Fred Brower has a problem he has just won over $30 Million in the lottery
, and he does not want to share it with his soon-to-be ex- wife, on MCA TV International's
"COLUMBO" episode entitled "Death Hits The Jackpot." The teleplay was
written by Jeffrey Bloom and Robert Van scoyk. It was directed by Vince McEveety.
Freddy Brower, a struggling photographer, would have to give Nancy Brower half of his
winnings in the divorce settlement. Offering the perfect solution, his uncle Leon Lamarr
steps in. The Beverly Hills jeweler has raised Freddy since his parents died in a plane
crash. And the two of them devise a plan calling for Leon Lamarr to claim the prize as if
it were his own and then turn it over to his nephew. Nancy will never know the prize was
really Freddy's to begin with. Unfortunately, Freddy doesn't foresee his uncle's real
intention. Leon claims the prize as they had planned but then, with Freddy in dire need of
cash, he takes two weeks to finally deliver the lottery winnings. On Halloween night when
Freddy is taking care of a friend's monkey, Leon finally arrives at his nephew's
apartment. However, before the money changes hands, Uncle Leon offers to seal the deal
with a drink of champagne. When the unsuspecting Freddy turns his back to get
some glasses, Leon bashes his nephew in the head with the bottle, knocking him
Leon then drags Freddy's body into the bathroom and places him in the
tub with some water, thus setting up what looks to be a simple but
fatal accident. Leon has the presence of mind to pay close attention to
important details. He smashes Freddy's Waterproof watch against the
wall and sets it ahead one hour. In this way, when detectives determine
the time of death to be around 8:00 p.m., an hour later than the murder
actually occurred, Leon will have a perfect alibi --he was at home
hosting a costume party. At this juncture, the plot takes another evil
twist when it is revealed that Freddy's estranged wife and Leon's
mistress -- Nancy -- is an accomplice to the crime. She arrives shortly
after the murder, shares a brief moment of passion with Leon, and then
stays put while he returns home in time for the beginning of the party.
Back at Leon Lamarr's home, a servant alerts Leon that his nephew is on
the phone. In actuality, it is Nancy calling, disguising her Voice. The
call has been intentionally placed just prior to the time set on
Freddy's watch in order to strengthen Leon's alibi. At first, the
detectives including Lt. Columbo -- seem ready to write the case off
as an accident. That is until Columbo discovers something unusual about
the watch. It is not the high-priced waterproof model that it appears
to be but a fake and not waterproof at all. As such, Columbo reasons,
Freddy would not have worn it into the bathtub. This of course stirs
Columbo's inquisitive mind and drives him to continue digging for clues.
His search revolves primarily around Freddy's apartment, his friends
and Uncle Leon. Soon enough, he finds a case of expensive champagne
and also discovers Freddy's plan to buy a $175,000 car. Then Lt.
Columbo notices that the numbers on Freddy's camera lens match those on
Leon's winning lottery ticket.
Knowing that Leon Lamarr is guilty, but still needing concrete proof, Columbo
instinctively studies Freddy's photos with the monkey in them. In each shot, he notices,
the monkey is grabbing a shiny metallic object. Remembering that part of Lamarr's costume
was indeed a shiny medallion, Columbo decides to check for fingerprints. As he suspected,
the monkey's prints are found on the medallion, proving that Leon Lamarr was in Freddy's
apartment the night of the murder. This is enough evidence to arrest Leon, who proceeds to
turn in his mistress Nancy.
With the case solved, Lt. Columbo moves on to another matter of importance -- deciding on
a gift for his wife for their 25th wedding anniversary. Having had his fill of jewelers,
he considers a new paint job for her old car. After all, an anniversary this important,
Columbo realizes, calls for something special.