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Columbo: Mind Over Mayhem (1974)

 
 

Columbo Computes

Peter Falk in Columbo: Mind Over Mayhem (1974)

Dr. Marshall Cahill (José Ferrer) is an intelligent man, good job to as he is a director of a government think tank which employs the top scientists from around the planet. But Cahill finds himself with a situation as his son Neil (Robert Walker Jr.) has copied the research of a dead scientist and published it as his own and Cahill's rival Dr. Nicholson (Lew Ayres) plans to expose him. It is enough for Dr. Cahill to murder Nicholson and cleverly making it seem like he was murdered by a drug addict. Unfortunately for Cahill he underestimated the intelligence and tenacity of Lt. Columbo (Peter Falk).

As I have said a few times, even a poor episode of "Columbo" is better than many a movie and whilst I wouldn't say "Columbo: Mind Over Mayhem" is poor it did sort of disappoint me. Part of that comes down to it ending up an incredibly typical episode which seems to miss the opportunity to do something really smart especially as early on in this episode we have a robot, Robby the Robot no less. As such we have a crime, we have Columbo finding a small clue and he probes, picks and digs until he gets the evidence to prove that Cahill killed Nicholson.

But there are some things going on in "Columbo: Mind Over Mayhem". Firstly there is the amusing naming of a boy genius played by Lee Montgomery as we have a Steve Spelberg, which is a tribute to Steven Spielberg who directed an episode of Columbo back in 1971. We also have Spelberg's project which is a robot called Double M 7. But the most interesting thing for me is the performance of José Ferrer as it is a dry characterisation and one which is good but almost feels out of place in an episode of "Columbo". In a way it feels like "Columbo: Mind Over Mayhem" is an episode full of ideas and characters which don't quite come together and so feel a little wasted.

What this all boils down to is that "Columbo: Mind Over Mayhem" is still an entertaining episode of "Columbo" but one which doesn't quite come together and come to life in the same way that other episodes did.

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