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?


The last episode of the first season of "Columbo" to be filmed, though it aired before Columbo: Blueprint for Murder (1972) See more »


Near the end, the door on the cable car switches from opened to closed between shots and reverse shots. See more »


Roger Stanford: [annoyed] Lieutenant, you take an inordinate length of time to come to the point.
See more »

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User Reviews

Lacklustre Columbo
24 November 2015 | by Leofwine_dracaSee all my reviews

Being a huge fan of the Columbo films, it's hard for me to find ones I don't enjoy, but SHORT FUSE is one such production. It's a Columbo story that nearly sent me to sleep, which is saying something because these films usually have me totally entranced.

The problem with SHORT FUSE is the writing. The running time is mercifully short but the writing is below par compared to what we're used to from this series. The opening murder seems rushed and ill thought out, and the villain is so obviously guilty that there's little suspense from watching Columbo work his magic around him. It's a particular shame because the guest star is Roddy McDowall, and I love McDowall, just not his annoying, man-child character here.

Other than McDowall, we get Ida Lupino (again, after SWAN SONG) and William Windom in the supporting cast, so the actors are fine. Falk is on as good form as ever. But this is simplistic stuff indeed, there's nothing here that hasn't been done elsewhere, and other than a dark room encounter there's very little humour on display.

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