Episode Guide / Opinion / Season 8

Episode review: Columbo Sex and the Married Detective

Columbo Sex and the Married Detective opening titles

Columbo moved to thoroughly embrace the modern era on 3rd April, 1989 when the Lieutenant was sent to investigate a crime of passion carried out in the seductive environs of a sex therapy clinic’s boudoir.

Starring Lindsay Crouse as both renowned sex therapist Dr Joan Allenby and her shadowy alter ego ‘Lisa’, Sex & The Married Detective is a titillatingly titled adventure that promises to break at least a few of the series’ taboo subjects.

But is Sex & The Married Detective a Bavarian chocolate cream pie of an episode, or more of a rice pudding? And how will the prudish Lieutenant handle sex talk with a candid and uninhibited younger woman? I guess we’re about to find out…

Columbo Sex and the Married Detective cast

Dramtis personae

Lieutenant Columbo: Peter Falk
Dr Joan Allenby: Lindsay Crouse
David Kincaid: Stephen Macht
Dr Simon Ward: Peter Jurasik
Helen Hendrix: Marge Redmond
Cindy: Julia Montgomery
Dr Walter Neff: Ken Lerner
Charlie Lenz: Harry Johnson
Sergeant Burke: Stewart J. Zully
Tuba playing IDIOT: Pierrino Mascarino
Written by: Jerry Ludwig
Directed by: James Frawley
Score by: Patrick Williams

Episode synopsis: Columbo Sex & The Married Detective

When renowned sex therapist, author and radio host Dr Joan Allenby finds that her (absolutely dweeby) lover and business partner, David Kincaid, is cheating on her with assistant Cindy at their place of work, she cooks up a delicious revenge fantasy that she puts into deadly action.

Columbo Dr Joan Allenby
Dr Allenby deserves SO much better than this drip!

Purchasing a range of sultry clothing items on an overnight trip to Chicago, Allenby arranges to play hookie from a fundraising event at the symphony to meet Kincaid at a seedy bar named Buckets.

Kincaid’s in for a surprise when they meet because Allenby has changed her clothing in the ladies’ room at the music centre and assumed the alter ego of a fedora-wearing woman in black named Lisa. Complete with a long, black wig, she’s almost unrecognisable from the doctor’s usual straight-laced appearance.

Lisa plays the role of a high-class call girl (or ‘courtesan’, to tie in with Allenby’s new book about female sexual desire), making a show of accepting a wad of cash from Kincaid before the two leave together and head over to the clinic where they work. Kincaid has to sign them in at the security desk, but the desk jockey there doesn’t recognise Lisa. Phew!

Now in the boudoir of the clinic (where Allenby had spied him romping with assistant Cindy), Kincaid settles back in an easy chair in anticipation of some seriously hot love. What he gets instead is a bullet through his cheating heart. Take that, love rat!

Lisa now smashes up the room, to make it look like rough love games gone wrong. She then beats it back to the music centre to slip back into something less comfortable.

Columbo Sex and the Married Detective Lisa
Whatever his hopes, the only thing Kincaid will be eating tonight is lead

There’s a fly in the ointment, though. As she returns, she’s drooled over (almost literally) by entitled, middle-aged male Charlie Lenz. The sexual predator is so enamoured with Lisa that he follows her to the ladies’ room and waits outside in the hope of wooing the wench when she comes back out.

Alas, he’s to be disappointed. Several dames do emerge from the ladies’ room – including Dr Allenby – but there’s no sign of Lisa. Joan, however, is now mingling with the other guests once more, completing the illusion that she’s been there enjoying the show all along. Clever gal! She ain’t a PhD for nothin’…

The next morning, after receiving the news of Kincaid’s death, Dr Allenby returns to the clinic. She shares an elevator ride with Lieutenant Columbo, who notices a clothing label still attached to her new camel-hair coat – a seemingly unimportant detail now, but one which will come to have a great bearing on the investigation.

The two survey the crime scene and the Lieutenant is perplexed to note that Kincaid’s keys are missing. So how did he open the doors of the office? The alternative is that the woman in black had keys to the office, but if that was the case then Allenby would certainly be able to identify the woman by her long, black hair. She cannot.

Columbo grills Allenby about the nature of her relationship with Kincaid, and is abashed by the frankness of response: “We had great sex,” – although she reveals how stung she feels at knowing he was cheating on her with ‘Lisa’. When she turns the tables and asks the Lieutenant about his own sexual relationships he makes a hasty withdrawal (no pun intended).

The detective instead heads to the music centre where he is unwittingly (and appallingly) drawn into a tuba-playing demonstration for a group of unrealistically excited schoolchildren. While he stomps about leading a tuba march around the foyer, who should scuttle in unnoticed but Dr Allenby?

Columbo Sex and the Married Detective
Oooh, what lovely stitching!

She slips up to the ladies’ room to retrieve the Lisa disguise, which she had taped to the underside of the wash basin counter. Placing this in her handy briefcase, she’s about to slink away again when she’s collared by Columbo, who is inordinately fascinated by the quality of said satchel – although he stops short of plunging his hand within to inspect the interior.

The two are then met by Allenby’s pal Helen, who reveals the exciting news that a woman in black wearing a fedora was seen at the concert the night before! More revelations follow when he visits Buckets bar. The self-important barkeep remembers the woman in black alright, and confirms her first name is Lisa and that she collared Kincaid and left with him circa 9.15pm.

Back at home, Allenby is primed and ready to burn the Lisa disguise in her fireplace when there’s a ring at the door. Columbo is making a late house call to discuss the case. In the middle of the update, he’s distracted by the sight of the disguise-holding briefcase by the fire. He dashes over to prevent it from being scorched, then cuddles it close for the duration of the conversation.

Columbo doesn’t think it was a random encounter. He reckons Lisa was waiting for Kincaid at the bar and deduces that the two knew each other. Maybe Lisa already had a reason to kill him? And he’s puzzled why Lisa was seen at the music centre. She wasn’t there to watch the show, because she was meeting Kincaid at Buckets while it was underway.

He has found Kincaid’s keys, though. They were left at a valet parking lot and never had them with him at all. The lady in black must have had keys to open the office. But how could that be? Allenby offers no assistance and finally gets rid of him. However, she demures from burning the disguise – deciding to keep hold of them for now. Why? We’ll soon find out…

The clues keep coming for Columbo. A colleague of Dr Allenby’s mentions that on the night before the murder, he has evidence that the boudoir was in use because the bed was unmade and there was a red ribbon there the next day. Columbo also knows that Allenby popped in that night after her flight to Chicago was delayed, but she claims there was no one else there.

Columbo Sex and the Married Detective
If anyone needs locking up in this episode, it’s the lech on the left…

He then receives word from a sergeant that another eye witness who remembers seeing Lisa at the symphony. It’s that sex pest Charlie Lenz, who unashamedly explains to the Lieutenant how he waited for the woman in black to emerge from the toilets so he could prey on her, but she thwarted his ambitions by never coming out.

This sends Columbo into the bogs to investigate and after lolling about on the floor under the sinks for a while, he finds some adhesive tape on the underside of the counter: the inference being that something was stashed there! Curiouser and curiouser…

As a result of this find, he sprints back to Allenby’s office where only an Eastern European cleaner is present. He dashes about like a mad thing seeking info on where the office trash is emptied out. He eventually finds it and crawls in amongst wads of used Kleenex etc to find what he was looking for: the clothing tag he’d spotted on Dr Allenby’s new coat. We don’t know it yet, but it’s a deal breaker!

Now starting to feel the pinch, Allenby makes one last stand as Lisa to distance herself as a suspect. Ostentatiously hanging out at a variety of LA hot-spots, she bribes barkeeps into making calls to Columbo and leaving a number of messages to suggest Lisa is sorry for what she did, she was forced into it and now she’s leaving town for good. After this, the disguise is finally burnt and done away with for good.

No sooner is this done than Allenby receives a call from Sergeant Burke. Columbo has uncovered the real identity of the woman in black after leafing through files at Allenby’s office. Jolted into action, the good doctor makes a beeline for her business HQ – and finds the Lieutenant lying in wait for her.

He tells Allenby that Lisa may be going to pay them a visit and then asks her about the Chicago department store where she bought the camel hair coat. He’s been checking up on her purchases and knows she charged that coat to her credit card – but also that she cashed a cheque for $1500 at her hotel. What did she use the cash for?

