New Columbo episodes / Opinion / Poll

What’s your favourite ‘new’ Columbo episode?

New Columbo montage 1

It’s a brave fan who claims that Columbo’s comeback adventures were superior to his ‘classic’ outings in the 60s and 70s. Nevertheless, there are some thrilling highlights to be found in the 24 episodes that aired on ABC between 1989 and 2003.

Mrs Columbo’s phony funeral, Robert Culp’s growling comeback and the Lieutenant having his portrait painted by a world-famous artist are moments that would have graced any episode from any era. And while the overall calibre of guest was somewhat lower, new Columbo was still able to attract a cavalcade of household names to appear.

Faye Dunaway’s appearance in 1993’s It’s All in the Game might just make her the biggest star to ever appear in the show, while we were also treated to appearances from Patrick McGoohan (as actor and director), Tyne Daly, Fisher Stevens, William Shatner, Rip Torn, George Hamilton, Rod Steiger and Ed Begley Jr. It certainly wasn’t all doom and gloom.

Columbo It's All in the Game
Take it easy, lady! Mrs Columbo is just over there…

I’ve been running an on-going poll to establish fans’ favourite Columbo episodes on this site for several years, but the vast majority of the love that gets shown goes to those classic era Columbo outings released between 1968-78. As one might expect, the revival episodes get something of a short shrift, with very few even ranked within the top 30. However, if we start to compare apples with apples, it ought to be easier to see which of the newcomer episodes really have won over hearts and minds.

With that in mind, I now invite you to submit your vote for your single favourite ‘new’ Columbo episode. Simply choose your number one episode from 1989-2003 from the list below and hit ‘Submit’. I’ll leave the poll open for a few months and will then compile an article showcasing your top 10 selections.

Now jump to it and vote as confidently as Nelson Hayward voted for himself in Candidate for Crime!

NB – it may take a minute or two for your vote to register, so fear not if it’s not shown in the results right away. I’m also being informed the poll may not show up AT ALL if you’re viewing via Firefox. If so, I’m not sure if there’s anything I can do to resolve this straight away, sozzer folks.

Very many thanks to all those who cast a vote. I have my suspicions about which episodes will fare well (I’d expect Agenda for Murder, Columbo Goes to College and Rest in Peace, Mrs Columbo to jockey for position at the top of the standings), and which will fare badly (looking at no episode in particular No Time to Die), but who knows? Maybe you’ll spring a few surprises on me.

Columbo No Time to Die
There’ll be a steward’s inquiry if this ends up anywhere near the top!

Do share your thoughts on your top episodes from the ABC years below, including referencing your favourite scenes, so due credit can be given to best of the best from Columbo’s less loved second coming.

Do also take a minute to vote for your absolute favourite Columbo from any era here. I run an updated fans’ top 10 article every year and competition for a place is always red hot!

New Columbo montage 2

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Columbo goes to college
Move along, nothing to see here…
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99 thoughts on “What’s your favourite ‘new’ Columbo episode?

  1. I picked Columbo goes to College. The crime is executed well, the killers are well portrayed, but primarily, the return of Robert Culp, my favorite of the killers, really elevates it for me. I really wish he’d have returned to play a full killer just one last time in the new series run.

  2. Who is brave enough to stand for their Murder in Malibu- or No Time To Die-vote? I think it’s always nice to have someone with unorthodox viewpoints, but seeing this as the best is a real headscratcher.

  3. “Death hits the jackpot” is my favourite of the “new” episodes simply because nobody would see the gotcha coming,I defy anyone to say they thought about a chimpanzee leaving fingerprints,if they do they are lying! It’s a gotcha right up there with the legendary “glove handed reveal” from “suitable for framing” which is the best gotcha in the entire series by huge distance,no other gotcha even comes close!

    • Hmmm….maybe not specifically a chimp print, but I would think it would’ve been no trouble at all figuring out the chimpanzee would be involved. There’s an old playwriting trope (and I believe Rich can back me up on this) called “Chekov’s Chimp”, whereby if a chimpanzee is introduced in the first act, then it will play a significant role in Act 3 or 4.

      • I concur with Glenn. The simple fact a chimp appears at all set an instant alarm bell ringing with me that the chimp would have a pivotal part to play in the episode. I guessed fingerprints personally because I’d seen something similar in dismal British film ‘Digby the Biggest Dog in the World’ in my youth.

