The fifty seventh episode of Columbo was titled Death Hits the Jackpot and was the first episode of the show’s eleventh season. Greed oozes from every pore as a lottery winner is killed for his prize. In this podcast Gerry and Iain look at an altogether unpleasant group of people.
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In the midst of a divorce from his wife Nancy (Jamie Rose), Freddie Brower (Gary Kroeger) is thrilled to see his lottery numbers come up. With a $30m ticket in his possession, all his problems seem to be solved. Seeking to exclude his ex-wife from any part of the winnings, Brower contacts his uncle, Leon Lamarr (Rip Torn), who agrees to claim the prize on Freddie’s behalf and pass on the money once the divorce is resolved. In a shocking twist, Lamarr is engaged in an affair with Nancy Brower and the pair conspire to murder Freddie and keep the millions for themselves.
Betsy Palmer, as Leon’s wife Martha, Joe the Chimp (as himself) and Brit Lind (as Trish, a neighbour of Freddie’s) are the most prominent of a fairly sizeable supporting cast, while Warren Berlinger‘s Detective Stroller helps Columbo deliver the gotcha at the episode’s conclusion.
Vincent McEveety will be responsible for directing around half of the remaining Columbo episodes, including this – his second outing after Rest in Peace, Mrs Columbo. Jeffrey Bloom receives his third and final writing credit on the show (after Agenda for Murder and Columbo Goes to College) with uncredited assistance from story editor Robert Van Scoyk, who penned Murder Under Glass and would return to the show one more time.
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Death Hits the Jackpot was released in 1991. 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).