The Columbo episode, “Make Me a Perfect Murder” is one of the most brilliant of the series. It had cleverly interwoven themes that at first if not third, fourth, or fifth viewing are unnoticed. It is not easy to choose only 5 things you may have missed watching “Make Me a Perfect Murder”, but here they are.
Number 1: Mark waited until Sunday to tell Kay he’s leaving to New York without her.
Executive Mark McAndrews breaks the news to Kay he’s leaving to New York without her on a Sunday morning. We presume they have spent the weekend together. We’re assuming that Frank Flanagan made Mark the offer on the Friday morning before. This had to mean that Mark kept the news to himself through the weekend and waited to break up with her after fun time was over.
Number 2: Kay keeps Jonathan after work as a suspect but didn’t predict a phone call to save him
Poor Jonathan, the gentleman statistic-runner is kept into the night purposely to help throw the inevitable investigation off. He is the closest to the murder scene and would have been the prime suspect. However, a phone call at the time of the murder gives him an unpredicted alibis.
Jonathan shows little concern or paranoia, other than in one short hallway scene. He and an unnamed character are walking side-by-side passing Columbo and his sergeant. Jonathan is anxious and exchanges stares with the sergeant. Is he wondering the police is coming to arrest him?
Number 3: Frank Flanagan from New York bunch is indecisive
As Mark lectures Kay she makes guesses not decisions, big boss Frank Flanagan of the New York bunch is no better. All he makes are guesses and not good ones. He’s unclear how he feels about The Professional. He’s intrigued by the fine film while acknowledging sloppy editing and inappropriate content. He’s ambivalent signing Clay Gardner. He wants action before he has time to reverse his decision. Finally, he brow beats Kay for taking Mark’s office as an act of bad taste while wearing a tuxedo heading to a party in a limousine. And let’s not overlook Flanagan made an executive decision to ask Kate to take over temporarily. We give him credit for taking decisive command firing Kay while keeping his arrival at the party on schedule.
Speaking of bad decisions, throughout the episode Kay made poor decisions one after the other. Her murder was imperfect leading evidence behind. Her direction of The Professional was questionable. Releasing the film, unfinished, to network airing was a rating disaster and a direct result of The Valerie Kirk variety show being an abject failure. From what we understand with her conversation with Flanagan inside the limo, Kay was fired for trying to move into Mark’s office.
Number 4: The Professional was an unfinished film needing three more days to complete.
Looking backwards, Kay Freestone was working with the editor on Thursday on an overtly unpolished film, The Professional. By Friday morning, she tells Mark McAndrews and company it will take the studio at least another three days to finish. With a first cut chooses to show it to the New York bunch on Monday night. By Wednesday, the Valerie Kirk show is abruptly canceled and replaced with The Professional gaining a 9.3 share in L.A. where she had promised a 40.
Number 5: Madge throws Kate under the bus – twice!
One of the network’s secretaries, Madge, was the first person to be know Kay was moving into Mark’s office. Only moments later, Frank Flanagan, hunts her down in his limo and fires her. How could he have found out so quick and know where to find Kay? It must have been Madge. With an evil smile, she says goodnight and goodbye before calling the Frank Flanagan hotline. We also give her credit outing Kay for hiding out at her family home.
Making an uncredited appearance as a television technician, is no other than Trish Van Devere’s husband, George C. Scott. His character is given credit putting together evidence to arrest her. Similarities to Patton are non-existent.
Want to know more? Check out our very detailed analysis of “Make Me a Perfect Murder” part 1.