New Columbo episodes / Opinion

A whole new world: preparing for Columbo’s comeback in 1989

Columbo Goes to the Guillotine
After an 11-year sojourn, was the magic still there? *chortle*

The world the Lieutenant inhabited in 1989 was a far cry from his classic 70s’ realm – and the gulf in class between the two eras was immediately evident when Columbo returned to screens after an 11-year break.

From 1968-78, Columbo gave us an unbeatable slice of the good life. Watching the scruffy little detective poking his nose into the affairs, mansions and luxury motor cars of LA’s rich and famous made for utterly compelling viewing.

The show was boosted further by a galaxy of charismatic stars (often in relatively minor support roles), big-budget locations, sets, costumes, exciting and innovative editing techniques and movie-worthy scores. It was a great time for television.

The TV world of the late 80s, however, was very different. From a budgetary perspective, times were far less lavish. Gone were the days that a show could boast three or four layers of renowned acting talent in a single episode – something that was standard fare for Columbo in the 70s.

Take 1972’s Short Fuse as an example. Quite aside from Roddy McDowall as the killer, the episode featured Anne Francis, Ida Lupino and Jimmy Gregory in small support roles. A year later, The Most Crucial Game also featured Gregory in a bit-part role, along with the likes of Oscar winner Dean Jagger, beloved comedienne Valerie Harper and Dean Stockwell. An embarrassment of riches indeed.

Columbo Grand Deceptions
I’m not saying this chap can’t act, but he’s no Jack Cassidy in terms of charisma

The cost of producing TV had gone waaaay up by the late 80s/early 90s. As a result it was pretty much impossible to hire the same sort of quality in depth acting ensemble. There were certainly some A-List guest stars in the new episodes (Faye Dunaway, Patrick McGoohan, George Hamilton, Rod Steiger spring to mind), but they were fewer and further between. The ‘wow factor’ was a lot less in evidence.

Also (and I say this with a level of trepidation lest 80s’ TV fans become livid), television of the day was a lot more trashy. We can largely blame the times for that, but when it comes to costumes, homes, cars, music and other visible symbols of the class that was inherent in the show’s 70s’ heyday, there was much less to impress viewers.

Still, Columbo remained a treasured offering, and years of reruns had ensured the Lieutenant had retained his place in the hearts and minds of the viewing public. But was there sufficient love to guarantee a blockbuster Columbo comeback?

Peter Falk certainly thought so, as did the ABC network, which was only too glad to have the heavyweight detective head up their new ‘Monday Mystery Movie’ wheel alongside Burt Reynolds’ vehicle BL Stryker and Gideon Oliver, starring Louis Gossett Jr. It was just like the ultra-successful NBC Mystery Movie wheel of 1971-77 had been resurrected simply to bring Columbo back to screens once every three weeks.

Why now?

Peter Falk All the Marbles
Despite a varied movie career in the 1980s (including All the Marbles, above), Falk never gave up on a Columbo comeback

Despite being off screens since May 1978, when The Conspirators drew the curtain on Columbo’s first decade, the show was never officially cancelled. Negotiations between Falk and the studio simply petered out. Columbo was quietly discontinued, but the will was still there to keep him alive in some capacity.

As far back as 1976, Falk spoke of being quite happy to keep playing the Lieutenant indefinitely, but on a much reduced schedule. He wanted more time to focus on his movie career but was not averse to one, perhaps two, annual appearances in the rumpled Mac if the quality of scripts could be guaranteed.

According to Mark Dawidziak’s The Columbo Phile, Falk maintained this stance even after The Conspirators. Columbo was never retired. He could be brought back if the circumstances were right. But when would that be, if ever?

Negotiations for a further NBC season in 1979 failed – largely due to Falk’s insistence on no budgetary or time restraints to produce the highest quality shows. Five years later, network CBS wanted to bring Columbo back in a new mystery wheel alongside Kojak. Again, no joy.

“Columbo was never retired. He could be brought back if the circumstances were right. But when would that be?”

However, series co-creator William Link still believed the Lieutenant had more life in him, and in 1988 managed to sell the idea of a new mystery movie series to ABC, with Columbo the headline act. The network bought into the vision and Falk, eventually, came round, tempted perhaps by the promise of $600,000 per episode and Executive Producer duties alongside Link.

