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 s01e07 Blueprint for Murder (1972) – 6/10 crime detective TV review

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Cast / crew
Lieutenant Columbo: Peter Falk
Patrick O’Neal: Elliiot Markham
Janis Paige: Goldie Williamson
Pamela Austin: Jennifer Williamson
John Fiedler: Doctor Moss
Forrest Tucker: Bo Williamson
Actor and Director: Peter Falk
Screenplay Writer: Steven Bochco
Story Writer: William Kelley
Producer and Series Creator: Richard Levinson
Producer and Series Creator: William Link

Columbo s01e07 Blueprint for Murder (1972)

Columbo investigates a reported death of a Texas tycoon but there’s no body and the last man to see him, architect Elliot Markham, presumes that he has gone off on an international trip. Sure enough, the police find the tycoon’s car at the airport but while the tape player and glovebox is stuffed with country and western music, the radio is tuned to a classical station. That’s enough to make Columbo think that something sinister may be going on.

6/10

Memorable but empty episode. Columbo’s surprise appearance in a woman’s bedroom is probably worth the price of admission and the plan for disposing of the body is clever. The skyscraper construction site is an unusual, interesting and convincing location. The episode is paced surprisingly well given the lack of developments but director Peter Falk doesn’t quite get the end gambit (the digging up of the pile / eventual arrest) quite right.

This Columbo episode contains very mild gory scene

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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Columbo s01e04 Suitable for Framing (1971) – 6/10 crime detective drama TV review

Cast / crew
Lieutenant Columbo: Peter Falk
Ross Martin: Dale Kingston
Don Ameche: Frank, the lawyer
Kim Hunter: Edna
Director: Hy Averback
Writer: Jackson Gillis
Producer and Series Creator: Richard Levinson
Producer and Series Creator: William Link

Columbo s01e04 Suitable for Framing (1971)

When art critic Dale Kingston murders his uncle in order to get his hands on a valuable art collection before it is given away to charity he plans everything including a perfect, watertight alibi and a perfect stooge to blame. Lieutenant Columbo knows that nothing is perfect and presumed inheritee Kingston is quickly his prime suspect, though his efforts to prove it keep falling flat.

6/10

Despite having an annoying and charisma-free villain, Peter Falk’s typically brilliant performance as Columbo and a gleefully cunning climax make this a memorable episode. Falk delivers a best-in-class embarrassed by a naked lady, one of his better popping-up-in-unexpected-places (the suspect’s apartment as he’s returning with stolen paintings) and a brilliant attempt at a macho rant down a phone at a colleague (“CHARLIE! I sent that stuff over half-an- oh.”). Don Ameche adds a bit of class as a lawyer and makes one wish that he could have played the murderer. The bad points come from guest murderer Ross Martin who is dull, drab and distinctly aggravating as the murderer. That said, I suppose that makes it all the more sweet when Columbo nails him. The direction is also flat, lifeless and feels full of tension-deflating mistakes but there’s a lot of good Columbo and an ingenious finalé and that’s what we watch for.

This Columbo episode contains inferred violence

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Columbo s01e01 Murder by the Book (1971) – 6/10 crime detective TV review

Cast / crew
Lieutenant Columbo: Peter Falk
Jack Cassidy: Ken Franklin
Rosemary Forsyth: Jill Ferris
Martin Milner: James “Jim” Ferris
Director: Steven Spielberg
Story Editor and Writer: Steven Bochco
Producer and Series Creator: Richard Levinson
Producer and Series Creator: William Link

Columbo s01e01 Murder by the Book (1971)

When a successful book-writing partnership decides to part company, the ‘silent’ partner murders the other in order to collect the insurance payout but even their famed literary creation, Miss Melville, would have to go some to match wits with our Lt. Columbo.

6/10

A good perfect alibi plot and Peter Falk’s perfect performance as the eponymous shambling detective lift this murder mystery but an unconvincing conclusion drag things back down. Turns out the perfect alibi was just that. This episode was directed by Steven Spielberg and his sense of location creates some peculiarly indelible impressions. This was the first of the regular Columbo series (as opposed to the pilot episode) which would run for nearly thirty years and would be Spielberg’s immediately previous work to his breakthrough TV movie Duel (made the same year).

This Columbo episode contains

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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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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Columbo S07E03 Make Me A Perfect Murder (1978) – 6/10 crime detective TV review

Cast / crew
Peter Falk: Columbo
Trish Van Devere: Katherine “Kay” Freestone
Laurence Luckinbill: Mark MacAndrews
James McEachin: Walter Mearhead
Ron Rifkin: Luther, the TV Director
Lainie Kazan: Valerie Kirk
Bruce Kirby: TV Repairman
Kenneth Gilman: Jonathan
Patrick O’Neal: Frank Flanagan
Director: James Frawley
Writer: Robert Blees
Writer (Series’ Creator): Richard Levinson
Writer (Series’ Creator): William Link

Columbo S07E03 Make Me A Perfect Murder (1978)

When Katherine Freestone is dumped by her boss boyfriend, TV producer Mark MacAndrews and doesn’t get promotion she is less than impressed by his peace offering of a brand new Mercedes. So she kills him. Columbo investigates.