Columbo Sex and the Married Detective
Lindsay Crouse’s stand-in was disappointingly wooden *cries with laughter*

Allenby declines to answer and makes to leave but is stopped in her tracks when she sees the silhouette of a woman in a fedora in the elevator lobby. Columbo follows the doctor, but when she turns from him back to the elevators the woman is gone!

She reluctantly agrees to return to the boudoir with Columbo to assist with one last enquiry and when she looks through the slatted doors what does she see but the full Lisa disguise dressed on a mannequin. The Lieutenant admits his stunt: the woman Allenby saw moments ago was a police officer dressed up. He knows Lisa won’t be showing up at the office tonight – because she’s already here! Allenby is Lisa, and he can prove it.

Clerks at the Chicago department store have been very helpful. They remember a lady buying a black fedora, a black wig and the black dress worn by Lisa – and that lady was a match for a photo of Allenby sent to them by Columbo.

Thanks to the eye-witness accounts, he can place Lisa at the music centre where he’s deduced she stashed her disguise. And he’s also figured out her motive: the ribbon left in the boudoir on the night before the murder suggests Cindy and Kincaid had been ‘at it’ and that Allenby had spotted them when she returned to the office to pick up paperwork when her flight was delayed. It’s a strong case against her.

Painted into a corner, Allenby has little choice but to confess. But she also explains how exciting and scary it was to play the role of Lisa and to carry out such a vivid revenge fantasy in real life. “For those few days, I liked Lisa better than I liked myself,” she says. “That frightened me far more than you waiting to arrest me.”

Columbo Sex and the Married Detective
“You’re going down, Doc… Errrr, no pun intended…” *blushes*

Columbo refuses to judge Dr Allenby and reassures her that he can understand her actions, as credits roll…



My memories of Sex & The Married Detective

Columbo Sex and the Married Detective VHS

I’ve no clear recollection of when I first watched Sex & The Married Detective and it really only came to my attention in the 2000s when I first owned the DVD set.

I do remember liking Dr Allenby and finding her cheating lover to be particularly irksome in that clean-cut, bad 80s/90s TV kinda way. However, I found the plot rather convoluted and, oddly for an episode about sexual desire, empowerment and fantasies, completely and utterly unsexy.

As with most ‘new’ Columbo adventures, I also had an axe to grind with some silly and superfluous scenes, namely the showy finale featuring Dr Allenby herself catching a glimpse the mystery ‘woman in black’ and the unforgettably bad sight of the Lieutenant parping a tuba.

I’ve never felt hatred towards this episode, though, more a cool indifference and watching it for this review was the first time in many years that I’d made a conscious decision to slam it in the DVD player.

Episode analysis

From its first moments, when we hear a confident female voice on the radio talking about the link between sexual fantasies and fantastic sex, it’s apparent that the provocatively titled Sex & The Married Detective is taking the series in daring new directions.

Columbo Sex and the Married Detective
Don’t you DARE get cigar ash on dem silk sheets, fool!

Sex has often been an undercurrent of the show, with lust and illicit love affairs a backdrop to murder in many classic episodes including Prescription: Murder, Lady in Waiting, Negative Reaction, Etude in Black, Troubled Waters, Make Me a Perfect Murder and A Deadly State of Mind.

Valerie Harper even starred as a call girl in The Most Crucial Game, but as for getting to grips with – and opening up on – the taboo subject of actual S-E-X, this is the first Columbo to tackle it head on; something the creative team ought to receive due credit for.

Even more pleasingly, we’re given a thoroughly modern, self-assured and open-minded woman as our chief antagonist in what is certainly the most interesting piece of casting in Columbo’s comeback season. Having such a sexually uninhibited female lead would have been perhaps a shade too controversial in the 70s, but the time was certainly ripe for it here.

Lindsay Crouse – a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee in 1985 for Places in the Heart – is a compelling presence as Dr Joan Allenby, a wronged woman who lives out a revenge fantasy after witnessing her lover cheating on her with a young colleague.

But it’s not just the physical betrayal that rattles Allenby. It’s the emotional upheaval she goes through having seen and heard her sexual partner belittle her to his new lover that rocks her most. After all, David Kincaid was the man who had helped Dr Allenby gain the confidence to explore and enact her deepest desires and become a recognised expert in her field.

She trusted Kincaid implicitly, making his treachery impossible to bear. And that’s why, despite her inherent level-headedness, I can buy into the idea that Allenby would be driven to kill.

Columbo Sex and the Married Detective Lindsay Crouse
You saucy minx, you!

Her approach to commit murder under the alter ego of Lisa is also a novel twist, and one that’s handled well in the episode. The transformation from mousy blonde to voluptuous and mysterious brunette is very effective and it’s easy to see why no one who knew Dr Allenby would recognise her beneath the disguise.

Married Detective also doesn’t make the mistake we saw in the first two episodes of the series of having the killer give themself away through needless carelessness or stupidly suspicious actions.

He gets some lucky breaks on the way, but Columbo largely resolves the case through sensible police work and sound deductions – a welcome relief after being handed the solutions on a plate in Guillotine and Smoke & Shadows.

If being ultra-critical, of course, one might grumble at the coincidental nature of Columbo first noticing the clothing tag on Allenby’s new coat, and later finding the same discarded tag in a giant rubbish bin and using it to pinpoint her purchases in Chicago.

This could have been far more effectively shown on screen by having love-rat Cindy notice the tag when she took the doctor’s coat off in the clinic reception and bin it under the nose of Columbo, who was also present. That would have given him a very real reason to remember it and to search for it later in the episode. Geez, do I have to think of everything?

Columbo Sex and the Married Detective
HERE! Here’s where the clothes tag should’ve been brought to Columbo’s attention!

Still, nothing’s perfect, and on the whole the mystery aspect to the episode is strong and the resolution logical. It’s a workmanlike performance from Columbo, who has to rely less on silly hunches and leaps of faith, and more on actual evidence and telling eye-witness reports. Why it’s almost like he’s a real police officer again! Bravo.

Falk’s performance here is (for the most part) more restrained and less plodding than in the season’s opening deuce of episodes. His relationship with Allenby seems authentic and respectful, while the fireside chat at episode’s end, when he assures her he understands her motives, shows off his kind and empathetic nature as well as we’ve seen since the take-down of Abigail Mitchell more than 10 years earlier.

We also get some rather cute moments when Dr Allenby’s questions about his own sex life and fantasies leave him endearingly embarrassed. While there’s nothing as good as his mortification at seeing the nude model in Suitable for Framing, his reaction is charming and in keeping with the character we came to know in the 70s.

Of course, some viewers can never get on board with Columbo discussing sex at all and I can sympathise with that viewpoint. After all, the 70s’ show always managed to artfully avoid blood, sex and action sequences – and was all the stronger for it.

I do feel a little uneasy whenever Columbo mentions the ‘s’ word, or when he hints that Mrs Columbo wants him to explore his fantasies (throw off that mac, big boy!), but I think Falk just about gets away with it.

Columbo Sex and the Married Detective
There’s a filthy caption opportunity here if anyone’s interested?

Infuriatingly, though, much of this good work is off-set by some truly lamentable moments that must have been included in an bid to bring some levity to an otherwise dark and straight-faced tale. Let’s get the worst out of the way first and consider the INFAMOUS TUBA SCENE.

The majority of those who have witnessed this sh*t cr*p drivel must surely agree it’s amongst Columbo’s most cringe-worthy scenes. Every aspect of it is abysmal and such is the litany of badness that it’s hard to pinpoint the ultimate worst moment.

Could it be the grinning idiocy of the lead tubaist? The needless revelation that Columbo can play the instrument at all? The throat-slitting dreadfulness of the synchronised outdoor fountains splishing merrily to the music? Or the absolute shower of b*llocks that is the suggestion that any child of any age could be remotely enthusiastic about witnessing such tedium?

It also ends in excruciating fashion with the players leading the excited school kids on a Pied Piper of Hamlin-style ‘tuba march’ around the building. There’s over 3 minutes of this garbage to sit through and every second feels like a century. How on earth was a scene this bad ever conceived, let alone given the green light? Watch if you dare below…

The ruinous tuba debacle is certainly the episode’s nadir (and probably the lowest point of Columbo’s 35-year screen career), but it’s pushed hard by a number of other questionable inclusions that serve only to weaken the central story.

First, Columbo is called on to advise three of Allenby’s sex therapist colleagues in quick succession on what they should do about ethical dilemmas regarding their feelings toward the Dr herself, or to victim David Kincaid.

