One in this series of police dramas, presented under the umbrella of "The ABC Mystery Movie," in which Los Angeles homicide detective Lt. Columbo's unassuming manner masks his keen intelligence and sharp investigative abilities. In this episode, Dr. Paula Hall, parapsychologist and head of the Anneman Institute, stations herself in the building's telepathy isolation chamber to take part in a test of Elliott Blake's telepathic abilities. Afterward, Elliott is furious at Paula. Though he got a high level of accuracy on the test, the lovers' scheme almost failed due to Paula's mistakes with rehearsed routines. They discuss the need to scam the panel of experts in order to get increased funding for Paula's institute -- and a position for Elliott with the military. Later, Mr. Harrow and Colonel Eckherdt visit the institute to meet with Paula and Elliott. Mr. Harrow wants proof that Elliott would be able to intercept thoughts of enemy agents. Mr. Harrow asks Elliott to submit to one more test, one run by an outside authority. Mr. Harrow and Col. Eckherdt call in magician and mentalist Max Dyson, known for his ability to expose charlatans. Max claims to have tested numerous people who claim telepathic powers and found none to be genuine. Elliott agrees to submit to Max's tests.

Later, Max and Elliott meet on a dock, recalling their time together in a Ugandan prison, when Elliott was one of Max's students. Max tells Elliott that he better be "good" if he wants to succeed at the test. Max subsequently arranges an extremely comprehensive test involving Elliott's ability to see images telepathically sent to him from three men in the field. Nevertheless, Elliott is able to ace the test, seemingly proving his telepathic skills and greatly impressing the military panel. Mr. Harrow decides to hire Elliott on the spot. Max appears furious at getting thwarted. That night, Max works on a guillotine magic prop in his apartment, before Elliott drops by to discuss how they deceived the panel together. Elliott questions Max as to why he helped him in the stunt. Max shows Elliott his guillotine before insisting that Elliott put his head in the prop. After the safety blade is demonstrated, Elliott reveals that he thought Max was going to betray him yet again. A still angry Elliott pulls a gun on Max and gets Max to reveal the truth about why he left Elliott behind in prison. Satisfied, Elliott drops the gun, revealing it to only be a prop. However, Elliott then gets Max onto the guillotine and drops its blade, beheading him.

Later, Lt. Columbo heads to a bar where he speaks with owner Mr. Russo, a former sergeant, who has noticed blood leaking into his bar from the ceiling. Columbo heads to the workshop above, where he finds Max's corpse. Columbo immediately begins searching for clues. The other detectives think Max accidentally killed himself while working on his prop. Afterward, Columbo speaks with Max's friend Bert Spindler about the guillotine trick. Bert thinks Max simply forgot to lock in the safety bolt. Bert reveals that the recent test with Elliott was the first time Max had ever been thwarted in his debunking of telepathy. The next day, Columbo speaks with Paula about Elliott, wanting to meet him. Afterward, Columbo sneaks onto a tour of Anneman's research labs. Then, Elliott approaches Columbo to see how he can help. Elliott takes Columbo to the isolation chamber, which he explores. Columbo questions Elliott on how Max felt after his test was passed. Columbo also asks Elliott to try and read his mind. Later, Columbo goes back to visit with Bert at the magic shop he ran for Max. There, young magician Tommy shows him some tricks, including a finger guillotine. Afterward, Bert gives Columbo a demonstration of Max's prop guillotine. Later, at Max's funeral, numerous magicians offer "magical" tributes.

Afterward, Columbo tracks down Elliott, wondering why he is in attendance for the funeral of "a stranger." Columbo also asks Elliott if he can use his psychic skills to figure out who killed Max. Elliott meets Columbo at Max's workshop, finding the detective reading the dead magician's autobiography. Elliott claims that his telepathic powers have found an "emotional mist" in the room, perhaps evidence that Max committed suicide. Columbo is confused as to why the man would take his own life, especially when Max had purchased groceries for himself just before he died. Columbo also claims the death couldn't have been an accident since Max's body was found with a slotted-head screwdriver in his hand, though Max was working on screws requiring a Phillips screwdriver. Columbo thinks someone was with Max when he died, putting the incorrect screwdriver back into his hand to make the death appear accidental. Elliott wonders how the so-called murderer of Max was able to escape from an apartment where all the doors were locked.

Later, Elliott agrees to a contract with Mr. Harrow, who tells him that he will get a new identity under his employ. Later, Columbo again speaks with Elliott, showing how he has learned a mind-reading trick from Max's book. Columbo also uses Elliott's curriculum vitae to possibly link him to having known Max when they both lived in Uganda. That night, Elliott tries to say goodbye to Paula, who is not pleased. The next day, Columbo meets with Tommy to try and learn how Elliott might have defeated Max's psychic test. That night, as Elliott prepares to leave town and assume his new life, Columbo arrives. Columbo takes Elliott back to the institute for another "psychic demonstration." Columbo attempts to imitate Elliott's performance when he thwarted Max. Amazingly, Columbo is able to pass the test, just as Elliott had. Afterward, Columbo simply claims it was a trick and an obvious one at that. Later, Columbo visits again with Elliott at Max's workshop, showing how a magician would have known how to leave Max's apartment and lock the door behind him. Columbo then shows Elliott how he did his psychic trick. Columbo also says that Elliott had to know Max so that they could work the trick together. Columbo then that states that Elliott was Max's killer, enacting revenge for the prison betrayal. Columbo reveals knowing that Elliott palmed a gun cartridge when he was last in the workshop. Then, Columbo shows Elliott how he figured out the guillotine trick. As Columbo demonstrates the technique by placing himself on the device, Elliott tries to kill Columbo. But having anticipated Elliott's actions, Columbo switched the labels on which button would release the lethal blade. As a result, Columbo arrests Elliott for murder. Also includes an "ABC News Brief" with Jeanne Meserve. Includes commercials.