        • I love death hits the jackpot , i find the gotcha perfectly satisfactory and you also have a nasty villian in leon lemar and you would have to feel sorry for poor freddie winning the lotto and his own uncl e then slaying him , taking the funds and not to mention romping with his ex wife , slightly resembles bertie hastings in a way . Both very ungortunate top drawer episode all round for me .

        • Lol at ‘Digby the Biggest Dog in the World’, what a name. But I have to say, I didn’t see the ending coming and was satisfied with it as with the whole episode.

  4. In my continuing effort to find a “new” Columbo I can truly praise, I re-watched (for the first time in a long time) “A Bird in the Hand.” This episode has two big things going for it: the overall structure of the story (combining an open mystery, a closed mystery, and one halfway in between), and Tyne Daly’s terrific performance as Delores. Writer Jackson Gillis specialized in mid-episode twists: Rudy’s will in “Suitable for Framing”; the appearance of Norman Paris in “Double Shock”; the murder of Charles Clay in “Last Salute to the Commodore”; even the shooting of a dead body in “Murder in Malibu.” Here there are two such twists: the hit-and-run death of Big Fred, and the scene between Harold and Delores where we learn (fairly convincingly) that Delores did the hitting and running.

    But the clues Columbo uses to solve each of these crimes aren’t especially persuasive. A right-handed person can turn a nut with his left hand if that’s the only hand that will reach. Columbo was in Harold’s closet but never checks his boots for signs of scrape marks. A person may close his eyes for lots of reasons. Columbo’s theory that Delores killed Harold is quite hollow. (Try getting a dead body in a wheelchair up all those steps to Harold’s cabin.) And Delores is quite right: unless Columbo can prove that she killed Big Fred (something Columbo admits he can’t do), she has no motive to kill Harold.

    Moreover, as is typical of most “new” Columbos, the “gotcha” (such as it was) was a collection of small clues, not the big conversation-ender that was a hallmark of Columbo at its best.

    So a very good structural concept (with an excellent performance) ultimately was executed quite poorly. Too bad.

  5. How did Murder in Malibu receive any votes at all, much less 13? As just a run of the mill TV movie it is bad, as a Columbo episode it is an abomination.

  6. While flawed in ways, “Columbo Goes to College” is my favorite of the 1989-2003 crop. In fact, I would rather watch it over “Last Salute to the Commodore”, “How to Dial a Murder” and even “Dead Weight “ and “Forgotten Lady”.

    • Hi folks , for all those that have 5 USA here is Sundays line up Double exposure
      10 35 Dead weight
      12 .05 Murder by the book
      1.40 Playback
      3.05 Uneasy lies the crown
      5.05 columbo cries wolf
      7.00 pm Etude in Black

      well folks how about that for a cracking line up all very good episode bar perhaps dead weight which is no way top tier , Uneasy lies the crown ironnically next to be reviewed which I actually quite like and think its a tad overrated but I also like cries wolf , playback , double exposure , Etude in black and murder by the book so plenty to enjoy tomorrow .

    • Its Try and Catch me this is a common mistake ,its also my favourite episode , very memorable all round , catch me if you can is a more recent film starring Leonardo DI DiCaprio where he plays an airline pilot .

  7. Just watched Malibu. 13 respondents to this poll are either overly devoted ironists or flat-out liars.

    Worst … Episode … Ever.

    • Goes to college is comfortably ahead in this poll at this moment in time
      and i can understand why theirs never a Dull moment in this one . rest in peace is in second place which im a bit surprised at ( its not among my own favourite new ones but i understand many love it )
      what a fun poll Columbophile has created .

    • I voted for A trace of murder.. Strictly because of the moment Columbo catches on.. Maybe best ever.. Holy jamoly.. These 2 know each other.. They know each other well… Wowwww.. That’s as good as it gets

      • I like that scene as well. It’s a rare moment where Columbo is absolutely baffled by his own observation – he really didn’t see that one coming.

