September 17, 1972 marked the ‘Return of the Mac’, not to mention the car, the cigar and the eccentric mannerisms. Yessir, Columbo was back for a hotly-anticipated second season, seven months after Season 1 rounded out.
TV show line-ups didn’t come much stronger. Joining Peter Falk were screen icons John Cassavetes and Myrna Loy, as well as future superstar Blythe Danner. Although series creators Dick Levinson and Bill Link had moved upstairs, the episode was penned by Steven Bochco; the mastermind behind Murder by the Book.
So far so good, then, but does Etude in Black live up to the hype? Let’s apply our boutonnieres, leaf through our dog name’s dictionary, and bust out our MASSIVE robotic conducting arm moves to find out if it’ll be a standing ovation or a Bronx cheer at episode’s end…
Lieutenant Columbo: Peter Falk
Alex Benedict: John Cassavetes
Janice Benedict: Blythe Danner
Lizzi Fielding: Myrna Loy
Jennifer Welles: Anjanette Comer
Paul Rifkin: James Olson
William: James McEachin
Audrey: Dawn Frame
House Boy: Pat Morita
And introducing… Dog!
Directed by: Nicholas Colasanto
Written by: Steven Bochco
Score by: Dick De Benedictis
Episode synopsis – Columbo Etude in Black
Musical Maestro Alex Benedict (John Cassavetes) has a problem – and one that threatens his glittering career as a celebrity conductor. He’s been romping with thigh-revealing pianist Jennifer Welles, who believes their primal love will provide greater sustenance to Benedict’s soul than his ‘safe’ marriage to Janice (Blythe Danner) and the zillions of dollars said marriage entitles him to.
Jennifer – clearly not a good judge of characters – is wrong. Benedict hatches a dastardly plot to rid himself of the ivory tinkling trouble-maker. Leaving his Jag at a grimy mechanic’s shop, Benedict gets a lift to the Hollywood Bowl with wife Janice to begin his prep for the evening’s symphony.
After bossing a few underlings around, Benedict retires to his dressing room for a nap. And when we says ‘nap’, what we really mean is ice-cold, premeditated MURDER. Before the killing, however, Benedict has got some work to do. He’s already faked a suicide note from Jennifer, so donning an amazingly conspicuous and memorable disguise of a long beige trench coat and HUGE sunglasses, Benedict sets out from the Bowl and jogs – in broad daylight no less – back to the car workshop.
“Musical maestro Alex Benedict has been romping with thigh-revealing pianist Jennifer Welles.”
He enters via a window of the rankest-looking toilet in TV history and confidently leaps into his extremely eye-catching and memorable Jaguar, which he drives to Jennifer’s house and parks literally around the corner. Did I mention already that all this is done in broad daylight? Benedict has balls, I’ll give him that…
Entering the house, Benedict pashes with Jennifer, who gives him an ultimatum: tell your wife about us, or I will! He assures her he’ll break the bad news to Janice ASAP, and tasks Jennifer with playing a heart-warming ditty on the piano. As she obliges, Benedict wraps a heavy ashtray in a cloth and clocks her around the back of the swede with it. He’s got 99 problems, but Jennifer Welles ain’t one of them anymore…
Benedict plants the faux suicide note in Jennifer’s typewriter, lifts her limp frame into the kitchen and turns on the oven gas to make it look like she took her own life. He then returns his car to the garage, seemingly not considering the odometer will show the mileage increase.
The perfect crime? Hardly, Maestro. While lifting Jennifer’s stricken frame from the piano, Benedict’s boutonnier – a tell-tale pink carnation – has fallen to the floor. He hasn’t noticed, and it’s the only thing that can tie him to the scene (if you exclude the disguise, the car mileage, the workshop break-in etc, etc). Will it come back to haunt him?
