Columbo Episode List and Synopses
For the Ultimate Columbo Experience, I
strongly suggest you check out
Columbo Site! You won't be disappointed!
The TV Movie (based on a play)
- Prescription: Murder (2/20/68)
- Gene Barry and his girlfriend kill his wife, with girlfriend pretending
to be the wife and storming off a plane that carries Barry. Columbo gets
girlfriend to fake death, then she hears Gene Barry admit to Columbo
that he was using her.
The Original Series [NBC]
- Ransom For A Dead Man (3/1/71) [2hrs]
- Lady attorney kills husband, fakes his kidnaping, throws bag of
"money" out of helicopter, and stepdaughter tries weakly to frame her.
Columbo has stepdaughter offer to be bought off with marked money.
[Pilot for the series.]
- Murder By The Book (9/15/71, directed by Steven Spielberg)
- Jack Cassidy is the non-contributing half of a splitting-up mystery
writing team who kills his collaborator. Columbo finds that the method
used to do the killing was the planned, but never written, plot of one
of the team's books.
- Death Lends A Hand (10/6/71)
- Robert Culp runs PI shop, kills a client (Ray Milland)'s wife who he's
blackmailing, and tries to help and hire Columbo. Columbo puts the
car that transported the body out of commission and convinces Robert
Culp, whose ring matches the victim's marks, that a contact lens fell
out in the trunk, then catches him looking for it.
- Dead Weight (10/27/71)
- Suzanne Pleshette is in a boat and sees Eddie Albert kill someone, but
no body is found. Columbo finds that the marine war hero (Oliver Wendell
Douglas) kept the murder gun on display in a museum because it was his
- Suitable For Framing (11/17/71)
- Artemus Gordon (okay, Ross Martin) is an art critic who kills uncle to get
collection, but it's not willed to him and he knew it wasn't. Columbo
finds that the murderer's
aunt (the inheritor) planned to give the collection away. Murderer plants
paintings in her house and urges a search "to clear her" but the paintings,
when found, have Columbo's own fingerprints on them -- he had touched
them when murderer was carrying them, disguised as simple watercolors.
- Lady In Waiting (12/15/71)
- Lady kills brother who won't let her date one of his employees because he
thinks that Leslie Nielsen is just a gold-digger. She kills him after
taking his key -- when he comes home late, she has the security system on
and claims she awoke thinking he's a burglar. Columbo finds that Leslie
heard the shots before the alarm.
- Short Fuse (1/19/72)
- Young inventor (Roddy McDowall) about to be forced out of the family
chemical business uses exploding cigar box to kill his uncle and his
detective/chauffer. Columbo claims the cigar box never exploded, and
produces it while in a tram with the murderer, who panics.
- Blueprint For Murder (2/9/72)
- A famous architect murders a Texas tycoon (Forrest Tucker) whose wife
wants to back an enormous building project, and hides body. Columbo is
convinced it is in the foundation of the building and has it dug up on
urging from murderer. When murderer retrieves body to place into hole
before re-filling, Columbo is there waiting for him.
- Etude In Black (9/17/1972)
- Orchestra conductor kills mistress before concert. Columbo finds he
lost his lapel carnation at the murder site, uses TV footage to prove it,
and the murderer's wife refuses to back up his alibi that he put on the
flower after the concert.
- The Greenhouse Jungle (10/15/72)
- Ray Milland kills nephew after collecting ransom for phony kidnaping,
then tries to pin it on nephew's wife. Columbo finds bullet in dirt
proving frame used orchid grower's gun.
- The Most Crucial Game (11/5/72)
- Robert Culp kills football team owner (Dean Stockwell) during game.
Columbo proves phone call (taped with Culp's secret knowledge by
attorney for Dean Stockwell's should-be suspicious wife) not made from
stadium box because clock chimes not heard.
- Dagger Of the Mind (11/26/72)
- Columbo is in London and solves murder committed by husband/wife
Shakespearean acting team by eventually planting a pearl from a strand
broken in the commission of the murder in the umbrella of the deceased,
who has been enshrined in a wax museum.