Richard Alan Simmons, a stalwart of the 70s’ series, would also resume production duties, offering Falk a close-knit nucleus of colleagues that he completely trusted. And although the longest strike in the history of the Writers Guild of America (from March to August, 1988) hampered preparations and limited Columbo’s return to a four-episode season, the man in the mac would return in February 1989.

Critical reception

Columbo Murder Smoke and Shadows
Could Columbo still hit the dizzy heights in 1989? *titter*

It’s fair to say that there was an expectant buzz surrounding Columbo Goes to the Guillotine when it debuted on 6th February, 1989 – and for many critics it was a hit.

“How great is it to have Columbo back? Let us count the ways,” enthused The Orlando Sentinel. The South Florida Sun Sentinel was similarly enamoured, stating: “The return of Columbo is like a reunion with a very special friend, someone with whom your bond is so warm and affectionate that even after a decade, there is no awkward feeling of estrangement.”

Starring as villain Elliott Blake, Anthony Andrews received almost universal praise, but the Los Angeles Times refused to get carried away over the return of the city’s prodigal son, sounding a warning note regarding Falk’s portrayal of his iconic character.

“Falk seems to be trying so hard to live up to the old Columbo that at times he is almost a caricature, laying it on too thick with the shuffling feet and phony politeness, even getting on your nerves,” wrote critic Howard Rosenberg. “As he creeps along ever so slowly, you wish he’d just shut up, get on with it and make the arrest.”

Still, Columbo Goes to the Guillotine was a ratings winner and certainly made an impact with viewers. But when the hoo-hah surrounding the return faded away, how well would the new episodes compare to the 70s’ classics? That’s the voyage of discovery this blog is about to embark on.

My approach to reviewing the ‘new’ episodes

Bearing in mind that I deliberately haven’t watched any of the comeback episodes since I started this blog, I’ll be approaching the majority of them with fresh eyes and limited prejudice.

Certainly, there are several that I’m very well acquainted with and some that I fondly remember from my formative years – I may have even seen a few of them on or very close to their original transmission dates in the UK.

Others, however, are shrouded in a mysterious fog. Some episodes, especially those from the mid-90s onwards, I may have only seen once or twice for various reasons – including the fact that I hated them so much I could never be bothered to revisit them.

Columbo Murder in Malibu
Who knows, perhaps Murder in Malibu is better than I remember?

As a result, I have only a very limited recollection of a reasonably large proportion of the new episodes – a list that includes the dreaded likes of Murder in Malibu, Murder of a Rock Star, Undercover, Strange Bedfellows and No Time to Die. I remember disliking them (sometimes vehemently), but I can’t always remember precisely why, so re-familiarising myself with them ought to be an interesting experience. Who knows, ha-ha, perhaps I’ll even be pleasantly surprised?

When it comes to the written reviews, I’ll be largely adopting the same format as for the classic era episodes, although I’ll add a small section to each outlining my own memories of the episode before I get stuck in to the full analysis.

I’m gearing up for the new era and have already watched Guillotine in preparation, so expect to see the full review next week. As a spoiler, it’s one of the first episodes I ever saw and, as an impressionable youth, I was blown away by how the wily Lieutenant exposed Elliott Blake as a charlatan.

Do I still rate is as a jaw-droppingly good adventure? That really would be telling… Instead I invite you to check back in soon and we’ll PARTY LIKE ‘TWERE 1989!

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Columbo Guillotine
Chin up, Lieutenant!
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55 thoughts on “A whole new world: preparing for Columbo’s comeback in 1989

  1. I remember how happy I was when I heard Columbo was coming back with Murder in Malibu. I was a little familiar with Brenda Vacarro so at least she wasn’t a stranger. But the show was confusing and virtually endless.I was no more clued in from minute one to the end, and it seemed to take like a whole week!! I may have TRIED to watch it again but barely. I’m glad I don’t hate all the later episodes, though, lucky for a fellow Columbophile.