Hours pass… Safely back at the Bowl, Benedict is informed that one of his musicians hasn’t showed up for the concert. Who? None other than Jennifer Welles, of course. Flying into a temper, Benedict orders an immediate change to the concert program while raging at Jennifer’s lack of reliability. His own ability to trip her phone number off the tip of his tongue alerts his wife’s suspicions, though, who struggles to maintain her belief in her man for the rest of the episode.
It’s now that Lieutenant Columbo is called into action. He’s at the vet’s getting a shot for his new dog – a slovenly basset hound he rescued from the pound – when he receives a summons to get to Jennifer’s house where she’s been found dead.
Although all signs point to a suicide, little things immediately bother Columbo. Why would someone so talented and beautiful want to take her own life? And if she loved her pet cockatoo so much, why would she allow it to die of gas poisoning too?
The emergence of Alex Benedict at the house also provides some food for thought for Columbo as he witnesses the Maestro picking up a flower from the floor near the piano and attaching it to his lapel. Benedict claims it fell off as he removed his coat there and then. If Columbo knows otherwise he doesn’t say so, although it’s not the sort of detail that normally escapes him.
The scene is enlivened further as drunk trumpeter Paul – a former lover of Jennifer’s – stumbles onto the scene, braying about how there’s no way Jennifer would take her own life. The proverbial plot is well and truly thickening.
As Columbo’s investigations continue, we fall into the same delightful pattern the show so enamoured us with in Season 1. The Lieutenant fastens himself to his suspect, seeking his (oft ludicrous) opinion on all matters of the case, and is there every time Benedict turns around, unsettling him at the car yard, at his home and in his place of work.
He even seeks assistance from an unlikely source: young Audrey, Jennifer’s precocious next door neighbour (for ‘precocious’ read ‘annoying’). She says she can identify Jennifer’s love interest, who is someone from the orchestra. Sensing triumph, Columbo whips her along to an orchestral session. Can she identify Jennifer’s lover? You bet she can! Only the joke’s on Columbo this time, as Audrey IDs drunkard Paul instead of Benedict.
“The Lieutenant gets one of his trademark lucky breaks when returning to the vet’s to get a booster shot for the dog.”
The Lieutenant doesn’t give up that easily, though, and he gets one of his trademark lucky breaks when returning to the vet’s to get a booster shot for the dog. A re-run of the Benedict concert from the previous week is on air and the wily detective is finally able to lock in on some hard evidence.
Calling the Benedicts to the Hollywood Bowl’s recording studio to watch some video tapes of the previous concert, Columbo makes his case. ‘Look!’ he points out during a freeze frame. Benedict doesn’t have a flower in his lapel during the concert.
So what, comes the response from Benedict. I don’t always wear one. But you picked one up from the floor at Jennifer Welles’ house, points out Columbo. That’s your word against mine, retorts Benedict, and I don’t remember that at all.
What about this, says Columbo, flashing up footage of Benedict speaking to the media in the aftermath of her death being revealed. Another freeze frame clearly shows a carnation in his lapel. Where did it come from? When Janice refuses to back up Benedict’s claim that she pinned it on him straight after the concert, the game is up. Whispering words of love in his wife’s ear, Benedict salutes Columbo and allows himself to be escorted down town.
After making sure Mrs Benedict is being taken care of, Columbo takes his seat to watch the full re-run of the concert as credits roll…
Etude in Black‘s best moment: Chopsticks at the Bowl
Nothing beats the simple pleasure of seeing Columbo indulging in some cheeky Chopsticks action at a deserted Hollywood Bowl.
Not only is it charming in its own right, but the moment also leads into a delicious, extended hypothetical debate between the Lieutenant and Benedict about whether the Maestro could have committed the crime, and ends with Columbo shattering Benedict’s impregnability by revealing that his superiors are letting him investigate the case as a homicide. There’s even a classic ‘Just one more thing…’ thrown in for good measure. Lovely stuff…
My take on Etude in Black
Having canvassed many a fan’s opinion on the matter over a period of years, I’m fully aware that Etude is treasured by a high percentage of Columbo fans. Many even rate it as their single favourite episode. So, it’s with a hushed voice and guilty heart that I must reveal I don’t like it that much. If I haven’t instantly lost your respect and attention, I’m grateful. And if you’ll hear me out, I’ll state my case.
