In a suburban, rose-covered cottage, dinner is cooking on the range. The kitchen phone rings and a young brunette in a robe answers. She tells the caller that they must have the wrong number, there's no "Angel" there and that this is the Baker residence. The caller, apparently angry, hangs up, and the brunette shrugs. She checks the meat in the fryin pan, then goes into the bathroom and turns on the shower. Disrobing, she enters the shower and slides the shower door closed. The doorknob to the bathroom door slowly turns. We see the shadow of the door opening across the brunette's body; she turns and screams.
Burke is dancing with a blonde on a club terrace. He asks the "professor" if she'd like brandy with her coffee. She says she shouldn't have wine, she shouldn't even be there; she should be at the university typing up her notes on her paper about automation giving the housewife more leisure time. Burke wonders if he helped with his theories that this leisure time tends to cause a rise in the crime rate. He quotes Isaac Walton ("For Satan finds some mischief still/For idle hands to do") and asks the professor what she does with her idle hands. Henry arrives with the report of a housewife dead in her shower. The professor says it seems their evening has come to a sudden end. She asks when their next lesson will be; Burke tells her he'll start shopping for an apple right away.
At the crime scene, a puddle trails across the carpet from the bathroom door to the gurney. Tim reports the woman drowned; McLeod discovered a scalp wound but says maybe she slipped and hit her head. Clearly she fell on the drain, and the shower filled up. Her husband discovered the body when he returned home from work.
The husband, Mr. Baker, tells Burke he came straight home from work at 6:30 on the freeway; when he entered the house, he heard the shower running, found his wife, pulled her out, called the fire department, and tried to give her artificial respiration. Burke asks if his wife had a job; Baker says no, Molly was his wife. Burke asks if there are any children and Baker, distraught, replies, no, just Molly and me. They hadn't been married for very long and Molly was much younger, her husband says, but it didn't matter. She used to say to him, Carl, I don't need anybody but you.
Outside the house, Burke angrily demands to know why Tim and Les called him; a housewife who slips on the soap, bangs her head and drowns is not murder. Les admits that he was the one who called, because he had a suspicion; even Tim can't figure out how it could be anything but an accident. They ask if they've ruined Burke's evening. He tells them no, luckily he had a spare.
Next day, at the station, Burke enters to find Lieutenant Gruber of the Burglary Division in his office. The lieutenant says Burke's late; Burke calls him "Sunshine" and says the lieutenant has a bad disposition. The lieutenant asks if Burke didn't used to be an amateur tennis champ. He reports that Burglary has had 5 cases in the Beverly Wood Hotel in five weeks and he has an idea the guilty party is the club tennis pro, Bucky Martin. Burke knows Martin; they both drive Rolls. Gruber wonders how a tennis pro can afford a Rolls; Burke does too and says maybe he should ask Martin sometime. As for his disposition, Gruber says he has four teenage daughters. Tim enters and asks for the afternoon off. His girlfriend, an umpire's daughter, has found a nice little house in the Valley and they could take a look at it this afternoon. Les comes in just in time to tell Tim to forget it; the coroner's report shows that Molly Baker was strangled. Burke tells Tim that's a lesson for him:
NEVER ARGUE WITH THE INNER VOICE OF EXPERIENCE - BURKE'S LAW
As they approach the Baker home, Tim tells Burke more about his girlfriend. The umpire's daughter is honest like her dad; she calls them as she sees them. He met her New Year's Eve and wants Burke to meet her. When they ring the doorbell, the front door is answered by a bubbly, perky, unbearably chipper woman, Mrs. Amanda Tribble, who introduces herself as "Mrs.-Tribble-from-across-the-street". She says "poor Mr. Baker" is at the cemetery making the arrangements. Inviting them, practically dragging them, in, Mrs. Tribble says personally she favors cremation; she has it in her will for both her and Buster, her parakeet who sits in a cage on the table. Buster pipes up and says "Anybody got a match?" Mrs. Tribble tells them not to laugh, Buster is a smartaleck, but he's all she's got. When Burke asks if she lives alone, she perks up even moreand eyes him, saying she's a widow. Mrs. Tribble says she never minded living alone until this "terrible thing" happened. She strokes Burke's lapel and says she hates to say it, but Molly wasn't very friendly. Heaven knows Mrs. Tribble tried her best from the first day the Bakers moved in. Baker arrives home and calls Burke Captain Kirk. He confirms that he's just returned from the cemetary. Buster asks "Anybody got a match?" and Mrs. Tribble tells Buster to never mind. Burke, not too subtly, suggests that Buster might want to go home. Mrs. Tribble tells Baker that she did the kitchen, and reminds him that if he needs her, she's right across the street.
