Directed by: Robert Butler
Written by: Steven Bochco (teleplay), Jackson Gillis, Richard Levinson, William Link (story)
Air Date: March 25, 1973
Previous: The Most Dangerous Match
Next: Lovely but Lethal
Guest Starring: Martin Landau, Julie Newmar, Jeanette Nolan, Tim O Connor, Dabney Coleman
Clifford Paris (Paul Stewart) is a wealthy man with a large fortune. He is about to get married to sexy Lisa Chambers (Julie Newmar), who, as disapproving housekeeper Mrs. Peck (Jeanette Nolan) sniffs, is young enough to be his granddaughter. Television chef Dexter Paris (Martin Landau), Clifford's nephew and heir to half his fortune, seems to be OK with this, but in reality he isn't. After leaving the Paris mansion, Dexter sneaks back in and murders his uncle by chucking a turned-on mixer into his uncle's bath, electrocuting him. Dexter then stages his uncle on an exercise machine to make it look like Clifford had a heart attack.
Or maybe it wasn't Dexter. Because, as investigating detective Lt. Columbo is surprised to find out, Dexter has an identical twin, Norman Paris (also played by Landau), a banker and heir to the other half of Clifford's fortune, and who has racked up significant gambling debts, and who also didn't approve of Clifford's engagement to Lisa. Columbo soon figures out that Clifford was murdered—a wet towel and slick bar of soap in the bathroom indicate that he took a bath—but figuring out which nephew did it is more challenging.
A young Dabney Coleman plays Detective Murray, the first officer on the scene.
- Amoral Attorney: Clifford's attorney is willing to "lose" all copies of Clifford's latest will which bequeathed his estate to Lisa if Dexter and Norman pay him a certain price.
- Electrified Bathtub: Whichever twin did it killed Clifford by throwing a mixer into the bathtub. The killer took care to slice the insulation off the mixer's power cord.
- The Gambling Addict: Norman's motive. He tells people that he goes to San Francisco to business, but he actually goes to Vegas, where he's $37,500 in debt. In 1973 money!note
- Genius Slob: A hallmark of Columbo's character, but he's looking particularly disheveled at the beginning of this episode. It's not clear why (roused from sleep, maybe), but when he shows up at the Paris mansion Columbo's shirt collar is undone and his tie is hanging loose. Then Columbo is so tired in the house that he accidentally drops cigar ash on the floor of the exercise room, much to Mrs. Peck's fury.
- Kindly Housekeeper: Mrs. Peck is definitely this despite being repeatedly short-tempered with Columbo (though, to be fair, he was juggling that Idiot Ball constantly in her presence). She has nothing but love for the Paris family and even looked after Dexter and Norman as though they were her own sons, not even objecting to the wedding of Clifford and Lisa despite her personal disapproval. Finding out that the twins, who she practically raised, were responsible for murdering their uncle as well as Lisa upsets her just as much as the murder did if not more.
- MayDecember Romance: Lisa says that she and Clifford were "spring in the lap of December", but she insists that she really loved him.
- Never One Murder: Poor Lisa gets thrown from her high-rise balcony window to the ground many floors below.
- Pet the Dog: Norman apologizes to Mrs. Peck, who'd practically raised the twins, when Columbo exposes them as murderers.
- Polar Opposite Twins: Dexter and Norman. Dexter is friendly and affable, although that affability often curdles into smarm, and he's the host of a daytime cooking show. Norman is icy and reserved, and he's a senior executive at a bank.
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "Uncle, you're gonna get a real charge out of this," says Norman before chucking the mixer into the bathtub and killing Clifford.
- Reverse Whodunit: Columbo is the Trope Codifier and almost every episode of the show uses this trope, but this episode plays with it. We see the murder per typical Columbo formula, so we know it wasn't the housekeeper or the lawyer or the girlfriend. But we don't know which twin it was until the end.
- Running Gag: Columbo's slovenly appearance and bumbling manner hugely irritate Mrs. Peck the housekeeper, who screams at him repeatedly. The fact that his attempts to figure out the details of Clifford's electrocution end up cutting the power to her TV and screwing up its colors several times when she's busy watching a soap opera don't endear him to her either, nor do his attempts to fix the said TV on his own which results in Columbo accidentally breaking its tuning knob off.
- She's Got Legs: Hello Julie Newmar! When Columbo drops by Lisa's apartment to question her, she's doing a yoga pose in which she rests on her shoulders and forearms while sticking her legs straight up in the air. The camera does a slow pan down Lisa's stocking-clad legs.
- Too Clever by Half: Had the twins not bothered to over-complicate things by framing and demeaning each other in front of Columbo to try and cast reasonable doubt (so that neither of them could be convicted), it's highly likely their original plan would've succeeded.
- Trophy Wife: Lisa is gorgeous and a lot younger than white-haired Clifford. They are however genuinely affectionate with one another.
- Twin Switch: The solution. They both did it. Mrs. Peck thinks she saw Dexter leave, but it was actually Norman, dressed identically to Dexter. Norman then doubled back, Dexter disarmed the alarm and let him in, and Norman killed Clifford while Dexter went downstairs and changed the fuse after the shorted mixer blew it.