Etude in Black marked the first episode (pilots excluded) with the longer 90+minute running time, which would have been 2 hours on network TV including ads. Season 1 episodes ran for about 75 minutes each (90 mins with ads) and were almost all perfectly paced. But Columbo was such a hit, the network, NBC, insisted on some longer episodes to maximise advertising revenue.
Many Columbo purists, myself included, think that move was a mistake. It led to widespread padding out of scenes in the longer episodes. The stories had a tendency to sag and the potential to lose viewers’ attention. It’s no coincidence that few of my personal top 10 Columbo episodes are ‘long’ ones.
And while Etude was the first of these longer episodes, it suffers less than some that followed it because, unlike subsequent long episodes, Etude was originally intended as a regular-length transmission. Indeed, the 75-minute version aired in Canada before an extended cut was foisted on US audiences, but while there are some scenes added for padding, the scenes themselves haven’t been padded out. That’s an important distinction.
In later episodes it became clear that there wasn’t always enough material to justify the longer running time. So scenes that could have been raced through were drawn out to the nth degree. Think of Carsini’s real-time car manoeuvring in Any Old Port in a Storm; the endless garage investigation scene in Candidate for Crime; and the agonising wait for the computer printer in Exercise in Fatality.
“Etude in Black is arguably the most ambitious episode since Ransom for a Dead Man.”
Those episodes are damaged by the longer running time because scenes become a bore – something that’s largely avoided in Etude. While it’s easy to identify scenes in Etude that appear to have been added in later, they’re actually not bad in their own right. The scene where Columbo drops in on Benedict in his own house is a prime example. It’s a classic unsettling move by the Lieutenant, visiting his quarry in their own backyard while never asking a single question relevant to the case – and leaving with an autograph for his wife.
The scene eats up more than five minutes without ostensibly progressing the plot at all. It’s fun stuff, but it’s not strictly necessary – and wasn’t part of the original story. Cassavetes’ shorter haircut is testament to it being filmed weeks later and cut in to bump up the running time.
I’ve never seen the shorter version of Etude, but writer Bochco and Falk himself both admitted that the extra running time did it no favours. I find it an episode that I struggle to really commit to for the full duration. Still, its length is not the sole reason why Etude remains on the fringes of my Columbo favourites. For my money, the central clue just isn’t compelling enough. I don’t think Benedict would cave in on the evidence of the lapel flower. Sure, it doesn’t look good, but it falls short of condemning him.
I liken it to Murder by the Book. Ken Franklin could’ve talked his way out of that fix in a second. Similarly Benedict had a way out. Because he often wears a carnation and had just taken his coat off, he might simply have assumed the one on the floor was his and picked it up. It could plausibly belong to someone else and could have been dropped much earlier.
We learn later that the carnations are a rare type, grown specifically for Benedict by his wife in their garden. I think this point could have been laboured further. It would have been easy for the script to include a reference to these particular carnations being absolutely unique to the region and that the one found at the crime scene could only have come from Janice’s garden. That way, Benedict would have far less wriggle-room in a court of law. His admission of guilt seems too convenient a way to paper over this rather feeble gotcha, which makes for an unsatisfying finale.
“For my money, the central clue just isn’t compelling enough. I don’t think Benedict would cave in on the evidence of the lapel flower.”
With the carnation clue in mind, I put forward a tantalising alternative path the episode could have followed to lead to a much more damning indictment against Benedict. The dropped flower at the crime scene would remain central – but in this instance Benedict wouldn’t return to the crime scene to get it, instead not noticing his loss. The entire symphony orchestra would normally wear pink carnations and Benedict’s being absent on concert footage would alert Columbo to his potential guilt.
