seeing you!

        • Milia Dick Ziegler

          Oh, I figured you were joshing (-; . I just do a double ick whenever I see that episode b/c of Cattrall as well as Williamson’s portrayal of Mason. I love how you referred to Sex and the City as the “show that shall not be named on HBO.” Ha! Ha! You know, I wonder now why I watched that show when it was on. It really offends me now. However, when I watched it, I was in my 30s; now I’m 48. Maturity has a way of creeping up on you, doesn’t it (-; ?

          That teddy bear creeped me out, too. It just wasn’t a very…Columbo-esque type of thing. Neither was the lack of jocularity, for want of a better word (and the few times I’ve used that word in my life always bring to mind Fr. Mulcahy from M*A*S*H, another utter classic show). Columbo didn’t goof around or be his cute little charming self in this one. All in all, this episode was kind of dark for me given the mood of it and personalities portrayed. I commented on this in another post, too, while talking about Falk’s portrayal of Columbo in these later episodes.

          Yes, PLEASE don’t go the way of William Shatner’s Columbo characters, Largo! Wow, egomania is certainly the ruler of THOSE episodes, isn’t it? I have faith that you will stay your funny albeit charming self (-; !

          • Largo

            Thank you once again for you kind words, Milia! I’ll do my very best to keep my ego in check around here and to avoid going down the “Shatner Fat-Head Ego” route! I’ll also try to not get too carried away with the quirkiness. But there are times when I tend to overindulge in the more bizarre regions within my fevered brain — an area which I call The Largo Zone. Be seeing you! 🙂

  • Ian Baxter

    Yet again with season 7 I’m left feeling this could have been so much better.

    I was interested to hear in the podcast about Williamson not remembering this episode because he just took it for the money. I think it shows and that there is something missing in his performance. Perhaps, as Largo says, it is a failing of the script, because there just isn’t the spark between him and Falk.

    I agree with Salty in preferring the previous seasons, I would have liked to have seen these two actors be given the opportunity, better script or the space to ad-lib just to bring a bit more depth. Could we not have had a scene early on showing something of the source of his rage and need for revenge?

    This added to the points Roberto makes about flawed plans for this murder and I’m not going to put this anywhere near the top of the list.

    Thanks again for another good, if shorter than average, podcast.

    • Milia Dick Ziegler

      I’m guessing that at least some of you are familiar with the book that’s considered by many the bible of all things Columbo – The Columbo Phile: A Casebook, by Mark Dawidziak. It has SO many interesting stories about the cast, guest stars, and writers/directors. It also has a great recap of every episode (sans the 90s episodes since the book was written in 1989) as well as Dawidziak’s opinions them. Anyway, I remember reading that, when asked about his turn as a Columbo murderer, he said that he didn’t remember it because he was going through a divorce at the time. Uh, oh…you don’t think he was planning on using any of the script as ideas, do you??

  • Ian Baxter

    Remember this one from Swansong? https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=92imrbPbiKQ

    • Roberto

      Great find Ian. It gives me a new-found “admiration” for Nicol Williamson. He was definitely his own man.

      I am serious when I say I wish he could have sung this song in How To Dial A Murder. It would have shown some depth that was missing from Dr. Mason. And shown the depth of the pain he was feeling from his wife’s infidelity.

      Columbo could have cocked his head to one side and said “I think I have heard that song somewhere before.”

      • Ian Baxter

        Sorry, no idea about the Country music of 1970s Scotland. Come to think of it, I don’t think I could tell you anything about present day… Iain and Gerry no doubt have their finger on the pulse of Scottish music.

    • CarlosMu

      wow. Now I’m craving squirrel haggis.

      • Largo

        I just vomited in my mouth a little bit when I read that, Carlos. Thanks fer nothin’! 😉

  • Alex

    You guys mentioned the bit about whether he was poisoning the dogs and whether there’s a poison that hurts dogs but not people? The answer is…. chocolate! Chocolate’s poisonous to dogs by its lonesome.

