Columbo (1971–2003)
32 user 7 critic

Short Fuse 

Pressured to give up his birthright, a chemical company heir enacts a clever plan to get rid of his blackmailing uncle and take over the family business. But Lt. Columbo suspects the man's death was not just a tragic accident.


Edward M. Abroms


Jackson Gillis (teleplay by), Lester Pine (story by) | 4 more credits »




Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Peter Falk ... Columbo
Roddy McDowall ... Roger Stanford
Anne Francis ... Valerie Bishop
James Gregory ... David L. Buckner
Ida Lupino ... Doris Buckner
William Windom ... Everett Logan
Steve Gravers ... Sergeant
Lawrence Cook Lawrence Cook ... Quincy [Murphy in credits]
Rosalind Miles Rosalind Miles ... Nancy
Lew Brown Lew Brown ... Farrell
Jason Wingreen ... Policeman
Eddie Quillan ... Ferguson
Stuart Nisbet ... Pinstripe
Annette Molen ... Girl
Jim Neumarker Jim Neumarker ... Plainclothesman


A chemist decides to kill his uncle in order to prevent him selling the family business to a conglomerate in exchange for a seat on the Board of Directors, by concealing a time-delaying explosive device inside a box of his uncle's favourite cuban cigars.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

19 January 1972 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Accident See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Roddy McDowall's character is an amateur photographer who has his own darkroom on the office premises where he works. In real life, McDowall was famous for the photos he took of fellow film personalities. See more »


The position and amount of the plastic string in Columbo's hair changes from shot to shot. See more »


Lt. Columbo: You know something, Roger? The truth is hard to find - sometimes - but sometimes it's right in front of ya and ya can't prove it.
See more »

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User Reviews

Reasonably enjoyable but fell short
10 April 2012 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

I am a huge Columbo fan, but while Short Fuse is not one of the worst of the series(Last Salute to the Commodore is for me the worst of the pre-1989 episodes, and No Time to Die, Murder in Malibu, Grand Deceptions and Dead Weight were also underwhelming) it was one of the weaker and blandest entries of that time period. I'll start with the good points. The locations and photography are stunning, the direction was solid enough and the music is well composed and fitting with the mood and period. Peter Falk is brilliant as always, embodying the iconic detective in the way that only he can do. In terms of any effective scenes, the best were the pretty clever murder sequence and the ending.

However, there are a number of problems, including a script that is lacking in wit and fluidity, a story that is good in concept and reasonably well paced but with plot twists that feel laboured and a lack of chemistry between Falk and MacDowell(when there is any it feels vague), disappointing considering that this is one of the best things about Columbo. Roddy MacDowell's performance is nowhere near the worst of the series(Andrew Stevens in Murder in Malibu and almost the entire cast of No Time to Die) but it was a performance lacking in subtlety and felt over-the-top in places, especially the laugh. In conclusion, enjoyable but fell short.

6/10 Bethany Cox

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