Burke asks Baker if he worked usually until 6. Baker says, yes, regularly, but yesterday he had to get a report done for Mr. Carruthers, so it was a bit later. He nervously gets a cigarette and Burke lights it, asking if he came straight home. Baker says, yes, on the freeway. Burke asks if he turned the report in; Baker tells him he gave it to his secretary to retype. He wants to know what's going on; just then, McLeod and his Scientific Investigation Crew enter in force. Burke informs Baker of Molly's murder; Baker says not his Molly, that's a lie. He refuses to believe anything Burke tells him and vehemently insists Burke and company are wasting their time. Burke informs him that it is conclusive, the hyoid bone in Molly's throat was broken; he warns Baker not to go too far on that freeway.
At the station, Burke asks Sgt. Ames if she'd be happy in a little rose-covered cottage. She replies with him, anywhere, but, with all his money, why make such a sacrifice? Burke sternly reminds her that she's on duty and she snaps to attention. He asks her again; she says that after two years on the police force, he's gotta be kidding. Tim and Les report that Baker's alibi checks out with his secretary. They have also discovered that Molly began doing charity work at the hospital three years ago. At first she went every day, then started skipping days after two months. In the last year, she's only been there 8 times. Sgt. Ames comes back to report that there's a lady in the outer office, and she's not sure if Burke is ready for "it", she sure wasn't.
Mrs. Tribble charges in, vehemently saying that Mr. Baker definitely didn't kill his wife; now on top of his grief, he has to contend with all their suspicions. If anyone killed Mrs. Baker, she says, it was the other man. Burke asks what "other man". Mrs. Tribble says, why the delivery man who came right after Molly got home at 5 or 5:30. It was when Buster was taking his bath and Mrs. Tribble was working in her garden. She can't describe the man because he had "all those boxes" on top of one another in front of his face. She flutters and gesticulates. She doesn't remember what was written on the truck, but says it was one of those kinds that cut you off on the freeway. Burke asks if it was a panel truck, but she's no help at all, saying all she knows is that it was, gray, maybe blue, definitely not red because she likes red and so does Buster. Tim asks if she saw the deliveryman when he left but she says no, he still had those boxes in front of his face. Burke wonders why she didn't tell him all this before and Mrs. Tribble says that Burke was so eager to get rid of Buster she didn't have a chance. She tells them to now stop badgering Mr. Baker and says she has to go, he's in the car. Burke asks if she means Mr. Baker; she says no, Buster, if she leaves him too long he gets so insulting. Mrs. Tribble flaps out; the rest of them are exhausted. Les calls her a dingbat.
Just then, McLeod enters with a "clue" for Burke - long, blonde hairs found on four of Molly's dresses in her closet. Molly, he reminds them, has short black hair. The blonde hairs had glue on the ends, suggesting a wig; no wig was found in the Baker house. He goes back to his lab, to heat his lunch on a Bunsen burner; Les says McLeod defnitely needs a vacation. Burke asks Sgt. Ames if she has a wig; she says yes, but she lost it at the office party. Burke doesn't want those details, but wonders where she got it. She tells him at Mr. Clarence, the Hollywood Wig Man. Les suggests Molly may have been leading a double life; Burke quotes Isaac Walton again, and tells them "cherchez la wig".
