I rate this as one of three revival eps. that are as good the MM original run.
The character is based on Walter Winchell who was also fictionalized in SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS.
The episode title is never explained.
It may have been the title of the book the murder victim was writing
I always thought that Fielding Chase was loosely based on Rush Limbaugh, or just any conservative political talk show host. I actually really enjoy the episode. I love the part where Columbo goes through Chase’s files looking for a suspect. Chase thought that he would tie up Columbo for weeks with wild goose chases and dead ends but is instead stunned when Columbo immediately dismisses everybody in the files. I have to paraphrase:
Chase: That’s impossible. You can’t just immediately dismiss all 87 suspects.
Columbo: “Sir, all of these people are big important people, politicians, business leaders, etc. I just don’t see how they would know that five days ago, Jerry secretly started a gay relationship with an actor. I mean these guys were discrete. How would anyone not close to Jerry know that?
Chase (getting annoyed): Pardon me for being slow, but I fail to see how that disqualifies them.
Columbo: Well if they didn’t know that, then what is the pancake makeup doing on the handkerchief? There’s no reason for it to be there. What’s it doing there?”
Chase (blushing and half gagging at being outfoxed by a man whom he thought was a complete buffoon): You’re right of course. I didn’t think of that.”
Columbo: “Well, why would you. I mean you wouldn’t.”
At that moment Chase is first realizing how seriously he underestimated the Lieutenant. Chase is such a nasty controlling freak, that it’s great to see him get his come-uppance. And I agree that he should serve extra time for that dreadful mustache.
And I also have no idea what the title means. Perhaps the daughter is a caterpillar waiting to leave the cocoon and blossom to a butterfly, but her controlling father is stifling her, taking the color out of her life or something. That’s all I can think of.
Limbaugh is definitely a model but the daughter fixation was part of Winchell lore, and retained for.....SUCCESS.
Wasn't his daughter working on a novel in that episode?
Maybe the title of her book was BUTTERFLY.....
"And I also have no idea what the title means. Perhaps the daughter is a caterpillar waiting to leave the cocoon and blossom to a butterfly, but her controlling father is stifling her, taking the color out of her life or something."
^^^^^ This is one of the best explanations of the title I've heard!
"Butterfly" is a great episode mainly because of the characterization of the murderer... a paranoid, bitter, controlling man. There's a very telling moment toward the end, when Columbo is leading Chase into a final, incriminating setup.
Chase: "I'll confront your witness! And I'll destroy him. And then I'll start on you, and maybe the rest of the Los Angeles Police Department! Let's go."
There's a quick cut to Columbo's face during that rant, and he genuinely looks sad. By that point Chase is alone, defeated, and can't even see the trap he's walking into.
I think in all of Columbo's history, Fielding Chase may have been the killer who got most annoyed by him (there's Mrs. Peck, but she was not a killer). You can see Chase's blood pressure rise as Columbo fiddles with the honey stick for his tea. "Twist it", Chase says, further distracting Columbo from his point.
I love the scene in Chase's office with the putrid cigar smoke and Columbo keeps interrupting himself as Chase gets more annoyed each time. Columbo tries to open a high rise office window until Chase bursts out: "Forget the windows, they don't open. DON'T WORRY ABOUT THE SMOKE! Get back to your point."
Then as Columbo is giving him the bad news, the cigar that he put in the wastebasket starts a fire. Columbo pours coffee to put out the fire as he also puts out Chase's nonsense theory that a political enemy killed Jerry.
It's a great scene from a great episode, although I'll never unsee that hideous mustache, or a very out-of-shape Shatner trying to work an exercise machine, lol.
Does anyone have a video tape of the original broadcast version?
I would love to own that instead of the cropped " widescreen" version on the DVD.