  8. Hi,
    I’m sorry I didn’t answer sooner. In fact I voted very soon, for Sex and the Married Detective, as being the best of the new epidodes. But I didn’t write.
    In fact, for me Sex and the Married Detective is the best, or one of the very best, of all the 69 episodes.
    When I view Prescription: Murder, I’m sure it’s the very best of all. When I view Murder by the Book, i’m sure it’s the very best, and when I view The Most Crucial Game (the one with the football), I’m sure it is.
    And when I view Sex and the Married Detective, my opinion is that that one is the very, very best.
    An opinion I didn’t ever have for the 65 others. Not any one ever has been the very best for me. Neither Blue Print, neither A Friend Indeed, neither Ransom, neither Requiem, nor Make Me a Perfect Murder.

    The Bye-Bye Sky High I.Q. Murder Case was the first episode I ever viewed; how to Dial a Murder was the one I feared most. And unless No Time to Die and Undercover, which I viewed only 2 or 3 times, I must have viewed every episode some 5 times, and the 4 champions I mentioned may be 8 or 10. I still like to see them very much.

    Between the new ones, some other good episodes are Butterfly, Hazardous to Your Health, Rest in Peace, College, and It’s All in the Game.
    Death Hits the Jackpot is not that good, but the idea with the figures of the diaphragm of the lens is a very good one (even if they made a little mistake).

    (But I already understood my opinion is not yours. We all like Columbo in a different way, and sometimes for different qualities.)

    • Columbo Goes to college was on yesterday on 5 USA , I watched it in full and really enjoyed it as always so no surprise to see it way in front of the poll , its definetley a real heavyweight from the new batch .

  9. Some random jottings on New Columbo, a few of which I’ve adressed before:

    – the first comeback season, for what it should represent, is rather low-key, with no evident standout episodes. The most interesting aspect can be found in the duplicity Joan/Lisa in Sex and the Married Detective, the best of the batch;

    – Murder: a Sel Portrait follows the previous season path, then things turn for the better, until Murder in Malibu;

    – From the rest: College is a great and enjoyable episode, Jackpot almost plays like a farse, the chemistry between Dunaway and Falk in It’s All in the Game is wonderful, A Trace of Murder deserves more mention, Ashes to Ashes is another worthy contribution by McGoohan, Nightlife is a good departure.

    – While No Time to Die can be seen as a fair stand-alone episode with Columbo in it, Undercover is hard to digest within this universe.

  10. Shera Danae has the ugliest feet I’ve ever seen in my life. Google it if you don’t believe me. Cinematographers made sure they were never shown on the screen. This is kind off the topic but just an observation. Has anyone noticed it?

  11. I always vote. Every election, primary or general. But I haven’t voted here. The reason? I have no favorite “new” episode.

    Because of this blog, I’ve been rewatching a lot of the ‘90’s Columbos, and am consistently underwhelmed. Yes, some have minor bright spots, but no episode as a whole grabs me.

    Some I disqualify from contention for specific reasons. “Columbo Goes to College” copies the ending from “A Friend in Deed.” “It’s All in the Game” copies the crime from “Suitable for Framing.” I really like the “viewing at a distance” trick in “Columbo Goes to the Guillotine,” but the gotcha ruins the episode.

    Many of the comments below extoll the virtues of “Death Hits the Jackpot,” an episode I haven’t seen in some time. And I know its ending is one of William Link’s favorites. So last night, I decided to give it another look.

    I never even got to Columbo’s entrance. The episode’s set-up is endless. Think of the great Columbos where the murderer decided to kill, and formulated his or her “perfect crime,” before the episode even begins. It may take a little time to carry it out (or there’s “Suitable for Framing”), but we still hit the ground running. And not just 90-minute Columbos; 2-hour ones, too. Not here. Not by a long shot.

    This was my last hope and I lost interest. I couldn’t keep watching. Sorry, CP.

        • Though I often disagree with Rich’s opinion, I do read his comments and always find them interesting, informative and insightful. His alternate review of Dagger of the Mind spurred me to watch again with a different perspective and I appreciate it so much more now. Applying that to all the ‘lesser’ Columbos, there’s a lot to love about all of them. Everyone’s favorite is different which just goes to show Columbo has something to offer just about everyone.

    • Hi Rich, I’m curious, what is your opinion on Agenda for Murder? The way that one is made, is very similar to a typical 70’s episode. I’ve read your main issue with Agenda (I don’t agree but that’s beside the point), however does that main issue ruin that episode as well for you?
      In short, knowing what you love and value about Columbo, I would have thought you’d have voted for Agenda for Murder.