- Requiem For A Falling Star (1/21/73)
- Former movie queen kills her secretary in an automobile fire, leading
Columbo to believe the true target was a gossip writer. In truth, though,
she was afraid her secretary would tell the gossip writer that the
movie star killed her husband long ago and buried him in the backyard.
Columbo suspects the truth, gets a shriner's ring that he claims was
found near the gossip writer when she tries (for show) to run him down,
and this makes the murderess run home to check the backyard.
- A Stitch In Crime (2/11/73)
- Spock is a heart specialist who is more ambitious than his weak-hearted
colleague. So he uses dissolving suture while operating on him, but a
nurse suspects, so he kills her in the parking lot. Columbo finds she
was on to something, so Spock tries to throw suspicion on a former drug
addict, who he then also kills after drugging up. But Columbo suspects
the truth, so Spock has to induce an attack in his victim and operate
to replace the suture, saving his life (Columbo saves the life of the
intended victim). Columbo watches the operation and finds the replaced
suture planted by the doctor on Columbo himself.
- The Most Dangerous Match (3/4/73)
- Deaf World Chess Champion kills the former champion who has returned to
reclaim his title after finding that he cannot beat him. The initial murder
attempt (a push into a garbage crusher) fails, and is followed up by
providing improper medication after memorizing at a glance the list of his
prescriptions to be given him at the hospital. Columbo finds out why the
initial attempt fails -- the garbage crusher turns off automatically --
and concludes that only a deaf man would unwittingly leave the job
unfinished. [Columbo is present at the death of the victim.]
- Double Shock (3/25/73)
- Mardin Landau and his identical twin brother kill their uncle before he
can marry a young wife and disinherit them. Turns out he already has,
though, so they kill her and frame their lawyer. Columbo proves they
electrocuted him using TV outage information obtained from high-strung
maid and timing data that proved they had to work as a team.
- Lovely But Lethal (9/23/73)
- Cosmetics queen kills chemist when he
won't give her an anti-wrinkle formula. She kills her industrial spy,
a secretary for a competitor, when she begins to suspect the truth and
blackmail the murderess. Columbo contracts poison ivy and determines
it came from a broken slide from the murder weapon -- a telescope. The
murderess has poison ivy too.
- Any Old Port In A Storm (10/7/73)
- Donald Pleasance suffocates brother, owner of the winery he runs, by
tying him in the wine cellar (with the air turned off) then disposing
of body after return from trip. Columbo learns hot weather had ruined the
wines in the cellar.
- Candidate For A Crime (11/4/73)
- Political candidate kills his manager for being too controlling, and tries
to make it look like an angry detractor did the deed. Columbo hounds him
and he feels forced to fake an attempt on his own life to convince the
police that he is being stalked. He uses the same gun, but Columbo finds
the spent bullet in the hotel wall hours before the candidate fakes the
- Double Exposure (12/16/73)
- Robert Culp is a human behavior expert who kills a client that was going
to expose his blackmailing tactics. He kills him by feeding him salty
caviar with no drink and subjecting him to subliminal movie frames
inducing him to leave the screening to get a drink of water. Robert
Culp shoots him while an audio tape gives him an alibi in the screening.
Columbo suspects the truth, but has no proof until he uses subliminal
cuts of himself, inspecting various spots in the murderer's office. This
induces Robert Culp to go check the lampshade hiding place of the
calibration converter that he used in the murder.
- Publish Or Perish (1/18/74)
- Jack Cassidy is publisher "Riley Greenleaf," and he kills Mickey Spillane
because he was going to leave him for another publisher. Hires a would-be
author who is a bomb expert to commit the murder and frame him, but an
alibi is proven for him by an auto accident he caused. He tries to
prove the murderer did it alone by killing him and planting an outline
of the dead author's manuscript on him, claiming it was the murderer's
idea to begin with, nine months ago, but Zarabeth only came up
with the ending in the outline a week ago. [Columbo mentions "Candidate
for a Crime" in this episode.]