  2. You were right to be cautious because as a fan of 80s tv I got to fight you now LOL too many gems from that period like Moonlighting, Dallas, The Golden Girls, The A Team, Growing Pains, Family Ties, Night Court, The Cosby Show, LA Law, Night Court, Hunter, Hart to Hart, Magnum, PI, Amen, 227, The Fall Guy and many more to call trashy or not on the level of the seventies. The most memorable and quality shows imo from the 70s were The Rockford Files, Columbo, All In The Family, The Jeffersons, Sanford and Son, The Bob Newhart Show, Good Times, What’s Happening, MASH, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and…. well that’s all I know lol.

    • I agree and would add shows like Hill Street Blues, Cheers which were certainly not trashy and much more classy than anything the 1970s had to offer. As someone who lived through both decades. the 1970s seem to be severely overrated and the 1980s has always been underappreciated.


    Please don’t get bogged down with a bunch of obligatory writing. I mean, the later episodes. For example, I think it would be fine to write a review based on the first 45 minutes, and just say that. Maybe speculate a little how you’d like it to go, almost along the lines of fan fiction, and then say or imply, you’re on your own, mate!

    In fact, if an episode is really sorry, maybe just the first 15 minutes. And so, if I’m coming there accepting that there’ll be spoilers, it’s kind of neat when that doesn’t happen!

    At the same time, maybe branch out to other fun writing, such as Banacek episodes (uneven, but some excellent), McCloud? And maybe Hec Ramsey (underrated in my book).

    Or, are the rumors true that Steven Spielberg directed some early Columbo episodes? (probably an amateur question)

    Or, is the Columbo character on the Aspergers-Autism Spectrum? I think some evidence, but not a slam dunk.

    Or, what modern shows might have a Columbo feel, even if they’re way different in other regards?

    What I’m trying to say, please don’t piss away your excellent writing skills with a slow slog through inferior material. At the very least, mix it up with some fun stuff. You might even have a selection on the home page, “Other Fun Writing,” or something of that sort.

    For your consideration,

    You’re in all things Columbo,


  4. One impression I got when watching the new episodes is that there seemed to be pressure, perhaps self-imposed, to reach a younger demographic and not just the people who were watching Columbo 15 or 20 years earlier. The villains and victims tended to be younger, and the motive for murder was more likely to involve sex and not just money or power.

  5. Something to Consider, it is almost human nature for people to have a preference for the original. The first musicians in a group were the best, their first albums were the best etc. This fondness for the original can sometimes color ones thinking, It is a natural bias. In fact, not all of the first period Columbo’s were good and not all of the second period Columbo’s were bad. I think a good argument can be made for the consistency of the first period being better, but please try to have an open mind, as much as possible.

    • This is very true, people get nostalgic for the way things used to be, even though most bands or television series don’t reach their artistic height until after some time. What the best Beatles album is can be argued about but it’s certainly not the first; the A-team series was at its best when they discovered they didn’t need an Amy Allen or Tawnia Baker; the best Sherlock Holmes series featuring Jeremy Brett appeared after Edward Hardwicke took over the Watson part; and though Columbo set the highest standard for a debut series ever, it was arguably not at its best until season 3.
      And then there’s the other side of the argument: people generally don’t tend to judge the final albums or episodes as their favourites, and often rightly so, since there’s usually no reason to stop producing unless decline is setting in. However there is something called development and it’s everywhere: music, television series, human relations are only a few examples. And because of development opinion will diverge more and more, attributing to taste and the ability to recognise the inevitabilty of change in changing times.
      When it comes to Columbo there are many, even the ones calling themselves the greatest Columbo fans ever, who don’t even watch the 90’s episodes because of the apparent changes in style, production, quality of script (as perceived by some) etc. Though I can certainly understand this view, being something of a purist myself, I’m not, however, one of those people and can appreciate the way Columbo changed because of times changing and, simply, Peter Falk ageing. The producers, very sensibly I think, did not try to force Peter Falk to play a younger Columbo or make it a 70’s show in the 90’s, They saw Columbo as a product of its current time with its current standards and values. More was possible in terms of top quality when producing series in the 70’s, so overall the first bunch had a higher overall standard. Having said that I enjoy many epsiodes of the 90’s as much or more as/then many of the 70’s ones because I also like the older Columbo for who he is and the villains (much more real baddies later on) and the atmosphere, no matter the lack of subtlety sometimes: it’s still great to watch. I’m as much a fan of the 90’s Columbo’s as I’m of the 70’s Columbo, despite recognising the changes, sometimes for the worse.
      I think we can illustrate this by making a parallel between this development and the relationship between, say, a man and his wife. When first he meets her and falls in love, she’s the best thing that ever happened to him. How beautiful, smart, funny and lovely she is and how lucky he is to have her. And then, when they’re together for some time and all goes well, he can hardly believe it: she’s even better then he thought she was, she is the love of his life and how lucky he is to have been able to get to really know her and love her even more. However after twenty years or so, when he’s familiar with all her quirks (as she is with his!) he knows it’s not just joy and fun and happiness: it’s good times and bad times but when it’s right they will stay together.
      Now some people will keep on longing for those first few years when all was bliss and joy. Other will enjoy both the early and later times, remember the first few years blisfully but also cherish the relationship as a whole and be happy to have experienced all of it.