However, without being able to verify that everyone in the orchestra was wearing a flower, the Lieutenant would remain uncertain about the killer’s identity until closer examination of the bloom revealed it to be a special kind – the kind only grown by Janice Benedict specifically for her husband. That would absolutely tie Benedict to the scene of the crime, while pulling the rug out utterly from under him at the end of the episode. While it would have required some substantial reworking of the script, I think this scenario could have worked well.
Something else that could perhaps have been tightened up was Benedict’s reckless approach to setting up the murder. Lest we forget, he takes a heck of a lot of chances getting to Jennifer’s house from the Hollywood Bowl, wearing an extremely conspicuous outfit as he jogged about in broad daylight, and then parking his extremely memorable car right around the corner from the victim’s house! If nothing else, one has to admire his chutzpah but I really don’t consider his actions very plausible if avoiding attention was his goal.
Yet for all that, I can understand why many fans love Etude in Black. It has some marvellous moments and is arguably the most ambitious episode since Ransom for a Dead Man. It’s almost cinematic in scale, with its extensive use of location shooting and the epic orchestral score – featuring Chopin, Beethoven and Mozart – putting it a level above most episodes in terms of production values.
“I’m no expert, but isn’t a conductor’s baton supposed to be caressed rather than wielded?”
Cassavetes’ friendship with Falk was a crucial factor in him taking on the role of Alex Benedict and his casting was a seriously high-profile one by television standards. True to form, the two seem to revel in each other’s company, although I don’t feel they zing in the same way Falk and Jack Cassidy do. And while it’s a relatively minor gripe, I can’t help thinking Cassavetes could’ve tried a little bit harder to look like he really knew how to conduct an orchestra.
I’m no expert, but isn’t a conductor’s baton supposed to be caressed rather than wielded (no double entendres intended)? Yet Cassavetes’ arm movements are as stiff and stilted as they come – and nowhere near being in time with the music. It’s as if his only direction was: Pretend to be conducting an orchestra really badly. if so, he carried out his instructions to the letter. He’s certainly no match for this chap…
The calibre of the supporting cast was suitably grand, too. Cassavetes is impressive enough, but to have silver screen Goddess Myrna Loy also gracing the episode was a real coup. Playing Janice’s mother Lizzi Fielding, Loy’s role was a small one but the charisma and authority she brought cannot be overstated. Dare I say it, Etude could have benefited from a few more minutes of her time.
Blythe Danner was also a hit as the vulnerable Janice Benedict, hoping against hope that her husband wasn’t really the git she suspects him to be. Danner, who was pregnant with daughter Gwyneth Paltrow at the time, was sympathetic without ever being pathetic. One senses Janice has the moral fibre to bounce back from this blow and get back on with her life at some point – something that can’t always be said for the many wronged wives of the wider series.
There are even cameos for the awesome Jimmy McEachin, as Benedict’s sidekick William, and Pat Morita (AKA Mr Miyagi) as the mysteriously titled ‘House Boy’, who allows Columbo into the Benedict residence, so there’s plenty to surprise and delight the keen viewer. And, last but not least, we welcome ‘Dog’ into the fold. The lovable mutt would go on to win the hearts of millions of viewers and there’s plenty of fun to be had during his debut as Columbo struggles to get to grips with the responsibility of pet ownership.
Just about the only character that irks is the precocious Audrey – Jennifer’s pre-teen neighbour whose sassy attitude towards Columbo and his lack of pet-tending skillz quickly starts to grate. For me, her scenes singularly fail to provide the injection of humour that I suspect was the intention.
So there we have it. Etude is an interesting study. On one hand majestic, dynamic and a quite amazing statement of intent for the season. On the other, it’s mired in plot holes that prevent it delivering the sucker punch the lavish settings and big budget set it up for.
As a result, it has never completely won me over. The heart wants to love Etude in Black. The head, like Janice Benedict suspiciously eyeing her husband, can’t ever fully commit. So, it’s warm applause at episode’s end, rather than a rapturous 13-minute standing ovation. Sorry Maestro…
Did you know?