On each occasion, Columbo mumbles some meaningless tripe about doing the right thing – and on each occasion his words are taken to heart as if delivered with the wisdom of Solomon. Wasting six minutes of screen time, this is dreadfully unfunny stuff and has negligible relevance to the plot.

There are a lot of mirrors / reflections going on here to underscore the two halves of Allenby’s character but they’re so artlessly delivered that it starts to irk, never more so than when she’s conversing with herself (Gollum-style) in two different mirrors when deciding to keep Lisa alive for now. The episode really starts losing me at this point.

And then we have the idiotic ‘trash’ scene, where Columbo gallops around Allenby’s clinic, waving his arms around and yelling enquiries to a Russian cleaner about where the office rubbish is emptied out. The confused cleaner finds him rooting around in a large, overturned bin having fished out the clothing label torn from Allenby’s new coat.

To celebrate this success, Columbo plants a smacker on the giggling cleaner, who waves him farewell like he’s her one true love – all while a traditional Russian folk ditty trills away in the background. It’s APPALLING. Absolutely ruddy appalling. Over a period of 20 years, Columbo has never acted like this. Why is he doing so now?

Columbo Sex and the Married Detective
Somebody alert this oaf’s superiors!

These scenes (particularly ‘trash’ and ‘tuba’) epitomise the biggest problem with the comeback episodes: a propensity towards padding them with what appear to be attempts at broad humour. The problem is, they’re usually not funny in the least. I don’t know who’s most to blame for allowing such scenes to stand, but they truly damage the episode.

The tone of Sex & The Married Detective is serious and straight. The clumsy attempts at comedy unbalance it. Compare it to Season 3 finale A Friend in Deed, which was a departure for the series at the time given its dark themes and almost complete lack of humour. Imagine how jarring it would have been if Columbo had starting busting out a tuba solo to screaming children in that episode. It would never have been permitted – so why do it here?

Again I ask the question that I’ve been obliged to ask during the viewing of each of the three comeback episodes: did the Columbo creative team no longer believe the traditional strengths of the show would cut it with the audience of today? If not, why did they feel such preposterous scenes as heads in guillotines and tuba mastery were the way to address the issue?

“The bungled attempts at jocularity here are compounded by yet another showy finale.”

I suppose we should be grateful that Right Said Fred’s I’m Too Sexy was still two years away from release otherwise we might have been subjected to Lisa lip-synching to it using a hairbrush as a microphone during a montage-to-music of her dressing in her black outfit. I’m not even joking…

These feeble attempts at jocularity are compounded by yet another showy finale. Granted, Married Detective’s gotcha is subdued when compared to those in Guillotine and Smoke & Shadows – but it’s still stretching credibility.

Columbo’s stunt of shocking Allenby by having a colleague dress as Lisa and be seen in silhouette is both contrived and pointless. He’s already solved the case. There’s no need for the stunt other than to create a high-impact moment for the viewer – and you know how I feel about those, don’t you?

Columbo Sex and the Married Detective Dr Joan Allenby
The Allenby clinic boudoir was GRANDMA SEXY!

Of lesser importance, but worth exploring regardless, is just how unsexy this episode now appears more than 30 years since first airing. In terms of a rating, if Sex & The Married Detective was a dessert it’d definitely be the RICE PUDDING and certainly not the Bavarian chocolate cream pie.

Lisa’s open-fronted dress screams trashy ho’ rather than classy courtesan, and don’t get me started on how tacky the boudoir at the sex clinic was, red silk sheets and all! To me it’s like a grandma’s dressing room from the Plantagenet era – hardly the sort of place I could imagine folks wanting to get jiggy in under any circumstances. Ugh!

And is it just me, or are the men in this episode (the Lieutenant excluded, naturally) just horrible specimens? Aside from the wimpy Dr Neff, so infatuated with Allenby, consider Charlie Lenz, the deviant who follows women to bathrooms and waits outside for them for a whole evening. What a repellent toad!

“Is it just me, or are the men in this episode just horrible specimens?”

When Columbo takes Lenz to meet Dr Allenby later in the episode, the smirking perv proudly explains his meeting with Lisa, stating: “I have this obligation. Whenever I see an attractive lady I feel like it’s my duty to meet her.” He says this as if he’s some sort of friggin’ Lothario and not a middle-aged, balding pencil neck. It’s ghastly!

And as for victim David Kincaid? Well, he’s every bit how I envisage a lame 80s/90s love interest from a daytime soap opera to be: smooth, charmless and as sexy as a fish (no offence to Stephen Macht if he’s reading this). I recall with horror his intro to the episode (see photo below) where he blows a steamy kiss to Dr Allenby as she winds down her radio show. Someone hand me a bucket!

The idea that this wet could be in-demand with the opposite sex seems so absurd that I had to consult my own Mrs Columbo (who is a stunning judge of manliness) to glean the female perspective. She described Kincaid as “gross”, “a jerk” and “disgusting” within seconds of his appearance – although she did concede that he was sexier than Donald Trump. Take that as you will…

Columbo David Kincaid
The sign indicates the average amount of time Kincaid lasts in the sack

To sum it all up, Sex & The Married Detective rather flatters to deceive. In terms of its premise, its themes, its interesting villain and its superb, film noir-style score (Columbo veteran Patrick Williams again in fine fettle), it ought to be Season 8’s standout adventure thus far. However, that handful of clunky comedic set pieces (including probably the worst in Columbo history) do untold damage to the episode.

Had it been played straight throughout, this could have been a very memorable entry into the Columbo canon. As it is, it’s merely OK, and still a shadow of the show it had been from 1968-78. Surely viewers expected more from such a heralded return to the limelight for their favourite detective?

How I rate ’em

While the I recognise that the highlights of Sex & The Married Detective are better than I thought they were, the low-lights plunge the show into such disrepute that I just can’t care for it on any great level.

Despite the good work put in by Lindsay Crouse, my abiding take-out from this episode will forever be the STUPID TUBA SCENE, which serves as a damning indictment for what ‘new’ Columbo is starting to stand for. I nominally prefer it to Smoke & Shadows, but as a coherent whole Married Detective is still well below the hoped-for standard.

Check out any new episode reviews you might have missed via the links in the standings below.

  1. Columbo Goes to the Guillotine
  2. Sex & The Married Detective
  3. Murder, Smoke & Shadows

Remember, if you want to read any of my ‘classic era’ episode reviews (and see how I rank them), they can all be accessed here. And if you dig Sex & The Married Detective much more than I do, you can vote for it in the fans’ favourite episode poll here.

Columbo Sex and the Married Detective tuba scene
This girl was the only child honestly expressing their feelings during the tuba scene

Now I open the floor to you. How do you rate Sex & The Married Detective? And what did you make of Dr Allenby as a villain when compared to Elliott Blake and Alex Brady from Season 8’s opening episodes? Hit me with your views in the comments section below.

The voyage through Columbo’s revival season will continue soon, when I tackle the military-themed Grand Deceptions – an episode I have very little recollection of. Will I be pleasantly surprised? Hope springs eternal…


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78 thoughts on “Episode review: Columbo Sex and the Married Detective

  1. I absolutely love Sex and The Married Detective and think it’s a rather fantastic episode. The whole thing – yes the whole thing. The director and writer and cast Shuteleigh got the amount of light and shade to use in every scene. Superb stuff and I totally agree with Jeff from Antwerp. I am so glad I watched this episode before reading the review of it on this site. I think that would’ve spoil it for me.
    Also one of my favourites is Columbo Cries Wolf., which hopefully will arise and be reviewed soon.

     
    • Of the “new” episodes, my favourites are Sex and the Married Detective, Columbo Cries Wolf and best of all, Columbo Goes to College. I am looking forward to the reviews of these last two episodes. Which raises an important point about Columbophile: It works on the assumption that we have seen the episode in question and gives a detailed synopsis and review for discussion, not just a brief description as would be published in TV Guide or the Radio Times. So remember folks, SPOILERS!

       
  2. David Kincaid is handsome, though his evil personality means we have subtract several points from his over-all score. Perhaps it would be better to say that Stephen Macht is handsome, making the distinction just as you did.