    (Technically, it’s poisonous to humans, too, but this is a case of where the dose makes the poison. It’d be almost impossible for a human to achieve death by chocolate but pretty easy for dogs. That’s partially because of differences in the way they metabolize it.)

    • True. But I looked up the toxicity levels on a couple of sites, and I think the doc would have needed a lot more chocolate than he had in that little bag, to actually kill the dogs. Assuming his little treats were more or less pure cocoa powder, each dog would need almost half a cup just to make them sick. Who knows how much to actually kill them. But there were plenty of other inconsistencies in the story, so maybe the script was going for the whole lethal malted milk ball thing…

  • CarlosMu

    I just started listening, you are talking about echoes from previous episodes, I wanted to add Old Fashioned Murder and Requiem for a Fallen Star, where the killers have already gotten away with murder.

  • Largo

    Well, it looks like my stay in Las Vegas is going to be greatly extended. This is due to the fact that some jagbag of an engineer / pilot went for a drunken joyride in one of the older, saucer-shaped experimental aircraft prototypes out of the Area 51 base last night. I guess he was determined to buzz and then freak out the Groom Lake Groupies that seem to persist in hanging out in the unrestricted areas outside of “Dreamland” Nevada. Great! That means a whole bunch of confiscated cameras and smart phones along with even more inductees into those secret “re-education” camps. So in other words, don’t be expecting any spectacular video evidence suddenly appearing on YouTube.

    To make matters even more complicated, said joyrider ended up crashing this saucer-shaped prototype into some temporary shipping / storage units that contained vital equipment and supplies for my ultra-secret projects! All of this equipment and other supplies of mine hadn’t been brought down yet into the deep underground sections of Area 51 — of course! Needless to say, I got to cuss out a few major generals on the phone over this horrendous screw-up. This hapless joyrider may have walked away from this crackup without even a scratch, but his luck will run out once he’s reassigned to the Antarctic!

    Speaking of which — my own luck in the Vegas casinos is due to change any minute now. The cards are bound to go against me at some point during my extended stay, so I better be a lot more careful. It’s true that so far my run with the cards in Baccarat has been rather superb. However, “Sin City” is sure full of a lot of traps and I just can’t get caught in any one of them! And then there’s all of the gorgeous women that are out here. Of course, there’s some kind of convention going on somewhere because of all of the Cosplay Cuties running around all over the Las Vegas Strip. What’s a super Sci-Fi Nerd like me to do, eh? Be extremely cautious and show some restraint, dammit — that’s what!!! Be seeing you!

  • CarlosMu

    Columbo thought dogs spoke English, before the dog trainer explained it to him. 😉

  • Largo

    “It’s a rat trap and you’ve been caught!” – Vegas Blues

    I woke up early in the morning about an hour after sunrise. My head was pounding slightly due to having a bit of a hangover. Except this particular sensation inside of my head was also very strange and very different. I then became fairly certain that I had been drugged the night before. Curses – somebody must have slipped me a mickey! I didn’t remember a whole lot about the previous evening except for those first few bar fights. But, more importantly, I couldn’t recall exactly how I had made it back to my hotel suite at the Bellagio. Glancing about the master bedroom I surmised that I was definitely inside of my own Chairman Suite and everything was as it should have been – well, except for all of the extra luggage surrounding the king-size bed. However, the biggest clue that something major had occurred much earlier that morning was due to the fact that two Brazilian Beauties lay snuggled up on either side of me upon the luxurious bed.

    Now before some of you start with lectures loaded with righteous indignation, please allow me to make it absolutely clear that nothing tawdry had happened between me and the two Brazilian women, whose names were Nadya and Krissy. I assure you that when I first woke up, all three of us were still fully dressed and with all fittings intact. Well, I guess you could say that Nadya was entirely dressed: she was totally covered in her blue full body ‘Mystique’ makeup, complete with all of the various special plastic appliances that were all still strategically located and firmly in place. Krissy had remained ensconced inside of her Black Widow catsuit-like action outfit and she was still sporting her two elaborate taser gauntlets. This ain’t no party. This ain’t no disco. This ain’t no fooling around – Jack! Needless to say, I had picked up two very serious cosplaying women — or more precisely, they had picked me up last night. And all we were “guilty” of was some serious ‘snuggle bunny’ action. Oh – and some kissy-face stuff, too.