  6. Well, I believe it’s gonna be quite a challenge for you to watch some of the new episodes from beginning to end. I actually only fear one review, that of No Time To Die. It was a bad episode for sure, but I can bear a bad episode. However, I’m a coward who doesn’t watch any horrors, so the mental villain and entire story did scare me. I found it a bit hard to fall asleep for a few nights after watching. I’d rather the NTTD review had no photos, ha (unacceptable, I know). Good luck!

  7. Doesnt it sound restrictive referring to Columbo as ‘TV’ ? Though it was indeed intended for air broadcasting, it really calls for more. Shot on film, it can be rediscovered today with full HD details. And 1.5 hours is more ‘movie’ length than ‘episode’. Things would have been different was it given more budget and the theatrical release it deserved back from 1989

  8. Keep in mind, if you talk about the top 10 episodes of the first period Columbo, we are talking about a sampling that is 10 out of 45. Two pilots plus 43 seasonal episodes. The second period Columbo had 24 episodes. So to be fair, it should be the best 5 episodes. I thought Dabney Coleman, William Shatner & Rip Torn all had excellent performances. Uneasy Lies the Crown, Death Hits the Jackpot & even the finale Columbo likes the Nightlife were all under rated IMO. Generally, Columbo’s screen entrances were later into the 2nd period episodes, so he had less screen time for each episode.

    • Re Columbo’s later entrances in the new episodes, that may be true but ALL the new episodes were the longer running time, so I’m sure it roughly works out even.

      • Actually 17 of the first 45 episodes were of the longer variety, almost as many as the 24 episodes of the 2nd period Columbo’s. In fact season 4 of the first period had 6 episodes, the first 4 from that season were between 94 & 98 minutes in duration. The last two seasons 6 and 7 Columbo went back to the mostly shorter episodes, but the finale “The Conspirators” was 96 minutes in length. I think some of the longer first period episodes may have been written for shorter episodes and then because they ended being longer ones, they had to put in filler that didn’t further the plot. This may be why some of them seemed so plodding in the middle…I even created a Word document that chronicles the length of the episodes, approximately when Columbo first enters and approximately when he first encounters the killer(s). Kinda nerdy huh.

    • As someone who grew up with mostly the 90s Columbos, I was really surprised how early some of the murders happened in the 70s episodes when I rewatched them last year despite having definitely seen them all in my teenage years. I think dwelling on the circumstances for the murder longer gave them more personal meaning, though, so I actually like that they expanded on that a bit.

  9. Just got back from buying CP a coffee. He has earned it for providing such well-written and ERROR FREE posts. The writing on this blog is at least on a par with the excellent book by Mark Dawidziak, which I bought (reissued edition) and devoured as soon as it arrived. In my opinion, CP’s blog surpasses the book from which he takes his moniker. (Lordy, that word reminds me of “monocle” which will take center stage when “Murder: A Self Portrait” is reviewed. Can’t wait to read that one.)

