From the Vegas Strip to the football field, gambling and power lead to three deaths
investigated by Lt. Columbo, on MCA TV Internatio-nal's "COLUMBO" episode
entitled "A Bird In The Hand." The teleplay was written by Jackson Gillis and
directed by Vince McEveety.
A Vegas bookie is threatening the life of compulsive gambler Harold McCain over a
long-standing debt. To come up with some money fast, Harold plots the murder of his uncle,
Big Fred, the wealthy owner of a hapless football team. He plants a bomb under the chassis
of his uncle's car, hoping to have Big Fred out of the way by morning. However, during his
morning jog, Big Fred is killed by a hit-and-run driver near his home. Hearing the news,
Harold rushes to his uncle's
home and finds Lt. Columbo and a TV news crew already gathered. Before
Harold is able to dispose of the bomb, the gardener is asked to move Big Fred's car from
the driveway. Lt. Columbo and the others witness the gardener's death in the explosion
that was meant for Big Fred.
With Big Fred gone, Harold makes his move on his uncle's widow, Dolores, a middle-aged
woman who frequently tips the bottle. The two have been involved romantically for some
time, and he is sure that she will pay of f his debt. When Harold approaches her for
money, her refusal surprises him. He suspects that Dolores is involved with his uncle's
death and threatens to go to the police unless she helps him. Having been found out,
Dolores immediately plans a strategy to eliminate Harold.
Meanwhile, Lt. Columbo is connecting the death of Big Fred and the gardener. Harold is his
prime suspect, but before his suspicions are confirmed, Dolores murders Harold in his home
during the night. Dolores is waiting when Columbo arrives at the scene. She tells him
about Harold's situation with the bookie and how she had changed her mind about helping
him. She had gone to see Harold that morning to give him money when she found him dead and
notified the police.
As time passes, Columbo is convinced that Harold's bomb killed the gardener. He goes to
Dolores' home to share his information. While there, he finds a vital clue linking Dolores
to Harold's murder. Further investigation reveals that Dolores was involved in Big Fred's
demise and that she murdered Harold before he could blackmail her.