    After I had showered and shaved and was finishing getting dressed, some of what happened the night before started to slowly come back to me. As I added my various accessories to my person — Rolex watch, SPECTRE octopus ring (some habits die real hard), and shoulder holster complete with a Walther P99 — it all came back in a flood of rapid-fire images. I had just cashed in my winnings early that evening and was leaving the casino for a bit of fresh air, when these two drop dead gorgeous cosplay women sauntered up to me. As each of them entwined an arm around mine, Nadya and Krissy both asked me to buy them a drink. Resistance was futile at this juncture and I immediately complied with gusto. Before I knew it, we were all inside the nearest bar, drinking and laughing the night away like very dear old friends.

    Even though their Cosplay Convention had ended, Nadya and Krissy still had another whole week to spend on vacation before heading back to their native Brazil. Neither of these women had brought any “normal” clothes, just a wide array of cosplay outfits and accessories. For these two women, every single day was a great time for cosplay! As I mentioned earlier, Nadya had been made up as Raven aka ‘Mystique’ from the X-Men films and Krissy was costumed like Natasha Romanoff aka ‘Black Widow’ of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). As spectacular as this was for a Sci-Fi Nerd such as myself to enjoy and to be entertained by throughout that night, it was also most unfortunate that this invited trouble in the form of punks looking for a fight. So it didn’t take long before the three of us were confronted in the bar by five young toughs with a bad attitude.

    “Hey dweeb!” the leader of the gang shouted as he pointed at me. “Two women is too much for a nerd like you!” I quickly replied that for some nerds, two is barely enough — and with that, all hell broke loose. My fists connected and my arms blocked hits, but it was Nadya and Krissy that kicked some serious ass that night. I did what I could to help out in the fight — it’s just the way that I’m hardwired. However, what I really ended up doing was kind of just knocking these punks back into play for Nadya and Krissy to put the kung fu smackdown on like nobody’s business. It was really a sight to behold: two absolutely gorgeous Marvel cosplay women beating five dudes to a pulp inside of a Las Vegas bar! Although the bouncers were amused, the bar’s management was not and the three of us were asked to leave the premises after the five toughs had been taken away by the police.

    Blast! So the three of us walked arm in arm and into the next bar up the street. Unfortunately, the very same thing happened: a group of jealous jerks challenged me and then attempted to grab at my cosplay gal pals and so fisticuffs erupted. In short order, we all moved on to yet another bar, and soon thereafter, into the midst of yet another melee. Lather-rinse-repeat. However, it was while we were in our fourth bar that the tide had suddenly changed. There was still a totally bitchin’ fight involving Nadya and Krissy mopping the floor with various thugs. But this time the management asked us to stay and treated the three of us to several drinks and other goodies after the cops had hauled away the malcontents that we had battled. Sometime after one o’clock in the morning, things began to blur for me in the memory department. I’m afraid that one of those free drinks had been spiked with something contrary to my person. The three of us had moved on to a discotheque around this time — hey, Nadya and Krissy wanted to dance and who was I to refuse them? All I remembered from here on was a series of spotty images of me punching some guy in the face who was made up to look like a werewolf — and Nadya and Krissy taking on four men dressed as The Punisher, Judge Dredd, Bane and Doctor Doom, respectively. I don’t recall anything after this particular incident.

    “Do you and the two young ladies want breakfast to be served, sir?”

