Murder by the Book was the first installment of Columbo’s inaugural season and (if we set the pilots aside for now) introduced audiences to Peter Falk in what was to become an iconic role. In this episode Gerry and Iain take a look at not only the plot, but also the characters, actors and others involved in the creation of Murder by the Book.
Besides Falk’s Columbo there were four more key characters in this story: Jack Cassidy as the scheming Ken Franklin; Martin Milner as Franklin’s former partner and first victim Jim Ferris; the tragic Barbara Colby as Lily La Sanka, a shopkeeper and admirer of Franklin; and Rosemary Forsyth as Joanna Ferris, the wife and ultimately widow of Jim.
This episode is notable for a number of reasons, not least because it was directed by a young Steven Spielberg and written by Steven Bochco, two men who went on to have great success in their fields, the former having won multiple Oscars and the latter ten Emmy Awards.
In this episode Gerry and Iain posed a challenge to listeners – can anyone identify the two Columbo murderers portrayed by actors born in Hamilton, Scotland. If you think you can then please use the comments below, or contact us on twitter where we’re @columbopodcast.
Murder by the Book was released in 1971. It is 76 minutes long and originally aired on the NBC network. It can be viewed on Netflix in the United States and is available on DVD in other countries, including a comprehensive box set of all eleven seasons released by Universal.