Season 2 Episode 3

The Most Crucial Game

Aired Unknown Nov 05, 1972 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
66 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

The Most Crucial Game
The manager of a football team kills the team's owner, disguising himself as an ice cream vender as a cover. He then uses a recording of a faked phone call as an alibi to prove he was elsewhere at the time of the murder.

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  • Water Evaporates

    This is the weakest show of the entire series! Now I'm just writing my opinion, I don't mean to be taken as provocative. After the murder is called in and the police arrive, it must've been two hours minimum, and the pool deck is still soaking with water. It isn't possible, the water would've evaporated. This was Columbo's first clue and in my opinion it's the worst clue in the series, the entire series. But the rest of the show was fantastic, Robert Culp great, James Gregory also great, Valerie Harper was good. Dean Stockwell was good as was the guy who played the lawyer. Also I think that a Johnny Cochran could get Paul Hanlon off.moreless
  • Game On

    A sensational murder mystery, The Most Crucial Game is smart and exciting. Lt. Columbo must break the air tight alibi of a pro-football general manager who killed the team's owner in order to seize control. Robert Culp returns to the series and is joined by Dean Stockwell and Susan Howard, who all deliver good performances. The writing is also very strong, and does a good job at building suspense and intrigue. Exceptionally well-crafted, The Most Crucial Game is an entertaining thriller.moreless
  • Spoilers

    This is a great cat and mouse game and Robert Culp makes a great adversary for Columbo. Falk and Culp have a great deal of chemistry and that's why his and the late John Cassavetes made such opponents for everyones favorite raincoat wearing detective.

    Robert Culp, in his second outing as Columbo villain, plays football coach Paul Hanlon. Hanlon murders one of his clients and has a well constructed alibi- he was at the football game when it happened. However, Lieutenant Columbo is on the case, and it is not long before he is making a nuisance of himself. Culp puts in another fine performance and this is one of the best films in the series.

Dean Jagger

Dean Jagger

Walter Cunnell

Guest Star

James Gregory

James Gregory

Coach Larry Rizzo

Guest Star

Valerie Harper

Valerie Harper

Eva Babcock

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • During the pre-game chitchat, we hear the commentator state: "Today, all holds are barred." No idea what he means by that. The line is more usually heard as "No holds barred."

  • QUOTES (4)

    • Columbo: Uh, sir?

      Walter Cunnell: Yes?

      Columbo: You don't mind if I ask you a personal question, do you?

      Cunnell: No.

      Columbo: What'd you pay for those shoes?

      Cunnell: I think about 60 dollars.

      Columbo: I stepped into some water yesterday and ruined mine. You don't know where I could find a pair that looks like that for around 16 or 17?

      Cunnell (befuddled): 16 or 17? Sorry, I don't really, Lieutenant.

      Columbo: Thank you.

    • Paul Hanlon (angry): Columbo, I'm trying to watch this game! What is it?

      Columbo: You know, you did the same thing the first time I came in here last Sunday. I guess that's what started me wondering.

      Hanlon: I did what?

      Columbo: You turned the radio down but not quite off. When I told you that Eric Wagner was dead. It's alright. I do the same thing. You know, when I'm listening to the game and my wife interrupts, I can't help myself. I want to hear that game and I don't care how the important the interruption.

      Hanlon (annoyed): Your wife has my sympathy.

    • Columbo: You now, I listened to this thing I can't tell ya how many times, over and over again, figuring maybe I'd hear something that shouldn't be there, some sound that shouldn't be there, an ambulance, a fire truck, like you were in a phone boothe, something...

      Hanlon (impatiently): But you didn't because it isn't there. I made the call from this booth from that phone.

      Columbo: Then it suddenly occurred to me. I had it backwards. Maybe there was a sound that should be there and wasn't.

    • Hanlon (yelling): Columbo, I'm going to throw you out of here on your ear!

      Columbo: I wouldn't do that, sir. I mean, you'll miss the best part. You see, I'm not finished.

  • NOTES (5)