    I don’t get the impression that Charlie Lenz was supposed to seem entitled and predatory. I suspect that we were supposed to think it was funny that he considers himself a ladies’ man even though he’s a nerd. In any event, the problem should be his actions, not his appearance. If it’s not OK for Charlie to wait outside the bathroom in hopes of talking to Lisa, then it shouldn’t be OK for anybody. We’re not saying (I hope) that if he were attractive there would be a whole different set of rules for his behaviour.

    “However, she demurs from burning the disguise—deciding to keep hold of them for now. Why? We’ll soon find out…” Of course, part of it is that she uses the disguise again later when “Lisa” needs to make appearances at several bars before “leaving town.” But there’s an episode of “CSI” where a woman uses a clown costume in a murder, then discovers she has a clown fetish, and decides to keep the costume even though it links her to the murder, and at the end, the understanding and sympathetic policewoman who arrests her says something like “Well, when you finally find something that works…” (i.e. her brain’s personal love-map).

    I agree about the tuba scene.

    There’s an added unintentional resonance to Dr. Allenby’s transformation for trans viewers. It can be quite euphoric to finally go for it and venture out into the world in one’s new identity. Wigs may be involved.

    The cleaning woman reminds me of the “Clean Yes, Germs No” ad campaign for Lysol in the mid-1990s, which drew fire for being sort of racist? Classist? Making fun of poor immigrants, basically. My guess is that it was meant lovingly, though that’s not how it felt to some people.

     
  3. I loved the tuba scene! It gave us a very rare glimpse of a new aspect of Columbo’s real character. Other than that, all we usually get are the cliches (raincoat, cigar, old car) and various “revelations” that the duplicitous lieutenant may be creating out of thin air to play with the suspect of the day. The length of the scene fit well within my attention span, and allowed me to relax and laugh. The only bad aspect was the clumsy work of the Foley artists, who often have trouble synchronizing musicians with their musical instruments, and who frequently turned Dog into a talented ventriloquist.

     
  4. Just two years before this episode, Lindsay Crouse played Margaret, a psychiatrist who has just published a new book and is seduced and entranced by a con man. She wants to learn the ropes and participate in his cons in order to write a book about. Too late, she discovers she is the target. Feeling cheated and at the same time thrilled by the twist of it all, she corners the rat in an airport terminal and shoots him…six times!
    He’s dead and she later dismisses it all at a later dinner with a collegue as being back on track. It’s all in the movie “Game of Thrones.” A precursor to this episode.

     
  5. This episode has good premise. I like the idea that Joan has another persona, and starts to enjoy being Lisa. I love the idea of committing the murder as another character. But for me the episode doesnt really work.
    It’s a minor point, but almost all the episode is indoors, and in not terribly interesting locations. There is quite a bit of padding, and other than Joan – the characters are quite bland and uninteresting.The idea of Joan committing the murder as another person is brilliant, but I would have liked it to be a bit more thought through. Joan’s alibi is a bit rubbish (walking out through a crowded room as Lisa, and the coming back in after the murder). Changing in the ladies toilet!?
    I could cope with the tuba scene, but I think there is a broader point that the episode is a bit bland. The score is quite sexy, but there is not much else memorable about the episode for me.

     
    • The episodes directed by James Frawley had good, evocative scores, especially Catch Me If You Can, and Make Me a Perfect Murder. He did a lot with 3/4 waltz time, like the main theme of Murder, Smoke & Shadows.

       
  6. Well spotted! I don’t think this is actually Columbo (or Peter Falk) but their is a definite resemblance. Of course, in the story, there is no reason why Columbo couldn’t be at the airport by sheer coincidence. That’s how Poirot seems to solve most of his cases.

     
  7. Was I seeing things? Was Columbo sitting in the seats to the right of the screen during the bird’s eye view of the airport scene? Doing a Hitchcock cameo?

     
  8. Havent seen married detective for ages now but its okay for me nothing much more , on the subject of new ones watched murder of a rock star yesterday very decent episode prefereable to this which featured rock rock legend little richard who has just died , looks like another name to add to cps annual stars we
    Lost article .

     
  9. Sex And the married detective receives a lot of stick for the tuba scene but I can live with it (just about) The good musical score is one of the better aspects of this episode for me but its the episode is not one of my Favourite new ones but I can think of at least ten I consider less watchable , namely Murder a self portrait , Murder with too many notes , Grand deceptions , Murder in Malibu , No time to die etc ill fill in the rest another time .

     
  10. The tuba scene is a rather misguided effort at padding, although, it has something to do with the plot. The problem stems from the fact that the writers decided to turn everything upside down, hence the disjointed feeling from the rest of the episode. If I remember correctly, Columbo goes to the music center in order to get some information from Helen Hendrix. When he arrives, he meets her while she is watching a tuba demonstration for a school class. Then, instead of focusing the scene on his attempts to question her, as it becomes apparent she seems much more interested in what’s going on, the scene suddenly shifts to the tubist, derailing completely from there on.

     
    • Ah, I think I see the reason for the tuba scene. If Joan arrives at the music centre to retrieve the Lisa disguise, she would be panicked to see that Columbo, the investigating detective, was already there. BUT, if he is leading a group of schoolchildren as the Pied Tubist of Los Angeles, she is going to think “This guy’s an idiot” as well as hoping he will be distracted long enough for her to leave unnoticed with the disguise. The dancing fountains were in on it.

       
  11. And the scenes in this episode — the three consecutive discussions that Columbo is pulled into — are also illustrative of what he goes through. It wasn’t a pursuit of evidence but an open disclosure by each of the three, corroborating a pattern. He doesn’t react specifically to these disclosures, but you know he’s absorbing it. He can always interview them if needed, but he’s got the scent and is way on it. Columbo is their vehicle to their own exoneration; they know it, he knows it, but it’s couched the way it is in part because they are products of their own work-setting context — where sexual fantasies and soap opera-like buzz is exchange currency. It comes across as gushy and irrelevant, but it does serve a purpose; more so than, say, that the wacky theory in Bye-Bye, as I recall. And not everything needs to feed directly into the story. I agree with other comments about how the tuba scene is quite different and contrasting. Cringey but harmless. If I ever get to the point of rating all the episodes, I’ll need to factor such scenes in. But the later vs. earlier episodes are like the comparison of Grateful Dead concerts between the 70s and the 90s — they’re each different in their own ways but all have something to offer… though the later shows have more “tuba incidents” 😉

     
  12. I find the scene at the regulation office in blueprint for murder quite funny also its purpose was to show the lengths , time and trouble columbo would have to go to dig up the pile wich is central to the gotcha .

     
  13. Dear Columbofriends, the tuba-scene (3:34) has as much, or as little to do with the rest of the episode as have the building-regulation-office scene (4:56) in Blueprint for Murder, the Hollandaise scene (6:16) in Double Shock, the Tricon-Delta scene (6:47) in Exercise in Fatality or even the very beautiful airplane scene (6:05) in Ransom for a Dead Man.
    Some don’t bring us any new element (Blueprint), or a small one (Exercise), or an introduction to another more significant element or scene (Double shock; Sex and the Married Detective) which for the former is a small hint about blenders and for the latter a succession of several very tense moments. [In Ransom for a Dead Man it’s the occasion for a very short conversation about the victim, which could have been done somewhere else, and for the murderer the opportunity to reverse the psychological domination.]
    Some like the one, some like the other, some like several, some like them all, and some not any one. Some are amused by the discussions, and others get a little bit stressed. It must be Humanity.

     
    • I think the plane scene in Ransom for a Dead Man was really just an excuse to humorously show a side of Columbo’s personality. Namely that he is terrified of flying. And so it is with the Tuba scene: just another unexpected quirk of the character. So you are right, the Tuba scene isn’t particularly consequential in any respect, but it’s just like those other minor scenes. They add color to the character, but not substance to the plot.

       
  14. I haven’t seen Sex and the married detective for a long long time now as i haven’t seen it aired for at least a year now and dont own the DVD collection but have seen it umpteen times in the past particularly in my twenties now im in my thirties and dont have any great fondness for it, some scenes are OK such as the bartender class scene but nothing special
    The tuba scene I dont hate but could easily live without , some of the acting apart from falk and crouse is average at best , The end scene at the fireside is about the most memorable for me in this but on the whole would fall outside my top 10 of the new episodes and Rest assured Grand deceptions will rank lower

    On that note though I watched A trace of Murder 2 Sundays ago on 5 USA and again last Sunday and was pleasantly surprised by how good it is as you dont hear people on about it much , Its definetley one of the better new ones, a forensic detective working alongside columbo who is really the killer Clifford pulls off some funny gags , it has hallmarks of the classic suitable for framing with the fake /planted evidence , a decent ending a cameo from barney a Persian cat and most importantly no unnecessary trashy scenes which blight a lot of new episodes , while its a way off in terms of Cps reviews i wonder does CP have a fond memory of it ? Then Murder with too many notes came on which always disappoints me and I never make it my business to watch it i dont rate it in the least .