    I quickly left my thoughts and turned toward the voice coming from behind me. It was Jarvis the butler. That’s right, folks: the Bellagio Hotel’s deluxe suites provide 24 hour butler service and one of mine here was actually named Jarvis — really! [When I first arrived at the Bellagio Hotel and had met Jarvis, I attempted to explain to him about Edwin Jarvis and Howard Stark and the J.A.R.V.I.S. computer system designed by Tony Stark aka ‘Iron Man’ — and their relation to the whole MCU, but he was not amused or impressed] After saying good morning to Jarvis, I answered his query with a request for green figs, plain yogurt and coffee – very black.

    “Very good, sir.”

    It was just after Jarvis had left that Nadya began to stir from her sleep. Nadya slowly turned on her right side and looked over at me with those big, beautiful brown eyes of hers. “Good morning, darling” she purred. Resistance …. was …. futile! After returning her very warm greeting, I soon found out from Nadya what had happened following the skirmish in the discotheque. When all of the dust had settled, so to speak, I had begun to completely black out due to whatever drug had been placed in my drink by person or persons unknown. Nadya and Krissy had helped me out of the discotheque and brought me back to my hotel suite. Nadya also explained that I had promised earlier to introduce her and Krissy to my plush grizzly teddy bear named Joshua (I never leave home without him), and they both had insisted on accepting my invitation to my hotel suite — despite the fact that I was very unconscious at the time. Not only had they accepted said invitation, they both had decided to actually move into my Bellagio Hotel Chairman Suite! Which explains all of that extra luggage scattered around my master bedroom.

    “Wake up sleepy head,” Nadya said as she nudged Krissy’s shoulder. Krissy suddenly sat bolt upright and shouted, “Excelsior!” And with that, the two Brazilian Beauties each headed toward a different bathroom (my suite has two and a half bathrooms) to get ready for the day. However, as the ladies were leaving the bedroom, I was informed by Nadya that all three of us were going on a big shopping spree that day. Gosh – I wonder what idiot was going to provide all of the financing for this huge shopping extravaganza? That’s right folks: I was now officially a sugar daddy! Inconceivable! I slowly looked over at Joshua, who was calmly sitting on my nightstand. His brown eyes bored into me as if he was saying, “You didn’t heed my advice.” I tried to turn away from his gaze, but I couldn’t do it. Joshua seemed to continue: “Remember what your best friend once told you.” Yes — I did recall what Matt had said to me many years ago. And Matt was right: women are my kryptonite!

    • Ian Baxter

      Entertaining stuff Largo… trust that you were also entering into the spirit of cosplay when you met these two… going to guess that you were dressed as one of these two… 🙂

      • Largo

        Not precisely, Ian. However, in my mind’s eye I’m dressed exactly like how Patrick McGoohan was first attired in his classic television series The Prisoner

      • Largo

        Oh, and just like an intelligence operative, I carry an automatic pistol in a shoulder holster under my dark suit coat. Hey, it’s just like you see in films and on TV! 🙂

        “But it was just my imagination, running away with me …”

  • Largo

    This is the ring I like to wear. I know, I know: vanity has its dangers. 🙂

  • Largo

    Here is a Walther P99, including one attached with Sean Connery as Agent 007!

  • Roberto

    At the risk of delving into areas better left un-delved, permit me a comment on Peter & Largo’s mini-discussion of Kim Cattrall vs. Tricia O’Neil. Kim Cattrall, though eminently pleasant, fairly attractive, and a decent actress, does nothing for me. Tricia O’Neil, on the other hand, checks all of my boxes (if you know what I mean).

    People may know that several Star Trek (TOS) websites have conducted a “Best Star Trek Woman” competition over the years. You know, which female Star Trek guest star was the ultimate fan-favorite? Star Trek had many, many beautiful female guest stars whose main contribution to the show was their beauty (due largely to the “views” of the times and the personal mores of the womanizing Gene Roddenberry together with the costuming genius of Bill Theiss). I remember seeing a 32-entry bracket-style tournament on some long-ago website since there were so many beauties to choose from.

    While there have not been as many pure beauties appearing on Columbo, there have indeed been several first-rate women guest-starring actresses. With the help of IMDB, I have identifed 32 top women of the NBC Columbo series (including the pilot). Of course there are many more and I may have missed someone’s favorite.

