"Just one more thing...": Rewatching Columbo

Mel O'Drama

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Grand Deceptions









Combining themes from several earlier episodes, Columbo crashes in on a military base and a think tank. Indeed, Colonel Frank Brailie feels analogous with By Dawn’s Early Light’s Colonel Rumford in many ways. Which should bode well for this instalment.

It’s incredibly difficult to rate this episode. It’s perhaps the straightest episode of the new series yet. Barring a few small moments (such as the snippets of various wacky recruits giving Columbo their reasons for signing up) there’s almost none of the silly theatrical quirkiness that permeated earlier episodes of this season.

There’s nothing overtly bad about the episode. And yet…

I also found it to be a bit of a trudge. It felt static, flat and almost completely lacking in sparkle. Dare I say it was even quite boring at times.

It’s difficult to say where the fault lies with this lifelessness. It’s a really nice story; well cast and acted; nicely shot. On paper it should have been Premier League.

Because of the military setting there’s little of the muted pastel blandness that are the hallmarks of the era (the only exception being the light grey walls and colourful paintings at the think tank). Indeed, the cinematography feels quite sumptuous. It looks very dark, and there are numerous shots of a character lit from behind or the side so that their face is almost in darkness. This is very welcome. It’s full of atmosphere and far preferable to the typical flat white late Eighties lighting.

All the cast do their thing well. Andy Romano is great in his small role as the blackmailing victim and I believed the relationship between killer and victim. The actors playing the Padgets are likeable. Jenny Padget might be cheating on her husband at every opportunity, but there’s something innately likeable about Janet Eilber that allows me to understand why her much older husband is more than willing to turn a blind eye. The scene in which they speak to one another about her affair and reach an understanding is unexpectedly touching (albeit rather soapy).








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Mel O'Drama

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Grand Deceptions



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It’s great to see Robert Foxworth as Colonel Brailie. I’ve only seen him in a few roles but find him charismatic and watchable, and so I was looking forward to this. Often when an otherwise decent Columbo episode falls short it’s down to the relationship between Columbo and the episode’s antagonist, but I don’t find that to be the case here. Foxworth has the requisite presence and gravitas to make him a worthy Columbo opponent. Of the four New Columbo killers so far he feels the most traditional and old school.

It’s possibly a combination of factors that made this episode fail. Perhaps the stillness and lack of sparkle could be the fault of the director. I’d say the writing could also have been a little tighter. The story was great, but it there was a lot going on. It seemed to be a little too laid back a lot of the time (or perhaps its complex highbrow genius went over my head) while being a little too heavy handed in some of the wrong places. Brailie had so many sins going on, from embezzlement to murder to deception and all while shagging his boss’s wife. This is where Foxworth was able to pull back and make it work despite this.

I enjoyed the battle of wits between the two, with Brailie’s discountenance of Columbo gradually eroding as the episode went by. I thought Brailie’s reactions to Columbo felt truthful rather than convenient. He countered every question Columbo posed while managing to seem disinterested rather than defensive. The scene where Columbo discovered his “alter ego” at the love nest apartment was a nice example, with Brailie simply telling him the truth: that he used the flat to conduct an illicit affair with a married woman.

Even after the Gotcha, I appreciated that he didn’t overtly confess but simply enquired how Columbo came to suspect him. It was plain to see he felt defeated, but neatly avoided the convenient denouement in favour of something a little more subtle.

The Gotcha was decent enough. I was mostly just grateful that it didn’t involve Columbo taking silly, life-threatening risks while going to extremes, or recruiting a cast of thousands to bring his plan to fruition. It was just good detective work and a one-to-one between the two men.

Yes, I could have lived without that final shot of the Columbo figure on the diorama. But it didn’t induce groans in the same way as the guillotine and “bang” or the ringmaster’s suit did.

Not a favourite episode by any means. But I do applaud this one for at least attempting to capture the tone of Columbo’s heyday, even if the execution was lacking.
 

Angela Channing

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Grand Deceptions






I really like this review, not least because it broadly reflects my feelings about this episode. What I like about Grand Deceptions is that it follows a traditional Columbo format and didn't have too many gimmicks or forced comedy that sometimes crept into the newer episodes.