      • Relatively speaking, you may be right. You mention my difficulty buying into the episode, but I’d also note my disappointment with the ending — an issue many of the “new” Columbos share.

        What was especially wonderful about the ‘70’s Columbos was how frequently they featured highly ironic solutions: a murder based on an unused story idea solved because, five years earlier, the victim wrote the idea down; the detective’s fingerprints, not the killers, solves the mystery; the killer, endeavoring to leave evidence on the outside of a pair of gloves, forgets what he’s leaving on the inside; a winemaker destroys his wine in order to preserve his winery; a disciplinarian is undone by his zeal for discipline; a police commissioner is done in by a police file. There are more. They needed Columbo’s incessant digging to bring them about, and when revealed, tell us something about the characters.

        In contrast, the ‘90’s solutions (when they are not reusing an old one, like “Columbo Goes to College”), are usually very straightforward. Some forensic trace, previously overlooked, is found: dog claw scratches; shrapnel in cremation ashes; a receipt from a clothing purchase; panties put on backwards.

        The tooth-mark evidence in “Agenda for Murder” is one such on-the-nose ending. The killer left a forensic trace behind. It didn’t need Columbo. It’s a CSI ending. What does it reveal about the characters? That Oscar Finch likes to nibble? Not exactly a window into what makes a murderer or victim tick.

        • It also reveals Finch’s extreme arrogance. He had the experience and inside knowledge to get away with the crime, his confidence caused him to be careless.

          • Arrogance and inattention to a minor detail hardly distinguishes one Columbo murderer from another.

            • I can see what you mean, about the ending of Agenda for Murder. Some of the 70’s had gotcha’s of a similar level, or worse, like Fade in to Murder (‘You forgot to wipe your prints off the bullets.’). And I bascially have the same problems with episodes that could have happened to any random detective, that’s why I dislike R.I.P. Mrs Columbo. If, say, Maigret had discovered some revengeful woman was after his wife, it could have been a similar story. In Agenda for Murder however there is still onmipresent the unique cat and mouse game between Columbo and the killer as could only happen whenever Columbo investigates a case. In my opinion the same goes for many of the ‘new ones’, but not all, the worst examples being Undercover and No Time to die, they actually hurt and damage to the Columbo character. I’m not saying the new ones are overall level with the 70’s ones, merely explaining why for me there’s enough of the authentic Columbo present to enjoy them.

    • There certainly is repetition when you look at the new episodes. I would add to your list that “Caution, Murder Can Be Hazardous to Your Health” borrows the ending from “Playback.” Clues involving coffee, smoking, or dry cleaning are all recycled from old shows to the new ones.

      The defense I would make is that some of the “new” episodes are now more than 30 years old, and they were written for the original broadcast audience, not the video-on-demand era of today. The original viewers hadn’t seen or likely wouldn’t remember what was in the 1970’s episodes. The writers knew that.

      • I’d argue exactly the opposite. Columbo was revived because of the continuing devotion of people like me, who devoured the original series, were saddened by its absence, and wanted more of the same. We’re the ones who awaited “Columbo Goes to the Guillotine” with eager anticipation. ABC didn’t bring the show back to try to create a new audience from scratch. They brought it back to tap into the massive, hungry audience they already had.

        • ABC didn’t just want viewers who had been avid fans of the show for 15 or 20 years. That audience would have been smaller and older than what they were looking for. They wanted a lot of viewers who were too young for the original or who liked the original but didn’t “devour” it.

          • I think it’s fair to say that ABC obviously wanted to appeal to new viewers, but the foundational fan base (and the promotional marketing base) would have to be from the older era viewers, at least to get the revival off the ground. Otherwise, why call it “Columbo”? You could have just called it something like – oh I don’t know, let’s pick a name at random – “Monk”.

            • Yes, avid viewers of the NBC episodes provided a starter audience that ABC was happy to have. It just wasn’t large enough that writers of the new episodes thought they needed to avoid repetition.

