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I recently discovered this show on Netflix, and it is surprisingly fresh and watchable after all these years. I'm woking my way through the second seaon now and I just love Peter Falk's performance.

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I love this show. It shows in my area every Sunday night. Never miss it. I should also note that I began watching in the '70's. Yep, I said it!

When I watch Colombo I can't help but think of Bobby from Criminal Intent. That leads to me to Sherlock. Seems for generations we have had a Sherlock of some kind in our living rooms. And I couldn't be happier.

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I have the DVDs of everything Columbo.  I rewatch them all the time.  Doesn't matter how many times I have seen an episode.  I still enjoy it.

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Hey, if we need a subtitle for this thread to follow that "Small Talk" formula used everywhere, I suggest "Small Talk: Just one more thing..."

Essentially these shows will last forever, they're so superior.  Even if stuff in the show gets dated, it still "works" as a period piece (mostly of the 1970s, even though the show continued in some form all the way to 2003).  All the shit people give "procedurals" ignores the fact that technically this show was one.  Done right.  Think about it.  People might call it a "mystery" series.  It was even in what the network referred to as "Mystery Movies".  But we always knew who did it.  it was about the process of catching them.  Ergo... a procedural.

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I'm a Columbo nerd, love him he is so exasperating and knows who the killer is from the get go.  He plays it beautifully.  Just watched Requiem for a Star with Anne Baxter this weekend, loved it.  I didn't like the Columbo movies made in the late 80's/90's though...his acting was not the same, forced somehow and not enjoyable.  

Jack Cassidy is one of my favorite villains in the series.  

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I always waited to hear Columbo start whistliing "This Old Man" because that meant he had figured out who the killer was and how they had committed the murder.  I also loved his "classic" car.

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I always waited to hear Columbo start whistliing "This Old Man" because that meant he had figured out who the killer was and how they had committed the murder.  I also loved his "classic" car.

Old Columbo is rarely as good as Young Columbo, but here's one case where "This Old Man" was used a bit differently:

 

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Columbo! My all-time favorite television drama.  It's not rerun anywhere on my cable network, so I'll have to try to purchase some of them.

Agree, Kromm - it's the best procedural there has even been.

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My favorite episodes: the one with Johnny Cash as the singer trying to break free of his controlling wife - he was probably the most sympathetic of the killers. Also: the one with Ross Martin as the art expert, and Theodore Bikel as the Mensa member.

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My favorite episodes: the one with Johnny Cash as the singer trying to break free of his controlling wife

And his wife was the completely awesome Ida Lupino, which made me really happy.

I think my favorite villain was Donald Pleasance as the wine geek who turned himself in because otherwise he would have had to marry Julie Harris.

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I have found my people.

I love Columbo.  Dh and I have times where we just lay in bed, put a DVD in and watch the afternoon away.  I still have a couple of DVDs left to buy.

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I have thought about this a lot. I can't pin down my favorite episode, but I can pin down my top 5 in no particular order:

"Try and Catch Me" - with Ruth Gordon - nice performance by Gordon and you get the sense that Columbro really does like her.

"Ransom for a Dead Man" - Lee Grant - totally unsympathetic murderer, Columbo flying, interesting story, I love this

"It's All in the Game" - where not only does Faye Dunaway bring it as a fairly sympathetic murderer, but you have the sense that she really does feel for him.

"Troubled Waters" - it's not the murderer who makes this. It's the setting. We have a chance to see Columbo as less of a schlub as his expertise is called upon by the captain and the doctor.

"Make Me a Perfect Murder" - I love this one. It's just very well done all around.

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It's been quite a while since I've been able to see any episodes, but wasn't there one with Janet Leigh as an aging actress who spent her time watching her old fims?  I have a distinct memory of her sitting in a screening room, but I'm not sure about it.

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Yes, you are quite right, Janet Leigh played and aging actress who murdered ... someone. It has been a long time since I watched it.  I remember that Columbo was quite gentle with her.