This was only the second time I had seen Robert Foxworth in another show after Falcon Crest finished (the other was a guest role in Cagney & Lacey) so I remember looking forward to how he would fair as a murderer and the actor who played Falcon Crest's Douglas Channing also had a supporting role. I always find Mr Foxworth not to be a particularly charismatic actor but this wasn't a problem as his persona fitted well with the straight and formal character he played here.

This episode had lots of good elements, the murder was interesting enough as was the gotcha but the interactions between Columbo and the murderer never set the screen alight and for it's what made the episode feel a bit flat. Overall, I think it's a solid and entertaining episode but it never breaks out of being more than mediocre.

Oh, and they had to have a gimmicky ending with the Columbo figure on the battlefield. It's like they just can't help themselves from doing things like this which doesn't help the show and in fact just trivialises it.
 

Mel O'Drama

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This was only the second time I had seen Robert Foxworth in another show after Falcon Crest finished (the other was a guest role in Cagney & Lacey)

Cagney & Lacey is the other show that springs to mind for me. Followed by a couple of guest stints in later series such as Murder, She Wrote.

His C&L episode is particularly memorable for me because it's the final episode of the original series and so the stakes felt especially high.


This episode had lots of good elements, the murder was interesting enough

Agreed. There was an eye for detail with the murder and its aftermath. Brailie didn't fall into some of the traps other killers do, which made him feel more difficult to catch. An example of that would be him using the sheet on the floor to enter the room and change clothes.


the interactions between Columbo and the murderer never set the screen alight and for it's what made the episode feel a bit flat.

Yes. On reflection, something that's becoming more evident is that the actor playing the killer perhaps has more of a burden to carry in these newer episodes since it doesn't feel like Peter Falk is as invested and interesting as he was in earlier episodes, so there's very little for them to bounce off. Had he been as dynamic and nuanced as in earlier episodes the interactions would have had far more sparkle.


Overall, I think it's a solid and entertaining episode but it never breaks out of being more than mediocre.

That's an accurate summary, I think.


Oh, and they had to have a gimmicky ending with the Columbo figure on the battlefield. It's like they just can't help themselves from doing things like this which doesn't help the show and in fact just trivialises it.

Yes. It was a bit eye-rolling. Given some of the endings of these new episodes it's perhaps the least worst option, but I'd still have far preferred it without that final shot.
 

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Agreed. There was an eye for detail with the murder and its aftermath. Brailie didn't fall into some of the traps other killers do, which made him feel more difficult to catch. An example of that would be him using the sheet on the floor to enter the room and change clothes.
Yes, I thought that was a nice touch and seemed to reflect how people today are more aware of how forensic science can contribute to solving a crime so I liked how the writers acknowledged that.

Yes. On reflection, something that's becoming more evident is that the actor playing the killer perhaps has more of a burden to carry in these newer episodes since it doesn't feel like Peter Falk is as invested and interesting as he was in earlier episodes, so there's very little for them to bounce off. Had he been as dynamic and nuanced as in earlier episodes the interactions would have had far more sparkle.
Gosh, I never really thought of it like that but now you say it, I think you're spot on. The conversation/repartee/ interplay/interaction/ between Columbo and the murderer, I always previously considered to sparkle when the murderer brought something special to the relationship but that was because I always took Peter Falk's portrayal of Columbo for granted. Whether it's because Mr Falk was becoming a bit complacent in the role or whether the part was written and/or acted differently to appeal to a modern audience, it's clear he plays the role with much less subtlety in the newer episodes and of course that must have had a huge impact on his scenes with the murderer.

Yes. It was a bit eye-rolling. Given some of the endings of these new episodes it's perhaps the least worst option, but I'd still have far preferred it without that final shot.
I didn't really mind it but it was unnecessary and added nothing to the show except maybe bringing a touch of fantasy and humour to the ending. It kind of felt like a desperate attempt to add something memorable to the conclusion to the show and in a way, I suppose they achieved that.
 

Angela Channing

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Cagney & Lacey is the other show that springs to mind for me. Followed by a couple of guest stints in later series such as Murder, She Wrote.

His C&L episode is particularly memorable for me because it's the final episode of the original series and so the stakes felt especially high.
I had forgotten it was the final episode of Cagney & Lacey. I really liked him in that role because it was interesting to see him play a part that was nothing like his role in Falcon Crest.
 

Mel O'Drama

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I thought that was a nice touch and seemed to reflect how people today are more aware of how forensic science can contribute to solving a crime so I liked how the writers acknowledged that.

