Peter Falk in Prescription: Murder (1968)

Falk is the Perfect Prescription

Psychiatrist, Dr. Ray Flemming (Gene Barry) may be married to Carol (Nina Foch) but it doesn't stop him from having an affair with Joan (Katherine Justice), one of his patients. When Carol discovers her husband's adultery she threatens to divorce him and take him for everything he has. It leads to Ray, with the help of Joan, setting about murdering Carol and making it seem like she came across an intruder who attacked her. But attempted murder leads to Lt. Columbo (Peter Falk) to the crime scene and some intrusive questioning of Dr. Flemming. With friends in high places Dr. Flemming has Columbo warned off over his line of questioning but when Columbo knows something isn't right he just can't let go especially when Carol doesn't pull through.

Oh what it must have been like to have tuned in to "Prescription: Murder" back in February 1968 when it first aired and got to witness Peter Falk play Lt. Columbo for the first time. Now in fairness Peter Falk was not the first actor to play Lt. Columbo, there was an earlier performance from Bert Freed in a small drama whilst Thomas Mitchell played Columbo in a stage play. But of course after Peter Falk played Columbo in this TV Movie of the week it lead to a pilot being aired and from then on we had the long running series which still entertains audiences now.

Gene Barry in Prescription: Murder (1968)

Now considering "Prescription: Murder" was really a one off, many of the typical elements are there to see such as not actually meeting Columbo until after a build up which establishes that Dr. Flemming attempted to murder his wife and staged it to appear an intruder did it all because she was going to divorce him and leave him with nothing. And what follows is when watched now just as typical although it does do a nice job of toying with you when it comes to the actual staging of the murder.

Of course the big thing about "Prescription: Murder" is Peter Falk playing Columbo for the first time and the biggest thing is how presentable this Columbo is, looking surprisingly smart and not the absent minded investigator he was later on in the series. But it is still Falk as Columbo and it is in the detail which makes the character and that is how Columbo observes other people's reactions, you can just see the cogs turning over in his brain as he watches Dr. Flemming's reactions to his questions and news.

What this all boils down to is that "Prescription: Murder" is as good as any of the episodes of "Columbo" which were to follow. But more importantly you can understand why a series was made as Peter Falk is absolutely brilliant as the Lieutenant in this.

Tags: Columbo