     
    • The ending scene of A Trace Of Murder is one of the weirdest, most tacked-on scenes I’ve ever seen in anything. I don’t know if I would rate this episode much higher had they handled that differently, there definitely is some good stuff in it, but I prefer the entirety of season 8 to it, tbh.

      Grand Deceptions is one of the most forgettable episodes for me, doesn’t really stand out, neither positively nor negatively, but it’s still a good watch.

       
      • The end scene in A trace of Murder is undoubtedly different and unusual but the hard evidence is there , there are some funny moments and its well paced and not bogged down with silly ludicrous moments which add no value to the case or the plot falk is quite good for his age.
        overall i enjoy the episode more than a share of new ones and would be top now if compared with the 3 reviewed by CP so far however A trace of murder isn’t at the level of the very best new ones such as goes to college Agenda for Murder , Death hits the jackpot or caution Murder can be hazardous to your health .

         
  15. If I live to be a hundred, I’ll never understand why Columbophile is so enraged by the tuba scene. Columbo can play the tuba. So what?

    This episode is one of the better latter-day Columbos and holds up well to the ’70s original.

     
    • I believe the problem isn’t in the fact that Columbo knows how to play tuba but in the general tone of the scene, which is way off from the rest of the episode. There is nothing wrong with the content of the scene but the way in which it was presented is a bit tasteless.

       
    • The problem is not, in itself, that Columbo knows how to play the tuba. The problems come with the way the scene is written and executed, to wit:

      – Firstly, it has *nothing* to do with the episode’s plot – not even the vaguest, most tangential connection. It’s completely disconnected from everything that happens before and after it. If the episode had a musical theme, and you had a scene where Columbo (say) picks up a tuba in a roomful of instruments and plays a few notes, I’d be OK with that.
      – Secondly, it’s clearly meant to be funny and it just isn’t. As you say yourself: Columbo can play the tuba. So what? What’s so amusing about it? Why are the writers bothering to show us this?
      – Thirdly, and most importantly, it goes on FOREVER. Literally several minutes of screentime that goes nowhere and does nothing but hold up the action. Anything of value this scene could possibly have added – such as humour or showing that Columbo has hobbies outside his work – could have been achieved in 10 seconds, but instead they drag it out for 3 minutes. They might as well have replaced the whole scene with a blank screen saying “WE JUST PUT THIS IN TO PAD OUT THE SCREENTIME”.

       
        • The tuba playing scene does have something to do with the rest of the plot, in that it takes place at the music centre, where Joan made her tantalising transformation into Lisa. Of course if Joan wanted to establish an alibi by being seen at some well attended public event, it could have been at a golf club fundraiser. We already know that Columbo is good at golf.

           
          • I don’t see how that relates it to the rest of the plot? It’s just another completely random event that happens to be taking place at the same location.

             
            • Lot’s of Columbo scenes do not connect to the plot. As mentioned before: Columbo is a good golfer. What’s the point of him swinging a golf club only to astonish the man he is questioning? Why show that Columbo is quite good at throwing darts? Or good at brain teaser puzzles? These are just personality traits that add to Columbo’s skill set and personality.

               
    • The Tuba scene didn’t bother me at all. Yes, it’s scene padding, but it fits within the established persona of Columbo. In previous episodes, we learn that Columbo, despite assumptions to the contrary, is actually a skilled golfer, dart thrower (or dart player, I’m not sure what the term is), billiards player, an excellent cook, and so on. In other words, he’s great at things we don’t expect him to be, but he is often terrible at things he ought to be good at: driving and handling a gun for example. The Tuba scene works precisely because of it’s absurdity -It’s not a skill one would expect out of the Lieutenant therefore it is exactly the kind of thing Columbo would be good at.

      Plus, it is just another example of Columbo’s typical disarming character. As is often the case, he charms the innocent while prodding the guilty.

       
        • Prodding is not synonymous with apprehension. A great scene? Not at all. Just a gentle throwaway which can easily be overlooked. But maybe tubas just annoy some people. The forensics lover in me is driven mad by Columbo’s smoking and eating at crime scenes. But all I can do is shrug my shoulders because it is Columbo after all.

           
  16. This is my favorite episode, and if ever it isn’t, it’s very near to it. Being beaten then by The Most Crucial Game, Prescription: Murder, and that kind of things.
    I think a large part of the different views we have can be explained by the different expectations we have towards Columbo. The Columbo-series allows it, and that’s one of its great qualities. Notably, Columbo is not only a police-series, with a very clever policeman searching evidence, it’s also a series about psychology with a lot of psychological battles, or even wars. Plus a series of 69 movies with different visual and audible qualities: images, scores, locations, landscapes, paces…, and humour.

    I like Richard Weills comments very, very much, he’s a real expert, he learns me a lot, but I’d like to remind that Columbo didn’t really start as a police-series. There’s not a lot of good police-work in Prescription: Murder. But there is an inspector who tries to break the resistance of a doctor, and only succeeds in it after having broken the resistance of his complice. It costs him a lot of work (discussions). We see the same psychological struggle in many following episodes (Dead Lends a Hand, Short Fuse, …). Sometimes Columbo even looses a battle before winning the war (Blue Print). Good police-work is necessary for him, but isn’t the essential issue.
    Maybe police-work is progressively becoming more important in the series from episode to episode, from year to year. And, notice: some of the worst episodes don’t have any psychology at all: No Time to Die, Undercover, Last Salute. As I remember the first two have a lot of (traditional) police-work.

    Also, the objective of each episode is to enjoy us during 70 (or 90?) minutes. Therefore it can be necessary that Columbo makes mistakes, neglects some information (a ribbon…). That is: doesn’t do a perfect police job. I don’t want the episodes to be finished in 15 minutes because Columbo uses all the methods and doesn’t miss any clue.
    My bookshelfs are plenty of excellent books with heroes making mistakes.

    Among all the episodes with a strong psychological content, Sex and the Married Detective is the strongest. For me, there is not any murderer in the whole series we beter can understand, we better can feel the reason why she (or he) kills. The essential fact is not that David Kincaid is unfaithful towards Joan Allenby by having a fine moment with Cindy. If Joan had listened to what she tells in her own chronicles at the radio, she would have accepted David’s side-step.
    Essential is that by doing so, David destroys the complete identity of Joan. Seeing and hearing what is done and said, AND observing her own reactions, Joan discovers that all her theories are fake. She pretented she could have good sex with David without loving him, in the sense of “without having an emotional dependance towards him”, and she discovers suddenly the strength of her own feelings. That’s not what she expected. That’s not what she tells in her chronicles. The renowned sex therapist discovers the existence of love (and she discovers it in a negative way). This discovery destroys her.
    That is the essential reason why Joan becomes Lisa. Becoming Lisa is not only a rather clever alibi, which could have worked if there hadn’t been the coincidences of (1) Helen Hendrix having heard the conversation about a woman in black, and having seen one at the concert, and (2) the sticking Charly Lenz. Joan decides to become Lisa because Lisa, a courtisane, is considered to have not any feelings, not any emotion, not any dependancy. She’s free.
    The whole episode is built around the struggle of Joan Allenby not only with Columbo, but also with herself and with her psychological split (Lisa). And that struggle, that is very well done, strengthed by the (saxophone?) instrumentation, by her garderobe, her way of speaking, her way of walking, etc. Outwardly, in the presence of other people, Joan Allenby seems perfect and invulnerable (unless a clothing tag), but at the inside, she breaks. Being Lisa is a dead end street for Joan, and she knows it. Being arrested must be, for her as for some other murderers in the series, a sort of relieve. In any way, she has to rebuild herself.