Oh, good point. Crime solving had come a long way in those eleven years Columbo was off the air.



Whether it's because Mr Falk was becoming a bit complacent in the role or whether the part was written and/or acted differently to appeal to a modern audience, it's clear he plays the role with much less subtlety in the newer episodes and of course that must have had a huge impact on his scenes with the murderer.

Absolutely. It will be interesting to see how murderers returning from the original series (Patrick McGoohan/George Hamilton/William Shatner) hold up in relation to their Seventies episodes.



It kind of felt like a desperate attempt to add something memorable to the conclusion to the show and in a way, I suppose they achieved that.

It feels very much that everyone involved in the revival of Columbo - from the writers to Peter Falk - view the character as more of a pop culture icon this time round, and feel the need to find different ways of reflecting that. I've just watched another episode in which Columbo was similarly immortalised.

Viewing the character as an icon is fine for the viewer, but when the people producing it get into the same mindset it can really diminish a series' power. The catchphrases and mannerisms seem to have been ratcheted up, for example. And when that happens, the character can't help feeling more cartoony.



I really liked him in that role because it was interesting to see him play a part that was nothing like his role in Falcon Crest.

Shamefully, I must confess to never watching a full episode of Falcon Crest. It is on my viewing bucket list though.

And of course when I hear Robert's name, FC is the main association I have as he's been discussed so much round these parts.
 

Angela Channing

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It feels very much that everyone involved in the revival of Columbo - from the writers to Peter Falk - view the character as more of a pop culture icon this time round, and feel the need to find different ways of reflecting that. I've just watched another episode in which Columbo was similarly immortalised.

Viewing the character as an icon is fine for the viewer, but when the people producing it get into the same mindset it can really diminish a series' power. The catchphrases and mannerisms seem to have been ratcheted up, for example. And when that happens, the character can't help feeling more cartoony.
I can't disagree with any of that.

It's always difficult when they revive an old series because they try to hard to appeal to different audiences: fans of the original show, people who are completely new to the show and people who have some awareness of the show but don't know a lot about it. In trying to appeal to such a broad audience they often end up failing to appeal adequately to any of them.
 

Mel O'Drama

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It's always difficult when they revive an old series because they try to hard to appeal to different audiences: fans of the original show, people who are completely new to the show and people who have some awareness of the show but don't know a lot about it. In trying to appeal to such a broad audience they often end up failing to appeal adequately to any of them.

This is true.

I've said a couple of times that I'm approaching the new series differently and treating it as a different kind of animal. For example, I think of how Knots Landing evolved and changed tone over the years.

That's helped quite a bit, and I do try to keep an open mind, but they don't always make it easy.
 

Mel O'Drama

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Season Nine (1989-90)







Murder, A Self Portrait









My heart sank a little at the opening sequence. The cute dogs at the Bassett Hound Show were endearing enough, the music charmingly light and the atmosphere enjoyably sunny. But there are two major strikes against it.

Firstly, the montages of dogs in cute outfits went on far too long. Minute after minute of wordless, plotless nothingness.

Secondly, whenever Columbo appears before the killer I can’t help but feel the people making this particular episode don’t really “get” how this show works. With the beginning of a new era, it feels especially important that we should anticipate Columbo's arrival onscreen. This sequence deprived me of that fun. Once again, it feels like it's thrown in out of fear that the audience will switch off if we don't see him soon enough, which is quite a contrast to the earliest episodes. His appearance right at the top added nothing to the episode and it would work much better without it. Not only is it filler, it’s filler that throws off the formula and stops the plot from commencing. Which is what would really make this viewer want to switch off.

And then the plot comes. The interior of the beach house setting reminded me a little of Gary and Abby’s place on Knots Landing, while the sea-facing balcony had echoes of Michael’s love nest on Melrose Place.

And the setup was very Melrosian, with Barsini living with his second wife and his other, younger lover while his first wife - also still part of his harem as far as he’s concerned - lived next door. Columbo walks into this scene. Hilarity ensues.

I’m sure stranger things happen every day in the real world, all the same not only is this imbroglio unnecessarily messy, I also failed to see why these three women would fall over themselves for this particular man and fight one another at his command. I had to fill in the gaps myself and decided he knew a special trick or two in bed.