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A few years ago I saw (for the first time) a screening of the mid-fifties French suspense film Les Diaboliques. And I realized that the detective character in this movie was beyond the shadow of a doubt the model for Columbo. Faux-bumbling, genial manner disguising cleverness? Check. Rumpled raincoat? Check. And--most telling of all--the same "oh, just one more thing" every time he seemed to be walking out the door to leave the person-of-interest in peace. You could have knocked me over with a rumpled raincoat.

Edited by Milburn Stone
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Hey all, how excited I am to be among lovers of Columbo! A heads up, I went ahead and made this thread a General Discussion thread about the show, because, well, that is what it had become. I have now created a Small Talk thread so any off show comments can be taken there. I am also just about to post another thread titled "Peter Falk Sightings" to start discussing other things we have seen this great actor in.

Looking forward to getting to know you all better!

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I started watching again on Netflix. I haven't watched any of the episodes since first run, so I'm really enjoying them.

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I remember touring Universal studios back in the 80s and getting all excited when I saw Columbo's car.  I think I was the only one on the tram that was excited about it.  But it meant something to me.

I always enjoyed Etude in Black.  John Cassavetes played the killer.  John and Peter were very close friends and it seemed like they really enjoyed working together in that one.   

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I remember touring Universal studios back in the 80s and getting all excited when I saw Columbo's car.  I think I was the only one on the tram that was excited about it.  But it meant something to me.

People are dumb!  Columbo's car is TOTALLY one of the best things on that tour!

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I'm a Columbo nerd, love him he is so exasperating and knows who the killer is from the get go.  He plays it beautifully.  Just watched Requiem for a Star with Anne Baxter this weekend, loved it.  I didn't like the Columbo movies made in the late 80's/90's though...his acting was not the same, forced somehow and not enjoyable.  

Jack Cassidy is one of my favorite villains in the series.  

 

Yea he really drove them nuts. Grew up watching the 80's/90's movies. As for the acting, I never thought he seemed forced in them imo. Heck it was better than some of the stuff that was on then. Comforting somehow.

Edited by AntiBeeSpray

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I love Columbo and I'm sure I have seen every episode more than twice, BUT...

These modern CSI procedurals have changed the way I watch our favorite Lieutenant.

When Columbo stumbles around a murder scene smoking his cigar and dropping ashes, or brings a hard-boiled egg to the scene for his breakfast, then cracks and drops egg shell bits all over the scene, and rummages in the victim's fridge for orange juice...I just yell "CONTAMINATION" at my tv, but Columbo keeps on mucking around touching stuff, moving stuff.

 

When he does find forensic evidence that might be useful, he carries it all over town in a paper bag or in the pocket of his raincoat, so that he can pull it out in the final big "GOTCHA" scene.  But as the cops who carried O.J. evidence around town  without logging it into the system found out...Defense attorneys can destroy your case when you get careless with the evidence.

 

I think I figured out why he was still a Lieutenant 20 years after we first met him--it was because he always "caught" the right guy, but NO evidence ever got admitted in the court case and all these rich guys (villains) got off just like O.J.

 

The 70s and 80s were the era of "new" technology.  It was always fun to watch as the villain of the week tried to use the newest gadgets (mobile phones, call forwarding, VCRs, etc to pull off the perfect crime, but Columbo always figured it out. 

 

Here's a little bit of trivia:  In "Etude in Black", actress Blythe Danner played the wife of murderer John Casavetes and in one scene was very visibly pregnant.  That little "baby bump" later became Gwyneth Paltrow.

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I've just had so much reading these posts!  Oddly, for the past week I've been trying to think of the name of the show that featured the musician.  Some of you nailed it for me --  John Casavetes ... I can see him now!

 

The show had so many ways of appealing to the audience.  One of them, of course, was trying to solve the case before Columbo did.  I can only recall one or two that I managed to solve, but the fun was also in finding the moment when Columbo knew the villain was guilty.