6/10

"Interesting, isn’t it, how you can work these small things out if you just think about it; like you got a tiny voice whispering right in your ear trying to tell you who did it." – Lieutenant Columbo.

Well-paced Columbo with some excellent music and agreeably tense interrogation scenes. There’s a lovely recurring gag where Columbo takes people’s comments about the case ("Can I help?", "Good luck, Lieutenant") to refer to his whiplash injury and neck support ("Thank you. It’ll be off in a few days."). There’s a nice educational element (now out-dated) regarding cue-blips and the reel-switching duties of a projectionist. It struck me while watching that Columbo features a significant number of female murderers (two out of five this season). On an absolutely sexist tone, it does feature a nice-looking woman (Trish Van Devere) in a man’s shirt which has to be one of my favourite things ever. Line horribly abused by time: "Wearing rubbers in the house – that’d strike you blind on the spot."

This Columbo episode contains unpleasant scenes, inferred unpleasant scenes.

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Columbo S09E04 Rest In Peace, Mrs. Columbo (1990) – 8/10 crime detective TV review

Cast / crew
Peter Falk: Columbo
Helen Shaver: Vivian Dimitri
Ian McShane: Leland St. John
Edward Winter: Charlton Chambers
Tom Isbell: Sgt. Brady
Teresa Ganzel: Dede Perkins
Michael Alldredge: Connolly
Hugh Gillin: Priest at Funeral
Rosanna Huffman: Mrs. Thornwood
Roscoe Lee Browne: Dr. Steadman
Creator: Richard Levinson
Creator: William Link
Writer: Peter S. Fischer
Director: Vincent McEveety
Supervising Executive Producer: William Link
Co-Executive Producer: Peter Falk
Executive Producer: Peter S. Fischer

Columbo S09E04 Rest In Peace, Mrs. Columbo (1990)

Vivian Dimtri kills an informant that exposed her husband’s embezzling of his client’s money. When confronted by a client, the husband ends up killing him and going to prison for manslaughter. He dies in there of a heart attack and the informant that started it all is merely the first to pay. The second murder will be the cop who put the husband away: Lieutenant Columbo.

8/10

Arguably the best of the feature-length 1989-series Columbo’s, this is also notable for being a bit of a behind-the-curtain episode. Early on, Columbo explains why he believes Helen Shaver did it then we see him present a completely different story to her face, helping her believe she is in control, giving her a false sense of security and confidence. Fascinating, and his SPOILER "this isn’t my house" reveal is a classic. Falk deals with the exposure of Columbo’s technique brilliantly here. He’s great, as always, and sells a nice mac gag (a dude leaving a brothel is wearing the same one) and delivers his world-class embarrassed throat-clear when learning of Shaver’s illicit assignation. Helping with the quality of this episode is Shaver who is frequently mesmerising as a badly wounded widow seeking retribution on Columbo and never more so than in the final scenes and in response to Columbo’s above reveal. She also gets an, er, intriguing scene with the arm of a teddy bear that I suspect everyone’s pretty smug about getting past the censors.

This Columbo episode contains adult dialogue and brief graphic violence and sensuality.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Columbo: A Bird in the Hand… (1992) – 4/10 Columbo crime detective TV review

Cast / crew
Peter Falk: Columbo
Tyne Daly: Dolores
Greg Evigan: Harold McCain
Frank McRae: Lt. Robertson
Don S. Davis: Bertie
Leon Singer: Fernando
Michael Gregory: Mr. Hacker
Steve Forrest: Big Fred
Producer: Christopher Seiter
Writer (Series’ Creator): Richard Levinson
Writer (Series’ Creator): William Link
Writer: Jackson Gillis
Director: Vincent McEveety
Executive Producer: Peter Falk

Columbo A Bird In The Hand… (1992)

When Big Fred – the wealthy owner of a football team – is killed in a hit-and-run accident, Columbo is called in because of his notoriety just to make sure there was no foul play and suspects nothing but then the gardener is blown to smithereens when he attempts to move Big Fred’s Rolls Royce.

4/10

This a classic case of wasted potential. The setup is highly intriguing as a murder victim gets accidentally killed before the murderer’s bomb plot can be completed and the story goes on to be agreeably tidy. However, Vincent McEveety’s trademark listless direction, a total lack of Columbo characterisations, unconvincingly wobbly Tyne Daly’s distracting eye-bulging and a broken clue or two (bomber being left-handed due to bizarre boxes on underside of car, sweaty damp socks, what!) undo Jackson Gillis’ entertaining plot.