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Mel O'Drama

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Murder, A Self Portrait



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There are a couple of notable returnees, especially recurring actor Vito Scotti who gets in on the murder story this time round, and has a few little scenes. He’s as reliable as ever. His character’s name is also Vito, as is the name of his bar where some key scenes take place. I like to think the part was specially written in the hope he’d return. Peter Falk’s wife, Shera Denese is also back. This time she’s Barsini’s second wife.

A bit of a bizarre experience: while watching, I’d convinced myself that Fionnula Flanagan - here playing Barsini’s first wife cum murder victim, Louise - had previously appeared in a country and western themed episode of the Seventies series where she was a standout in a small-ish role. However, as I write this a quick look on IMDb has reminded me that I was mixing up my Columbos and my Bionic Women, and it was actually an episode of The Bionic Woman where I’d recently watched her. She’s great here, and possibly the only victim to be seen in dream sequences later in the episode.

On paper this seems to be a gimmick I would hate, and I could understand many fans of the series may not like it at all. As it was, I really liked these fantasy enactments which played out as Louise’s voice could be heard on the tape describing her dream. Not only did these haunting black and white sequences look truly gorgeous and perfectly capture the feeling of a bad dream, it allowed us to get a visual of the meeting of minds between Columbo and killer. I loved the element of both men staring at one another within the dream as the reality stopped mattering to them as much as what they were hearing. It looked wonderfully atmospheric and because of the theatrical simplicity I viewed it as an evolution of the series’ stage origins with Prescription: Murder.

Other gimmicky moments were a bit more hit and miss for me.

These included the ironic visual of Columbo questioning a psychologist who lies back on his own couch, eyes closed as Columbo utters lines typically associated with that profession. I can imagine the guffaws in the writers’ room, but I’d say the end product isn’t as clever as it thinks. It’s not terrible, but it also hammers home its own quirkiness without much consideration of subtlety.





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Murder, A Self Portrait



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The inevitable reveal of the famous painting of Columbo worked OK. By episode’s end, the audience might have felt a little cheated had we not seen it. It’s preferable to the diorama figure, but still another example of the characters within the series canonising its lead character through iconography. All of which takes away Columbo’s downtrodden everyman quality. It feels wrong that the reasons we as viewers love the character to also be seen by people within the series as it takes the character to a different level. How can killers underestimate (and consequently be surprised by) this man who is increasingly in the public domain as a well-known figure?

Patrick Bauchau as Barsini is a serviceable killer. As mentioned, I found him unconvincing as the irresistible ladykiller. The writing around the four-way relationship is very poor indeed, so it’s unfair to blame Bauchau completely. And arguably casting is also questionable since Bauchau, while suavely attractive, isn’t the Adonis the writing would suggest. Again, not his fault. However, he must take some of the blame for this. Barsini's psychological dominance wasn't convincing. He'd smile at them sometimes and bark at them sometimes, but it all felt very caricaturish to the point of being almost comical. Most crucially, he didn’t sell me on the character’s charm and charisma. I simply didn’t believe all these younger women he treated like crap would keep coming back to attend to his every need. One of them, perhaps. But not all three. And the arc with the wife and the mistress joining forces to walk out was just purile.

To a lesser degree, this lack of nuance extended into Barsini's relationship with Columbo. Once again, serviceable is the word I’d use, but it doesn’t feel special, and the now standard feature-length once again felt painfully overlong.

The Gotcha was fine. I liked that there was some decent detective work along the way with the “Barsini red” paint and the suspicion around Louise wearing one contact lens (echoing a similar clue in A Case Of Immunity).

With me accepting - and enjoying - the dream sequences, the denouement was watchable enough, though I’d have enjoyed it more had it not taken quite so long to get to the point.
 

Angela Channing

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I don't remember all the details of Murder, A Self-Portrait but what sticks in my mind most about this episode (other than the portrait of the good lieutenant) are the dream sequences. They were cleverly shot and quite ethereal and had this been anything other than Columbo I would have liked them but I always think of Columbo as being about facts and precision and potential clues existing in dreams just felt a bit incongruous to me.

Other than the dream sequences and the episode starting with Columbo himself, it generally followed the standard Columbo format which I think it needed to as it wasn't an especially compelling instalment of the show.