At the Art Theatre, advertising in neon "Striptease!", "Girls!", "Open All Night", Burke arives backstage to find Tim and Les watching one of the acts from the wings, as we hear whistles and clapping from the audience. They have found that the wigmaker created 12 wigs for last year's Ice Follies; one was stolen by a skater who is now a stripper and who is now to be found in the adjacent dressing room. Burke knocks on the door, a stripper yells "c'mon in". The room is full of strippers getting ready, in various states of undress. One calls out to "Cleo" that a fella is there for her. When Burke identifies himself, one stripper jumps up, thinking it's another raid; Burke tells them to relax. Cleo, dressed and made up in full Elizabeth Taylor "Cleopatra" look a la stripper-style, says sure, she danced with a python, but not in the city limits. Burke asks why not and she reminds him that it's against the "crummy" law. She's only been able to use the python in smaller venues in Southern California; and says it gets cold in Southern California. She asks Burke how he would like to be driving with a shivering python in his lap; the girls all giggle. Burke sits on a beaded g-string. Cleo says that after she shocked a cop giving her a ticket, the judge gave her an ultimatum, so she boarded out the python and went into group therapy. Burke asks what her problem was and she tells him men, of course. Her psychiatrist told her she had an overabundance of warm emotions, so she ended up in the Ice Follies, as Goldilocks in a blone wig. Burke says that's why he't there. Cleo says, why, that cheap outfit wants their wig back after all these months? She hasn't got it, but gave it to the swinger who lives in the apartment down the hall, Myra Beamis, in the penthouse. Another stripper enters, rubbing her butt, and warns them all to watch it, that there's a "juvenile" in the balcony with a slingshot. Cleo is on next; she tells Burke to say hello to Myra. Myra was a real friend when Buster died; it seems Buster the python died two days ago and the funeral's tomorrow. Cleo asks Burke if he ever had to shop for a coffin six inches wide and 13 feet long; she finally had to settle for a firehose and says stuffing Buster into it was something. Burke tells the girls to keep their powder dry. Cleo tells Burke, Tim and Les that they can watch her act from the wings, but sideways they lose the whole effect. Burke wishes he had a photo of Molly, so they wouldn't have to go back to Carl Baker and ask for one. Tim pulls one out of his pocket and hands it to Burke without taking his eyes off Cleo's act; Burke sends Tim off to speak to Myra.
Cleo's landlady, Miss Halsey, shows them Myra's apartment. She looks at Molly's picture and says that's the first time she every saw Myra with her own hair; Myra wore a blonde wig that made her look pushy. The other odd thing, she says, is that the rent wasn't cheap, but Myra never spent a single night there. Oh, well, she says, to each his own. She eyes Tim and Les as she leaves, wiggling down the hall. Inside Myra's very fancy, expensively furnished apartment, Tim looks around and says he thinks McLeod should examine the place. While Les is calling, Tim finds the blonde wig. Just then, the doorbell rings.
Guns drawn, Tim and Les go to the door and open it. A mousy, moustached man in suit and homburg, carrying a black bag, enters calling out to Myra. He sees them and wants to know what it's all about. Tim frisks him and demands to see his license; it identifies him as Dr. Stuart Alexander of San Francisco. He tells them that Myra Beamis is his patient. Tim recognizes the doctor's name; Dr. Alexander is one of the leading heart specialists on the West Coast. They tell him Myra is dead; shocked, he says he just saw her yesterday at 4 p.m. and starts to point toward the bedroom, then says "right here". Tim asks if he's sure he didn't see her in The Valley at 6, Dr. Alexander tells them that at 6 he was having dinner in his room at the Eden Hotel. He demands to know why Myra would be in The Valley; Les says, taking a shower. The doctor first met Myra 6 months ago in the bar of the Eden Hotel; they had drinks, she took him for a drive, they put the top down and went along the beach and it was very nice. He had to leave because he operates very early and must have at least 10 hours of sleep a night. He saw Myra the next day and fell in love with her. Dr. Alexander tells them that Myra was so glamorous; even stranger, he says, she fell in love with him, a 61-year-old doctor with a wife of 35 years, a solid practice, and a home in the suburbs. He started accepting more operations down here, in order to be near Myra. They ask if he paid the rent on the apartment; he says no, Myra wouldn't accept gifts of any kind. He operated in the morning, only saw her in the afternoons. Les wants to know why he's there at night, now. He admits he got jealous of the "other man", the one who wanted to marry her. She was 25 and he had good prospects; the doctor knows she didn't love the man but needed security. He can understand, he says. She knew he couldn't get a divorce, but he decided he could give her a small income. This week he gave Myra $100,000; Les gasps and says, in cash? Yes. Tim asks Dr. Alexander if his home is rose-covered. The doctor says yes, his wife loves roses. They break the news to him that Myra Beamis is Molly Baker, married to Carl Baker of 517 Veronica St., San Fernando Valley. He's shocked. They show him the picture and he says, that's Myra. They tell him Molly was bored with roses, too. The doctor sighs about the appeal of the unknown. Suddenly, he thinks about his wife, a housewife in a rose-covered cottage. He gulps and tells them he must rush home to his wife.
