Dr. Eric Mason (Nicol Williamson) is an expert in control and even teaches students on how to take control of their own lives. But Eric has had something on his mind ever since 6 months earlier his wife died in a car accident and has kept to himself that he knew she was having an affair with his colleague Dr. Charles Hunter (Joel Fabiani). It is why Eric has trained his two Doberman pinschers, Laurel and Hardy, to attack when they hear the word Rosebud said after the phone rings. And that is what happens when Eric dupes Charles to going to his to wait for him to show up and then over the phone dupes him to say "Rosebud". When Eric ends up murdered, torn to pieces by the dogs Columbo (Peter Falk) shows up to investigate and as a dog lover is determined to get to the bottom of things before the dogs are put down.
"Columbo: How to Dial a Murder" is an episode of the great series for movie lovers because the character of Dr. Mason is an avid collector of movie memorabilia with a den which features such items as W.C. Fields bent pool cue and the Rosebud sled from "Citizen Kane". And there are classic posters beautifully framed on walls as well as old cinema equipment on shelves, it is a movie collector's paradise and I know it made me yearn to just have a couple of those things let alone an entire den devoted to them.
But on top of all this wonderful movie memorabilia we have this story of Dr. Mason teaching his dogs to attack when they hear the word "Rosebud" and then duping Charles into saying that word when he calls him up in the midst of having a medical. Of course all the flaws in the crime are there for Columbo to pick out from a phone being off the hook to Mason's young student Joanne who stays with him not hearing the phone ring. It is all there including a young, dark haired Kim Cattrall in the role of the insecure Joanne. Plus with this being an episode from series seven there is also a touch of comedy especially in a scene involving Columbo and his dog.
What this all boils down to is that whilst "Columbo: How to Dial a Murder" is another enjoyable episode of Columbo, delivering everything you expect from an episode. But what you also have is a character who is a movie fan and has a collection of movie memorabilia to make many a movie fan jealous making this an episode for movie lovers.