              • Any series that’s amassed a significant number of episodes is, at some point, going to have a potential repetition issue. Writers and showrunners (although they weren’t called that term back then) who care about this are careful and will look to disguise the repetition or put a new/different spin on it. The attempts to sometimes change up the Columbo “formula” in the revival demonstrate some awareness of the issue – the problem is that these variations were (IMHO) unsuccessful, and the attempts to capture the magic of the original episodes fell flat for one reason or another. For 90s Columbo watchers being introduced to the show, this does not seem to be an issue as much as it is for us “older” viewers who grew up with Columbo Classic and not New Columbo.

                For the record, I did cast a vote, for “Butterfly in Shades of Grey”.

    • It’s a sad day when a Columbo fan cant admit to liking even one of the Newer episodes when some are very entertaining indeed. Cheer up Mr Scrooge!

      • No one looked forward to each new Columbo with greater hope and eagerness to be pleased than I. Perhaps it was too much to expect that the quality of so many of the great classic-era episodes could continue.

  12. I just finished commenting on how no one comments on “Trace of Murder” starring Falk’s wife Sharan? Denese and American popular comedic actor David Rasche. I have watched the entire episode several times, and have enjoyed it more than several of the original outings. I don’t care much about “three eyes are better than one”, although it is a significant remark for discussion; ; nor whether Ms. Denese is adquate in her role, it is for me an entertaining, but not exceptional episode. A good part of that is due to the amoral, non-emotional portrayals of the principals.If they had been portrayed as real people this episode could have been near the top of the newer editions.

  13. I don’t really feel I’ve seen enough of the newer episodes to choose a favourite, but ‘Columbo Goes to College’ and ‘Agenda for Murder’ are both pretty good. I also liked ‘Death Hits the Jackpot’ although I never finished watching it.

  14. Finally the host asked this question! Early polls demonstrate that “Columbo Goes To College” topping the list is a no brainer in my opinion. “Agenda for Murder” is a McGoohan masterpiece, second place for me, Peter Faulk looks disoriented and verbally handicapped in some scenes, probably dental work and obesity if you ask me.

    • My only issue with ‘Columbo Goes to College’ is that the gotcha – while good in itself – is virtually identical to ‘A Friend in Deed’.

  15. I think if you skipped the first 5 cases (i.e. the entirety of Columbo’s 1989 return) and got straight on with Columbo Cries Wolf, it could have set a far more positive tone for the rest of the revival. The next two episodes after Cries which followed were increasingly solid, and Columbo Goes to College (the one I eventually voted for) was in my opinion so good, it could have aired in the ’70s.

    • As it stands in the pole Currently No time to die and Grand deceptions are tie d with fewest votes votes no surprises there But undercover , Murder in Malibu and Too many notes are worse episodes in my opinion but its early days yet.

  16. Thanks for doing this fun poll, CP!

    My personal Top 10 from the 24 “new” episodes:

    1- It’s All in the Game
    2- Death Hits the Jackpot
    3- Columbo Goes to College
    4- Columbo Cries Wolf
    5- Rest in Peace, Mrs. Columbo
    6- Uneasy Lies the Crown
    7- Sex and the Married Detective
    8- Columbo Goes to the Guillotine
    9- Agenda For Murder
    10- Columbo Likes the Nightlife

  17. This was a tough one because while I generally like and defend the second wave of episodes, when I tried to think of a favourite, I found each of them had some flaw that prevented me from elevating them above the others. Finally I settled on “Butterfly in Shades of Grey.” The only flaw that prevents me from enjoying it completely is William Shatner’s hideous pencil moustache. Other than that, it works on all levels for me. Interesting story, enjoyable villain (both in that you enjoy watching him and in that he’s so smug and snide that you enjoy him getting his comeuppance), fun setting, likeable Columbo.

    • Butterfly in shades of grey is an okay episode for me but far from one of the first new episodes I would actively choose to watch .
      William shatners fake moustache is terrible but I like his character better or more acceptable than Ward fowlers in Fade in to Murder 1976 which I found his character a bit irritating and I dont consider Fade in to murder anywhere near the best of the seventies episodes .
      Molly hagan was excellent as chases stepdaughter I think her character as the protected stepdaughter going off to work with a gay journalist is the episodes best aspect , Jerry winters the un fortunate victim , the gotcha scene is rather simple but effective a few funny moments but nothing greatly memorable so there are more positives to butterfly in shades of grey definetley than Negatives but still not one of the best new one in my opinion .