 

Columbo probably had one of the most famous wives we never saw.  He always referred to her but never showed her!  Peter Falk was one of our best actors and had to live for so long with the confusion of Alzheimers.  What a gifted man he was!  Just thinking about him makes me smile.

Edited by Lura
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Columbo probably had one of the most famous wives we never saw.

 

Until that show Mrs. Columbo.  Did anyone watch it?  I never did.  I had an impression of Columbo's wife in my mind from his references to her, and the ~30 years younger Kate Mulgrew was sooooooooo not it.

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Muddy Waters, you and me both!  In fact, I'd forgotten all about Kate Mulgrew until you mentioned her.  She was way too young for Columbo, even then.  I had someone in mind who was about his age, rather plain but witty, someone who could out-think him if she had to.

 

What about Ann Bancroft? 

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Maybe... if Anne Bancroft put on a few pounds (or they padded her out with prosthetics).  I remember Columbo in at least one or two episodes referred to his wife struggling with her weight.

 

This is so interesting (I hope not just to me!), I started a new topic.

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It's funny, I thought Mrs. Columbo was kind of like Columbo, someone he presented as being someone that his suspects didn't have to take seriously, but was secretly as awesome as he was.

 

I have to admit, though, I didn't think Kate Mulgrew, much as I loved her, fit my picture of her.

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Until that show Mrs. Columbo.  Did anyone watch it?  I never did.  I had an impression of Columbo's wife in my mind from his references to her, and the ~30 years younger Kate Mulgrew was sooooooooo not it.

Except the show Columbo never acknowledged that the show Mrs. Columbo existed.  And while my memory of Mrs Columbo is vague and pretty unspecific, I bet they weren't allowed to be too direct about Columbo either.

 

So arguably it doesn't count.  They weren't "in continuity" with each other.

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I watched Mrs. Columbo - they later changed the name, dropping the Columbo connection.  I just watched it with the understanding her age was tv age.

 

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I just watched Columbo Cries Wolf yesterday.  It was the movie from 1990 with Ian Buchanan as the killer and Deidre Hall as the victim.  They ran Bachelor's World which was a Playboy ripoff.  They use a different story approach than usual.  I kind of liked it because there was more mystery to it than usual.  I had seen it before so I knew the outcome.  But I enjoyed it.  Although I did laugh at the gaudy pager watches they wore. 

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So many great episodes - and the show does hold up surprisingly well - but these are some of my favorites:

 

"Any Old Port" - Donald Pleasance in lovely form as the dedicated vintner who murders his playboy brother to save the vineyard. You could see a real bond growing between Pleasance and Columbo, Julie Harris was wonderful as the mousy but determined secretary, and the last scene was sooo good. When Pleasance, accepting Columbo's offer of a final glass of wine before taking him in, he says "You've learned very well, Detective," with sincere appreciation, and Columbo says "That's about the nicest thing anyone's said to me." You could tell he sympathized with Pleasance, and identified with his dedication to excellence, but.. murder is murder.

 

"Playback" Oskar Werner murders his wealthy mother-in-law before she can blackmail him into resigning as CEO of her tech company, where he spends plenty of time and money on what she claims are useless gadgets. He uses his electronics savvy to establish what seems to be an unbreakable alibi. Werner is great, but the real treat is Gena Rowlands (close friend of Falk, along with her husband John Cassavetes) as Werner's beautiful, shy invalid wife.

 

"Swan Song"  The Johnny Cash/Ida Lupino episode. I agree with everyone above who has cited it. Again, Cash makes a wonderfully sympathetic murderer.

 

"Forgotten Lady" Sad and elegiac, but very moving. Janet Leigh is the lady in question, looking for one more hour in the sun. Her husband's reasons for denying her the financing (said denial leading to his murder) become the key to the final twist, 

in which Leigh becomes one of the only Columbo murderers to avoid prison, as the Detective finds ample reason to drag out the investigation

(I'm spoiling this, even though it's aired multiple times, in case some fans search it out for the first time!