    It was about time that I contribute to support his work since I so willingly parted with cash to purchase the “Columbo Phile” book! I look forward to reading your posts so much, but I sometmes put off reading because I don’t want to rush through it. So, I am getting around to this on a Monday when I had the opportunity to give your work my full attention. Thanks for this wonderful place.

  10. I stumbled across this blog a few months ago.

    I loved Columbo as a kid growing up in the 70s. Christmas before last I had the complete box set, the one as an imitation cigar box.

    I’m steadily working my way through the episodes in chronological order. I’ve never watched any of the second phase episodes, I’d long since discovered booze by that stage of my life & too busy getting hammered! I’m looking forward to seeing them once I get through the classic era, it should be interesting!!

    I also wanted to congratulate you on a fantastic blog! It’s a great read & full of little nuances that bring so much to the Columbo experience.

  11. Dear Columbophile,
    I don’t know whether it was a good idea you announced the coming reviews in this way. Cause now you know what we all (me included) want you to write for the next 24 episodes. The path is narrow if you should want to respect all these opinions.
    However, I have confidence in you you will not respect them, and write your own, in your own way.
    And you can have confidence in us we will answer, and often refute and reject…
    And when the 69 reviews are done, maybe the audience we are can make a top 10 of the best Columbo-reviews. (And of the 5 “worst”?)

  12. First of all I enjoyed the opinion article as always.

    As a fan since the 70s when I was in my teens… I’m just going to share my personal opinion. And it’s just my perspective.

    I didn’t even realize that it had come back and started finding them on TV. Although I think the LA times criticisms were partially accurate, I didn’t find it annoying… and I still found the character charming and familiar.

    It definitely did not have the same depth of cast. And some of the episodes simply were not very good, which included the writing.

    But having said that I will say this.

    Whereas I thought the 70s ones were mostly good or great…
    I found some of the later ones to be good.

    So I’m not sorry he came back and I do watch the later episodes sometimes.

    I wouldn’t say any of the later episodes are in my top 10…. but some of them might show up in my top 20 or so.

    And the fact that episodes kept coming on the television for years and years means I wasn’t the only one that felt these were acceptable entertainment.

    it is true he would have gone out on top if he had just quit after The Conspirators and never came back. (and what a way to go, comes in on my top 10)

    But I don’t think the later episodes are a blot on the memory of our dear Detective Columbo.

    • I agree with that. Top 10 material is sparse in the second run, although I put the gripping A Bird In The Hand in mine, but in my Top 20, the ABC episodes are well-represented: Death Hits The Jackpot, Caution: Murder Can Be Hazardous To Your Health, Sex and The Married Detectice, Rest in Peace, Mrs. Columbo and Columbo Goes To College are all classics in my book.

  13. I enjoy the later Columbo’s episodes. I am glad they continued the shows and you saw the changing times on the new Columbo. We aged with Columbo. I had not watched the show since I was a kid. But I started watching the newer ones and went back to the old ones when i had the complete boxset. I felt Peter Falk was enjoying the part even more than when he was younger. Most of the guests stars were terrific Billy Connolly, Patrick McGoohan, Faye Dunaway, William Shatner, George Hamilton, Rip Torn, Ed Begley,jr. Rod Steiger, Robert Culp, Helen Shaver, Brenda Vaccaro, Tyne Daly, Roscoe Lee Brown, Paul Burke , Bruce Kirby, Shera Danese, Dabney Coleman, James Brown and even Vitro Scotti, and countless others. I better get back to shopping for toilet paper.

  14. I haven’t seen many of the 90s episodes. In fact the only one I remember at all is ‘Murder in Malibu’, though reading the reviews might jog my memory. I don’t remember finding it as awful as everyone else seems to, but then I was a teenager and only have vague recollections of it.

    • I wouldn’t call any Columbo episode awful, but Murder In Malibu’s biggest problem to me is that it’s really the only Columbo episode that actually feels like watching a TV series and not a movie, it all looks a bit cheap and the acting is too melodramatic. Apparently, the director of that episode has also directed 53 Murder, She Wrote episodes, which seems fitting. It also has easily the weakest actor to ever play a Columbo villain. But the plot itself could have made a solid episode, if executed more skilfully.

