Columbo matches is skills against Brimmer, a former cop turned private investigator with a quick temper who tries to blackmail a client's wife, when she refuses he accidentally kills her and it's up to Columbo to nail him.
A private detective kills the wife of one of his most important clients when she refuses to take part in his blackmail scheme and even plans to expose his unsavoury methods to her husband. In an ironic twist, the PA is rehired by his client to assist Columbo in the investigation.
The first regular Columbo episode filmed (after two pilot movies), though it was the second episode aired. See more »
Mic is visible when Columbo first sees the body. See more »
[showing Columbo the company computer]
This is our memory bank, lieutenant. Millions of bits of information, all cross-filed and on tape, immediately available. There're more electrical impulses in this room than in your brain.
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After Culp's character, a private detective named Brimmer, inadvertently kills Kennicut's wife, the lieutenant must show how, and even why. This is going to be interesting, because Brimmer himself isn't sure why: this is the first accidental killing in Columbo.
Not that it matters: it's Brimmer's temper — he's well, brimming with it — and there would certainly be a legal situation here, anyway. And in fact there is.
Because Brimmer had already been trying to blackmail the missus, who was making time with someone who was not the master. Culp's character hopes to use this as leverage against her, or more precisely with her for leverage against her husband, who owns newspapers.
He looks that part, too: much more Charles Foster Kane than the goofy dude in the first episode of next season — a guy who also supposedly owns a newspaper.
So when Mrs. Kennicut makes the classic TV mistake of telling the major bad guy everything you're going to do, well her trajectory is set. Of course she didn't know he would well watch.
In this episode, I think Columbo suspects the killer fairly quickly: he seems "on" immediately he gets a sense of Brimmer's temper and really, there aren't many other options.
Culp's Brimmer merits special mention: he's excellent. The terseness in speaking, in actions — he is precise, cutting, and careful, and not careful enough. And you'll like watching him try not to bust out laughing when Falk is into his patter.
Meanwhile, Columbo is always noticing, always asking questions — and he's funny about it, as in the palm reading scene, and he's audacious, as when he's riffling the golf pro's appointment book.
He keeps moving forward — what's the other guy going to do? Resist?
Culled from The Columbo Case Files: Season One.
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