A Star Detective
Ward Fowler (William Shatner) plays Detective Lucerne on a popular TV show and he knows how pivotal to the show he is. His producer and former lover Clare Daley (Lola Albright) is causing him problems as she starts to blackmail him. To get her off his case Fowler not only murders her but does so in such a way that a colleague is framed for her murder. Of course when Lt. Columbo (Peter Falk) is called in to investigate he quickly smells something fishy as he comes up against TVs greatest detective.
I've mentioned it before in these reviews of old made for TV crime shows, those which now get broadcast as TV movies, a big part of their appeal is always who the guest stars are. That is most certainly the case with "Columbo: Fade in to Murder" as not only does it feature William Shatner as a killer but his Star Trek co-star Walter Koenig also shows up in the cast. You don't even need to be a fan of "Star Trek" to enjoy watching Shatner intentionally ham it up playing a killer who plays a detective on a TV show.
And that is the other layer of fun to be had in "Columbo: Fade in to Murder" as whilst you have Peter Falk delivering that persistent and amusing style of investigating as Columbo to get the facts we have Shatner playing an actor who is smug in thinking he has planned the perfect crime through playing a TV detective. The banter which goes on between Falk and Shatner is so amusing but the looks they give each other has that edge about it which makes you think at times they were struggling to control their laughter.
What this all boils down to is that "Columbo: Fade in to Murder" delivers everything you expect from an episode of Columbo but for those who appreciate the power of the celebrity cameos will get a real kick out of this one featuring William Shatner.