  15. While reading this post, I found myself thinking of Woody Allen’s later movies in which he starred or had a major role.
    His timing was too slow, his anger or humorous indignation seemed artificial and the entire plot lines were ruined.
    Had Peter Falk not taken himself so seriously, had he been willing to work more often on the shows of the ‘70’s, we might not have been stuck with these later Columbos at all.
    By the time of his return, he was just not there on the timing only a younger man has! That’s what is missing— the intensity and drive, the obsessional drive. He’s too sanguine instead of razor sharp, and he’s not driven like the genius he portrayed.

    • Fair comments. The character certainly seems more artificial in the new episodes, and I dislike that the series moved towards broader comedy, which rather made the Columbo character too soft.

  16. So the casts were less star-studded, the villains’ milieu less rarified. Even the film quality looks different. That still doesn’t explain the drop in script quality. No Season 8 writer had ever written a Columbo (although Richard Alan Simmons, who wrote “Murder, Smoke and Shadows,” produced the last six ‘70’s episodes). Three veteran writers returned for Season 9: Peter S. Fischer “Rest in Peace, Mrs. Columbo”), Steven Bochco (“Uneasy Lies the Crown”), and Jackson Gillis (“Murder in Malibu”). But even they couldn’t duplicate “A Friend in Deed” (Fischer), “Murder by the Book” (Bochco), or “Suitable for Framing” (Gillis).

    What changed? Link was back as “supervisory executive producer”; Falk kept trying to maintain quality control. Which makes we wonder this: How much did the loss of Richard Levinson, who died in 1987 and who had mentored young writers like Bochco, hurt the show?

    • To be honest, I don’t see much of a drop in script quality for these writers, especially since you just compare the episodes to what’s arguably their best work of the 70s. Gillis had mostly written minor episodes in the 70s, so Murder In Malibu isn’t much of a drop compared to Last Salute To The Commodore, Lovely But Leathal or Dagger Of The Mind and I would argue that the main problem with Murder in Malibu is the direction anyway, and not the script.
      And I don’t see Uneasy Lies The Crown and RIP Mrs. Columbo that far behind Murder By The Book and A Friend In Deed, either. The only real weakness with the former is the weak gotcha, but Murder By The Book also didn’t end that convincingly, either, even though it had the better final line of dialogue. And RIP Mrs. Columbo is a very strong script, maybe not quite a match for A Friend In Deed, but few episodes are.

    • I think the loss of Levinson must have been pivotal. He was always dead against bringing Columbo back, but it wasn’t long after his death that Link convinced ABC that Columbo was worth reviving. Perhaps it’d never have happened while Levinson was alive.

  17. Just a question to ask you, CP;

    Would you rather the series had lasted another season or two (at most) on NBC and then ended for good, never to return, left to posterity?

    Just out of interest…

    • I think it ended at the right time on NBC, unless they agreed to Falk’s idea that there would be one or two really excellent Columbo episodes per year, maximum. Then it could have run for 4-5 more years quite happily and each episode would have been a real event, plus with the time allowed the scripts could all have been world class.

  18. No matter how much Falk’s newer Columbo episodes might get lowballed vs. his originals,
    gotta admit folks, that “Columbo Cries Wolf” had an excellent “gotcha” in it, quite literally, and that in “Columbo Likes the Nightlife” the killer hid the body in quite a unique place…I personally found some of his newer episodes quite good and entertaining, including “Columbo Goes to the Guillotine” as well.

    • Yes, Columbo Cries Wolf has probably my favourite gotcha of the whole series on a purely visual level. It’s a very strong episode as a whole, I think, together with RIP Mrs. Columbo the highlight of season 9.

  19. Yes the ‘new’ episodes are much more of a mixed bag than classic Columbo – will you be rating these episodes on a separate scale of their own or including them within the classic rating system?

    • It’ll be a separate scale to more easily compare the like-for-like new episodes. When all reviewed I’ll slot them into a full list along with the 70s episodes.

      • That is the first thing i thought of when i began reading this, that the later years should be graded on a curve, You summed up the newer seasons quite well CP and also the reasons for it. In whole the episodes are no match for the stellar 70’s series, but there are some truly enjoyable episodes. Great job looking forward to your upcoming reviews.