There are a couple of notable returnees, especially recurring actor Vito Scotti who gets in on the murder story this time round, and has a few little scenes. He’s as reliable as ever. His character’s name is also Vito, as is the name of his bar where some key scenes take place.
It was good seeing him again in the series and I always enjoyed the nods to the original series in the revival one. In the original series he often had a very peripheral role but this time he was quite an significant character in the storyline and I wondered whether they had to do that to make returning more appealing to the actor.

These included the ironic visual of Columbo questioning a psychologist who lies back on his own couch, eyes closed as Columbo utters lines typically associated with that profession. I can imagine the guffaws in the writers’ room, but I’d say the end product isn’t as clever as it thinks. It’s not terrible, but it also hammers home its own quirkiness without much consideration of subtlety.
Another example of the new series trying to be too clever by half and resorting to gimmicks rather than just telling the story.

The Gotcha was fine. I liked that there was some decent detective work along the way with the “Barsini red” paint
I really liked the gotcha itself although the reveal scene didn't entirely work for me because I didn't find his reaction to being found out to be too matter of fact to be completely believable. I know the murderer was all about his art but would one of his first thoughts after being found out be what was Columbo's opinion of his painting and having a conversation about showing it to Columbo's wife? I think it would have worked better had Columbo gone to the art studio to see the finished painting and once that was out the way he would let the murderer know he had been rumbled. Clearly they did it the way they did so they could leave the reveal of the painting to the memorable ending but it mainly served to relegate the gotcha to being of lesser importance.

Louise wearing one contact lens (echoing a similar clue in A Case Of Immunity).
Good observation, I had forgotten about that. It's not the last time they will recycle an idea they used in a previous episode.
 

Mel O'Drama

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They were cleverly shot and quite ethereal and had this been anything other than Columbo I would have liked them but I always think of Columbo as being about facts and precision and potential clues existing in dreams just felt a bit incongruous to me.

The reason it worked for me without being too jarring is because I could rationalise it as coming from reality. To put it into the context you mentioned of facts and precision, the clue was real and tangible because Columbo was playing the recording of Louise's voice telling her psychologist about the dream.

I know what you mean about the dream feeling incongruous. It wasn't entirely necessary. But for me this was one of the more theatrical devices that worked for me.


Other than the dream sequences and the episode starting with Columbo himself, it generally followed the standard Columbo format which I think it needed to as it wasn't an especially compelling instalment of the show.

Yes, that was welcome.


In the original series he often had a very peripheral role but this time he was quite an significant character in the storyline and I wondered whether they had to do that to make returning more appealing to the actor.

Could be. Whatever the case it was great to see him.


the reveal scene didn't entirely work for me because I didn't find his reaction to being found out to be too matter of fact to be completely believable. I know the murderer was all about his art but would one of his first thoughts after being found out be what was Columbo's opinion of his painting and having a conversation about showing it to Columbo's wife?

Agreed. As you said, it was done to make the painting reveal feel more important but it seems wrong that it should make the Gotcha almost secondary.



I had forgotten about that. It's not the last time they will recycle an idea they used in a previous episode.

Oh, I can believe it. If I miss any more I hope you'll point them out to me.
 

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The reason it worked for me without being too jarring is because I could rationalise it as coming from reality. To put it into the context you mentioned of facts and precision, the clue was real and tangible because Columbo was playing the recording of Louise's voice telling her psychologist about the dream.

I know what you mean about the dream feeling incongruous. It wasn't entirely necessary. But for me this was one of the more theatrical devices that worked for me.
I can totally see your reasoning and yes, it wasn't fantasy sequence but a visualisation of something being said by someone. The dream sequence was beautifully filmed and like I said before, it had a real ethereal to it with Columbo and the murderer in the background. It did give the episode a more contemporary feel as flashbacks and dream sequences are commonplace in TV today but were more rare in the 1970s.
 

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Columbo Cries Wolf






Our very first official taste of 1990s Columbo. And it’s an endurance test. I’m not going to waste too much time discussing this one, but if you’re wondering how bad it is, let me count the ways:

I’ve already spoken about my dislike for “Columbo does X” titles, so that’s a strike.

Daryl Duke’s score is irritatingly quirky and upbeat. It had that boingy Seinfeld thing going on and the music sounded almost identical to that used when Season One of Melrose Place would have a “funny” moment and clobber the audience round the head with the music in case we didn’t notice. There are also some instances of it getting quite rocky using a combination of well-known and generic music. It sounds terrible and horribly dated compared with Columbo’s usual timelessness. Ironically, the outro used over the end credits sounds great. Why couldn’t the entire score have been more like this?