  18. Death hits the jackpot is my fav orite new one ,

    2nd agenda for murder
    3rd goes to college
    4th murder can be hazardous to your health
    5th uneasy lies the crown
    6th cries wolf
    7th a trace of murder
    8th murder of a rock star
    9th Sex and the maried detective
    10 th a bird in the hand , likes the nightlife or butterfly in shades of grey ( undecided between these 3 )

  19. 1 – It’s All in the Game.
    2 – A Bird in the Hand
    3 – R.I.P Mrs. Columbo
    4 – Undercover
    5 – Columbo Goes to College

    • Its all in the game is Actually one of my least favorite New episodes and one of my least overall , I appreciate many rate it including Cp but i never liked this one much Faye du naway might be about the biggest acting name apart from johnny cash who was mainly a singer to star as a murderer but that dosent make it a great episode
      My main reasons for disliking it is a its far too soppy and romantic which just dosent suit columbo even though hes only playing along nothing like this ever went on in the seventies columbo was polite and respectful yes but that was the limit , in fact most of the scenes with falk and dunaway put me right off espeically the scene where she buys him a new tie and they have a drink at the bar .
      , I hate the scene with the cleaner and the on off which is awful and goes on to long , The victim I forget his name is an annoying although he deserved it
      the daughter whos performance is good but can barley speak english
      but what I dislike most is the ending as dunaway simply confesses to the murder and columbo casually lets the daughter go even sending her on a trip to Europe even though she was an accomplice to murder , Its so far removed from the seventies where none of this stuff happened , I almost never choose to watch this one its just t not one I Never warmed to .

  20. After a rather middle-of-the-road first comeback season, with Sex and the Married Detective being the most interesting episode, the following batch begins with more of the same (Portrait) when, suddenly, things pick up with three very good episodes (Wolf, Agenda and RIP) and a very worthy one (Crown). Then Columbo goes to Malibu and things derail badly. From then on it’s a somewhat patchy affair.

  21. I chose Uneasy Lies the Crown purely because of the method of the murder (poison in the filling!!), and because of the sneaky but sly way Columbo solved it.
    Otherwise I would have voted for Columbo Goes To College. I can watch that one over and over.

    • I voted for Crown, too. Rather enjoyed that episode start to finish. Might not truly be the very best of the new — but if everyone votes for College this exercise won’t be much fun. 🙂

  22. Was undecided between columbo goes to collage and undercover, but I knew many would’ve voted for collage, so I went with undercover, as one of the few I really liked it, it has an unusual formula and not in the bad way like “no way to die”, and I like the treasure-hunt.

  23. My vote goes to Goes to College, it’s just such a relaxing watch, if i’m I’ll in bed with a bug it’s great comfort viewing, second place would be Rest in Peace, if for no other reason than the beautiful Helen Shaver.

  24. Though Columbo Goes To College is a fan favorite (and rightly so) my favorite is Butterfly In Shades Of Grey. Shatners character in this episode was much better than his in the 70’s episode Fade In to Murder. Fielding Chase was hilarious, evil, and sad and the story was well done and very entertaining.

    • Fielding Chase is the one Columbo villain I truly hate and despise, Shatner played him exactly right. I really like the gotcha in Butterfly as well.

  25. Hello fellow Columbo fans and Columbophile!

    I use Firefox, I also tested on multiple computers using different operating systems (even Mageia Linux 8) and architectures (32-64 bit) and the poll is displayed perfectly.

  26. I enjoy watching him so much..I liked the one with Donald pleasence this morning where he owned a winery..

    • Wow, Grand Deceptions at #5, glad to see i’m not the only one who really likes that episode. I think it is really well done and very under rated. It would be #4 for me behind Butterfly in Shades of Grey, Columbo Goes to College, and Uneasy Lies the Crown.

  27. My favourite Episode is
    Agenda for Murder.
    My second favourite
    Make Me A Perfect Murder.
    It is the baddies that make it extra special.