- Mind Over Mayhem (2/10/74)
- Director of a think-tank kills an associate to protect the fact that
the killer's son is a scientific fraud. He uses a whiz-kid's project,
Robby the Robot, to run his experiment while he commits the murder.
Columbo can't prove it so he frames Charlie X and his dad confesses.
- Swan Song (3/3/74)
- Johnny Cash, a gospel singer, kills his sister(?) Ida Lupino, who was
taking all his money for building a church and putting the kibosh on his
sexual excapades. He crashes the plane he's flying her in after drugging
her and he parachutes to safety. Columbo gets him to go retrieve the
parachute by starting a big search, and outsmarts him when he says he
is going out of town (rather than look for any parachute) because he
doesn't return his rental car, so Columbo knows he's returning, and
stakes out the mountainside.
- A Friend In Deed (5/5/74)
- Police Commissioner's neighbor accidentally kills his wife. Commissioner
helps him cover up by blaming murder on a cat burglar, and then he kills
his own (rich) wife and gets the first neighbor to return the favor
while he patrols neighborhood by helicopter.
Columbo suspects a frame, learns Commissioner's wife was killed in
bathtub not pool, and gets the Commissioner to plant evidence in a
- An Exercise In Fatality (9/15/74)
- Owner of a health spa and gymnasium chain kills a franchisee who was
about to expose fraud. He kills him, sets it up to look like a barbell
fell on him, and uses a tape to convince his secretary that he is talking
to him from his home later, and that he is told by the victim that he
has changed to exercise clothes and is exercising. Columbo finds that
the dead man's shoelaces were tied backwards, proving that he was dressed
by his killer, and the murderer is the only one who knew that he had
- Negative Reaction (10/6/74)
- Dick Van Dyke kills "kidnaped" wife, using ex-con as decoy. Columbo
uses reversed photo to get Dick to identify the camera used to take
picture of his "kidnaped" wife.
- By Dawn's Early Light (10/27/74)
- Military school owner plans to convert to co-ed, but general kills
him at Founder's Day, making it look like accident caused by
trouble-making soldier's poor cannon-cleaning job. But his presence at
the cannon is proven by his action against the makers of a student
still that was only visible at that time. [Patrick McGoohan won an
Emmy for playing the murderer.]
- Troubled Waters (2/9/75)
- Columbo goes on a cruise. Passenger fakes heart-attack, kills lounge
singer while in sickbay. Columbo finds pillow feather, suspects murderer
despite his frame of Dean Stockwell, a lounge drummer, and convinces the
murderer to plant surgical gloves with powder marks. Columbo then
finds Robert Vaughn's fingerprints inside the gloves.
- Playback (3/2/75)
- Oskar Werner is an electronics firm President who is running his
mother-in-law's company into the ground, so he kills her in his
house, showing a videotape of the murder to the security guard after he's
left for a party. Columbo finds that the murderer's wife's automatic door
opened by noise control at the true time of the crime and that the
invitation to the party he attended is visible on the desk in the videotape.
- A Deadly State Of Mind (4/27/75)
- Hypnotist accidentally kills his patient/lover's husband to protect the
book he is writing using her, then has her cover for him. Columbo sees
through her story so George Hamilton hypnotizes her and gets her to leap
off a balcony to her death. Columbo sees through this, but cannot prove
her death a homicide. He does locate a blind man who was present when
George Hamilton sped away from the original murder scene, and gets
George Hamilton to be an eyewitness against himself when he is caught
calling the blind man's sighted brother (who Columbo has stand in for the
true witness) a blind man.
- Forgotten Lady (9/14/75)
- Janet Leigh is an aging dancer who plans a comeback funded by her
husband but he won't pay, so she kills him while watching a movie
in her downstairs screening room. Makes it look like suicide by
leaving locked room via window, but broken film repair job outs her.
Columbo lets her old partner take the fall for her because she's dying.
[Only episode in which a murderer goes unarrested.]