There’s some shocking continuity. Watching the opening credits I spotted Columbo’s distinctive Peugeot in the background as the limo drove through Beverly Hills, pulling from a side street so that it’s a distance behind the limo. Then we cut to a party at the swimming pool and can see Columbo walking round in the background. Presumably these were both put together from later scenes, which shows the attention to detail with production values.

Speaking of the pool, the breathless bimbos in skimpy bikinis got really annoying. I know they’re meant to be models, but could they not have cast actors to play them? The few that had lines were just entirely unconvincing and the pouting and posing - while part of the episode’s lifestyle - became very tedious. One scene in which Columbo climbed into the limo with Brantley and a group of models who began huddling up to him was just dire. The cardboard cutout model asking Brantley where they were going felt like the lead in to a bad porn film.

Worse still, we see Pervy Columbo. The man who was previously shocked to the core by a bit of naturist sunbathing had no problem ogling and mentally undressing these girls young enough to be his granddaughters with a big smile on his face. I know he’s only human, but it just seemed way out of character from the Columbo we usually see.

It helped not that the abundance of outdoor scenes showed off Peter Falk’s strange Nineties hair. I’m not sure it’s his real hair or a wig but, whatever the case, the mahogany look is very unflattering and (ironically) not a little ageing. I know we all have to get older, but I wonder why not at least have Columbo going a more flattering grey.






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Columbo Cries Wolf


continued


The episode’s biggest crime is straying way too far from the usual Columbo formula. As already mentioned, it’s a missing person (why is a homicide officer investigating a missing person anyway?). Putting the pieces together and asking the audience to solve the mystery isn’t what this series is about. They really should have called in a different department. Or perhaps Jessica Fletcher.

We don’t see the initial death (with good reason). Then - to no-one’s surprise - the victim reappears as large as life after an hour and ten minutes, and the previous hour feels like an even bigger waste of time.

It feels as though it’s intended to dazzle with its ingenuity, but it really doesn’t. Quite the opposite. It feels as though writer William Reed Woodfield couldn’t be arsed coming up with a clever murder/disposal/alilbi, so he decided to fill time and pack everything into the last fifteen minutes.

When it finally came the murder was ridiculously lazy and straightforward, with no ingenuity at all. The neck snapping - presumably yet another attempt to shock - was a terrible fit for this series, which usually takes a classier, more creative approach to its deaths. The sudden graphic violence felt like an attempt to draw attention away from the fact that the story was paper thin.

The killer himself was too brash and smug. Apart from five minutes when the unsurprising surprising resurrection happened (yawn) he was always far too obvious with his arrogant brush offs and Glasgow smile (ironic for someone who kept slipping back into his Scottish accent for words like “murr-durr”) The actor’s mid-Atlantic accent was irritating as well.

It’s difficult to find anything to like about this episode. We spent 75% of it watching two characters we care nothing about making a complete fool out of the lead character. That’s hard to recover from, and the episode never really does. Perhaps this explains why he went for a more literal “Gotcha” this time.
 

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Oh dear @Mel O'Drama, you really didn't like Columbo Cries Wolf, this is not a great sign. A while back I said there were 3 or 4 episodes of "New Columbo" that I thought were really good and this was one of those that I was thinking about. I don't think we have disagreed as strongly about an episode of Columbo since Dagger of The Mind although that time you really liked the episode and I hated it. Coincidentally, Columbo said he took on this case at the request of his friend from Scotland Yard, Detective Chief Superintendent Durk who was a character from Dagger of the Mind.

The episode has its flaws and @Mel O'Drama mentioned the shocking continuity issues and I completely agree. I think this episode has the worse example of continuity and filler in the history of Columbo. There is a scene near the beginning with the models posing and pouting by the pool and the camera pans from right to left, I think. Later in the episode they repeat that same camera shot, only they reverse it so the camera pans from left to right in an attempt to fool viewers that it is a different shot but it just makes it look cheap.

So why do I like this one so much? I enjoy when the play with the format of Columbo to do something of note, it doesn't always work but I think they pulled it off here. I was totally invested in Diane Hunter (not the one from UK soap opera Crossroads) being murdered early on in the show and when she turns up it was really unexpected twist and like Columbo himself, I didn't know what I had been watching in the previous hour or so. I felt really sorry for Columbo because he had staked so much on proving that she was murdered and his reputation that he had build up over the years as being one of the LAPD's finest had taken a battering.

