Season 1 Episode 1

Prescription: Murder

Aired Unknown Feb 20, 1968 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
102 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Prescription: Murder
Psychiatrist Ray Flemming employs his girlfriend to pose as his wife. Barry kills the wife in front of the girlfriend and the two of them take off on a plane for the 'perfect alibi'. They stage a fight on the plane and the 'wife' returns home where she is supposedly killed by an intruder. Things get messy when the dry cleaning comes back from the cleaners.moreless

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  • Colombo character not developed

    Both my friend and I who thought we had seen every episode on ME TV at least twice had not seen this episode recently. In the first scene, i asked my friend "How come Colombo is so well-dressed?" "Look how young he is," she replied,"This is obviously an early Later, when he tried to browbeat, in a loud and un-Columbo-like manner, the girlfriend, I said this is so out of character from the Columbo we know, this must be a really early episode and, of course, it was. I liked the Hitchcockian touch in the murder scene where the victim grabs hold of and pulls off the window curtain. The screenplay proved compelling with its twists (The murder victim, not dying, yet I have to ask why wouldn't a doctor check her pulse to make sure she was dead?) then the set-up in the end. Seeing the girlfriend, who appears to me as sympathetic figure in that she is a perpetrator but also being a victim to some extent, cooperating with the police and presumably being able to negotiate a lighter sentence, added to a satisfying ending.moreless
  • Great start!

    Gene Barry is magnificent throughout. And of course Falk is already beginning to evolve the amusingly scatter-brained persona of the title detective (sort of a cross between Inspector Clousseau and Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson). Featuring some very nice directorial touches too early on (the hand hitting the piano and Barry unexpectedly reentering the picture to answer a phone). And the segment where Columbo attempts to sign on with Barry as a patient ("I seem to annoy people") is absolutely hilarious. Only one jarring note in the proceedings: when Columbo starts going all medieval on Ms Hudson toward the end. I always think it's better when he retains his court-jester attitude the whole you never ARE exactly sure whether he's setting you up or whether he really is like that.moreless
  • The Original 60s Episode of Colombo!

    I hadn't seen this Colombo before. I never even dreamed that there had been an episode before 1971. This episode is pure 60s outfits, style and temperament. I really enjoyed it and thought it was a great addition to Colombo. Peter Falk is one handsome guy especially in 1968. The show has similar style to all other Colombos and the story is very similar - a killer commits a crime and Colombo hounds the person until they end up confessing but it is that 60s style that makes it all the more interesting. He isn't nearly as rumpled and the actors not nearly as naturalistic. I found the episode really engaging.moreless
  • Overall fans of the series will enjoy this.

    Dr Ray Flemming is a renowned psychiatrist who is having an affair with a patient, Joan Hudson, when his wife finds out. Flemming kills her and enlists the help of his lover to make it look like he boarded a plane with his (still alive) wife, had a fight on board and then continued his trip to Acapolco while she stormed off the plane (only to be murdered while he was a time zone away). The perfect crime and the perfect alibi he thinks but when he returns from his trip he finds that two things have ruined his plan – his wife still being alive (although critical) and a muddled little police officer called Columbo.

    Overall fans of the series will enjoy this but may find that it is a bit flatter and toned down from the better films in the series. The chase is low key and not as fun as it could have been and the performances are pretty flat (Falk is yet to make the character his own and the one we know) but it is still an enjoyable tvm and worth seeing for being the film that started the long running series.moreless
Katherine Justice

Katherine Justice

Joan Hudson

Guest Star

William Windom

William Windom

Burt Gordon

Guest Star

Nina Foch

Nina Foch

Carol Flemming

Guest Star

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Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • Approximately one hour and fifteen minutes into the episode, Dr. Fleming has asked Columbo to turn out the lights when leaving his office. Columbo reaches for the light switches but they are both down (off). He simply touches the top of one of the switches and the lights go out.

    • When Dr. Fleming smashes the balcony window, his shadow can be seen on the background, revealing it to be a simple backdrop.

  • QUOTES (5)

    • Fleming: You never stop, do you?
      Columbo: What?
      Fleming: The insinuations, the change of pace. You're a bag of tricks, Columbo, right down to that prop cigar you use.
      Columbo: Oh, come on, Doc.
      Fleming: I'm going to tell you something about yourself. You think you need a psychologist. Maybe you do, maybe you don't, but you are a textbook example of compensation.
      Columbo: Oh, what, Doc?
      Fleming: Compensation. Adaptability. You're an intelligent man, Columbo, but you hide it. You pretend you're something you're not. Why, because of your appearance you think you can't get by on looks or polish, so you turn a defect into a virtue. You take people by surprise. They underestimate you. And that's where you trip them up.

    • Columbo: I was wondering, Doctor. Would you take me on as a patient?
      Fleming: Take you on as a what?!?
      Columbo: No, I mean it. Maybe you can help me. I don't know that... There must something wrong with me. I seem to bother people. I seem to make them nervous and maybe you could tell me why.

    • Fleming: You know, sometimes I get the impression you think I killed my wife.
      Columbo: You? Oh no, Doc. How could you? You were out of town.
      Fleming: I'm glad you remembered that. Unless you think I hired someone to kill her. The boy who confessed, maybe I paid him to do it.
      Columbo: No, Doc. You didn't do that.
      Fleming: How do you know?
      Columbo: I already asked him.

    • (while Columbo looks on)
      Fleming: Oh, Doctor, I'm the patient's husband. Is she, is she all right?
      Doctor: I'm sorry. She passed away.
      Fleming: Did she...did she say anything?
      Doctor: If it's any consolation, the one thing she said was your name.

    • Columbo: Uh, I'm sorry. I was, uh, I was just thinking about something.
      Gordon: What was that?
      Columbo: No, it's nothing important. It's, uh, Dr. Fleming, he didn't call to his wife when he came back to his apartment.
      Gordon: I don't follow you.
      Columbo: Oh, well, I was in the bedroom. I was checking some things and I heard him open the front door and he didn't say anything. Gee, it's funny how people are different, isn't it? Now you take myself. When I come home from a trip, uh, first thing I do is I say, "Honey, you here?"
      Gordon: (annoyed) Exactly what is your point, Lieutenant?
      Columbo: Point? Well, I wasn't making a point.

  • NOTES (3)

    • Originally, the writers suggested Lee J. Cobb or Bing Crosby for the role of Columbo. Lee J. Cobb was unavailable, however, and Bing Crosby turned them down.

    • This first pilot, along with the second pilot "Ransom for a Dead Man" are considered seperate TV Movies, and have not been included in the syndicated and cable packages of "Columbo" reruns, and are therefore the rarest episodes to be broadcast. In the summer of 1994 ABC aired weekly reruns of the revived series on Thursday nights. When they ran out of episodes to show, ABC ran these two 20 year-old pilots, as well as the then 13 year-old two hour pilot for "Mrs. Columbo", as 'new' movies.

    • The script for the TV movie "Prescription: Murder" was adapted from the stage play of the same name that first introduced the character of Lt Columbo. The cast of that Broadway play was: Thomas Mitchell as Lieutenant Columbo, Joseph Cotten as Dr. Roy Flemming, Agnes Moorehead as Claire Flemming and Patricia Medina as Susan Hudson.