- A Case Of Immunity (10/12/75)
- Hector Elizondo is a diplomat for an Arab country who kills embassy guard
for state money to promote a rebellion against progressive king. Columbo
can't prove he did it, and is forced to apologize, but gets killer to
confess (he's immune) by claiming to be beat. The king listens in.
- Identity Crisis (11/2/75)
- Leslie Nielsen is a spy killed by his disguised runner while the murderer
was supposedly dictating a speech in his office. Columbo finds that the
speaker used knowledge about Chinese Olympic withdrawal he couldn't
possibly have had until the morning.
- A Matter Of Honor (2/1/76)
- Ricardo Montalban is a retired bullfighter in Mexico who raises bulls but
now freezes up in the ring. An assistant knows of his fear, so he shoots
him with a tranquilizer dart and has a bull gore him. Columbo realizes
the timing is wrong because the cape the victim was supposedly using wasn't
wet down for strong winds at the supposed murder time, and Khan
pre-arranged for use of a car he would only drive without the victim before
he could know the victim wasn't coming. Columbo gets him in the ring
where his fear is exposed to all, proving his motive.
- Now You See Him (2/29/76)
- Jack Cassidy is a magician who commits murder while in the middle of a
water tank escape trick. Uses walkie-talkie trick to create alibi that
he was downstairs accepting wine from a waiter.
- Last Salute To The Commodore (5/2/76)
- Robert Vaughn kills his father in law, a naval architect.
It's a really crappy episode.
- Fade In To Murder (10/10/76)
- William Shatner is a TV detective whose producer is blackmailing half his
salary from him for being a Korean war deserter. He wears a ski mask
and kills her in a fake robbery while using videotape and a drugged,
TV-watching, companion to create an alibi. Columbo finds that Captain
wipe the fingerprints from the bullets he put into the prop gun.
- Old Fashioned Murder (11/28/76)
- Celeste Holm runs a museum and kills domineering brother, framing a
security guard and making it look like an attempted robbery foiled,
ending in a simultaneous shooting. But she turned off the light
when she left the scene, and Columbo knows a double-murder would be
impossible in the dark. When she tries to plant a "stolen" museum
piece on her neice, Columbo finds that the piece wasn't stolen at
all, using an inventory record made the night of the murder.
- The Bye Bye Sky High I.Q. Murder Case (5/22/77)
- Sigma (Mensa-type) society member and CPA Oliver Brandt kills his
partner to hide embezzlement. Uses computerized phonograph, umbrella,
squibs, and falling dictionary to create alibi that he was downstairs
with other society members.
- Try And Catch Me (10/21/77)
- Ruth Gordon, a mystery writer, kills husband of her neice to avenge
her murder. Locks him in safe and he suffocates, but he leaves a
dying clue in the form of the altered title page to the murderer's
latest novel stuffed in the light bulb socket. [Probably the most
"Columbo-like" episode in that Columbo's mannerisms are in very
- Murder Under Glass (1/30/77)
- Extorting critic kills restaurateur with poisoned wine. Columbo fakes
being poisoned after he figures it out?
- Make Me A Perfect Murder (2/28/78)
- TV executive kills boss/lover when he refuses to promote her with him.
She uses the alibi of having to change the reels on a film she is airing
for studio heads. Columbo finds the gun she hid in the
elevator's ceiling, and re-hides it there in plain sight, causing her
to retrieve it.
- How To Dial A Murder (4/15/78)
- Man kills wife using trained dogs. Columbo figures out the word
("Rosebud") then retrains the dogs.
- The Conspirators (5/13/78)
- Irish author/gun runner kills supplier for supplying both sides.
Columbo uses marked whiskey bottle and also uncovers gun-running plot
by its needlepoint flag.
The Second Series [ABC]
- Columbo Goes To The Guillotine (2/6/89)
- Fake psychic kills magician/exposer with a rigged guillotine. Columbo
figures out all his tricks, discovering his motive, and gets killer to
incriminate himself by attempting to kill Columbo with trick guillotine
that Columbo has, of course, pre-rigged for safety.