I totally get why viewers might have felt cheated after spending so much time being made to believe in the premise of the show only to find out that they have been duped but I liked that I was duped and it made me even more empathetic to Columbo's plight. I do think they should have made the twist occur earlier though because after Diane was killed, we were only left with about 20 minutes of the show meaning it was the fasted that Columbo had ever solved a murder.

I really liked the ending because it was clever and I didn't see it coming, even though maybe I should have because why else would they have had workmen in the bathroom? The build up was brilliant in how Columbo laid out all the clues and why he knew the murderer committed the crime but because he made a fool out of Columbo the first time, the lieutenant wouldn't be able to investigate the case further. You think he's gotten away with it as Columbo heads to the door only for the the beeping sound to stop him in his tracks. The bewilderment and anticipation I felt at that point was very real until Columbo reveals the body. However, they had to go for the gimmicky ending that has been a feature of the new episodes by making Columbo text the message "gotcha" to the pager. I thought it was a really strong ending which I liked a great deal.

Well, we can't always agree!
 

Mel O'Drama

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Oh dear @Mel O'Drama, you really didn't like Columbo Cries Wolf,

I'm afraid not. Not at all.



A while back I said there were 3 or 4 episodes of "New Columbo" that I thought were really good and this was one of those that I was thinking about. I don't think we have disagreed as strongly about an episode of Columbo since Dagger of The Mind although that time you really liked the episode and I hated it.

Oh, that's interesting. I'm kind of glad I didn't realise this was one of the ones you liked as I might have gone into it with higher expectations and been even more disappointed.


Coincidentally, Columbo said he took on this case at the request of his friend from Scotland Yard, Detective Chief Superintendent Durk who was a character from Dagger of the Mind.

Good spot. I completely missed this.



There is a scene near the beginning with the models posing and pouting by the pool and the camera pans from right to left, I think. Later in the episode they repeat that same camera shot, only they reverse it so the camera pans from left to right in an attempt to fool viewers that it is a different shot but it just makes it look cheap.

Oh yes. I forgot to add this to my list of complaints about the episode(!) I actually laughed out loud when that shot played because it was so glaring.



I enjoy when the play with the format of Columbo to do something of note, it doesn't always work but I think they pulled it off here. I was totally invested in Diane Hunter (not the one from UK soap opera Crossroads) being murdered early on in the show and when she turns up it was really unexpected twist and like Columbo himself, I didn't know what I had been watching in the previous hour or so. I felt really sorry for Columbo because he had staked so much on proving that she was murdered and his reputation that he had build up over the years as being one of the LAPD's finest had taken a battering.

These are all good reasons, and goes to show how two people can have very different experiences watching the same thing.



I really liked the ending because it was clever and I didn't see it coming, even though maybe I should have because why else would they have had workmen in the bathroom? The build up was brilliant in how Columbo laid out all the clues and why he knew the murderer committed the crime but because he made a fool out of Columbo the first time, the lieutenant wouldn't be able to investigate the case further. You think he's gotten away with it as Columbo heads to the door only for the the beeping sound to stop him in his tracks.

I must confess the workmen in the bathroom felt very much like they were there for that purpose - even when I saw them earlier in the episode. And I'd also guessed that Columbo's phone call would be to Dian's beeper. Although, to be fair, it's possible that I subconsciously remembered this from seeing it on a previous watch.


Well, we can't always agree!

No indeed, but it keeps things interesting.

For what it's worth, I sometimes take a peek at Columbophile after posting about the episode, just to see if they have a similar view. On that site this episode has quite a glowing review and it's ranked as the best of the revival episodes to date. So you're in good company.
 

Angela Channing

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For what it's worth, I sometimes take a peek at Columbophile after posting about the episode, just to see if they have a similar view. On that site this episode has quite a glowing review and it's ranked as the best of the revival episodes to date. So you're in good company.
I've looked at that website on the past and I've often not agreed with their ratings either. For example, they rate The Bye Bye Sky High IQ Murder Case as their favourite whereas I think it's only a middle ranking episode and they consider How To Dial a Murder as one of their worst but I really like that episode.

It just goes to show how personal our likes and dislike can be.
 
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