 

"How to Dial a Murder" - Intricate and fascinating, and Nicol Williamson's scenery chewing actually works in the context.

 

I'm also fond of "A Question of Immunity", although a lot of fans don't like it because of the culture clash/Middle East politics at the core.

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I just watched Uneasy Lies the Crown.  It is the 1990 movie with James Read as the dentist.  I always get deja vu when I watch this episode.  McMillan & Wife (after Sally died and it was just McMillan) did the same storyline with Larry Hagman.  It was originally suppose to be a Columbo episode.  But it got turned down.  So it was used for McMillan.  Then for some reason they decided to do it later on Columbo.  Very odd.

 

I do like this episode.  Nancy Walker from McMillan even plays herself at the poker game.     

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I have always loved Columbo. When I was a kid,my entire family was hooked on the Sunday Night Murder Mysteries, so I got hooked on all of those shows at a young age, but Columbo has remained my favorite.

Quick question: didn't Steven Spielberg direct the show's pilot?

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I had to look it up @Sharpie66 - my first thought was, wouldn't he have been too young?  ::giggle::
 
You were right that Steven Spielberg directed an episode, and it happens to be Season 1 Episode 1, but from what I am seeing at Wikipedia, that wasn't the pilot.  There was actually two pilot episodes, and they were directed by Richard Irving.  And if you read how long it took to make this a series, pretty interesting.  Thanks for making me do some research, learned something new.

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I just watched the one with George Hamilton as a research psychologist and Lesley Anne Warren as a subject.  Good acting by all that is for sure, and always good tv when Columbo has a villain he can actually hate and be mad at- as opposed to the many sympathetic murderers in the series. I also love that the victim is also kinda a gross person (hitting his wife) so if George Hamilton's character were not so utterly skeevy he WOULD be a sympathetic villain.  And he becomes utterly amoral as he becomes more desperate to cover up his initial manslaughter . WHich if he had admitted at the time he would probably not been charged since he was potentially saving the wife's life.  His desperation leads to  the small matter of his phone call in the second act and it's sad result.  Anyway, acting and character development really carried the show on this one.  Also excellent illustration of "What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive"!

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Thanks for that Wikipedia link--looking through the list of episode directors was an eye-opener. Patrick McGoohan, Jonathan Demme, Norman Lloyd, Ben Gazzara, Sam Wanamaker, ans even Nicolas Colosanto, aka Coach from Cheers, all in addition to Spielberg.

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That's interesting and true that so many of the villains were likeable people.  The only villain I couldn't stand was Jack Cassidy.  I think he was on more than one show -- could that be possible?  While I think Cassidy's character wasn't supposed to be attractive, I found him very unattractive in real life.  At the time, I was a big Shirley Jones fan, and she was married to him.  He was quite the ladies' man, and I resented him for it.  It seems silly now, but it didn't then.  :)

 

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Jack Cassidy was the villain three times, which I think was a record. Peter Falk supposedly thought he was one of their best villains.

I hear you on the Real Life spill over dislike, though, because I had a monster crush on David Cassidy, and they were supposed to have a difficult relationship.

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Just watched the Columbo last night where Jack Cassidy kills his writing partner-- the one Steven Spielberg directed. (I have all the DVD's now thanks to Christmas and birthday gift cards)  I remember seeing this when I was first married and it was just as good!  One thing I love about Columbo is the locations the show is set-- beautiful homes, scenes of LA, I love the 70's look (as odd as it looks now, that was when I was young and I just love seeing what things looked like back then) 

Columbo comes on MEtv channel here on Sunday nights.  If you have this channel in your cable network you can watch Columbo again :)