    1. Lee Grant (Leslie Williams: Ransom for a Dead Man)
    2. Patricia Mattick (Margaret Williams: Ransom for a Dead Man, included here for obvious reasons!)
    3. Barbara Colby (Lilly La Sanka: Murder by the Book)
    4. Kate Reid (Mrs. Walters: Dead Weight)
    5. Suzanne Pleshette (Helen Stewart: Dead Weight)
    6. Kim Hunter (Edna Matthews: Suitable for Framing)
    7. Susan Clark (Beth Chadwick: Lady in Waiting)
    8. Anne Francis (Valerie Bishop: Short Fuse & Sharon Martin: A Stitch in Crime)

    9. Janis Paige (Goldie Williamson: Blueprint for Murder)
    10. Pamela Austin (Jennifer Williamson: Blueprint for Murder)
    11. Blythe Danner (Janice Benedict: Etude in Black)
    12. Honor Blackman (Lillian Stanhope: Dagger of the Mind)
    13. Anne Baxter (Nora Chandler: Requiem for a Falling Star)
    14. Julie Newmar (Lisa Chambers: Double Shock)
    15. Vera Miles (Viveca Scott: Lovely But Lethal)
    16. Sian Barbara Allen (Shirley Blaine: Lovely But Lethal)

    17. Jessica Walter (Margaret Nicholson: Mind over Mayhem)
    18. Gretchen Corbett (Jessica Conroy: An Exercise in Fatality)
    19. Gena Rowlands (Elizabeth Van Wick: Playback)
    20. Leslie Ann Warren (Nadia Donner: A Deadly State of Mind
    21. Janet Leigh (Grace Wheeler Willis: Forgotten Lady)
    22. Bioni Farrell/Xenia Gratsos (Xenia: A Case of Immunity)
    23. Cynthia Sikes (Della: Now You See Him)
    24. Diane Baker (Joanna Clay: Last Salute to the Commodore)

    25. Susan Foster (Lisa King: Last Salute to the Commodore)
    26. Joyce Van Patten (Ruth Lytton: Old Fashioned Murder)
    27. Samantha Eggar (Vivian Brandt: The Bye-Bye Sky High IQ Murder Case)
    28. Ruth Gordon (Abigail Mitchell: Try and Catch Me)
    29. Mariette Hartley (Veronica: Try and Catch Me)
    30. Trish Van Devere (Kay Freestone: Make Me a Perfect Murder)
    31. Kim Cattrall (Joanna Nicholls: How to Dial a Murder)
    32. Tricia O’Neil (Mrs. Cochran: How to Dial a Murder)

    I guess if I had to list my favorites, I would include Ruth Gordon, Gena Rowlands, and Janet Leigh with honorable mentions to Susan Clark, Anne Baxter, Sian Barbara Allen, Trish Van Devere, and Tricia O’Neil.

    • Largo

      What!?! No Arlene Martel!?! Inconceivable!!! 😉

      • Roberto

        Hey, I love Arlene Martell. I have been to several Star Trek conventions over the years (beginning in the 1970s) and she was always one of the most gracious guest stars to appear. She didn’t have much to do in her appearances on Columbo which is a shame.

    • Margaret Williams

      Woo hoo! I’m Number Two! Thank you so much for posting this, Roberto. Now I can’t wait to tell my therapist, Dr. Shatterhand! 🙂

  • Nelson Heyward

    Just wondering guys how come we cant download podcast to Tablet/PC anymore? it just opens in a new tab and plays

    • Nothing’s changed in the way we put the files up – I just clicked “Download” on this episode and it downloaded! Are you using a different/updated browser maybe? Struggling to think of any reason things would be different!

      Not sure how that would work on a tablet, but there are a bunch of good podcast apps that can be used – if it’s an iPad there’s the native Podcasts app and if you’re on Android you can click the ‘Android’ link below the player and it will recommend an app for you. You can then subscribe from there.

