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 »




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 »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Columbo makes reference to his "wife and kids", intimating a larger family than perhaps previously believed. See more »


There are two US Marine Corps officers (Colonel & Lt Col) at the war gaming event. Both have hair that is too long (not a regulation cut, today or in 1974). Problem with many TV shows and movies in the past where extras with regulation military haircuts were not available. The other military service members (US Navy, US Air Force, US Army, although their hair was also long, they were within regulation standards for that time frame. See more »


Dr. Marshall Cahill: Right now you are in an institution where any staff member, including your little friend Steve, will tell you that a theory isn't worth a damn unless it can be proved.
Lt. Columbo: It's the same way at the institute that I work at, Doctor.
See more »


References Forbidden Planet (1956) See more »

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User Reviews

Possibly the most outdated Columbo movie around.
24 May 2008 | by Boba_Fett1138See all my reviews

The earliest Columbo movie entry dates back from 1968 but yet no other Columbo movie seems as old as this one. The silly outdated technical and scientific elements and the presence of Robby the Robot makes this movie feel and look outdated which does take away some of the quality of the overall movie but nevertheless doesn't prevent the movie from being not entertaining or bad to watch.

Nevertheless I don't really count this movie among one of the best out of the long running Columbo series. The story and especially its settings were not really interesting enough and the movie also really lacked a good well known actor opposite Peter Falk. It's not that José Ferrer is a bad actor but he just didn't played his role very interestingly, which caused his presence and role to be a forgettable one. There also isn't enough interaction between him and Lt.Columbo, which normally really is a requirement for a good Columbo movies.

There were more clues left out for Lt. Columbo than usual, which is also one of the reasons why the story isn't among the best out of all the Columbo movies.

Quite funny how Robby the Robot often keeps popping up in movies and series. He made his first appearance in 1956 in the science-fiction movie "Forbidden Planet" and continues appearing in movies till this present day. His role in this movie is also quite big and significant for the movie its main plot.

It remains a well made movie and a pleasant enough to watch murder-mystery but it's perhaps a tad bit more forgettable than most other average Columbo entries.


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