Columbo s03e04 Double Exposure (1973) – 7/10 crime detective murder mystery TV review

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Cast / crew
Lieutenant Columbo: Peter Falk
Robert Culp: Dr. Bart Kepple
Robert Middleton:
Chuck McCann:
Louise Latham: Mrs. Norris
Director: Richard Quine
Writer: Stephen J. Cannell
Series Creator: Richard Levinson
Series Creator: William Link

Columbo s03e04 Double Exposure (1973)

When Dr. Bart Kepple, an expert on human psychology, murders Vic Norris, a man who is about to expose the doctor and his blackmailing ways, using every psychological trick in the book – Columbo – as much an expert but wearing his cunning disguise of a shambling idiot – has to use techniques he never even knew existed.

7/10

"Alright Lieutenant. I’ll play."- Dr. Bart Kepple underestimating, of course, Lieutenant Columbo

Good Columbo with several terrific scenes where Columbo attempts to out-psychologise (if that’s a word!) Robert Culp’s psychological expert. Culp trying to ignore the be-macced maestro cresting a hill in a golf cart is the opener to a fantastically clever scene where Columbo, using only a long-distance phone call, proves Culp knows a certain woman; Columbo deliberately not giving Culp the directions to a murder location is also an absolute joy. The use of sublimal image theory is a little suspect but not any less fun and it’s nice to see slack-jawed admiration for Columbo from the murderer when he is finally caught.

This Columbo episode contains violence, adult dialogue

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Columbo s03e08 A Friend In Deed (1974) – 7/10 crime detective murder drama TV review

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Cast / crew
Lieutenant Columbo: Peter Falk
Richard Kiley: Deputy Commissioner Mark Halperin
Rosemary Murphy: Margaret Halperin
Michael McGuire: Hugh Caldwell
Val Avery: Artie Jessup
Director: Ben Gazzara
Writer: Peter S. Fischer
Series’ Creator: Richard Levinson
Series’ Creator: William Link
Producer: Edward K. Dodds
Executive Producer: Roland Kibbee
Executive Producer: Dean Hargrove

Columbo s03e08 A Friend In Deed (1974)

When a man ends up throttling his wife during a heated argument about her extra-marital affairs, he goes to his friend Mark for help. Mark helps him out by providing him with an alibi and making the scene of the crime look like she disturbed a burgler. If anyone can help him cover it up, it’s Mark: Police Deputy Commissioner Mark Halperin.

7/10

Solid episode with good reasons for Columbo to become suspicious that everything is not as it seems (a folded nightie under a pillow, a complete lack of fingerprints including the victim’s and an unanswered phone call). Murder She Wrote writer Peter S. Fischer supplies a terrific conclusion – one of the series’ best – requiring Falk to go from his what’s-going-on face to his you’re-the-murderer speech; which he does perfectly, of course. In fact, if Fischer could have come up with some nice little Columbo moments (he has trouble with his car but there’s nothing to work with) to augment the strong, clever plot, this could have been the best Columbo ever. As it is, it’s clever, logical and the climax is completely unforeseeable and a total joy.

This Columbo episode contains violence, mild adult dialogue

Classified 12 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over.

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Agatha Christie’s Poirot: Sad Cypress (2003) – 7/10 period murder mystery detective drama TV review

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Cast / crew
Hercule Poirot: David Suchet
Writer (Original Novel): Agatha Christie
Screenplay Writer: David Pirie
Elizabeth Dermot Walsh: Elinor Carlisle
Rupert Penry-Jones: Roddy Winter
Kelly Reilly: Mary Gerard
Paul McGann: Dr. Peter Lord
Phyllis Logan: Nurse Hopkins
Producer: Margaret Mitchell
Director: David Moore
Actor and Associate Producer: David Suchet

Agatha Christie’s Poirot Sad Cypress (2003)

A poison pen letter is brought to Poirot’s attention and though he takes it very seriously, it’s not enough to get a body exhumed for further investigation. Shortly thereafter, a murder is committed and Poirot returns only to fall short once more as a woman is sentenced to death for a crime only she had the means, motive and opportunity to commit. Yet the little grey cells refuse to settle.

7/10

"I am thirty-six times an idiot!" – Hercule Poirot

This is a nicely staged production with a good sense of atmosphere and a beautifully-judged pace. There is just enough information given to the audience for them to have worked out the mechanics of the murder themselves but no way for them to derive the motive. This isn’t a mystery where everywhere has means, motive and opportunity – only one has; Poirot’s challenge is to see that there was, in fact, another. The screenwriter’s challenge is to help the audience see that and what he does is quite interesting. Though the clues regarding the true murder are there, the audience is highly unlikely to perceive them. The only reason they will consider that Elinor Carlisle isn’t guilty is because whomever we are told is guilty in these murder mysteries is always innocent. And so, unlike Poirot, we don’t need to find another motive because we already presume that she is innocent.

This Agatha Christie’s Poirot episode contains unexpectedly unpleasant nightmare scene

Classified 12 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over.

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Agatha Christie’s Poirot s05e06 The Chocolate Box (1993) – 7/10 period detective murder mystery TV review

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Cast / crew
Writer (Original Short Story): Agatha Christie
Hercule Poirot: David Suchet
Chief Inspector Japp: Philip Jackson
Writer (Dramatisation): Douglas Watkinson
Rosalie Crutchley: Madame Deroulard
Anna Chancellor: Virginie Mesnard
Director: Ken Grieve

Agatha Christie’s Poirot s05e06 The Chocolate Box (1993)

Poirot returns to Belgium for the first time in years to accompany Japp who is being honoured by the Belgian government. While there, Poirot is reminded of a case that didn’t go his way and he decides that the time is right to reveal the truth.

