Columbo (1971–2003)
22 user 5 critic

Mind Over Mayhem 

The director of a government institute that employs various scientific geniuses commits a clever murder. But another kind of genius is on the case: Lt. Columbo.


Alf Kjellin


Steven Bochco (teleplay by), Dean Hargrove (teleplay by) | 4 more credits »

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Peter Falk ... Columbo
José Ferrer ... Dr. Marshall Cahill (as Jose Ferrer)
Lew Ayres ... Dr. Howard Nicholson
Robert Walker Jr. ... Neil Cahill (as Robert Walker)
Lee Montgomery ... Steve Spelberg (as Lee H. Montgomery)
Jessica Walter ... Margaret Nicholson
Lou Wagner ... Ross
Arthur Batanides ... Murph (as Art Batanides)
Darrell Zwerling ... Motel Manager
Charles Macaulay Charles Macaulay ... Farnsworth
John Zaremba ... Coroner
William Bryant ... Fields
Bert Holland ... Whitehead
Ed Fury ... Plainclothesman
Jefferson Kibbee Jefferson Kibbee ... Jeff


Dr. Marshall Cahill is the director of a government institute that employs various scientific geniuses, including the elderly Dr. Nicholson, who knows that Cahill's son Neil has plagiarized a dead man's theory of molecular structure. When Nicholson threatens exposure, Dr. Cahill murders him and cleverly makes the killing look like the job of a heroin junkie who needed his fix. But clever or not, another kind of genius is on the case: the rumpled, redoubtable Lt. Columbo. Written by J. Spurlin

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

10 February 1974 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Au-delà de la folie See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
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Technical Specs



Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Jose Ferrer's character "Marshall Cahill" is homage to John Wayne's movie Cahil, U.S. Marshall See more »


In the "home garage laboratory", there is a shelf of chemical containers marked with their respective formulas. The formulas are written incorrectly. See more »


Margaret Nicholson: You're pretty observant.
Lt. Columbo: Some people say I'm snoopy.
See more »


References Forbidden Planet (1956) See more »

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User Reviews

"Mind Over Mayhem" (1974)
7 April 2019 | by WuchakkSee all my reviews

PLOT: The director of a cybernetic think tank (José Ferrer) runs down a colleague after he threatens to expose his son as a fraud (Robert Walker Jr.); he makes the crime look like a murder/robbery. Jessica Walter, the psycho-biyatch from "Play Misty for Me" (1971), is on hand as the young man's therapist and wife of the victim.

COMMENTARY: The cybernetic institute filled with geniuses, researchers and militarists is an interesting setting. The torso half of Robby the Robot from "Forbidden Planet" (1956) shows up, as does "Dog" in a few amusing scenes.

It is stressed that the young wife (Walter) genuinely loves her older husband, but she curiously doesn't grieve much and doesn't seem overly interested in helping the investigation. The way Columbo stages an abusive false accusation at the close is disturbing, but it shows that he cares about justice above legal correctness and social niceties, which is also emphasized in "Strange Bedfellows" (1995).


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