- Murder, Smoke And Shadows (2/27/89)
- Young film director kills old friend who learns of director's involvement
in death (on movie set) of the friend's sister. Electrocutes him on wet
brownstone set, but Columbo finds shoe heel, tour ticket bookmark, and sees
through staged clues intended to throw him off. Columbo stages scene
with director and his secretary, getting evidence of guilt.
- Sex And The Married Detective (4/3/89)
- Sex clinic doctor kills partner/lover for cheating by sneaking out of
a society function in disguise and roleplaying a hooker. Columbo...
- Grand Deceptions (5/1/89)
- Robert Foxworth kills the figurehead of the military think tank he runs
to cover up his misuse of a special project fund. His alibi is that he
was setting up birthday present -- the general's Civil War miniatures.
Columbo notices that a miniature is accidentally behind the books, and
finds that murderer's claim that the miniatures arrived only just before
the party is belied by the fact that the other half of the present -- the
books -- fit in the later-arriving box, but not in the earlier-arriving box.
- Murder, A Self Portrait (1989)
- Control-freak artist kills his ex-wife while painting something for a bar
owner. Columbo realizes there are no paint-stains where he was painting
and finds that the victim was suppressing knowledge of the killer's
responsibility for killing his agent years ago.
- Columbo Cries Wolf (1989)
- Men's magazine publishing team stages Diedre Hall's fake murder, uses
Columbo to get publicity, then actual murder occurs. Columbo finds
body second time using beeping wrist pager.
- Agenda For Murder (1990)
- Oscar Finch, would-be Attorney General, kills old client who
can prove past judicial misdeeds. Columbo finds he walked in rain and
wasn't at office, then nails him with teeth marks on cheese cube he ate
at the scene of the crime.
- Rest In Peace, Mrs. Columbo (1990)
- Widow of murderer put away by Columbo kills her boss and plots to
kill Columbo's wife then Columbo. Columbo gets her to confess by
pretending his wife is dead and he is poisoned.
- Uneasy Lies The Crown (1990)
- Dentist kills wife's boyfriend to save partnership with monied
father-in-law by poison under a dental crown. Columbo bluffs that this
would have discolored the corpse's tooth, evincing a confession.
- Murder In Malibu (1990)
- Romance writer is killed twice by fiancee. Columbo finds he put her
panties on wrong.
- Columbo Goes to College (1990)
- Pair of college boys kill professor with remote control TV and
truck-mounted gun. Columbo leaks decoy car i.d. and location to them,
ant they plant gun in it to pin murder on security guard's brother.
- Caution: Murder Can Be Hazardous To Your Health (1991?)
- George Hamilton is the star of an "America's Most Wanted" type of show.
He kills the TV reporter who wants his job because he's being blackmailed
for being in a skin flick with an underage girl. He puts nicotine sulfate
in the chain-smoker's cigarettes, but Columbo notices the unpoisoned
cigarettes that he planted were not smoked and that the victim left no
fingerprints on the backside of a page torn from his printer. Columbo
breaks his alibi because the hedges in front of his office (as recorded on
the surveillance tape he used to prove his presence there) were trimmed
the morning after the murder.
- Columbo And The Murder Of A Rock Star (1991)
- Dabney Coleman kills his live-in rock star girlfriend who was threatening
palimony suit. Frames her boyfriend, but uses a two-star champagne cork
in a one-star bottle. Then he pulls out a photo traffic ticket for use
as an alibi, but Columbo proves it's just his new partner wearing a mask.
- Death Hits The Jackpot (1991)
- Man's uncle collects lottery prize for him, then kills him before a
masquerade party. Columbo proves murder with monkey fingerprint on
uncle's costume medallion.
- No Time To Die (3/15/1992)
- [The absolute worst Columbo ever made, hands down. No question.] Psycho
kidnaps Columbo's nephew's new wife, a famous model, on wedding night.
Columbo spends all night and next day tracking down the criminal. Change
the channel. Really.