7/10

It’s terrific to see a young Poirot skilfully brought to life by David Suchet with his normal weight and gait and a bit of running around and a bit of extra hair on the toupé. Dramatiser Douglas Watkinson does well in structuring the story and there’s plenty to like, especially with Poirot as a burgler and his constant lack of discretion. I did chuckle happily at the scene where Poirot is asked for, not by name but, "by moustache." Even though Hastings isn’t here, there’s a lovely feeling of friendship with Poirot accompanying Japp to an award ceremony in Belgium. While the setting and atmosphere are terrific, the colour blindness that is at the heart of the detective story climax doesn’t convince. Even if pink looks green and green looks pink, couldn’t you still tell whether a lid and a box were the same colour? Regardless, a good episode.

This Agatha Christie’s Poirot episode contains violence

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Agatha Christie’s Poirot s10e04 Taken at the Flood (2005) – 7/10 period crime detective drama TV review

Cast / crew
Hercule Poirot: David Suchet
Writer (Original Novel): Agatha Christie
Screenplay Writer: Guy Andrews
Jenny Agutter: Adela Marchmont
Patrick Baladi: Rowley Cloade
Eva Birthistle: Rosaleen / Eileen
Elliot Lowan: David Hunter
Amanda Douge: Lynn Marchmont
Penny Downie: Frances Cloade
Claire Hackett: Beatrice Lippincott
Supt. Harold Spence: Richard Hope
Celia Imrie: ‘Aunt’ Katy Cloade
Nicholas Le Prevost: Major James Porter
Tim Pigott-Smith: Dr. Lionel Cloade
Elizabeth Spriggs: Mrs Leadbetter
Pip Torrens: Jeremy Cloade
Tim Woodward: Enoch Arden / Charles
David Yelland: George the Butler
Producer: Trevor Hopkins
Director: Andy Wilson

Agatha Christie’s Poirot s10e04 Taken at the Flood (2005)

When the Cloade family can’t get financial support from their father’s widow – a very young American actress that none of them had met before the marriage – they, rightly, blame her extremely controlling brother. As their lives were predicated around a certain amount of income, having it cut off has brought them into desperate straits but then it appears that the young actress was married before and her first husband didn’t die. The Cloade’s enlist the help of family friend and world’s greatest detective, Hercule Poirot – no, not Batman – to find evidence of bigamy. Naturally, as soon as Poirot takes on the case, someone dies.

7/10

After awkward character introductions, Guy Andrews’ adaptation improves on some details of Christie’s novel while retaining the plot that sees deaths cleverly disguised as other kinds of deaths and revelling in the energetic odiousness of the Cloade family of suspects. Acceptable changes include how Rowley identifies Arden, the nature of the explosion and Rosalie and Lynn’s fate at the end. The cast is good, especially Elliot Lowan as David Hunter and David Suchet’s Poirot is a cheerful presence.

This Agatha Christie’s Poirot episode contains adult dialogue, bad language, substance abuse, violence, gory and unpleasant scene

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Columbo s01e02 Death Lends a Hand (1971) – 7/10 crime detective TV review

Cast / crew
Lieutenant Columbo: Peter Falk
Robert Culp: Brimmer
Patricia Crowley: Lenore Kennicut
Ray Milland: Arthur Kennicut
Director: Bernard L. Kowalski
Producer and Writer: Richard Levinson
Producer and Writer: William Link

Columbo s01e02 Death Lends a Hand (1971)

Columbo investigates the death of Lenore Kennicut – a young woman accidentally killed by a private detective, Brimmer – but then her husband hires Brimmer to find the murderer.

7/10

Reasonable little murder mystery which, unlike most subsequent episodes, does not feature a ‘perfect murder’ scenario but does feature the quality that made the show so special: the joy of Columbo stalking his prey. Guest star Robert Culp is an agreeably superior baddie and special guest star Ray Milland adds a bit of gravitas but, as usual, Peter Falk is remarkable as our eponymous hero. This time around the murder was not premeditated and the death of the victim was accidental. Columbo still tumbles to the guilty party as soon as he is introduced but only confirms how at the very end.

This Columbo episode contains violence

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Doctor Who S34E03 A Town Called Mercy (2012) – 7/10 science fiction wild west adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Toby Whithouse
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Director: Saul Metzstein
Andrew Brooke: The Gunslinger
Adrian Scarborough: Kahler-Jex

Doctor Who S34E03 A Town Called Mercy (2012)

The Doctor, Amy and Rory arrive in the America old west town of Mercy and find it, and now themselves, under siege by a cyborg, Gunslinger, who wants them to give him the alien doctor.

7/10

This is better than the previous two episodes with a plot that very nearly engages. The crux of the plot is the Doctor needing companions to balance out the soul-sapping weariness of being alone and that is clearly communicated. While the concepts are interesting and worthwhile, the plot suffers from familiarity and a complete absence of atmosphere. Director Saul Metzstein’s Dinosaurs on a Spaceship episode also had no atmosphere. However, there’s some fun lines this week (‘Tea… Leave the bag in.’, "I speak horse. He’s called Susan.") and the plot does raise thought-provoking questions about companionship and redemption, vengeance, justice and second chances.

This Doctor Who episode contains violence.

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