Season 3 Episode 6

Mind over Mayhem

Aired Unknown Feb 18, 1974 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
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Episode Summary

Mind over Mayhem
Dr. Marshal Cahill, the head of a think tank, is forced to protect his plagarizing son by killing the professor, Nichols, who discovered the plagarized information. Cahill programs a robot to take his place during a war game exercise that he runs from an isolated room, then fakes a hit-and-run accident on Nichols and plants evidence to make it look like a drug theft gone awry. The first thing Columbo notices upon arrival is a match burned down to the base - something Columbo knows well because it's how you light a cigar. And Dr. Cahill is the only other cigar smoker around. There are a lot of other little things that Columbo notices as well, and with the help of a child prodigy he discovers how Cahill used the robot to provide himself with an alibi. But without one major clue, Columbo arrests the son to force Cahill, who was willing to kill for his son, to confess his crime to protect the boy.moreless

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  • Nothing special.

    I believe there are no bad episodes of the original run of "Columbo" on NBC...but there are some that aren't as good as others. Case in point - "Mind Over Mayhem." The premise is great (and it's one the series would revisit in Season 6) as Columbo faces a crime planned out by a genius mind. An airtight alibi - a room full of military brass can vouch for the suspect's whereabouts. Of course, in classic "Columbo" style, a single clue sets Columbo on the trail of the killer.

    So why isn't it a better episode? Hammy acting from Ferrer's son drag down any scenes where he appears, and the "cute" kid scientist Stevie is just annoying. Watching Columbo defer to this kid make for some of the worst scenes in the series. For some reason, Peter Falk and Jose Ferrer don't have great chemistry and a lot of their interplay falls flat. "Mind Over Mayhem" gets points for its creative alibi set up by the killer, but it isn't one of the more memorable episodes from the NBC run.moreless
  • Spoilers

    It's WWIII at the wargaming tables of the Cybernetics Research Institute, a think tank. "Oh, a place full of geniuses," says Lt. Columbo, "may I ask what you do here, Sir?" Marshall Cahill (that's his name) replies, "I'm the director." His son's been very naughty, written a paper someone else actually composed. The "radical" Dr. Nicholson wants the lad to confess, or by gad he'll turn him in. Marshall Cahill does the doctor in.

    Of course, he has to send young Spelberg to the movies (a child prodigy). "Everyone can use a robot," says little Spelberg, who has invented one. The robot types instructions to the wargamers while the deed is done.

    Lt. Columbo's dog washes out of obedience school. The lieutenant abandons his notebook for a tape recorder, miniature. "Bad dog! Bad dog!", it says when benefiting Marshall Cahill with a demonstration.

    There is much amusement. Elderly Dr. Nicholson has a young wife (Jessica Walter, marvelously aggrieved). Burnt match and missing pipe at the scene of the crime. Is there any hope for the natural gas car? They're testing them at the Institute.

    The good doctor (Lew Ayres) was researching heroin for the government. Jose Ferrer as Cahill manages an impression of, say, John Van Neumann.

Peter Falk

Peter Falk

Lieutenant Columbo (no first name)

José Ferrer

José Ferrer

Dr. Marshall Cahill

Guest Star

Jessica Walter

Jessica Walter

Margaret Nicholson

Guest Star

Lew Ayres

Lew Ayres

Prof. Howard Nicholson

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (5)

    • Columbo: That first day I couldn't give a hoot in hell about a thief. I was looking for a cigar smoker and there you were.

    • Dr. Cahill: All you have at the moment is a theory and right now you are in an institution where any staff member, including your little friend Steve, will tell you that a theory isn't worth a damn unless it can be proved.

      Columbo: It's the same way at the institution that I work at, Doctor.

    • Neil Cahill: Not making much progress, huh?

      Columbo: I've got somthing. But, uh, motive -- it's uncertain and everybody's got an alibi. However, world wasn't built in a day.

    • Columbo: The house was spotless except for that scuff mark on the living room door.

      Margaret Nichols: I heard you noticed that. You're pretty observant.

      Columbo: Some people say I'm snoopy.

    • Steve: What's his name?

      Columbo: What? The dog? Well, he doesn't have a name. My wife and I, we could never agree on one. We just say Hey or Dog or whistle. Doesn't make any difference. He don't come when you call him anyway.

  • NOTES (7)