Although Nicholas Colasanto (AKA ‘Coach’ in Cheers) is officially credited with having directed Etude in Black, word on the street is that both Falk and Cassavetes took on the lion’s share of directorial duties. And that’s a pretty cool thought…
How I rate them so far
We’ve now got an actual top 10 of episodes form the reviews so far and, true to sentiments expressed above, Etude has fallen into a sort of halfway house. It’s still a goodie, but not quite as good as it perhaps ought to have been. Read any of my past reviews by clicking on the links below.
- Suitable for Framing
- Murder by the Book
- Death Lends a Hand
- Lady in Waiting
- Prescription: Murder
- Etude in Black
- Blueprint for Murder
- Ransom for a Dead Man
- Dead Weight
- Short Fuse
Am I being fair? Leave a comment below and if you treasure Etude above all others, do vote for it here in the favourite episode poll!
I’ll be reviewing the under-the-radar Greenhouse Jungle in the coming weeks, so check back in soon. And thanks, as ever, for reading. You’re da greatest…
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You can read my thoughts on Etude in Black‘s top 5 scenes right here
Have to agree w/ the author.
Despite Falk and Cassavates’ working together, this is an episode I just don’t dig; it’s too long, too tedious, and any lawyer could get the conductor off the rap w/ that flimsy “where’d da flowah come from?” denouement.
Dawn Frame stole her scenes, though. Especially her eye-roll about Fido.
Yep, Audrey was quite a character. Sassy little lass, she could have solved the case on her own! And she could have given Columbo’s dog a good name once and for all…hehe
Ridiculous, the evidence to convict the Conductor is based on a
missing carnation. The case would have been laughed out of court. As for the rude little Audrey, she needed a lesson in manners. Yet as a an annoying little know it all, she pointed out the victim’s ex-boyfriend but should have noticed the murderer’s
comings and goings. I wished that someone could have accidently on purpose pushed the little brat over a chair.
I agree with the official verdict on this episode. It’s down at the
bottom alongside Death In Malibu.
It’s the second time I’ve watched this episode, the performance of the artists is great of course, but the story for making it a convincing case is not the one, it has a lot of flaws. First, the fact that Maestro left his car in a garage for a check was uncommon but very astute although risky (the mileage difference is hard to justify, but Maestro hasn’t to, it’s up to the prosecutor to make a case out of it), but if it works, and it did work, there was actually no reason whatsoever for Columbo to check this path, to be at Maestro’s home the next day (!), sorry but Columbo’s instinct here in the matter is a Houdini trick, not convincing at all, no, he would have to also check thousands of other pathes, most of them much more credible as for the murder playout. And the sticky flower forgotten on the crime scene, wow…What a show, really…First it seems that Maestro was nailed and ready to be charged, but no, he turned his mistake into the perfect murder by “picking it up because it has fallen down from his jacket”. What could be more plausible? If Columbo didn’t notice the flower on the floor before, then he again had no reason whatsoever to even remotly think about Maestro as a suspect; and there was no sign in the movie that Columbo had any doubts about it – we must assume Columbo didn’t notice the flower on the floor (otherwise Maestro making such a blattant lie would conduct Columbo to look closer at Maestro’s time line – but only leading to the mileage difference, not a big case really and full of adventurous assumptions…).
The finale which shows Maestro without flower in concert and with the flower at the exit of the victim’s house is no evidence at all: If – as he told Columbo – he picked-up his flower in the house he could have put it to his jacket again, in a reflex, he wouldn’t keep it in his pocket, would he? As always if the prosecutor in court cannot charge, then self-accusation will resolve the case in most of the Columbo series. That makes many of them a lame finale. But a great show anyway.
Just watching the episode again. It’s pretty good. I enjoy watching Columbo chase down the arrogant, big shot conductor. The story has a lot of holes, of course. Would you really ever plan to execute a murder using a car that you dropped off at a repair shop and told the mechanic to fix? I mean, what if you got to the shop and found the car dismantled?