    A story with that degree of intensity needs also lesser intense moments, not only in the seek of a duration of 90 minutes, but in the seek of a “symphonic” effect (a symphony including slow and quick moments, silent and loud ones). I agree one can discuss the quality of them. As far as I’m concerned, I really like the conversations of Columbo with Allenby’s colleagues, and the attitudes they have towards each other and towards Allenby (“Did you read my text…?”). I like the scene with the Slavic charwoman, I like… etc. etc., and I even like the tuba-scene. (Sorry, dear friends.) It’s an efficient relax in a high-tensioned story, and the fountains are a beautiful wink: “Hey, people, this is television”. [I should add that in Étude in Black, it’s a complete orchestra that seems not to play the same music as we hear. And that in almost all those “superfluous” scenes, there are little elements that are linked to the story.] There’s a cherry on the cake, and there’s whipped cream, and sometimes I like that kind of things. Even if it’s only the cake itself that feeds a man.
    In addition, the murder is a very beautiful one. Nobody wants to be killed… but in that way? Joan Allenby is a very beautiful woman who walks in a very, very beautiful way, particularly in the scene when Columbo and Charlie Lenz are coming to her house. And there are that kind of small elements, that enjoy, as for instance the smile of Cindy when she sees David kissing Joan. A gem.
    But I agree there are episodes that are made in a very different way, and that are excellent too. As is (for instance) the very straight A Friend Indeed.

     
    • Thanks for the elaborate defense of this great episode. As you may have read, it’s one of my absolute favourites too (and I like A Friend In Deed very much as well). I love the way Joan Allenby’s character evolves during the episode, and it’s only logical for her to kill only her lover. He’s the one who owns her something, that doesn’t apply to Cindy.

       
  17. I don’t like this episode much myself, in contrast to really enjoying the previous one (Murder, Smoke and Shadows). The episode aged more – altough being much younger – than for example Playback or Mind over Mayhem as you described it correctly. Video surveillance systems basically works the same in nowadays and also supercomputers are a little bit “mythical” to the average people (take for example IBM Blue Gene or IBM Summit, etc.). This statement also stands for the exterior of the supercomputers. But the sex-centered setting is really outdated today.

    I don’t find the tuba scene that bad at all! It is playback for sure as previously a brass player mentioned it, but this is a TV show after all, not reality. The scene takes more than 3 minutes but also not so uniformly repeating itself as your another favourite scene that can be found in Make Me a Perfect Murder where the Lieutenant stares in amazement the dancing Lissajous curves (that I also tend to like a little bit).
    Why? You always note that Columbo should be more sympathetic, more likeable to the viewer. I think the tuba scene perfectly fits in that demand, as it charms the viewer on multiple levels. Columbo is smart enough to play tuba, he is finally brave enough to accept the request smiling continuously (similarity here to the cooking scene in Double Shock – that also could be omitted easily, but you love that scene and hate this). He also entertaining the children, who simply love it! Columbo interacts with children in many episodes. This scene should be regarded here to help achieving the sharper moral contrast in the episode. I think, it does this task well.

    More and more I think about the two corresponding scenes I find them more and more similar. Both show that Columbo can do some popular and charming tasks totally different from his work. In both of them Columbo finds something to think about and to move towards the successful solving of the case. Both are in front of an audience. Both could be cut out and Columbo then acquires the evidences in an other way. Etc…

     
  18. I am a huge Columbo fan, and this is clearly one of my favorites. And the only murderer whom I sympathize with. Her man not only cheated on her with her tramp secretary, but they were making fun of her. I would have strung that whore up with her red hair ribbon!

     
    • I can sympathize for how hurtful the situation must have been for her, but not really for committing murder over it. From my recollection, the only murderers I can sympathize with on the show are the ones from It’s All In The Game, Try and Catch Me (somewhat depending on what led her to believe the victim murdered her niece) and Caution: Murder Can Be Hazardous To Your Health (don’t think that guy would ever have done anything criminal had he not been blackmailed).

       
  19. Hi Columbophile , pleasantly surprised to see a New review up so soon were now 3 in on the new run with 21 to go , I have to say i never been a huge fan of this one even though a large number do , although it has some redeeming features particularity the fireside scene at the end and a decent musical score but this episode is blighted by way too many silly scenes some very average acting and some scenes that are not in the least bit funny in all and columbo is so far removed from the columbo we love from the 70s and all this sex therapy tripe makes this one a bit too weird and un columbolike for my taste.
    .I am not a big fan of any of the 3 new episodes reviewed so far but i expected columbophile would prefer Smoke and shadows to this( I personally do but thats like comparing apples with apples and it is still early days i suspect that the 3 new episodes reviewed so far may fall short of the top 10 out of the 24 new ones well have to wait and see as for grand deceptions will columbo fall in love with Grand deceptions , I dont want to spoil it for CP but i wouldn’t count on it while its not a terrible episode, it is an absolute slog watching it (for me at least ) there are one or 2 vague attempts at humour in it which are so un funny its actually worth watching we will have to wait and see .

     
  20. This episode is much like the others in the revival era. It’s a perfectly good story ruined by the hokey tuba scene and other elements that make it more of a parody than a serious attempt at a crime drama.

     
    • I think you nailed it, David: “more of a parody than a serious attempt at a crime drama.” It’s as if someone lost faith in the willingness of a ’90’s audience to accept the premise that Columbo was a real homicide cop solving a real murder. Times had changed. This was post-“Hill Street Blues,” the eve of “NYPD Blue.” Real crime dramas had to have grit and a social conscience. To succeed in the ’90’s, Columbo must become satiric, they must have thought.

      Too bad. I still loved the old formula.

       
  21. Never really liked this one. Lisa for me was a turn off. Surprised at the number who like it. Maybe I’m too “traditional”!

     
  22. Like a lot of comments on this episode, it’s not bad, but not that good either. Kind of silly but fairly enjoyable. I would have it in last place so far, but there are much worse episodes to come. The new run did not start off that well when compared to the stellar 70’s series but i think the next episode is much better and very under rated.

     
  23. I enjoyed the scenes where he dispensed advice to the other doctors & the scene with the cleaning lady. I could have done without the tuba though.

     
  24. This is a so-so reboot episode for me. I don’t hate it, and I enjoyed most of it. The score was awesome, and Lindsay Crouse’s portrayal of a psychologist dealing with her own mental issues was also well done. I liked the scene with the bartender; most actually are pretty good at observing people. The worst part about the dreadful tuba scene is that it is blatantly obvious Peter Falk isn’t really playing the thing. His cheek-puffing is completely out of sync with the notes being played. I may be a bit more sensitive and offended because I also play a brass instrument, but it’s not that difficult to fake.

     
    • I agree that the score was awesome. This might be the only episode where the killer i.e. “Lisa” has their own signature theme tune whenever she appears.

       
  25. I just be the only person in the world who enjoyed the tuba scene. But I accept it was incongruous in the context and tone of the storyline.
    Overall I think this is one of the stronger of the new episodes. The lead performances are strong. The music is brilliantly atmospheric. And I find it absurd that there should be hesitation over Columbo dealing with this subject matter. An LA detective will see dozens of murders and assaults and surely sex will play a part in the investigation, motive etc.
    By the time you’ve reviewed the real bile that is Columbo Undercover and No Time To Die, this episode will sit safely in the top half.

     
  26. Despite it’s faults, I have always liked this episode. As a life long fan of super heroes, I like the idea of the killer assuming a secret identity, with “Lisa” being almost a female version of The Shadow. ( “Who knows? Who knows? Only The Shadow . . .” )

    Everyone knows that Lisa is the killer, but just who is Lisa? Where does she come from? Where does she go? What is her secret? This works well, due to the costume, wig and make up, but also because of the excellent Lindsay Crouse. As is often the case with super heroes, “Lisa” takes on an empowering life of her own, which is preferable to the secret identity of Dr Joan Allenby.

    As to the final scene, Columbo is trying to make Joan think she is having a breakdown by seeing her alter ego, who cannot possibly be there. (I have often wondered if the police woman is actually played by Lindsay Crouse, and filmed while she was in costume for the murder scene).

    And as to the tuba scene, I think this is intended to be symbolic, in that Columbo deals with very some nasty situations, but still has a genuine, child like innocence about him.
    In the 1970’s this was shown in the scene in Identity Crisis where Columbo is happily talking to the little children in the park and is then is contacted by the CIA.

     
    • I won’t go so far to say it is one of the best episodes, but it’s quite pleasant and I enjoyed the cat-and-mouse game Lisa/Allenby play with Columbo. A game that Columbo flips around, much to the murderess’s shock and, interestingly, relief.

      I liked the contrast between this episode and Make Me A Perfect Murder. Both successful, headstrong, proud, calculating, and scorned (in one sense or another) women who are driven to kill their lovers.

