Columbo: An analysis of “Make Me a Perfect Murder” part 11


It’s 1:05:00, and Kay had enough of Valerie.  Dumping the contents out of her bag, she discovers her suspicions are correct.  Primary colors red and blue return in form of yarn hidden among prescription drugs.   We also clearly see the beautiful outdoors.  Again,  Kay is framed in halves.   Holding symbols of failure, the open door way represents her scheme is half way from being exposed.  This is one step to a much bigger failure.


The color of Valerie’s bag is curiously similar color to Kay’s raincoat.  It is the color of deception and ulterior motives.   Valerie walking around with bundles of yarn doesn’t make any sense.  She is pretending to be something she’s not and got exposed.  Both in her personal and professional lives.

Kay has no choice but to abruptly cancel the live show and chooses to air The Professional with little fanfare.  An unfinished film, her hubris will get the best of her.



We cut to night.  Columbo visits a television repair shop.  We receive an immediate back story how he dropped off his TV in the morning and he really wanted to catch the Valerie Kirk show on CNC.   Columbo will recognize the cue blips and have an epiphany.  Remembering Walter Mearhead’s disapproval of a particular violent scene, Columbo realizes there is something not right about Kay’s change over.   The television fizzles out, working just long enough to give Columbo the clue he needed.

Let’s look at where we are.  The repair shop is the network’s graveyard.  Everything here is dysfunctional.  No televisions are helping the ratings at CNC.  The repair man, not too much unlike Kay, has direct control what and when his customers watch.   Our first glimpse at the film shows the head and shoulders of the repair man and the arm from The Professional.  It looks as though the repair man is putting hands into the movie.  With a few minutes and little tools, he used CNC’s broadcast of Kay’s film against her.  Kay would never think of him as a equal but alas!  In an episode about network TV, we never see a working over-the-air television.  Only closed-circuit.  The Professional continues to be depicted in not full frame.  We are reminded it is within a portal, a fictional world we don’t have emotional connection with.


Ratings are beginning to trickle in the next morning.  They are not good and roughly less than a quarter what Kay had allegedly promised.  Picking up a blue notebook, a foreboding hint of more bad things to come, she hears unpleasant news about another project.  Things continue to sour for Kay.

The episode abruptly jumps to night where Kay is drawn to Mark’s office.  His trophies are gone.  (One would think some of them belonged to the network)  What’s important to note that it is another example of not blessing Kay with more than one award over her shoulders.  Kay takes a step behind the desk.  Interesting we never see Mark there.   Kay needs to feel proud standing there.  She feels after a terrible day at the network what she needed is greater position of status.  She is left to feel pride no more than one second as Columbo confidently lights his cigar at one of the office’s two doorways.  Columbo doesn’t immediately walk through the doorway almost taunting Kay to approach him.   Kay tries to make herself look busy handling a red notebook.  This symbolizes her desire to go back before the murder.  Let’s pretend to be happy.   Columbo takes a few steps inward and begins confronting Kay about Mark’s relationship to any women.  Kay denies and stands her ground.

Madge, Mark’s assistant, interrupts the conversation.  Appearing to our right, Madge stands at the second doorway and does not enter.  Kay instructs her to prepare her moving into Mark’s office.  Madge gives an evil, poke-you-in-the-eye smile, and steps back and out.  Remember, the doorway is a place of conflict.  We will soon see the most unassuming are the most influential.


Columbo presses.  With evidence he will not let go of Kay.  She sits.  He stands.  An empty awards shelf dwarfs her.   The televison behind her will not come to her aid.  Columbo pulls out Kay’s jacket from Mark’s beach house with written proof it belongs to her.  The color of the jacket … you guessed it … blue!

Kay confesses her relationship with Mark but calls to an end of their discussion by making her way to location.   She carries her red notebook and blue blazer.


Columbo escorts Kay to the elevator.  The camera frames both of them, more importantly Kay, between a series of vertical bars.  This is a cage and Kay is about to be trapped!  The elevator is a cramped place both standing near the elevator doors.  Kay notices a silhouette of a gun in the ceiling panels and begins to panic.  Columbo lights his cigar, “I’m not supposed to do this in an elevator.”  What he doesn’t say but mean, “Let’s pretend you didn’t see that!”

We conclude part 11 at 1:18:10.  Revisit part one by clicking here.

This is the 11th part of the series, an analysis of “Make Me a Perfect Murder” directed by James Frawley.

Jump to part   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12


1 comment

  1. Jak September 28, 2017 1:36 pm  Reply

    I search for the music of this episode/

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