- Reaction score
- Member Since
- 28th September 2008
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).