      Both victims are slain in offices, both are shot, both murderers create elaborate alibis and so on.

      However in the end Joan Allenby says that she was far more afraid of the evil “Lisa” than being caught whereas Kay Freestone in Make Me A Perfect Murder openly states that she *not* relieved at being caught.

      I think Allenby is a sympathetic character who’s mind was broken. She went so far into her own fantasy world that she thought she could manufacture a new persona and that persona, not herself, would do the dirty work. Something that she seems to deeply regret later.

      On the other hand Kay Freestone is cold, entitled, smug, and seemingly remorseless.

       
  27. Despite the “out of the blue” scenes (tuba, trash, staff interviews), this is easily the most enjoyable of the ABC episodes reviewed so far. The story is more interesting, flowing more freely than its predecessors. Also, Lindsay Crouse does a wonderful job, her sexy transformation being quite accomplished.

     
  28. I quite like this episode… apart from the atrocious tuba scene, which utterly and irretrievably ruins it for me. I’d been warned about how bad it was by seeing it in one of the ‘worst moments’ articles, but even so, my jaw dropped. WHAT were they thinking? It’s even worse than the ‘playing with the controls’ scene in ‘Make Me a Perfect Murder’, in that it has *nothing* to do with the plot or themes of the episode, and seems completely out of place even as padding. And yeah, the scene with the cleaning lady isn’t much better – I wish the writers of this episode had grasped that Columbo comedy works best when it’s subtle.

     
  29. Not a bad episode but I always thought the ending with the mannequin was a bit far-fetched, unreal looking, and unbelievable. But the tuba scene- cmon’ let’s allow for a little humor here…I feel some of the otherwise viewed as worthless entered scenes in this Columbo episode as well as others add a flair of levity to both the episode and his character which adds flavor and lightheartedness to each episode- a nice touch in my opinion.

     
  30. Really don’t like this episode at all. Not one of my absolute least favourites, but it’s not much above them. I don’t even mind the tuba scene, it’s a pointless bit of fluff that somebody thought of as a good idea, fair enough. Doesn’t have anything to do with plot, i couldn’t even remember which episode it was in. I’ts just a manufactured bit of nonsense, feels a bit like a trailer for a different show. I just don’t like anything about the episode. It’s vaguely watchable, which puts it above Last Snooze with the Commodore and A Case of Racial Weirdness, and somewhere around Boring Bedfellows, Not-So Grand Deceptions, The Runaway Bride and Panties in Malibu.

     
  31. One of my all time favourite episodes. Maybe some others are technically better but I think off all Columbo’s I’ve seen this one the most times. I like everything about it: the killer, the betrayal, the killing, the location, the character development of dr Allenby, the scenes featuring Doug MacHugh (the bartender), the chemistry between Columbo and dr Allenby, her collegues asking Columbo for advice… I think the trash scene is hilarious, and not out of character at all. This is who Columbo is as well and I have zero problems with it. His obsessive searching is nothing new anyway.
    Hell, even the tuba scene doesn’t bother me when I’m watching it, though I can see why it disturbs you, CP. It seems out of place and it takes a while. But why you had to refer to the tuba player as a tuba playing IDIOT is beyond me. What’s wrong with the man? I think his reaction to Columbo playing the tuba so surprisingly well is quite funny.
    And the ending is actually brilliant. Columbo knows dr Allenby is leading him on, playing a game, so he decides to accept the challenge and starts his own game: the one he’s best at and he catches her. And the final scene, when Columbo tells her he is not the one to judge her is arguably the most moving one of the whole series.

     
    • Excusing the final scene as Columbo starting “his own game” is extraordinarily charitable. When did the ‘70’s Columbo ever play “his own game” except when necessary to cinch the case? Entering the final scene, Columbo has his “gotcha” already in his pocket: proof from Chicago that Allenby bought Lisa’s entire ensemble. The only further “proof” this final game provided was the less-than-compelling fact that Allenby never cried out when she saw “Lisa” by the elevators. Not exactly a game-changer. Not exactly Brimmer retrieving what he thinks is Lenore Kennicut’s contact lens, or Columbo renting an apartment and putting the address in Artie Jessup’s file for Commissioner Halperin to see. Those were games with an investigative purpose.

      This was a game for the sole purpose of playing a game. All it was missing was the ringmaster costume. Columbo was supposed to take his job more seriously.

       
      • I’m not charitable, I just personally love the fact that Columbo did his job the way he did. It’s got nothing to do with taking his job more or less seriously: he chose a way to catch his killer, call it style if you like, but he succeeded admirably and he did it his way. The investigation was carried out well and succesfully.
        Whether or not the Columbo of the 70’s would have done so is irrelevant, in my opinion. Eleven years between The Conspirators and Guillotine and Columbo aged, got more confident gained a preference for the more melodramatic. What’s wrong with that? For me, nothing at all, I’ve enjoyed every minute of this episode’s finale, countless times.

         
        • I really loved the ending as well. I would even say that Columbo didn’t so much play a game with Allenby/Lisa as he flipped her game around on her. Regardless, I love the tender scene between the “cat and mouse” at the end of the game, when they sit by the fire and share a little humanity. All the pretending and lying is gone, the game is over, Allenby doesn’t have to put on an act, and Columbo can stop badgering her. In that moment of honesty, she admits she was afraid of Lisa.

          Everyone is entitled to their opinion but I am a little surprised at the hostility this one gets, specifically the Tuba scene. I mean, who cares? Yeah, it has nothing to do with the plot. So what? Neither does wearing an old raincoat, smoking a cigar, being afraid to fly, being a bad driver, having a dog, or any of the other quirky attributes Columbo is shown to have. That’s part of the fun of the character, to me at least.

          As for what RICHARDWEILL asks: “When did the ‘70’s Columbo ever play “his own game” except when necessary to cinch the case? ”

          Easy answer: “Now You See Him”. Columbo and his two-time Sidekick Sgt. Wilson set up a game whereby the killer thinks they are in one room but are in fact in another part of the building, replicating what the Killer had done.

          But one might object: “That is to cinch the case!” Arguably true, because the act of Columbo and Wilson doing that provokes the Killer to attempt an escape. *HOWEVER* there is unnecessary (but fun) theater to this game: The printed letters that accused Santini of being a Nazi war criminal in hiding. All Columbo needed to do is say “Hey, Santini! We have the ribbon from the victim’s electric typewriter. It establishes clear motive. ”

          But no, Columbo and Wilson perform a little humorous tease with Santini after Santini destroys one copy of the letter, Columbo pulls another, and another and so on. A completely unnecessary game, since the hard evidence was already established.

          There is also “Any Port in the Storm” in which case Columbo creates an elaborate trap to lure the Murderer, Carsini, to an expensive, hoity-toity restaurant, lull him into a false sense of security and drop the hint that hot wine goes bad. Why go through the elaborate (and expensive) charade if not to play a game? All Columbo *needed* to do would be to get it across to Carsini that it was very hot the week of the murder. “Mr. Carsini, I want to ask you something. Did you lose any of your wine during that last heat wave? I’ll tell ya, this case got me so interested in wine, I bought a case, put it in my basement, but it got so hot down there that I ruined the whole case. Oh, but I’m sure a fancy cellar like the one you have has all kinds of air conditioning. That’s what I need. How much is something like that, anyway.”

          Something along those lines, it would be hard. Anyway, the point is that Columbo does indeed toy with his suspects, both in the original series and in the reboot.

           
    • The ending is quite befitting to an often dreamlike episode. I wouldn’t call it brilliant, but it’s a good ending to this episode. I couldn’t care less if it’s “showy”.

       
  32. I always thought that the sequence in which three of Dr. Allenby’s associates ask Columbo for personal advice was intended as an homage to Bob Newhart, Columbo responds to their personal revelations with vague, stale bromides that the questioners take to be profoundly insightful. Newhart’s Bob Hartley character was a psychologist with a similar penchant for banality masquerading as treatment. (“Get in touch with your feelings” seemed to be his main suggestion.) Whatever the writers’ intent, you are correct in saying that the Columbo sequence fails as humor and, if I am correct, also fails as homage. Falk could be very, very funny, but he’s no Bob Newhart.

     
    • You may well be right! Of course, all we see of Bob Hartley at work in his sessions are the moments when he’s setting up a punchline for one of his patients to deliver, so it isn’t really fair to judge him as a therapist based on that.