- A Bird In The Hand (1992)
- Football team owner killed by hit-and-run driver (his wife) right before
his nephew(?) would have killed him with a car-bomb that eventually killed
the gardener. Columbo finds that the nephew winced before the car bomb
exploded. The nephew is murdered by the wife, since he is blackmailing her,
but Columbo finds that he wasn't on his way out of town and that he had
a lot of money, proving that Cagney or Lacey (I could never remember which
was which) had lied to the cops about the circumstances
of his death. [In this episode, Columbo witnesses a murder that he solves.]
- It's All In the Game (1993)
- Faye Dunaway and her daughter kill a gold-digger who was seeing them
both after he threatens to kill the daughter (that Babylon 5 lady).
Columbo pretends to be romantically interested in Faye Dunaway through
the investigation. Clues like melted ice (due to electricity being
turned off) and phone calls to the daughter lead him to the daughter,
and this convinces Faye Dunaway to confess, and Columbo cuffs her.
- Butterfly In Shades Of Gray (1994)
- William Shatner is a radio talk show host who kills one of his staffers
because he was trying to break Shatner's stepdaughter away from him.
His alibi is that he talking to the victim on the phone and the answering
machine taped it. Columbo realizes the cell phone he used to call 911
doesn't penetrate the mountains, so Kirk was actually on the victim's
- Undercover (1994?)
- Columbo goes undercover in various disguises to track down pieces of
a photograph pinpointing location of bank robbery loot. Each possessor
ends up dead as he finds them, leading him to conclude (with help of
fingerprinted coin in a parking meter) that Ed Begley, Jr., the
insurance investigator, did it. [Far and away the second-worst Columbo.]
- Strange Bedfellows (1995)
- Horse farm owner (Norm) kills brother because of mob debts. The dead
told his girlfriend about the fixed race, which Norm had secretly
"un"fixed before killing his brother. Then Norm kills the bookie,
who he had framed for his brother's murder (claiming self-defense,
saying the bookie had come after him for the debts). Rod Steiger,
the mob boss, knows about the dead bookie's ironclad alibi, and deduces
that Norm killed his brother, and offers to race Columbo to get Norm.
Columbo gets Rod Steiger to harrass and scare Norm until he confesses
to Columbo in order to keep from being snuffed.
Mystery Episodes [ABC, if anything]
(1 -- well actually, probably 0)
- The Juggler
- The Internet Movie Database has listed this episode name, but I
am uncertain that this is reliable.
The 25th Anniversary Special [ABC]
- A Trace of Murder (5/15/97)
- Forensics expert kills a rival of his lover's rich husband to set up a
frame. Columbo finds that the two know each other, that the cigar butt
he left at crime scene was cut improperly, and that the cat hair and fiber
on the Northern Exposure guy's jacket back was put there by his wife.
Although he explains all the easy clues, the tricky one (that the forensic
expert could not have seen the cigar butt, as he claimed, when first
examining the crime scene, because of the cat's escape out the front door)
was left unmentioned. For a new Columbo, not bad, but too much was
laid out, and too easily. Were it an old Columbo, the non-sugar sweetener
and the cat's escape would be all that were provided. The jacket back,
the preference of the wife for riding in the front seat, and the fact that
the cigar butt was wrongly cut wouldn't have been included. [Classic quote:
Columbo asks murderer for help with something, saying, "Three eyes are
better than one."]
Another Special [ABC]
- Ashes to Ashes (10/8/98)
Patrick McGoohan (who once again directs the action) is a Beverly
Hills funeral director, who has become rich and famous selling secrets
about the dearly departed to his former paramour, a gossip show host
(Rue McClanahan). She, angry at being dumped, finds out that he made
his career by having
stolen a diamond necklace off a movie queen's
corpse a long time ago, and she tells him
(stupid) that she's going to announce it on-air. So he kills her.
