In this pilot episode, author/amateur detective Ellery Queen tries to track down the killer of a noted fashion designer who pulled the plug out of her clock and her television set as a cryptic dying message.
On New Year's Eve, at a posh celebration, a wealthy man is murdered after excusing himself to make a phone call to his attorney. The murder occurs only moments after he announced his plans to disinherit his companions. Ellery and Inspector Queen are soon on the scene and the solution hinges on a clue left by the dead man.
While reading an Ellery Queen novel, a fountain pen heiress begins having all the experiences as a character in the book such as having an overwhelming urge to jump off the balcony. Soon afterwards, she's found dead at the bottom of the balcony. Did she jump or was she pushed?
On vacation in the town of Wrightsville, Inspector Queen and Ellery are dragged into the murder investigation of a man who's head was bashed in by an ornamental dog figurine worth half a million dollars and meant as a wedding gift for his daughter.
Ellery himself is a suspect in the murder of a comic book publisher with whom he'd just had a heated disagreement. Especially when a dying clue appears to point towards him. Muckraking reporter Frank Flannigan makes his first appearance to try and "aid" the investigation.
There's all kinds of suspects when a newspaper mogul is found murdered in an express elevator to the 12th floor with no one inside but the victim. Suspects include the victim's sister, an editor being forced into retirement, a Red-baiting columnist for the paper, a disgruntled obituary writer and a lawyer for the paper. Then there's the matter of ole Frank Flannigan who's snooping around making a nuisance of himself trying to beat the Queens to the solution.
Radio star Vera Bethune is poisoned during a taping of her show. At the hospital, she asks Ellery and the Inspector to stay on the case but soon afterwards she's found shot to death. Simon Brimmer is on the scene too desperately trying to beat the Queens to the solution so as to win back a lost sponsor for his radio program.
A former spy, Colonel Alec Nivin, is in New York for a book signing of his memoirs in which he accuses numerous people of war crimes and treasonous acts. Ellery's galpal, Jenny O'Brien, Nivin's publicist, finds the author stabbed to death in his club office with an antique Kashmir dagger and becomes the primary suspect.
Ellery and his agent travel to the estate of wealthy eccentric Spencer Lockridge to try to get financial backing to turn one of Ellery's novels into a play. Not long after their arrival, Lockridge disappears and thrusts Ellery into another mystery.
Producer Sam Packer is found dead of an apparent heart attack but leaves behind a video saying that he was about to be murdered and asking Simon Brimmer to look into things. Packer's widow, knowing that Simon doesn't know his buttocks from third base, then asks Ellery for his help in the case.
Norris Wentworth brings an Egyptian sarcophagus from Germany to display at a museum but there's a curse on it that's killed its six previous owners. Sure enough, Wentworth assumes room temperature and becomes victim number seven. Simon Brimmer once again appears on the scene to best Ellery and once again comes up short.
At a dinner party, arrogant mystery author Edgar Manning is presented with the Blunt Instrument Award, awarded annually by the Crime Writers of America, for his book "The Shanghai Solution." Fellow nominee Ellery Queen is not present at the dinner due to a bad head cold so Manning calls him afterwards on the telephone to gloat. He is murdered while speaking to our hero.
Simon Brimmer invites the Queens to a live remote broadcast of his radio show at a restaurant where he promises to reveal the results of a murder investigation. Then one of the restaurant owners ends up dead by poisoning. If you think Simon can beat Ellery to the solution in this one you must own the Brooklyn Bridge.
Ole Frank Flannigan is on the scene again making the usual first class nuisance of himself when a prizefighter is killed while training for a championship bout. The finger of guilt points towards the boxer's sparring partner whose fiancee asks Ellery to step in and clear her man.
When a formerly brilliant, now seemingly senile inventor is murdered in his workshop, investigators are stumped. It appears as though nobody could have come in or out of the workshop during the period in which the murder must have taken place. It's a classic locked room puzzle for Ellery and the Inspector.
An old college chum of Ellery's is accused of murdering a mobster and the case hinges on a missing witness. Ole Frank Flannigan is on the scene too hoping to get a scoop.
Industrialist and war profiteer George Sherman is stabbed to death with a ceremonial Chinese dagger then dragged out of his house and hung from a tree with a crown of thorns on his head. What makes things even more mysterious is when it's discovered that Sherman was dying of a blood disease and had only six months at the most remaining.
The Queens travel to Hollywood to watch the filming of one of Ellery's novels and get involved in the investigation when the leading man is found murdered.
The murder of a socialite who just purchased $350,000 worth of paintings has its underpinnings in events that happened years before in 1922 France. It's a hard road to the truth and Ellery takes the correct one while Simon Brimmer once again crashes and burns.
Popular songwriter Alvin Wyner is murdered during the musical interlude on a radio interview show when he goes to the station's library to find a record. A waiter who had previously accused Wyner of stealing one of his songs is the leading suspect but Ellery thinks differently and once again gets in a battle of wits with the nearly unarmed Simon Brimmer.
A star witness at the trial of a mobster is murdered while in the custody of Inspector Queen's office and the finger soon points to none other than Sgt. Velie. It's up to the Inspector to get his subordinate off the hook as well as fend off criticism from his superiors that he's over the hill and relies too much on Ellery.
Ole Frank Flannigan is made to look foolish in the infant medium known as television in this episode about a nasty tobacco company marketing executive who gets murdered just before agreeing to sponsor a television show starring our favorite muckraking reporter.
Ellery and the Inspector investigate the murder of a retired detective who was killed while investigating a five year old unsolved murder case.