      • Nelson Heyward

        Hi thanks for reply, every week I download from either Firefox or tablets own browse(never worked from chrome always just played instead of downloading) and it downloads to PC/Tab and I play from there (net connection not the best) then last weeks(Perfect Murder) my tabs browser did same tho firefox did download, this weeks oddly enough on all browers on laptop & 2 tabs it plays instead of downloading, strange.

        When it downloads it does so as a mp3 then plays like any song/album.

        • I can imagine that must be frustrating. My best guess is it’s a change in the way the browser is handling the request, but I can’t think of anything that would help! Sorry!!

  • No Half Measures

    Hey there, Gerry & Iain! I was wondering if most people on this forum are Trekkies, since I hear and see a lot of references to Star Trek. Unfortunately, I was still a bit of a wee one when that show was on, so I’m only familiar with the references that are part of pop culture. I LOVE Leonard Nimoy, though, and his appearance on Columbo only made me more fond of him. Did you guys watch Star Trek when it was on as a regular show or when it was in syndication/DVDs/Netflix, etc.?

    • Largo

      I’m very proud to say that I’m a Trekker! Iain is a Trekker, too — but I do believe he needs to brush up a little more on “Classic Trek.” However, I may be wrong about this, eh (I apologize in advance if I am in error, Iain). As with Gerry ….. well, I’m not sure what’s up with him. Gerry appears to be rather resistant to all things related to Star Trek. Quite a ways back on this forum, I encouraged him to watch the first season of classic Star Trek, but Gerry didn’t seem at all interested. ‘Tis a pity. :.(

    • Roberto

      Hiya No Half. I too am a Trekkie. I may have seen the original series when it originally aired, but I really caught the bug in college when it ran non-stop in syndication. It aired late afternoon and there were daily viewing parties in the dorm’s common area. Airing daily meant, of course, you could see an entire season in about a month and the entire run in a little more than a semester.

      After awhile, the more veteran among us would have seen the episodes countless times and could recite the dialog verbatim. One of our favorite games was to yell out the name of the episode as soon as possible, often within a second or two of the opening shot.

      Harlan Ellison spoke at my college and of course we grilled him on The City on the Edge of Forever. He had nothing but bad things to say about Gene Roddenberry (how Roddenberry totally rewrote his story, was mean to him, etc.) and his entire Star Trek experience. So we put him down as a nut since we didn’t want to hear anything negative about our beloved show.

      In his talk, Ellison mentioned that in his original story it was Spock, not Kirk, who prevented McCoy (the analog to McCoy) from saving Edith Keeler. We discussed this possibility at great length in the subsequent weeks with us Trekkies evenly divided over whether having Kirk save the world by allowing Edith to die made the story better or worse.

      Anyway, welcome No Half.

      • No Half Measures

        Thanks, Roberto! As soon as you mentioned having the viewing parties in college, my memory went right back to doing that once, only we did it with Brady Bunch (please do not kick me off of this forum for that (-; ). My boyfriend-later-husband & his very comical friends would make the funniest remarks, and I guess my reaction (practically falling on the floor with laughter) encouraged them (-; . There’s nothing like watching a show with a bunch of people and feeding off of each other’s remarks! I did that recently with an episode of “The Office,” and that time I really DID fall off the couch laughing (and crying, too, b/c I was laughing so hard) (-: !

        • Roberto

          Oh yes, watching tv shows with a bunch of friends while incessantly commenting upon the action and dialog in a smarmy smart-ass manner can be quite enjoyable. Even if the show is beloved like Star Trek.

          Luckily there were enough silly Star Trek scenes, characters, and episodes to keep us going for hours! Rocky Horror turned this into an art form, literally.

          By the way, your mention of the Brady Bunch takes me back to the night in college when all the girls in my dorm took over the TV room so that they could watch a Brady Bunch movie which was airing at the same time all the boys wanted to watch the NCAA Basketball Final game!

