Peter Falk, as Lt. Columbo, meets the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team during his investigation of the slaying of the owner of a professional football team by its manager. Robert Culp, Valerie Harper, James Gregory, Dean Jagger, Susan Howard and Dean Stockwell guest star.
Jason struggles to complete a major musical composition, and a plan for a Walton's Mountain Founders' Day develops.
Kwai Chang Caine (DAVID CARRADINE), a half-American Buddhist monk from China, restores the eyes and faith of a phony preacher (JOHN CARRADINE), blinded by Indians, and finds his own roots in America.
As the Partridge Family is driving home from Las Vegas on Christmas Eve, the bus breaks down. To their dismay, they discover they are in a ghost town in the middle of the desert. Charlie, an old prospector, comes up to them leading his burro. He tells them that there is a garage 12 miles away, but it is closed. Keith and Reuben stay to try and fix the bus, and the rest of the family goes to Charlie's cabin. When Chris and Tracy complain that they will miss Christmas, Charlie tells them a story about the ghost town 100 years ago. In the fantasy, the town is now clean and new and there are many people. Charlie explains that the town had a beautiful, shiny silver bell, which people came for miles to see and which brought Santa Claus to the town each year. Keith becomes the singing Sheriff Swell, Laurie is the school marm and Shirley is saloon mistress Belle. Everything is fine and happy one year until the day before Christmas when Mean Sidney (Reuben) comes to town and steals the bell so that Santa can't find the townspeople. Everyone tries to get the bell away from Mean, but no one can outsmart him. Then, Little the Kid (Danny) rides in on his white horse, and the people are hopeful again. Little and Mean have a card game right up to the stroke of midnight...and Little can't conquer Mean either. However, the people discover that Santa Claus hasn't forgotten them after all...and it was the spirit of Christmas rather than the bell that brought him each year. When Charlie finished, the Partridges said they loved the story and felt much better. Keith came in to say that he was able to fix the bus and the family took off. Meanwhile, Charlie was very lonely...but not for long. The family returned with silver paint to make the bell look like new. They also brought a tree and presents to share their happiness with Charlie.
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