I've always wondered a little about people's opinions of him (Norman's and Hathaway's). Maybe he wants Clifford's money, but there's a difference between that and being someone who doesn't fend for himself. After all, Dexter has his own local TV show - which might not be so tricky in a huge city like Los Angeles, but either way, he has one. And he evidently does all that cooking for real, as opposed to being some kind of figurehead (the way Ken Franklin largely is when it comes to the writing team). Of course, when Norman describes him to Columbo as some kind of joke, he's talking partly about his personal life, and besides, he has to keep up the act of being completely against him. But I still wonder how - greedy for his uncle's money or not - Dexter can described with words like "useless."
I always thought that it was strange that the host of a television show in a huge media market like LA could be considered a failure. But my biggest problem with that episode is the motive for killing the fiancée and framing the lawyer. I wish somebody could explain that.
For me, the weakest part of the episode was the "gotcha" clue which just came down to Columbo checking phone records, which is the sort of thing you learn on day one or two of an investigation. Besides, how could the brothers be so stupid as to leave such an obvious "paper trail" in place? That strikes me as a case of looking for a way out of an episode when a brilliant clue isn't there to be had.
The series' inconsistency with when phone records are actually available has always bothered me. I mean, how easy would it have been in Exercise in Fatality to show that Milo never receive a call from Gene? Apparently, only long distance phone records were available in some cases, I think. I've seen some discussions on this forum in the past about the use of phone records, but I'm still not clear on when, how and why they are or aren't used.
No, there wasn't an inconsistency in that case, because those of us old to remember know that "local" calls didn't show up on phone records. ONLY long distance records. So in "Excercise" that was a non-starter because the call from Gene would have been "local".
OTOH, in "Murder By The Book" Ken Franklin plays everything very carefully because he knows what calls will and won't show up in phone records.
1-He knows a call by Jim from the office to his wife is a "local call" and won't show up in the records. Thus if Jim tells his wife he's calling from the office, the police won't check that.
2-OTOH, a call from his house to Jim's wife *will* be in the phone records. That's the reason why Ken makes the call to Jim's wife from Lily La Sanka's before he commits the murder. So that way if the phone records are checked, and it shows a call from his place to Jim's wife, the explanation would be to say the call that he really placed from Lily's was the one that came from his house (Ken would not think the police would have any reason to check for a call placed from Lily's. And keep in mind, your phone bill would not indicate where a call you received came from, unless it was a collect call).