The fiftieth episode of Columbo was titled Agenda for Murder and was the third episode of the show’s ninth season. Political aspirations drive an ambitious lawyer to murder ahead of the California primary. In this podcast Gerry and Iain look at a returning guest star and developments in the work of a returning director.
After two appearances in the original run (Season 4’s By Dawn’s Early Light and Season 5’s Identity Crisis) Patrick McGoohan returns as attorney Oscar Finch. A close compatriot of Congressman Paul Mackey (Denis Arndt), Finch is thrilled by his friend’s adoption to Governor Montgomery’s (Arthur Hill) Presidential ticket. Eyeing the role of Attorney General, he first has to deal with a spot of blackmail from Louis Zorich‘s Frank Staplin. Determining that eliminating Staplin is the safest choice, Finch shoots him and stages the scene to look like a suicide.
This episode’s supporting cast includes Penny Fuller as Finch’s wife; Anne Haney as Finch’s personal assistant/secretary Louise; the brilliant Stanley Kamel as Tim Haines, an assistant to the Governor; and Shaun Toub as Amir, a dry cleaner whose enthusiasm for helping Columbo doesn’t prevent a critical error from one of his colleagues.
McGoohan directed the episode (his first since the widely-derided Last Salute to the Commodore) from a story by Jeffrey Bloom, his first of three Columbo scripts that marked his last Hollywood writing before embarking on a photography career.
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Agenda for Murder was released in 1990. 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 9 or complete collection DVD box sets from Universal.