The sixty second episode of Columbo was titled Undercover and was the final episode of the show’s twelfth season. Columbo adopts an alternative identity to infiltrate a criminal conspiracy. In this podcast Gerry and Iain look at a break from the traditional format.
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After a minor role in Season 7’s How to Dial a Murder, Ed Begley Jr. returns as manipulative killer Irving Krutch, an insurance investigator whose standing was reduced when he failed to track down $4m stolen from a banking client some years earlier. Krutch has acquired a list of names – people connected to the original thieves who each hold one piece of a photograph showing the hiding place for the money.
The first people from the list we meet are JJ Dillinger (Jon Beshara) and Eugene E Ehrbach (an uncredited actor – can you identify him?), followed by Mo Weinberg (Burt Young), Geraldine Ferguson (Shera Danese), Dorothea McNally (Tyne Daly) and Derrick Combs (doesn’t appear). Columbo’s investigations are principally aided by Det. Sgt. Arthur Brown (Harrison Page) on the authority of their captain (Hank Garrett).
Irving Krutch’s alibi was supplied by his lover Suzie Endicott (Kristin Bauer), while Geraldine Ferguson’s associate Bramley Kahn (Edward Hibbert) also had a role to play in an episode featuring a sizeable principal cast.
Vincent McEveety got his shot at working from an Ed McBain (Evan Hunter) story, adapted for the screen by Gerry Day (her only work for the show).
If you have thoughts on any aspect of Undercover (and particularly if you know who played Eugene E. Ehrbach), please share them below, or find us on Twitter at @columbopodcast.
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Undercover was released in 1994. It is 88 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).