       
    • Three associates who should be competent therapists are failing in giving themselves professional advice, but Columbo, who should be an amateur, isn’t. The scene does not fail in humour when you look at it as an ironical perspective on this kind of work. I always wonder: How can a pro at the subject of mental stabilizing not look at his own case objectively and not be his own doctor?

       
  33. I don’t know whether anyone who reads this is from my country or is in search of the very rare and unavailable first dubbing version of “Sex & the Married Detective”, named “Black Lady” in Germany, which was released on VHS in 1990 before the episode was aired on TV with a different voice talent for the Lieutenant.
    If so by chance, you have some hours left to get hold of the audio stream never to be heard on TV:

    https://wetransfer.com/downloads/9e8d813014f8e3a34080c90ed157d54e20200420082619/25544d

    I was longing for it for more than a year and finally got it last Monday from someone I contacted. I’m so glad. The review therefore comes exactly at the right time.

     
  34. You’re a lucky man, Columbophile.
    I’ll take some more days for a more complete review of your review, but I want to write you already about one point, because you are a lucky man, and I want to congratulate you.

    You notice that David Kincaid is “dweeby”, and your own Mrs Columbo adds he is “gross”, “a jerk” and “disgusting”.
    Well, that’s necessary for the episode, because Joan Allenby is beautiful, attractive, lovable, sexy, etc.
    I’d like to remind you two fundamental laws.
    First law: 95% (or even more) of all beautiful, attractive, lovable and/or sexy women have dull, stupid, boring, annoying… lovers (or husbands). Look around you, and you will see that all the most lovable women have friends you cannot suffer. And you will not understand how she (the lovable woman) can suffer or even like and love him. “She desserves much better than that.”
    Ask a man if he knows a lovable woman who has a sympathetic, interesting husband or lover, and he will answer that he doesn’t know any but his own wife, lover or mistress.
    Second law: when a loving man asks his loving woman (wife, mistress…) what she thinks about another man, whom the first, the questioning man finds dull, the answer of the woman doesn’t concern that “dull” man, but her attitude towards the questioning man. To please him, the woman will say the other man is “disgusting”. By her negative answer about David Kincaid, your Mrs Columbo expressed her (very) positive opinion on the man who questioned her.
    I congratulate both of you.

     
  35. I love this episode and it’s the one I also have the strongest and fondest memory of from my childhood. The whole look and atmosphere as well as the stunning music is just magical all around. In fact, the part of the episode leading up to and including the murder might be my favourite sequence out of any Columbo episode, it feels like a dark and extremely sad dream.
    Watching it from an adult viewpoint, I agree that the trash and the tuba scene are pretty useless (and I didn’t even realize that tuba scene was over three minutes), but I definitely can’t let those detract me from the quality of the rest of the episode.
    I do agree that the episode is not sexy, but that doesn’t bother me at all. However, I dislike the English title because it feels too attention-grabbing. The German title was simply Black Lady, which I prefer.
    However, this is easily a Top 20 episode for me and it will be a while until one I hold in higher regard (until Caution: Murder Can Be Hazardous To Your Health, in fact).

     
    • I agree. I just wrote a little piece telling how much I love this episode, and totally forgot about the score, which is pivotal.

       
  36. Idea for future feature? The ten episodes that could be improved the most by being re-edited, ones that would be elevated just by cutting out the bad bits? Perhaps another could be the top ten episodes that would be improved the most by being recast – harder to do though!

     
  37. Nice job, CP. As always.

    And okay, I get it. The aptly named “STUPID TUBA SCENE” (complete with the endlessly undulating water fountain outside) was a total fiasco. But it is also the easiest of pickings as the low point of this episode. I’d rather focus on a different sequence in this regard. Because these other scenes, unlike the tuba, completely undercut the “it’s almost like he’s a real police officer again” picture of Lt. Columbo for me.

    I refer to the three short scenes in which Columbo is accosted, one by one, by Dr. Ward, Dr. Neff, and Cindy Gault. Ward tells Columbo about finding Cindy’s red hair ribbon in the rumpled sheets of the therapy room (which wasn’t scheduled for use) on the same night Dr. Allenby returned unexpectedly to the clinic. Neff and Cindy corroborate the likely existence of a Kincaid-Cindy relationship. This is key evidence. And although Columbo appears put out by these three encounters, he obviously was listening. He confronts Allenby with Cindy’s hair ribbon in the final scene.

    However, he doesn’t ask Ward, Neff, or Cindy a single question. Not one. Instead, he plays these scenes for laughs. All three witnesses were ripe for probing. Ward’s account should have been nailed down precisely. Neff’s statement about Cindy and Kincaid should have been fleshed out with specifics. And, armed with more complete evidence from Ward and Neff, Columbo could have pushed Cindy to spill the beans about her night in the sheets with Kincaid. It would have taken “a real police officer” less than five minutes with Cindy to establish that Kincaid’s tryst coincided with Allenby’s return.

    Watching those scenes, I was disappointed with Columbo as a detective. It was the first time I can recall ever having that reaction.

    And speaking of disappointments, the ending of this episode was a complete letdown. You speak of “sensible police work,” but Columbos are not police procedurals, where the crime is solved by Columbo forever pounding the pavement until he finds the key witness who has the critical evidence proving the killer’s guilt. Columbo murders are solved, if not by a clever bit of trickery, then by a flash of intuition (about how shoes are tied, or wine spoils, or plastic typewriter ribbons work, etc.). But how was Kincaid’s murder solved? By finding the store tag from Allenby’s new coat, and then checking with that Chicago store about the buyer’s other purchases. How unimaginative.

    Oh, one more thing: Joan Allenby clearly hadn’t watched the ‘70’s Columbos. Had she seen “Troubled Waters” or “Now You See Him,” she would have known that, if you want to pass unnoticed through a fancy reception, you don’t dress as a sultry courtesan. You dress as a waiter or waitress. [Or, if she reads books rather than watching TV, she could have read G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown story, “The Queer Feet.” Same idea.] Leave the hat and lipstick in the car, Joan, and grab a tray of champagne glasses. No one would have given you a second look.

    P.S. Lindsay Cruise is the daughter of hugely successful playwright Russel Crouse, co-author of such hits as “Life with Father” (still the longest-running play (i.e., non-musical) in Broadway history), Pulitzer Prize-winning “State of the Union,” and the books to such musicals as “Call Me Madam” and “The Sound of Music.” Crouse’s career-long collaborator was Howard Lindsay, after whom he named his daughter. It’s as if Art Garfunkel had named his son “Simon.”

     
    • Valuable comments as always, Richard!

      I’d say that the problem sequences CP has identified could simply be cut from the episode. The tuba scene wouldn’t be missed. The Lieutenant’s failure to question the three witnesses you mention could also be addressed by editing- leave in the opening section of one or two of those encounters, just cut them short enough that we can assume that Columbo asked the obvious questions. The unimaginativeness of the store tag, that’s something we’re stuck with. Otherwise, though, this is an episode that could stand toward the middle of the 70s run if it were cut down to the running time of most 70s episodes.

       
  38. I am a devoted fan of the original run of “Colombo” and have not seen almost any of the ABC revival. That said, this looks like an episode I would watch if it pops up on TV. And I will admit, I was not especially troubled by the tuba scene. Colombo always liked to be the center of attention, so that fit in with his established personality. Maybe I’m just a sucker for Sousaphones.

     
  39. I always found it weird that Dr. Allenby, never bothered to get revenge on her assistant. The whole reason she murders her sleaze ball boyfriend is because she felt betrayed but earlier on in the episode we learn that ‘she could never live without’ her assistant. Surely the fact that she was secretly banging her boyfriend in between buying copies of Agatha Christie should have stung Allenby too? It takes two to cheat!

    Not to mention the total b*itch move Cindy was planning to make when she suggested to Columbo about telling Allenby about her cheating boyfriend while completely omitting her own part in the affair. If you ask me Lisa should have made one more stop before she was cast into the fire!

     
    • Ditto. It takes two to diddle, but as usual, nothing happens to the female cheater! Dr. Joan didn’t even get the satisfaction of firing Cindy Loo Who’s two-faced ass. I agree, it should have been a double homicide.

       
      • Sorry, dear friends, I don’t agree with you. In another comment, some minutes ago, I tried to explain the reason why Joan kills David, and why she transformed herseld into Lisa to do it. It was David who destroyed Joan’s identity, not Cindy.
        Also, Cindy is a too small fish to catch.

         

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