Coming back soon from a hiatus with a Mrs Columbo episode, “Murder is a Parlor Game.” Don’t let the fact that it stars Donald Pleasance as the killer fool you. If you’d like to take a look beforehand, it does seem to be available on YouTube at the moment, but… well, that’s on you. Joining in the discussion will be returning guests Jennifer Wright (Harper’s Bazaar, Get Well Soon: History’s Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them) and Daniel Kibblesmith (Late Show with Stephen Colbert).
It’s our final 70s Columbo of the podcast! We’re saying farewell to the Lieutenant’s original decade with “Playback,” an episode featuring dazzling futuristic gadgetry, bowl haircuts and Gena Rowlands. Electronics executive Oskar Werner is on the verge of being fired by his mother-in-law. He kills dear old mom, then rigs his home’s elaborate security video setup so no one even discovers the murder, until he’s safely in alibi city, miles away. The gadget-happy killer’s plan even has Columbo stumped for what seems to be longer than usual, in an episode that also feels longer than usual. Dylan Meconis (The Long Con) is here to look through this one, which seemed to stay at a flat level of “just fine,” as well as speculate how a Columbo comic book series might work. In all, a nice edition of the podcast.
Next time, we discuss our final 70s episode, Season Four’s “Playback.” Oskar Werner is a gadget-happy electronics executive who’s about to get fired from his mother-in-law’s company. This far into the podcast, we all know how he decides to address the situation. Guest Dylan Meconis (The Long Con) will be on hand to discuss.
The final episode produced for Columbo‘s original run, “The Conspirators” has Irish poet Joe Devlin (Clive Revill) brokering an arms deal to send an RV-load (literally!) of machine guns to the IRA. When he shoots the dealer over a perceived betrayal, he not only has to cover up the crime, but also figure how to get his hands on those guns. Columbo is in a race against time, drinking pints and shots and slinging limericks, to prove Devlin did it and prevent the weapons from leaving Los Angeles. Steven Goss (Columbo Interiors, Robophono) joins Jon and RJ to talk about an odd end to the original series.
Next up, we discuss the last 70s Columbo produced, “The Conspirators.” The Lt. gets involved with gun running, pinball, erotic art and lots and lots of Irish whiskey. Returning guest Steven Goss (Columbo Interiors) joins Jon and RJ to sort it all out.
In Murder, a Self Portrait, artist Max Barsini (Patrick Bauchau) has kind of an odd arrangement- he shares a beachside house with his second wife (Shera Danese) and his model/mistress, all while his first wife (Fionnula Flanagan) lives right next door. When the original Mrs. Barsini announces she’s moving out to be with her former therapist, the artist fears she’ll be take a deep, dark secret along to her new digs- Max’s murder of an art dealer decades ago. Deciding he can’t trust her to keep quiet, he kills her on the beach and throws her body in the water to fake a drowning. When Columbo’s assigned to the case, he has to endure lengthy portrait sessions and multiple black-and-white dream sequences to get closer to proving Barsini’s added murder to his palette. Joining to discuss the episode, along with page three murders, hate quadrangles and trinity structure, is podcaster (Hold My Order Terrible Dresser) and writer (We Are the Mutants), Michael Grasso
Back to the latter-day Columbo, with 1989’s “Murder, a Self Portrait.” When a famous artist kills one of the three women in his life, the “Leftenant” has to a lot of sitting in black-and-white dream sequences to nab him. Returning as guest is podcaster (Hold My Order Terrible Dresser) and writer (We Are the Mutants), Michael Grasso.
Well, what can one say, except that this is certainly an episode of Mrs. Columbo? In “A Riddle for Puppets,” our heroine stumbles upon a mystery involving a ventriloquist (Jay Johnson) who begins to hear voices from his dummy. When those voices lead him to stab his mentor to death, it’s up to Kate Columbo to sort of stumble across some clues and make some leaps the audience doesn’t see to bring the killer to justice, with the help of a clown dummy. Or, maybe he isn’t brought to justice? We don’t get to see that, either. The guest for this one is Abed Gheith, so we talk about a whooole lot of other things aside from this. What else? Oh, a Mrs. Columbo reboot for the CW; the Columbo-as-Antibody theory; the concept of television spinoffs; basic sitcom structure; Mama’s Family (???); the films of Jacques Tati; etc. Come on, we deserve some slack, as we’ve been here twice before. It’s about the journey.
Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Yup, it’s another Mrs. Columbo. This time, with a possibly homicidal ventriloquist dummy. Writer, podcaster and roustabout Abed Gheith will return to talk about it.
In “A Trace of Murder,” Shera Danese and David Rasche are having an affair and try to get her husband out of the way by framing him for the murder of a business rival. Here’s the thing, though- Rasche is the CSI lead on the case! A perfect way to make sure all of the evidence points the wrong way. But whoops- here comes Lt. Columbo with a bag of bananas and a sneaking suspicion that the clues are lining up a little too perfectly. The AV Club‘s Gwen Ihnat is here to talk about the weird recap at the end of the episode, Dennis Franz nudity, the possibility of a Columbo reboot and oh, so much more.