The fifty ninth episode of Columbo was titled A Bird in the Hand… and was the final episode of the show’s eleventh season. Columbo has a choice of killers as a family implodes. In this podcast Gerry and Iain look at an episode with a critical and surprising twist.
Harold McCain (Greg Evigan) spends his time chasing gambling debts in Vegas and back home in California. When his wealthy uncle, Big Fred (Steve Forrest), refuses to help and Fred’s wife Dolores (Tyne Daly) cannot help he is left in a difficult spot. Determining that murder is the best solution he wires a pipe bomb to Fred’s car, only for Fred to be killed in a hit and run accident before it can be detonated.
As Harold looks for an opportunity to defuse the bomb, Columbo arrives to investigate Fred’s death, taking an unusual interest in the car. Fred’s gardner, Fernando (León Singer), tries to move the vehicle and is killed in the ensuing explosion. Assisting the Lieutenant is Lt Robertson (Frank McRae), who expresses some doubt in relation to Columbo’s methods on occasion, and Sgt. Nancy Duran (Joanna Sanchez).
Dolores comes under suspicion after Harold is later murdered and her lawyer, Bertie (Don S. Davis) offers little assistance in rebuffing the Lieutenant’s questions. Other key figures include Harold’s primary creditor, Mr Hacker (Michael Gregory) and his Casino Manager (Stephen Liska). Lenny Citrano makes a brief appearance as a barber offering crucial information to Columbo.
Vincent McEveety was back in the director’s chair following his work on Rest in Peace, Mrs Columbo and Death Hits the Jackpot. This would be the third of his seven directorial roles on the show. He worked with Jackson Gillis‘ eleventh and final script for the show.
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A Bird in the Hand… was released in 1992. It is 98 minutes long and originally aired on the ABC network. This episode is not available on Netflix, but can be found on the Season 10 or complete collection DVD box sets from Universal (all remaining episodes are considered ‘Season 10’ in the DVD collection).