Number 1: A Stitch in Crime
Leonard Nimoy plays a cold, calculating man of science. Rarely showing emotion, when he does, he’s extremely awkward. He is the only villain to attempt three murders, succeeding at two of them. Dr. Barry Mayfield is an evil Mr. Spock. He is only bested by our Lt. Columbo.
Season 2, episode 6.
Number 2: Fade into Murder
William Shatner plays John Schilling posing as Charles Kipling impersonating Ward Fowler playing Lt. Lucerne. Unlike Nimoy who channeled Spock into Dr. Mayfield, William Shatner channels William Shatner into Ward Fowler. Lt. Lucerne is a wonderful “what if” with what Shatner would have done after Star Trek if given the chance. Look for Walter Koenig who makes an abbreviated appearance. Shatner would return for a second appearance during the ABC years with “Butterfly in Shades of Grey”.
Season 6, episode 1.
Number 3: Short Fuse
Star Trek fans will recognize William Windom as Commodore William Decker (“The Doomsday Machine”. Playing the deceitful executive, Everett Logan, William Windom again plays a man with authority but really doesn’t have any authority. He winds up bounced from his executive chair. You’ll also get to see him in “Prescription Murder”. As a bonus, the episode’s victim is the stodgy James Gregory from Star Trek’s “Dagger of the Mind”. You’ll recognize him in another Columbo episode, “The Most Crucial Game”, as Coach Rizzo.
Season 1, episode 6.
Number 4: A Matter of Honor
All you need to know that it has Ricardo Montalban in it. That’s Khan Noonien Singh from Star Trek’s “Space Seed”. He plays a past-his-time icon who finds the will to kill again. He thinks the world is his and he doesn’t like anyone asking too many questions about his past. Although he has great skill, his ego is easily distracted and in the end, swallows defeat.
Season 5, episode 4.
Number 5: The Greenhouse Jungle
Sandra Smith, who many remember as the “other Captain Kirk”, Janice Lester, in the original series final episode, “Turnabout Intruder”. In Columbo, playing Cathy Goodland, she plays a woman who has plans and doesn’t care what anyone thinks. She has two men in her life. One she is obsessed over and another who is obsessed over her. In the end, she gets neither.
Post-edit: Thanks to reader “Gary”, we about overlooked Alene Martel, playing Gloria West. She is also known as Spock’s Vulcan bride, T’Pring from “Amok Time”. We write more in a post dedicated to her.
Season 2, episode 2.
Other episodes to look for: Michael Strong in “Negative Reaction”, you’ll remember him from Star Trek’s “What are Little Girls Made Of?” as Dr. Roger Korby. France Nuyen, who played Miss Choy in Columbo’s “Murder Under Glass”, is Elaan from Star Trek’s “Elaan of Troyius”. Mariette Hartley, who made two Columbo appearances in “Try and Catch Me” and “Publish or Perish” was in Star Trek’s “All Our Yesterdays” as Zarabeth. And then there’s Robert Walker Jr. who plays Neil Cahill, “That man is lying!” on “Mind Over Mayhem”. You’ll remember him as Charlie X.
Post-edit: Thanks to reader “Charles” who reminded that Joanne Linville, playing the Romulan Commander on Star Trek’s “The Enterprise Incident” co-starred in “Candidate for Crime” as Senator Hayward’s wife, Vickie. How could I have missed that one?