Very true, and also not taking into account the garage noting the mileage upon intake. But as you say, it’s a pretty good episode. Great job from Blythe Danner.
Let’s hope the new Blu-ray set provides a high definition of the original 75 minute cut. The Japanese blu ray set only has the padded version in HD. The original version is still there but in standard definition
One quirk about ‘Columbo’ is how easily the perpetrators give up. As I go through the series I have yet to see one of them say, “I need to call my lawyer.”
As for this episode, I think it has flaws as you say, but I think the flower, arguably fairly damning on its own, is only one clue — you listed a few others yourself). Motive could be determined if it’s discovered that Benedict was seeing Welles. Also, Benedict wanted to make it seem as if she hit her head on the oven door but an autopsy would show that the injury to her head was not caused by hitting an oven door; also, examination of the oven door could shown no trace of blood, hair or skin cells — with such a fall, some trace of *something* would be left behind; also the oven door itself might suffer some damage if a person fell on it.
Of course, not all of this could be covered in a single episode and anyway, that’s not this show’s forte, which is to find that one weak link in the killer’s story; that one damning clue, and I think the flower works well enough. We don’t know what happens after these episodes. For all we know, there is a bigger investigation and ensuing trial. ‘Columbo’ simply shows there is probable cause (or whatever the proper term is) and reason to arrest the perp.
Pretty poor addition to the columbo catalogue – and considering it’s invariably the earlier ones that are the best quite incongruous. Surely the post-mortem would reveal the blow to the back of her head and immediately dispel any suggestion of suicide? Apart from the totally conspicuous disguise and the fact it was convenient the perpetrator doesn’t run into a soul, it was incredibly handing that the garage didn’t have any sort security system. Columbo really should have had this in the bag within the first half hour.
Giles, you’re perfectly right that Columbo could have solved the case within the first half hour but where’s the fun in that?!
As a diehard fan of Columbo, I thought his performance in Etude was first-rate. Cassavetes, whom I feel is overrated as both an actor and director seemed to move through his role giving only half an effort. Reading the backstory from Koenig’s excellent book, Shooting Columbo, confirms this. Like many shared before, the musician and conducting “acting” was terrible, almost comical; and showing Ms. Welles’ hands as she tried to mimic the recorded piano music was clearly a terrible directorial mistake. Etude in Black ranks for me around the low-B level. Not my favorite, but watching Blythe Danner do anything is a treat for me.
Your comment regarding how Benedict and Franklin would not of let themselves be trapped into confessions Carrie’s no weight. You could say that about many a Columbo episode.
I found the clues to be given away too easy. The zooming in on Danner’s face when Wells’ name is mentioned, the fancy compositing of the flower in his sun glasses, the “where’s my flower” moment when he’s conducting…It’s like the writers/directors were trying too hard or something. It goes against the grain of Columbo’s subtly. The whole show is generally subtle, including Falk’s demeanor. There is the point that a flower wouldn’t necessarily provoke a confession. So did Columbo get the killer? He was basically outed as cheating on Janice, not killing Wells. The flower puts him at the scene, but the time isn’t indicated. Even the trumpet player was at the house that day (I think that was mentioned), with an eye witness even. Unless I am missing something, the flower only states he had been there that day, and that’s it, just like Rifkin, without an eye witness. It’s as the murder is almost secondary to the mystery of the cheating concerning Janice. The cheating doesn’t prove the murder and the ending could more so prove Alex was cheating, rather than being a murderer.
Not sure if other releases match but the Japanese discs of Columbo all include the original version of Etude in Black in addition to the padded version. And its much better than the padded version without the scenes featuring George Gaines of Police Academy fame added to the running time . Gaines name does not appear on the end credits of the original version as he’s not in it. Unfortunately while the Japanese Bluray set includes the original version its only in SD with HD reserved only for the padded version.
