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It Happened


Robert Culp’s first outing as a killer is a really, really good one, the first season’s “Death Lends a Hand.” When an attempt at blackmailing newspaper publisher Ray Milland’s wife turns into murder, private detective Culp makes sure that his firm is involved in the investigation. Of course, he doesn’t count on Columbo being assigned to the case and his attempts to derail the inquiry never trick the Lt. for one second. Hollywood personality J.D. Ryznar (Yacht Rock, Drunk History) joins Jon and RJ to break it all down.


  1. Great episode until the end. Why not drop the contact into the undercar repair trough. I have to assume it would be dirty and almost as hard to find as in that wonderful rug. And watching the end twice, was it just happenstance that there was a contact in the trunk, since it wasn’t the victims? Or did Columbo just not admit to planting it? Had he not made the admission at the end, I definitely think that the defense attorney could have ripped that one to shreds.

    • Hindsight is 20/20. I’m sure Brimmer was also wondering why he didn’t just throw the contact lens into the gutter.

      I thought we’d talked about it on the episode, but we were all pretty sure that Columbo planted the contact lens, just that he wouldn’t admit it. Would you, if you were a police detective, inform a crusading newspaperman that you were planting evidence in hopes of hooking a conviction? Even if the victim were the man’s wife, would you take that chance?

      • Sorry. Wrote that before listening. Meant to make it before your podcast. You guys did talk about it. Maybe not making any comment about her having both contacts would have been safer. Less implicating on planting evidence. Just let everyone assume it was hers. Didn’t exactly have DNA testing back then.
        As far as dropping the contact, he pulled it out right AFTER walking across the trough. Poor timing. I was expecting him to as he dramatically walked across the plank only to pull it out right after. Just seemed odd. But then again, I am looking at these much more critically because of you guys. Still thought it was a great episode.

    • Believe it or not, it doesn’t matter if Columbo planted it. Even if he admits he planted it, it’s fine. That’s because what incriminates Brimmer isn’t the contact lens – it’s Brimmer LOOKING for the contact lens. If he’s innocent, he has no reason to be there searching for it in the first place!

  2. This episode was epic. You guys really saved some of your best stuff for the first Culp episode. Knowing the obscure Ray Milland noir with a similar plot. That was great. Or that tidbit about the stunt driver. And your whole breakdown and appreciation was just spot on.

    It’s one thing to have a podcast that makes fun of things that are dated, etc. but having a great episode to work on, is a whole other deal to have an episode that has less of that and more about talking about what works and why and still make it entertaining. Nailed it!

  3. These last couple episodes of the podcast have been fantastic!

  4. Lisa S Lisa S

    Great podcast. I tried to identify the locations of the golf course and playground. Could’t find any matches. Perhaps golf course in Palm Springs?

  5. Ant Ant

    Hmm. So you finally break the Culp embargo with one of the best episodes of your podcast ever?! The plot thickens…

  6. Joe Joe

    Saw the episode again Saturday night and finally realized, after more than 40 years, that both Brimmer’s and Kennicutt’s first name is Arthur. Why would a screenwriter assign the same first name to two characters?

  7. Rich Weill Rich Weill

    This wasn’t only the first series episode filmed, it was scheduled to be the first episode aired (until it was flipped with “Murder by the Book”). This explains Columbo’s opening scene, intended as his introduction to the series. And if you’ve always wondered why the Peugeot is only glimpsed in “Murder by the Book,” that’s because it was supposed to have been featured here first.

    There are other unplanned, spontaneous crimes, such as in “Dagger of the Mind,” “Deadly State of Mind,” and “Lovely But Lethal.” But in each of these, there is a second, premeditated murder, eliminating any sympathy for the killer. Or the spontaneous act doesn’t kill the victim, and the killer has to plan how to finish the job (as in “The Most Dangerous Match” and “Any Old Port in a Storm”). This one has no follow-up or second crime. That what makes it unique.

    Finally, you don’t mention my favorite line in the episode. Columbo admits to Arthur Kennicutt that his investigation is at a dead end. So Kennicutt brings in Brimmer “to work on the case.” Columbo responds: “You know, I suddenly feel very much more optimistic about this whole thing.” A classic Columbo double entendre.

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