After the doctor has flown, Tim wonders how Molly was going to explain $100,000 to her husband; Les says obviously she wasn't going to, or the convertible either. McLeod arrives with his crew. In the apartment's garage, they find the convertible, with papers indicating it is registered to "Mary Brown", at yet another address. Les says that for a sweet little housewife in a rose-covered cottage, Molly swung like a circus trapeze.
At this next address, the landlady tells Burke she never did believe the woman's name was Mary Brown. She was a kook, never in the apartment more than 2-3 times a week. Burke asks if there were any visitors and the landlady says, who looks. She asks Burke what "Mary Brown" did'; he replies that whatever it was, she's out of it now. There's no garage at this building, just onstreet parking. The landlady eyes Burke and sashays away. As they enter, Les complains that he likes landladies old and grumpy, then you know they're really landladies. Tim finds travel folders for Nice, Cannes and Monte Carlo. In a locked drawer, which Burke shows him how to open from the back, Tim discovers a strongbox containing bank books, a map, and papers from a divorce lawyer, Sr. Juan Ruiz, in Chihuahua, Mexico. The bank books total $30,000. There also appears to be $10-15,000 in cash, all in 20-dollar-bills. They suddenly realize all the cash is counterfeit; Les calls the Treasury Dept.
At the station, they break all the news about Molly to Baker; he's flabbergasted. Tim says they didn't want to tell him at the funeral; still, he refuses to believe them. Taggart, of the Treasury Dept., shows Baker a map of where the fake bills turned up; it matches the map found in "Mary Brown"'s apartment. It seems she worked with a man named Gaeta, who was apprehended a month ago and is now awaiting trial. This morning, Gaeta id'ed Molly's photo, Taggart says. The question is, where is the $30,000 from the 3 bank books; all the money was drawn out yesterday. Also missing is the $100,000 from Dr. Alexander. Baker says Molly couldn't have had all that money; they lived together in a nice little house and knew everything about each other. He pauses, and says at least he thought they did. Burke lets him go; Les thinks Baker killed Molly and that his act is phony. There were 25 Little Leaguers and their parents at the funeral. Les says want to know what he was doing working with kids, when he had none of his own? He likes votes. Happy O'Connor, Committeeman, told Les at the funeral that Baker was running for City Council. Les says that a wife like Molly could ruin him; but if she had an "accident", he'd come out smelling like roses. Les continues to pooh-pooh Baker's alibi and thinks he is the mysterious "delivery man". Burke tells Les to knock it off; Les storms out, just as Lt. Gruber arrives.
Gruber says he's been trailing Bucky Martin, the tennis pro; Martin is shacked up with a woman in Beverly Hills. The lieutenant wonders if maybe she's the actual burglar. Burke reminds him that he, Tim and Les work for Homicide, not Burglary. Gruber wondered if maybe the woman was one of Burke's social set. Her name is Madge Berkeley, her landlady said she pays the rent but is never in the apartment at night. Burke perks up; he tells Sgt. Ames that, if a "baby voice" calls, he's delayed an hour. Then he tells Tim to calm Les down, and goes off with the lieutenant. Les returns, still arguing his case. Tim reminds Les how emotional Baker was at the funeral. Les says everyone is, with all that recorded bird singing and music. Tim says he didn't realize it was on tape. Les starts to tell him about sound effects on tape, and gets an idea.