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I watched the episode last night where Suzanne Pleschette was in a sail boat with her mother and saw Eddie Albert murdering someone in his pretty home on the shore.  I wikipediaed Eddie Albert and he has quite a background!  It's worth looking up.  He toured Mexico as a clown and high-wire artist with the Escalante Brothers Circus, but secretly worked for U.S. Army intelligence, photographing German U-boats in Mexican harbors.  He went on to a very distinguished career in the military when, as the pilot of a U.S. Coast Guard landing craft, he rescued 47 Marines who were stranded offshore (and supervised the rescue of 30 others), while under heavy enemy machine-gun fire.  I never pictured him in that way--- especially as a clown in a circus! :)   Great show, Suzanne did a great acting job being a looney, naïve yet earnest woman.  I love the ocean side location this was filmed and would love to own that house overlooking the water!   

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Eddie Albert was also an environmentalist who started Earth Day (which takes place on his birthday every year).

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The AV Club has ten top episodes today.

 

Great article. Thanks for sharing it! However, this quote raised my eyebrows: "Falk hand-selected Columbo’s permanent wardrobe—including the legendary raincoat as well a tie and shoes from his own closet…" It may have been Falk's raincoat, but it certainly wasn't his idea. I know this because the predecessor of the Columbo character is quite clear. He's the detective in the 1955 French suspense film Diabolique--who, just like Columbo, wore a beat-up raincoat, smoked a cigar, and  always had "just one more question" as you thought he was heading out the door.

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Just saw the episode that began Season One, "Murder by the Book," directed by Spielberg and written by Bochco. Not great, but pretty good. There were definitely Spielberg touches, like the slow reverse zoom/tracking shot that opened it, where you see a car out on the street and then discover you're seeing it through a window of an office that you begin to pull back into to find a man typing, all in one take. And then the cut to the angle at street level as the car arrives, stripped of all natural sound effects which are replaced by the naked sound of the IBM Selectric in the office. And a couple of the supporting performances were quirky in a sort of Spielbergian way.

 

I was kind of surprised, though, at the transparency of the villain (Jack Cassidy). In the Columbos I remember, the villain starts out doing a better job of coming across to Columbo in an ingratiating or cooperative manner. Cassidy played it transparently condescending from the beginning; I mean, he pretended to be pleasant and cooperative, but you wouldn't need to be a supersleuth to know it was phony. I think the show got better at that sort of thing as it went along.

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I read a great true story about the filming of "Murder by the Book" In Richard Levinson's very good and informative memoir "Stay Tuned". Evidently he and his partner, William Link, got a call one day from a very upset young Spielberg. No one listening to him, no one was taking him seriously, and he couldn't get anything done. They went down to the location. It turned out that Spielberg wanted to shoot on one floor of a glass-walled building. The lighting director was insisting that he couldn't get the lights set up, and the director of cinematography was taking the LD's side. Everyone thought he was a punk kid who didn't know the technology. Levinson and Link asked them to at least hear Spielberg out. It turned out he had a method for doing the lights that would work, and before long everyone was back at work and the new 'punk director' had everyone's respect.

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I love this story, Tudor Queen! I was wondering about that. Not so much about the crew, but how happily (or not happily) the veteran acting talent (Cassidy, Falk, Milner) took to being directed by this kid. But yeah, the crew--that'd be a challenge. It sounds like the shot they gave him so much trouble about was the very shot I praised so much in my post. Which makes sense, because when I saw it, what really impressed me was, "I don't think I've seen this done before!"

 

I just now read that Barbara Colby (who gave an interesting performance as Lilly La Sanka) was shot and killed four years later in LA. Never solved.

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I just now read that Barbara Colby (who gave an interesting performance as Lilly La Sanka) was shot and killed four years later in LA. Never solved.

 

 

Sadly true. At the time of her murder she was a well-respected regular on the Cloris Leachman sitcom, "Phyllis." Her murder rocked Hollywood. And no, it was never solved.

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