The Japanese dvd’s and Blurays also include isolated music tracks for several episodes
As someone who has played in a classical orchestra and knows the basic conducting skills, I can confirm that his conducting is completely off. His stick should go (approximately) down on 1, to the left on 2, to the right on 3, and then up on 4 (from the point of view of the conductor – from the orchestra’s view it is opposite of course). If I were a musician in his orchestra, I would be very confused.
Another thing that bothers me is, the episode does a very poor job at concealing the fact that the music was pre-recorded. It becomes especially striking with the jazz orchestra where the sound and the musicians’ motions don’t really match – not to mention that the sound is very dry and studio-like. If it was live, there would be some natural reverb from the hall.
It is clearly not one of my favourite episodes, and it is also a tad long. If anything, I find the scenes with Columbo and the dog pretty amusing.
I used to work in Motion Capture for different types of media and games and we often had the problem of hiring dancers to act out certain scenes. The trouble? The instinct of the dancer is to dance, not to act, thus a simple act of taking a sword off a table would become some kind of whimsical Bob Fosse review.
Likewise actors, who were not trained as dancers or martial artists and so on, had trouble expressing themselves through their movements (hence the use of stunt and performance doubles). It’s much easier to get away with that in motion capture because you are only recording the essence of the motion and not the actual images of the performers.
But not so with Columbo. Alas, we are stuck with “Conductors” who cannot conduct, musicians who cannot sync their pretend playing with actual music, magicians who rely on comic book magic tricks (I’m looking at you, Great Santini) and directors who don’t know what they are talking about (vis-à-vis Alex Bradey). But, in terms of *acting* alone, I think Cassavetes does a great job in this episode, as does Myrna Loy.
Fun fact: in my experience the best performers for motion capture were, on average, mimes. Since so much of motion capture is imagining props, scenery and characters that don’t exist, mimes were the best at playing make believe in a realistic way. As far as actors, Anthony Hopkins “got it”. He knew stage work well enough to forget he was wearing a silly suit and face covered in reflective markers and he really “became” the character he was playing which was King Hrothgar in Beowulf. Too bad it wasn’t a better movie overall.
Motion capture is a fascinating art form. I know nothing about its methods of creation but appreciate the end results.
Interesting, and surprising, factoid about Hopkins. Thanks for sharing.
Did “Coach” from Cheers direct this episode?
they should’ve had the mechanic say something admirable about the car
Does anybody know who played the mechanic Mike Goodman. He’s an English actor, his accent is a North Western one and sounds Mancunian to me. I’m only interested because I’m from the same area
According to IMDB, Mike the mechanic was played by Don Knight. And yes, he’s Mancunian.
This is one of those opinions where I am swimming against the tide, but I rank Etude in Black very, very low.
The main problem for me is that the audience notices the missing carnation almost at once (check the freeze-frame on Benedict looking down in horror at his empty lapel). There is something like three-quarters of the show left, but the case is already solved. There is only one red herring — Audrey’s pointing the finger at Paul instead of Benedict — and I don’t recall anything specific following that line The moment anyone sees that carnation, Benedict is a dead duck. (Not to mention that Benedict goes into the house with the carnation off, and emerges with it on.)
I didn’t even notice Benedict’s amateur crime-scene moves because I didn’t need to.
Thanks for giving me a chance to discuss this!
Did A Comer play the piano?
As a musician myself, watching the pantomime in this episode was painful! If that’s what passes for a celebrity conductor, a star pianist, and a virtuoso trumpeter, then I don’t know what to think.
Glad someone else had the same reaction! It’s the worst fake musician acting I’ve ever seen….when it’s one actor pretending to be a musician and doing it this badly – it’s their fault – when it’s everyone (as in this)…look to the director/s.
So Lover Boy by Jimmy Davis is the second jazz tune Rifkin has the band run through. You’ll hear it more often done by Charlie Parker. I can’t seem to locate the first tune that was playing when Columbo first walked into the night club though.