Robert Conrad in Columbo: An Exercise in Fatality (1974)

An Exercise in Detail

Milo Janus (Robert Conrad) is the owner of a chain of health club franchises and has got rich off of them. But he has an issue as one of his club managers, Gene Stafford (Philip Bruns), has an uncovered Milo's corrupt little empire with his various businesses used to syphon of money and move it abroad. It is why Milo organises himself a nice little alibi involving a party, his secretary and an adult movie so that he can murder Gene and make it look like an accident involving some weight lifting equipment. Of course there is always a flaw in any murderer's plans and it doesn't take long for Lieutenant Columbo (Peter Falk) to find a flaw and start digging in to it.

"Columbo: An Exercise in Fatality" is one of those episodes which is an exercise in detail, where the focus is more about us getting in to the mind of Columbo as it is about all the other usual bits. But of course we also get all those regular bits from Columbo's quirky way of going about the investigation, those humorous smiles he gives when asking questions, the finishing but returning with one more question and then another. Plus of course we have the guest appearances with Robert Conrad a great match for Peter Falk with some enjoyable verbal sparring whilst Conrad pulls off the tight shirts and exercise routines.

Gretchen Corbett in Columbo: An Exercise in Fatality (1974)

But as I said "Columbo: An Exercise in Fatality" is all about the detail, the eagle eye nature of Columbo. As such are sharp eyed but shabby looking lieutenant spots a coffee stain on a rug, a brown scuff on a waxed gym floor but also, and this for me is the one which makes me smile the most, he notices that the laces on the victim's gym shoes were not tied in the way someone would tie them himself but are tied the way someone would tie them if they were dressing someone else. It is for me these bits of attention which make this episode more than when Columbo finds himself having to jog next to Milo as he runs on the beach although Falk delivers the puffed out humour of that brilliantly.

What this all boils down to is that whilst "Columbo: An Exercise in Fatality" delivers everything you expect from an episode from Columbo's style of questioning to the banter he has with the suspect. But it is the details which make "Columbo: An Exercise in Fatality" and makes you appreciate the work the writers put in to be creative and imaginative when it comes to the clues.