"A Riddle for Puppets" from the TV spinoff Mrs. Columbo
Still wearing the same old rumpled raincoat, chewing the same old unlit cigar, and trapping clever murderers with "just one more question," homicide detective Lt. Columbo (Peter Falk) launches a fourth season of 90- to 120-minute episodes, shown as a rotating component of The NBC Mystery Movie. The season begins with "An Exercise in Fatality," starring Robert Conrad as a famous physical-fitness guru who goes to elaborate lengths to murder his crooked business partner while provided a foolproof alibi for himself. Dick Van Dyke is cast against type as a celebrated photographer who cold-bloodedly murders his wife and stages the killing to look like a botched kidnapping in "Negative Reaction." In "By Dawn's Early Light," Patrick McGoohan makes the first of several Columbo appearances as the taciturn head of a boy's military academy who will go to any lengths to prevent his institution from admitting female cadets.Robert Vaughn shows up in "Troubled Waters," in which Columbo's vacation is interrupted by the murder of a cruise-ship vocalist. In "Playback," Oscar Werner commits murder before a videotape camera, the better to throw the only "witness" off the track. And in the season's final episode, "A Deadly State of Mind," George Hamilton plays a psychiatrist who uses hypnosis to drive his wife to inadvertently kill herself, a crime that Columbo solves through the simple method of hoisting the criminal on his own mind-game petard.