This third landlady tells Burke that her tenant always wanted to be called "Miss Berkeley", never "Madge" or "Honey"; she calls her real la-di-da. She says she's been expecting the police; she majored in hotel management at Cornell and Madge Berkeley met all the criteria for an unsuccessful tenant. Gruber watches her slither off and decides he prefers his landladies old and grumpy, also. He suddenly points out to Burke a fish lying on the carpet, quite a ways from the tank. Burke says he doesn't know how it happened, but from the water on the floor, it just happened. They sneak over to the closet door, fling it open, and find the elusive Bucky Martin hiding inside. Burke tells Martin to be careful, because the lieutenant hates burglars. Martin insists he's a tennis pro; Gruber says he's a pro alright. While he's teaching women tennis, the lieutenant suggests, Madge steals their jewels. Martin's probably here to pick up the necklace from the old dame in Houston. Bucky says he wants a lawyer. Burke tells him he'll need a good one, and accuses him of going to Molly's house disguised as a delivery man, where he demanded the necklace and killed Molly when she wouldn't turn it over. Bucky refuses to believe she's married or dead. He says he saw her last Monday; Gruber points out that the necklace job was on Tuesday. Burke notices that Bucky's sleeve is wet and surmises that the necklace may be in the fish tank. Bucky says no, she took it. He insists he has proof that he was giving lessons at the Beverly Woods Tuesday until 7 p.m. Just then, McLeod and crew are shown in by the landlady. McLeod says to Burke, not Molly again, what is she, a gang? The landlady says that does it, out "Miss Berkeley" and her ratty old truck go. Burke asks if it is a panel truck. The landlady guesses so and says it's been in her stall for the last two days. As the lieutenant cuffs Bucky, the landlady takes Burke down to the garage. The truck, however, is missing. She says it was there just before he arrived. She cozies up to Burke, but he tells her he has to go to a funeral for a python. She backs into the fin of a nearby car.
At Adios Restland Pet Cemetery, a very long, very thin grave has just been dug, with a tiny wire fence around it. Cleo's fellow strippers are out in force, all in form-fitting black "mourning". One says they all like Cleo much better now that they see how much she cared for Buster. The gravestone reads: "Goodbye, Buster, He shuffled off this mortal coil". Mr. Hoffmeyer, the undertaker (or as he prefers to be known, the "slumber manager") stops by to pay his respects, noting how the sun catches the headstone at the end of the day. Cleo says yes, the cocktail hour, Buster's favorite time of day. Burke is shocked to find that Buster was a boozer; Cleo says that's what killed him - he liver became enlarged and went kaflooey. Mr. Hoffmeyer tells Burke the liver was 5 feet long. Cleo remarks that perpetual care doesn't come cheap. Mr. Hoffmeyer thinks she made the right decision in choosing horizontal burial; Cleo says Buster could never sleep standing up. She thanks Burke for removing his hat. As they leave, Burke and Cleo notice a memorial for another pet named Buster (1936-1964). Mr. Hoffmeyer informs them that this Buster was a parakeet, an urn burial after cremation. The owner had him put to sleep, since she's leaving for the French Riviera; Cleo is incensed. Mr. Hoffmeyer says the bird was gallant; right before the end, he said "Anybody got a match?" Burke finds out the owner was Mrs. Tribble. Henry arrives and tells Burke that Les has just called, telling Burke to meet him at the rose-covered cottage. Les is going to make Burke eat his words. Cleo complains that Burke was going to take her to dinner; he apologizes and escorts her to the Rolls.
At the Baker home, Carl Baker swears he didn't kill his wife. Les says his secretary reported that the office door was locked, but she could hear Baker typing. At 4 p.m., Les claims, Baker started a tape recorder running, with two hours of tape of typing sounds. Then he snuck out the side door, got into the panel truck, came home and killed his wife, then went back and gave a previously typed report to the secretary, and left the office shortly after 6, with the tape recorder hidden in his suitcase. When they show him the tape recorder, Baker admits he planned it all that way, got all the way home, then realized he couldn't kill Molly, picked up the boxes and went out again. He also admits that he picked up the panel truck two hours ago and left it at the Burbank airport, but swears he didn't kill Molly. He loved her; it was "just Molly and me".
