“A Stitch in Crime” features Leonard Nimoy as Dr. Barry Mayfield, who commits two murders and purposefully botches a heart operation, all to get some revolutionary surgical technique out to the world before someone else does. Columbo has to work past his fear of hospitals and people’s open guts in order to figure out how to trap the doc in the act. Zack Handlen (AV Club) is on the show for some deep analysis and to help Jon and RJ figure out what kind of murderers they look like.
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Great episode, as usual!
One thing about “A Stitch in Crime” that had me puzzled is why Dr. Mayfield (Nimoy’s character) would take the risk of trying to put dissolving stitches in the heart valve in the second operation. He knew that Columbo had his eye on him, and that an autopsy would be likely if his patient died. Would he really be that foolhardy?
Oh, by the way, there was some crosstalk and I couldn’t hear — CBS had a series in the 1970s about what? Who?
I think the second operation was to replace the dissolving sutures with real ones.
Not sure- about when in the show did we talk about CBS?
I couldn’t hear it either, but I listened again and I think it was a series based on From Here to Eternity?
That’s correct. The first operation was to insert the dissolving sutures, which Dr. Mayfield figured was low risk to him because people would assume Dr. Heideman had simply died of heart failure. The second operation was to remove the dissolving sutures with regular sutures — essentially bailing on the entire murder scheme (after he’d committed at least one and probably two other murders to cover up the “main” attempted murder). Dr. Heideman ends up being the only main, intended murder victim to survive in the 1970s Columbo episodes.
One of your funniest episodes and some very insightful comments from Mr. Avatar of Justice, there. Really enjoyable. This one doesn’t score as high on the rubric (no classic film stars, no one living at the beach), but Columbo’s “rage-filled center” makes up for it all in my book.
If Mayfield was planning to replace the dissolving sutures with real ones, why did he have more dissolving sutures on him, that he needed to get rid of by putting them in Columbo’s gown? And if he was thinking of putting in dissolving sutures again, wouldn’t he be at the same risk when Grampa Walton died and the police carried out an autopsy?
The discussion about ’70s lineups was at about 51:48 to 52:50.
JON: Yeah. ’79-80 NBC is like infamous. My wife and I, one of the things we do when we’re a little bored, like on a Friday night or whatever, is we will pop on YouTube, and you can find the old lineup specials–
RJ: Oh, yes! I love seeing those. I love seeing those.
JON: They are brilliant, and we just watched one for CBS that was some time in the ’70s, I think ’77, maybe? I don’t know. But it was terrible–
RJ: Shows you’ve never heard of! Shows you’ve never heard of in your life! And people worked on these things!
JON: [inaudible] had a show
RJ: What? There was a show based on that? You’re kidding me! In the mid ’70s? Thirty years later? Why would they do that?
“From Here to Eternity”
Also, I think the sutures that were slipped into Columbo’s pocket were the ones previously nestled around Grandpa Walton’s arteries. Eugh.
Also, agreed on “From Here to Eternity” and a what? a prequel to Casablanca? That’s crazy talk.
Remember how in the 70s and 80s there was this trend to turn even moderately successful films into sitcoms? Besides MASH, of course, I remember House Calls getting translated for the small screen, and Animal House …
I swear I thought he said *show about a turkey” but a version of FH2E cast with turkeys is now my grail
I also misheard it as “show about a turkey”!
A very fun episode of the podcast; thanks.
To the question of what sort of murderers podcast listeners look like: In an old school ID photo, I specifically resemble Thenmozhi Rajaratnam, the woman who assassinated Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.
RJ saying “the lizard king?!” is my new ringtone.
Mayfield is, unless I am missing someone, probably the closest to a psychopathic killer Columbo ever went up against. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if he hadn’t killed a bunch of people long before this episode. Its that classic “guy who holds people’s lives in his hand” who deludes himself into thinking that he has authority over life and death trope.
There is a part of me that thinks he killed his nurse so quickly and coldly not just because she was a threat to his plan but that she, a “mere nurse”, dared to question him.
Columbo actually called one killer a psychopath — the one Lee Grant played in the second pilot episode. He told her, “You have no conscience. And that’s your weakness.”
Yay! Been waiting on this one since the start.
Running a little behind on podcasts but enjoyed this one about one of my favorite episodes.
One thought occurred as I was listening to the podcast.
When Columbo leaves and then comes back at the end did he really just figure out how Nimoy did it or did he know all along ?
My thought being that Nimoy’s character was so despicable that maybe Columbo wanted to get one last did in by making him think he’d gotten away with it and them lowering the boom.
Just a thought
I can think of at least three 1970s episodes when the killer threatened Columbo’s life:
— In “Lady in Waiting,” Susan Harris’s character turned the gun on Columbo right after he put her under arrest. But he convinced her not to follow through, because there were too many policemen outside and she was “too classy a lady.”
— In “Murder Under Glass,” the killer tried to poison Columbo as he had done to his victim.
— In “How To Dial A Murder,” the killer gave his Dobermans the kill command (“Rosebud”), but Columbo had already had the dogs re-programmed to kiss rather than kill.
Also, Shyrl Hendrix is/was a man (I think he’s still alive).
The one where _Columbo_ pressures a murderer into actually undoing his murder, saving the original victim’s life.