          • No Half Measures

            OK, now we’re friends for life b/c anyone who enjoys smarmy smart-ass humor is definitely a winner in my book (-; . And do I feel badly for you boys that The Brady Bunch usurped your basketball game, especially one so important! Coming from a serious family of basketball lovers, and even though I love that show, I think something like that should be a crime. Keeping men from final games in sports is akin to keeping women from gossiping (-; !

            Oh, and in the email I got telling me that you had replied to my post, you mentioned MST3K (here it says Rocky Horror). Is that Mystery Science Theatre? I’ve never seen it, but I’ve heard that it’s hilarious. I think Star Trek being on instead of Tom and Jerry or some other great show like that when I was little (not to mention that it lasted a whole HOUR) traumatized me for life as far as science fiction goes (-; .

          • Roberto

            Yes, I originally referenced MST3K (Mystery Science Theater 3000) but changed it to the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I figured that more people had heard of (and experienced) Rocky Horror than Mystery Science Theater. Either way, pseudo-interactive experiences are always better than just passively watching a tv show.

            Which is one reason why we are all thankful to Gerry and Iain for putting together their (our?) wonderful Columbo podcast. Through this forum and other social media, and how they sound on the podcasts, they are so welcoming and community-building that they make us listeners feel like we are part of the show.

          • Very pleased to hear you say that, Roberto. Makes it all worthwhile when people get something from it!

    • Hi No Half. I (Iain) do enjoy Star Trek, though I’m not sure I qualify as a Trekkie! I particularly enjoy DS9. Gerry isn’t really into it at all, but he certainly has taken note of the many performers who have appeared on both ST and Columbo.

  • Largo

    Well, I was listening to the podcast for “How To Dial A Murder” last night and laughing up a storm, too. I was reacting to the comment referring to Sigmund smoking a cigarette and I was really enjoying it all immensely, when suddenly everything came crashing down without warning. Why, oh why did you have to tell that story about Kim Cattrall running around in the buff and only sporting Vulcan ears!?! You dudes sure know how to kick a man when he’s down, eh! There I was, a man already crushed and in pain — who only just recently was picking up the pieces of his shattered ‘Kim Cattrall Prime [1978-1991] rose-tinted glasses’ (courtesy of Peter and Roberto) — when both of you guys knocked me to the curb with your bit about Kim Cattrall nudie photos and stuff! I was reduced to a whimpering mess and huddling in a corner while rocking back and forth and clutching his Joshua teddy bear! I’ll never be able to watch Star Trek VI the same way again! Thanks fer nuthin’, Gerry and Iain!!! 😉

    • To be fair, we’ve yet to have any official confirmation those photos exist anywhere other than in Gerry’s imagination!

      • Largo

        In all seriousness, I have never heard this story at all and I was wondering what your actual source was that spoke of these particular rumors. I don’t recall reading about this in Shatner’s book Star Trek Movie Memories, for instance. However, if I actually did read this in that book, my delicate sensibilities have caused it to be erased from my memory banks, eh! 🙂

        • Gerry keeps his sources a closely guarded secret, however a quick google search reveals that it is a rumour that has been expressed in a variety of locations over the years.

  • Kate

    I’m a new listener to this podcast, could anyone recommend some of their favorite episodes?

  • Anne H

    Someone has probably already posted about this, but chocolate can kill dogs. http://www.hillspet.com/en/us/dog-care/nutrition-feeding/is-chocolate-bad-for-dogs

    • It’s true.

    • Largo

      Hey there, Anne!

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

      http://www.jonathancreekpodcast.com

      • Anne H

        Thanks, Largo!!!

        • Largo

          You are you most welcome, Anne! 🙂

  • Michael Betelli

    Hi to everyone!
    It was a real pleasure for me to watch again (haven’t since 90s) this episode!

    Thanks for your job guys, really interesting!
    Although, for those like me who can’t really manage to understand British English, it’d be really great to have podcast transcripts 🙂

    • Thanks Michael. Apologies for our accents! Transcripts would be great, but automated transcription is unreliable and manual transcription is very expensive!!