  28. You know there’s been a lot of comments about who appeared as a guest star, or recurring cast remember if you will, more than anyone else. Someone finally said it was columbo’s wife, not so. Think hard and you will recall, he played a supporting role in more Colombo’s than any other movie star ever and almost no one, remembers this. From the head maitre d to a drunk in a auto junkyard, to the bar owner and friend of a man with three wives, and on and on and on and I can’t even recall his name right now but he’s an Italian guy and he has played in more movies than you can shake a stick at as a supporting character. Just thought y’all would like to know. Patrick mcgoohan was second to her in most episodes. P.S. I pitched a new Colombo show idea to ABC and they said they couldn’t accept new show ideas from the public it was great too. His nephew would be the new Colombo same last name he always talk about his wife sisters kid he would ride a motorcycle with leather jacket dark brown hair Italian and he would not have all those corks at Colombo hated but he would have a just a few and instead of just one more thing, he would say”hmmm, have you got just another second”. Or something similar I told them they could have all the rights to it I didn’t want a penny for nothing and they still said forget it. We need a new Colombo so bad but we need it done exactly right. Long live Peter Falk on columbo.

      • Vito Scotti was a supporting actor in American blockbuster “Valley of the Dolls” (a solid “C” movie) in which you can see (and be saddened by) beautiful Sharon Tate, victim of Charles Manson.

        • I apologize for a dumb mistake in the above comment regarding Vito Scotti’s filmography. He did NOT appear in Valley of the Dolls; that was actor “Tony Scotti” (no relation).

  29. Difficult choice for me between Columbo Goes To College and Butterfly – the splendidly obnoxious murderers in the former and the perfect casting of Shatner as the talk show host in the latter. Ultimately I went for CGTC because of the ‘laugh it up, boys’ bit. We don’t often get to see Columbo display genuine animus against the suspects.

  30. Stating the obvious it’s just too hard to narrow down but I chose “Greenhouse Jungle” because of Ray Milland and his hilarious hijinks. When you compare him with his stint in “Death Lends a Hand” as the soft-spoken demure Arthur Kenicott you recognize his superior acting ability not to mention how he and Peter Falk play off each other.

  31. I’m also a fan of the 1960’s sitcom, The Andy Griffith Show. It ran for 8 seasons, but after season 5, the show changed for the worse. Mainly due to the departure of Don Knotts (for his movie career), and the switch from b&w to color. Even though the show ended at #1, most feel that seasons 6-8 were dreadfully dull and lacked the originality, storylines and actor’s chemistry of the show during its’ heyday.

    Columbo had a similar fate, not due to b&w/color, but probably due to the long lapse in time between the classics and the re-boots in the late 80’s, 90’s, and even into early 2000’s.

    However, in my opinion there are several gems during this timeframe:

    “Agenda For Murder” (McGoohan acting and directing a great story line)
    “Columbo Goes to College” (the technology used and Robert Culp’s return)
    “Caution: Murder CBHTYH” (the amazing, suave evil of George Hamilton IV)
    “Murder of a Rockstar” (Dabney Coleman, a fellow Texan + Little Richard WTF?)
    “Death Hit’s the Jackpot” (Rip Torn’s acting genius & another fellow Texan)
    “Butterfly in Shades of Grey” (Shatner’s triumphal return)
    “Strange Bedfellows” (George Wendt in a serious role & Rod Steiger?). It’s also great to see Mike Finnegan and Bruno Kirby from the original series. Mike Lally unfortunately passed in 1985.
    “Ashes to Ashes” (more McGoohan magic, with spicy Rue McClanahan and Sally Kellerman’s horrible fake Southern accent)
    “Murder With too Many Notes” (I know many don’t like this one, but being of Scottish ancestry, I’m partial to Billy Connolly)

    I’d rather watch these over several from the original series, including “A Case of Immunity”, “Last Salute to the Commodore”, and “The Conspirators”.

    Sadly, in my opinion, “Columbo Likes the Nightlife” was unfortunately a terrible swan song for such a great series. But even at it’s worst, both Columbo and The Andy Griffith Show were head and shoulders above anything since in their respective genres.

  32. My vote for the “rock star” episode. (And there was not a rock star in there:) Dabney Coleman is an awesome killer and it’s pretty well written one.

  33. For me, Tyne Daly just NAILS IT in Bird in the Hand. Greg Evigan is great as is their chemistry until she tosses him aside like an old (dead) shoe. She will not be blackmailed but Columbo is too clever for her and her wicked ways. Great article idea CP😀.