This Columbo episode contains mild swear words and unpleasant scenes and references.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Columbo S04E06 A Deadly State of Mind (1975) – 6/10 Columbo crime detective TV review

Cast / crew
Peter Falk: Columbo
George Hamilton: Dr. Marcus Collier
Lesley Ann Warren: Nadia Donner
Stephen Elliott: Carl Donner
Bruce Kirby: Sergeant Kramer
Director: Harvey Hart
Writer: Peter S. Fischer
Writer (Series’ Creator): Richard Levinson
Writer (Series’ Creator): William Link
Producer: Everett Chambers

Columbo S04E06 A Deadly State of Mind (1975)

When a wealthy husband is unpremeditatingly killed by Marcus Collier, the wife’s lover and psychiatrist, Columbo is called in to investigate. Collier sets up the wife as the only witness, tells her to tell the police that her husband was killed by intruders as he sets about establishing an alibi on top of a coworker. Columbo, as always, is troubled by tiny inconsistencies involving headlights, tyre tracks, a gun and a piece of flint.

6/10

Columbo’s reasons for believing foul play are thin, even by his standards, a lot of the first part of the episode is slow-going and Falk isn’t given much fun stuff to do but it does get better. The unusual nature of the second murder is intriguing and the writer has clearly thought about it by adding drugs and a normal scenario to create an abnormal result (though humans have a self-preservation instinct which still works under hypnotic suggestion). This is also one of those episodes where Columbo pleasantly tells the murderer that he knows well before he has any proof, which is always fun. The highlight of the episode is the delightfully wonderful, if almost certainly illegal, climax. George Hamilton and the audience think they’re one step ahead of Columbo and it is cause for special joy when he reveals that we’re not. For Brits, special mention for the unintentionally hilarious line from Collier’s publisher: "Sorry, I don’t have a Willie."

This Columbo episode contains violence, unpleasant scene.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Columbo S04E04 Troubled Waters (1975) – 7/10 Columbo crime detective TV review

Cast / crew
Peter Falk: Lieutenant Columbo
Robert Vaughn: Haydn Dansiger
Jane Greer: Sylvia Dansiger
Dean Stockwell: Lloyd Harrington
Bernard Fox: Preston Watkins
Robert Douglas: Dr. Pierce
Patrick MacNee: Captain Gibbon
Poupée Bocar: Rosanna Welles
Director: Ben Gazzara
Writer (Screenplay): Bill Driskill
Writer (Story): Jackson Gillis
Writer (Story): Bill Driskill
Writer (Series’ Creator): Richard Levinson
Writer (Series’ Creator): William Link
Producer: Everett Chambers

Columbo S04E04 Troubled Waters (1975)

Mrs. Columbo has won a cruise aboard a luxury boat, er, ship, but her husband’s detecting skills are quickly called upon… to find her. Then early one morning a cabaret singer is found shot to death and Columbo starts doing what he does best.

7/10

Classic Columbo, well-paced and directed with a more solid story than usual (even though it doesn’t always look like it) and history’s longest rendition of Volare. Columbo’s detecting abilities seem to be less miraculous here than in other weaker episodes, we get the same clues as he does (the feather, specifically) and you can see why and how he pieces things together. Falk’s brilliance as Columbo can never be overstated and we get some classics in this episode. Columbo unexpectedly freezing mid-detection (due to seasickness), a queasy Columbo suddenly snapping into steely-eyed alert upon spotting an incongruous detail (a feather outside Robert Vaughn’s door), sneaking to Vaughn’s room when the body is brought into sick bay (the timing is genius) but even he… cannot use a magnifying glass the right way around. This is tremendous fun and baddie Robert Vaughn plays his part to perfection. His slow realisation that Columbo has got him is an absolute delight.

This Columbo episode contains violence, unpleasant scene.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Columbo S01E05 Lady in Waiting (1971) – 7/10 detective drama TV review

Cast / crew
Peter Falk: Columbo
Susan Clark: Beth Chadwick
Jessie Royce Landis: Mother Chadwick
Richard Anderson: Bryce Chadwick
Leslie Nielsen: Peter Hamilton
Director: Norman Lloyd
Writer (Screenplay): Steven Bochco
Writer (Story): Barney Slater
Writer (Series’ Creator): Richard Levinson
Writer (Series’ Creator): William Link
Producer: Everett Chambers

Columbo S01E05 Lady In Waiting (1971)

When a woman murders her restrictive brother, she claims it was self-defense and the Coroner and Coroner’s Jury believes her. However, Columbo’s suspicions were raised by one little thing – the presence of an evening newspaper – and when he gets hold of something like that, he never lets go.

6/10

Well-paced Columbo with a good murder sequence and a satisfying opponent. She stops Columbo asking her one more question (though he claims he wasn’t going to anyway) and SPOILER even thinks about shooting him in the end. An unruffled Columbo gets out of that in his typically pleasant manner and it’s a nice end to a good episode. Especially in this last scene but as he would always be, Falk is outstanding. Nobody gets hassled by a small dog like Columbo.

This Columbo episode contains violence.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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