  20. I’m watching the entire run through again as I had stopped watching and then recalled how much joy Columbo gives me ( and your blog certainly helps! ).

    Murder in Malibu is truly awful. If Last Salute was a terrible story at least the acting in it was decent. Malibu is just appalling acting by everyone other than Falk.

    I’m actually looking forward to seeing Rock Star again. I liked myself!

        • I mean, it’s laughable on every front so if you’re someone who gets a kick out of mocking so-bad-it’s-good, ahem, “art,” then it could result in one of your most inspired blog posts.

          Just don’t go in expecting to see ANYTHING of nonironic entertainment value.

  21. Just to anticipate your review, I think that Columbo switched the labels AND deactivated the mechanism. He doesn’t have to confess his methods to his victims with 100% detail, only enough to show them why they’ve blown it.

    But back on topic, I guess the best we could hope for is that the best of the newer episodes are better than the worst of the new ones. It’s a shame that Falk couldn’t find ways to age the character gracefully, it’s and interesting thought experiment to try an imagine how another ten years as the ever rising star of LAPD Homicide might have shaped his personality and methods.

  22. Thanks to you Columbophile for all you are doing, at very testing times for all of us in the world it is a welcome distraction to read your posts and put on a columbo DVD and be transported to a time when no one had ever heard of a coronavirus and social distancing didn’t exist.
    Keep up the good work and stay safe out there everyone!

  23. Thanks in advance, Columbophile.
    Just this (already): “Murder of a Rock Star” is not that bad, and there is worse in “A Bird in the Hand” and “Murder, a Self Portrait”.
    And: if all those new episodes annoy you to much, just return to the old ones, and make new reviews. Yesterday, I viewed “Prescription: Murder” for thirty-twelfth time, and read the review you made in August 2015. It was a good, interesting and very relevant one (yes), but your style has completely changed (and improved!) since that first exercise. I think you and all of us can be amused by a new review. (And may be, who knows, a new rating.)

    • I was new to the blogging lark when I started the reviews, so the first few are very short by comparison to the current ones. I’ll probably revisit the pilots and Season 1 reviews at some stage to add more details.

      Re. Murder of a Rock Star, I’ve only watched it once or twice but I remember thinking the whole thing was totally ludicrous. However, I’ll be happy if it’s much better than I remember when I get round to reviewing.

  24. Thanks for the introduction and preparing your audience for what’s ahead, looking forward to upcoming reviews! I’m not sure if we’re about same age (I’m 37) but from the 90’s bunch I recall several from my own childhood as well, so maybe that’s why I’m so very fond of many 90’s ones (including Murder of a Rock Star by the way, though I agree with your other examples of bad apples). I’ve watched and rewatched most of the 90’s episodes for years and enjoyed most of them, and I hope you will enjoy watching and reviewing them at least half as much as you did the 70’s ones. Thank you for your terrific work as always and have fun!

    • Thanks David! I’ll enjoy writing the reviews I’m sure, even if I don’t enjoy the episodes! I’m hoping ‘Rock Star’ will grow on me. Many folk say it’s a goodie but I remember little about it other than a number of very bad scenes – especially the drunk waving at Columbo and the mermaid. That particular scene makes me want to break stuff it’s so bad.

    • I agree with Jeff and several others who noted that Rock Star was not nearly that bad and surely head and shoulders above Murder in Malibu, Undercover and No Time to Die, which were truly the pits. Most people would probably put Strange Bedfellows in the dreadful category too, but at least there, the funny side of Rod Steiger and his interaction with Falk could make it worth watching for some. In any case, I look forward to your reviews as always.

      • Yes, Strange Bedfellows seems to be very unpopular, but I do think it’s a mid-tier episode. The mob business is definitely out of character for Columbo, but other than that I don’t have any real problems with the episode. George Wendt makes a good villain and it’s cinematically quite well-made.

        • Always enjoyed seeing familiar non-baddie actors I recognized in the baddie roles, like dick van dyke, Leonard nimoy and George Wendt. I enjoyed rewatching Strange Bedfellows, a good mix of fun and drama.


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