    • I just caught that episode a few days ago. I had totally forgotten that my brother’s best friend in high school, Greg, was in a Columbo episode! The two of them were in all the school drama plays. Brought back some New Jersey childhood memories!

    • One of my favorites.
      Evigan is such a sleazebag and the look on his face when she denies him any funds is priceless!

  34. My favorite of the newbies is COLUMBO GOES TO COLLEGE because of its connections to the series history – references to Durk of Scotland Yard, the cameo appearance by Bruce Kirby….

  35. I choose Sex and the Married Detective as my favorite “newer” episode. My favorite scene was Columbo returning to Dr. Allenby’s front door 3 times for further questions following his stressful interview with him holding her briefcase which contained her Lisa costume. Also, I liked him groping for clues under the sinks in the ladies room. It all adhered very closely to the original formula which made the series a popular success.

  36. “Freddie Brower, a guy who is going through a messy divorce wins $30 million, in the lottery. So in order to keep his wife from making a claim on the money he asks his uncle Leon Lamarr to claim the money for him. He agrees but it turns out he is broke so he kills him and Freddy’s wife is helping him. When Columbo investigates Freddy’s death he goes to Leon and learns he’s the lottery winner. But certain things don’t add up which make Columbo think Freddy’s death might not be an accident.”

    Just doesn’t get better from what I remember with 1991 Columbo episode “Death Hits the Jackpot”.

    I suppose I most enjoy the moments of internal laughter watching my favorite episodes…and this one, has many wonderful humorous scenes. Rip Torn is quite a unique and humorous villainous character in this movie.

    (Polar opposite with no laughter was “No Time to Die”…whoever wrote this episode and found humor needs their head examined!)

    • Totally agree. The hippies singing and the chimp and the old Italian lady. Rip Torn is such a creeper in my second favorite episode of the new season. I may be the only person that finds it difficult to watch Torn kill his nephew after he starts to awaken after Torn drugs him.

  37. I am thankful for each year that presented me another Columbo movie, and when the heartwarming “It’s All in the Game” aired, it joined my ranking immediately at #4. It could not remain there for long, but currently it’s back up there again. It’s a plot that could have taken place in a 70’s episode; after all Peter Falk started to pen it in 1971 and left it unfinished for two decades. When it finally ended up on screen, polished and brilliantly acted, it fully justified Columbo’s comeback era. It is even one of the cases that bring tears to my eyes in the end.

    • I didn’t know that Falk started work on his script that early. “It’s All in the Game” reuses the identical “false alibi” method from “Suitable for Framing”: disguise the time of the crime by (1) using an electric blanket to keep the body warm, and then (2) having your accomplice fire a shot in the air near an earwitness. “Suitable for Framing” aired in November 1971. Did Falk come up with this idea first, and hand it off to Jackson Gillis when Falk couldn’t finish his script?

  38. I always felt the Abc episodes improved dramatically after the dull un-memorable season 8.
    I like that they tried a few different things with the formula to spice things up for a 90s TV audience which worked well in RIP Mrs Columbo and Cries Wolf. Even No Time to Die had me hooked when I first saw it as a teenager in the early 2000s. Maybe not the best episode on reflection but I always enjoy seeing Columbo off duty.
    It’ll be interesting to see how some of these episodes fair in this poll, now that the 70s episodes are no longer in contention.
    I love all Columbo, but imagine if we only had the Abc episodes. I would still feel Columbo would rate as one of the greatest detective series ever.

    • Cries Wolf or A Bird in the Hand.

      I think the hatred for Murder in Malibu here is hilarious! I actually like that one.
      Well, I could live without the Lt. saying “panties” but Andrew Stevens plays the weasely leech so well.

    • Yes, Season 9 was actually consistently solid (though I haven’t watched Malibu yet). Been a pleasant surprise after slogging through Season 8.

      Unfortunately, all the new episodes, even the good ones, are noticeably too long. Whenever I flip back to an old ep, the running time feels so much more natural for the story.

    • I definitely agree that season 8 ist the weakest, although I wouldn’t call it dull, Sex and the Married Detective is great and among the most memorable and Murder, Smokes and Shadow is solid as well. But yes, season 9 picked up and can stand with the weaker 70s seasons and the first episodes after season 9 (discounting No Time To Die) are all very strong.


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