Just then, Mrs. Tribble flies in, and is momentarily startled to see Burke. Then she greets "Captain Burke and His Merry Men", saying she just stopped by to say goodbye to Mr. Baker, as she's off to visit her sick cousin in Toledo and wants Mr. Baker to pay her gardener while she's gone. They inform her that Baker has been arrested. She says then it was him behind those boxes; she couldn't be sure but thought so, how awful of him. Baker continues to swear he's innocent. Mrs. Tribble says she's already called the taxi, so she'll just leave the gardener money with Mrs. Gardener across the street. Burke stops her and tells her there are other crimes involved, like burglary, extortion, counterfeiting; he asks if she's familiar with any of these. Mrs. Tribble asks if she should be. Burke asks to see her purse; she declines. Tim takes it and finds an airline ticket to London, Paris and Nice, as well as a letter of credit for $100,000, $40,000 in travelers checks, and a necklace. Burke accuses her of planning the murder with Baker. Mrs. Tribble says no, Molly was her friend; Tim points out that she had previously told them Molly wasn't friendly. Mrs. Tribble says, no she was she was. Burke accuses Mrs. Tribble of being in with Molly on all the other crimes. She says she doesn't want to answer, but if she has to....then seats herself and rattles on. It began in Molly's kitchen. They had coffee every morning; what else did they have to do? They had no excitement like those people in the papers, divorcees, movie stars and the jet set. Mrs. Tribble asked Molly why they couldn't do all the things those people do, just to break the monotony. One day she read about a jewel robbery and asked Molly why they couldn't do that; all they needed was an inside person in the hotel. Molly found Bucky Martin, who was eager to help. They couldn't have him in their homes, so they rented an apartment. Mrs. Tribble says she could never keep track of all of Molly's aliases. She says Molly was on such a tight schedule; she had to be home to fix dinner. Also, Molly couldn't be a burglar every day, and they still needed more money; then Mrs. Tribble read in the paper that the T-men had arrested a counterfeiter. Molly went to the jail and pretended to be his sister; he told her all about "Mr. Gator", so now Molly had something to do every day. Mrs. Tribble is very proud of her tale. The money came flying in, but it meant they needed another apartment and they still didn't have enough money to go first class. Dr. Alexander meant getting yet another apartment, but it was worth it. Mrs. Tribble says Dr. Alexander was a nice man, but Molly got greedy. Mrs. Tribble had been holding the money in her home, then found that Molly had been holding out $30,000; so Mrs. Tribble decided she could act that way too. She wrote Baker an anonymous note telling him everything, expecting the danger to his political career would make him kill Molly. Les brings Baker back down, having gotten him ready to take to jail. Burke says they'll have to include Mrs. Tribble, since she's been so helpful. Mrs. Tribble says she always tries to be helpful; Burke remarks like turning off Molly's pork chops. Mrs. Tribble agrees, saying she didn't want them to burn ----oops---what pork chops? Baker says the stove was off when he came home. Les wants to know what Burke is trying to pull, it can't be Mrs. Tribble, it's not in her character, she's just a dingbat. Burke says she killed Buster, just like she killed Molly. When Baker came home too soon, she killed Molly and went out the back way. Mrs. Tribble pouts that Molly was going to go to the Riviera without her. She hit her with a steam iron, one of those labor-saving kind, it does the job in half the time. Burke asks why she choked Molly; she had to be sure. Les says that in a lifetime on the force, he's never seen anything like this. Burke tells him to take them both in.
Henry enters, saying there's a call in the Rolls from Dr. Goddard, who wants dinner in the Skyview Restaurant, since she has the evening off. Burke tells Tim to take the night off as well and see his girl. Tim says they broke up. It seems she wasn't so honest; last night when they kissed, her wig came off.
NOT ALL GIRLS WHO WANT ROSE-COVERED COTTAGES ARE AMERICAN BEAUTIES - BURKE'S LAW
Dr. Goddard says their last date disturbed her; Burke must think because she's on the faculty that she's unemotional (she removes her glasses), an unromantic stick (lets down her hair). She says she's not a stick at all. She removes her coat; underneath is a sequined, fringed, low-cut shortie outfit. A waitress comes by and tells Dr. Goddard she's on next. Dr. Goddard says she bets Burke doesn't think she can sing either. Burke splutter but, but... She tells him to wait around, she gets off at 2 a.m. He asks what happened to her schedule and she tells him she rearranged it for more leisure time. She gets up, and takes her guitar to the stage. Burke shakes his head, quotes Walton again about "idle hands" and eyes the waitress.