  • DATE: February 6, 1989 Monday 9:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 1:56:03
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: T:16910
  • GENRE: Drama, police/private detective
  • SUBJECT HEADING: Drama, police/private detective
  • SERIES RUN: NBC - TV series, 1968-1972; ABC - 1989-2003
  • COMMERCIALS: TV - Commercials - Celestial Seasonings herb teas^TV - Commercials - Burger King restaurants^TV - Commercials - Triaminic cold syrup^TV - Commercials - Uncle Ben's Country Inn rice^TV - Commercials - Subaru automobiles^TV - Commercials - Clairol Loving Care shampoo^TV - Commercials - Renuzit RoomMate air freshener^TV - Commercials - "Tap" motion picture^TV - Commercials - Ford automobiles^TV - Commercials - Youth Plus for Project Literacy US^TV - Commercials - Alpo dog food^TV - Commercials - Chrysler automobiles^TV - Commercials - General Mills Total cereal^TV - Commercials - Wendy's restaurants^TV - Commercials - Listerine mouthwash^TV - Commercials - Weight Watchers meals^TV - Commercials - Good Year auto service^TV - Commercials - FTD flowers^TV - Commercials - Toyota automobiles^TV - Commercials - Sprint long-distance calling^TV - Commercials - First magazine^TV - Commercials - Yoplait yogurt^TV - Commercials - Ore Ida french fries^TV - Commercials - Best Foods mayonnaise^TV - Commercials - Suzi Wan dinners^TV - Commercials - Alka Seltzer Plus cold medicine^TV - Commercials - Buick automobiles^TV - Commercials - Mr. Goodwrench auto service^TV - Commercials - Partnership for a Drug-Free America^TV - Commercials - "True Believer" motion picture^TV - Commercials - Midas brakes^TV - Commercials - Michelob Dry beer^TV - Promos - "Good Morning America"^TV - Promos - "Who's the Boss?"^TV - Promos - "Roseanne"^TV - Promos - "Monday Mystery Movie; B.L. Stryker"^TV - Promos - "Moonlighting"^TV - Promos - "thirtysomething"^TV - Promos - "Perfect Strangers"^TV - Promos - "Full House"^TV - Promos - "Monday Mystery Movie: Columbo/B.L. Stryker/Gideon Oliver"^TV - Promos - "World News Tonight With Peter Jennings"^TV - Promos - "Nightline"^TV - Promos - "The Wonder Years"^TV - Promos - "Hooperman"^TV - Promos - "China Beach"^TV - Promos - "A Fine Romance"^TV - Promos - "Dynasty"^TV - Promos - "Growing Pains"^TV - Promos - "Head of the Class"


  • Richard Alan Simmons … Executive Producer
  • Peter Falk … Co-Executive Producer
  • Philip Saltzman … Supervising Producer
  • William Link … Supervising Executive Producer, Created by
  • Abby Singer … Coordinating Producer
  • Stanley Kallis … Producer
  • Peter V. Ware … Co-Producer
  • John A. Martinelli … Associate Producer
  • Leo Penn … Director
  • Richard Levinson … Created by
  • William Read Woodfield … Writer
  • John Cacavas … Music by
  • Mike Post … Theme Music by
  • Peter Falk … Cast, Lt. Columbo
  • Anthony Andrews … Cast, Elliott Blake
  • Karen Austin … Cast, Paula Hall
  • James Greene … Cast, Bert Spindler
  • Alan Fudge … Cast, Mr. Harrow
  • Dana Andersen … Cast, Dori
  • Robert Costanzo … Cast, Sgt. Russo
  • Anthony Zerbe … Cast, Max Dyson
  • Michael Bacall … Cast, Tommy
  • Charles Howerton … Cast, Colonel Eckherdt
  • Milt Kogan … Cast, Medical Examiner
  • Tony Amendola … Cast, Clergyman
  • Rob Garrison … Cast, Young Man
  • Frank Simons … Cast, Polygraph Operator
  • Lenny Hicks … Cast, Eddie
  • Ben Yudell … Cast, Kevin
  • Nick Demauro … Cast, Locksmith
  • Peter Noel Duhamel … Cast, Detective
  • Steve Zettler … Cast, Lieutenant Bravo
  • Andrew Philpot … Cast, Captain Alpha
  • Charles Champion … Cast, Major Charlie
  • Christopher Hart … Cast, Magician at Cemetery
  • Dan Birch … Cast, Magician at Cemetery
  • Jillian Gotlib … Cast, Magician
  • for "ABC News Brief"
  • Jeanne Meserve … Anchor