He exchanges her body for that of a real-life soldier who made it big
on the silver screen in war movies, and cremates it. When a thin
guy dies, McGoohan packs the war hero in the same coffin as the thin guy and
cremates them together. Columbo learns about the necklace from some clues
left by Rue McClanahan (computer timing didn't mesh properly with an
unfed dog, negative of a photo she had taken with her to the funeral home,
etc.) and Columbo proves McGoohan had switched bodies when he
finds shrapnel in the thin guy's urn. Pretty good for a new Columbo,
but once again the coverup, not the crime, is what is planned. (I guess
I like it much better the other way.) From dates mentioned in the
episode, this movie was apparently filmed in 1997 and scheduled
for airing in October of that year (rather than in October of 1998).
clue supporting this (and perhaps an explanation for why its airing was
delayed so long)
is that Sonny Bono (who was alive at the time of filming, but who
died in January of 1998) was mentioned twice as having attended the war
And Another Special [ABC]
- Murder With Too Many Notes (3/12/2001)
Patrick McGoohan again directs; this time his wife Anne is in it.
The villian is Billy Connolly, the Scottish (or, as my kids would say,
Scotlish) actor who I remember as the guy who ruined what was already
a real crappy TV show called "Head of the Class." He convinced me he's
that a creditable actor in this Columbo, though. He plays a movie score
composer whose success is owed entirely to his uncredited apprentice.
The apprentice (and victim) has an unfortunate habit of conducting from
the roof of the recording studio, while listening to a miked studio below
where the maestro conducts the orchestra. The "Head of the Class" guy
uses this against him when exposure is threatened. He drugs the tuxedo-clad
apprentice (who had received a congratulatory gift -- a baton -- from
his girlfriend the night of what would be his big debut), who falls when
rendered unconscious, opening a cut on his wrist (where Columbo later
finds evidence of the drug in the blood), then puts the victim on the
roof after putting his shoes onto him. As the culprit is being introduced
for the concert, he sets off an elevator which opens the trapdoor on the
roof, tipping the victim over the edge of the roof to his death. This
is perhaps the best of the new Columbo episodes. The killer actually
plans the murder, which is a very refreshing change -- I expected another
very non-Columbo'ish crime of passion. Columbo wastes little time, and
the clues, while sometimes basically pointed at by the camera work, are
clever enough. Columbo cannot locate the victim's conducting baton until
he learns of the elevator, then puts the crime together (the baton slipped
down a crack exposed by the opening trapdoor and was found in the
elevator). The victim's reluctance to wear tuxedo shoes was also a nice
turn, which allowed Columbo to deduce that the victim's shoes were put on
by a killer. Although it was missing the traditional final challenge of
the accused, ("sure, it's a great story, Columbo, but can you prove it?")
after which Columbo pulls out the final proof (something I really wished
it had, to be honest), the episode did end on a very touching note for what
may well be the final Columbo ever made -- as the camera pulls away,
Columbo is taught to play his ever-present whistling tune and theme song,
"This Old Man" on the piano.
And Another Special [ABC]
- Columbo Likes the Nightlife (1/30/2003)
I missed it! Aauugghh! But Mike Longo sent me a copy (thanks, Mike!)
and here's my report. For a new Columbo, it really isn't half bad.
It's sure no match for the original series, but it beats "No Time to
Die" by about a hundred country miles. This apparently absolutely
final episode in the series (long may it re-run) has our hero (who,
I am sad to report, looks like he may have undergone a little facial
vanity surgery) solve the murder of a mob financier who finds out his
ex-wife is seeing his investment partner, the owner of a nightclub
that is about to open. Well, actually Columbo solves the cover-up of
his accidental death (boo, hiss! no meticulous planning to expose;
I hate that; it's like the writers of the new series didn't understand
the key element of Columbo was watching for the mistakes in a well-laid
plan). There is plenty of real detective work in the episode, but the
final proof is, if you ask me, a bit unfair. Columbo is able to conclude
from the fact that one of the fishtanks in the floor of the new nightclub
has fewer fish in it that it must have a dead body inside. An infrared
camera confirms it. As I say, unless I watch it again and see that there
is sufficient camera time spent on the different tanks, and sufficient
explanation about the tanks being identical in size, I don't think the
audience was given a fair chance to find the solution. Over all, though,
not a bad finish for the rumpled detective.