Grab a bottle! In Season Three’s “Any Old Port In a Storm,” Columbo comes up against Adrian Carsini (Donald Pleasance), the prestigious head of a winery who locks his brother in the cellar when the younger sibling threatens to sell out the family vineyard. Steven Goss (Columbo Interiors) will be the guest.
In “By Dawn’s Early Light,” Patrick McGoohan is Colonel Lyle Rumford, overseeing a military academy whose enrollment has been steadily declining for years. When the scion of the academy’s founder announces plans to turn the institution into a co-ed prep school, the commandant sees fit to rig an antique cannon with C-4 and blow the guy to smithereens. Lt. Columbo is on the case, even bunking in with the young cadets (including a young Bruno Kirby!) and driving Rumford closer and closer to a confession. Michael Grasso (Hold My Order Terrible Dresser) is the guest.
Staying with the military theme, as we visit Season Four’s “By Dawn’s Early Light.” Columbo mainstay Patrick McGoohan is the commandant of a military academy who’d rather commit murder than see the institution become a co-ed prep school. Michael Grasso (Hold My Order Terrible Dresser) joins to discuss.
It’s like the old saying: Sometimes, it’s not enough to stab a guy; you also have to blow him up. At least, that seems to be the thought in “Grand Deceptions,” a confusing late Columbo set at a military think tank which also trains mercenaries on the side. Oh, and illegally runs arms. When he’s not busy shaking yarrow sticks, Frank Brailey, the think tank’s head, diverts millions of dollars from the foundation in the off hours he’s not busy cheating with the wife of his boss, an esteemed retired general. When one of Brailey’s subordinates catches wind of his many, many irons in the fire, that’s when the stab/blowup twofer happens. Call in Lt. Columbo who observes the chain of evidence one moment, while straight-up stealing documents the next. All in all, its a weird mix that never quite gets there and the panel is left wondering exactly who the heck this was for and what it was trying to say. Guests Jennifer Wright (Get Well Soon: History’s Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them) and Daniel Kibblesmith (Late Show with Stephen Colbert) return for this, the 50th show.
Rocketing back into the 90s for the season eight episode, “Grand Deceptions,” in which Columbo has to dig into the secrets of a military think tank that also runs a little paramilitary ripoff school on the side. Joining in the pain of combat are writers Jennifer Wright (Get Well Soon: History’s Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them) and Daniel Kibblesmith (Late Show with Stephen Colbert).
Murder is no game. Well, except for “The Most Dangerous Match,” wherein chess genius Laurence Harvey is terrified at the prospect of losing to someone even more genius-er than he is. Instead of just playing harder, he tries to kill his opponent by shoving him into what passes for early-70s green technology (a massive garbage crushing machine). When that doesn’t quite work, Columbo investigates the not-quite-yet-a-murder, trying to stay one move ahead of this Bobby Fisher analogue, putting his dreams of getting away with it in check. Appropriately, game designer Nathan Paoletta is the guest, helping Jon and RJ put the pieces in place. Games.
“Last Salute to the Commodore” is an odd episode of Columbo to be sure. The titular Commodore, owner of a luxury shipbuilding firm and head of a dysfunctional family, is found dead, presumably of an accident at sea. The prime suspect is conniving son-in-law Robert Vaughn. But wait! He gets killed, too? What? This episode is a whodunnit, complete with drawing room scene? Columbo seems drunk? He has a teen sidekick? He can’t stop touching Vaughn to the point of discomfort? There are shades of Groundhog Day, The Prisoner and Arrested Development? Sure! It’s all strange and actually kind of fun. Writer Christy Blanch is onboard to try and figure out how and why.
Vaughning it up again with Season Five’s “Last Salute to the Commodore,” a perennial favorite of all Columbo fans! Sure, why not? An exclusive LA island community turns out to be a hotbed of murder and betrayal as the patriarch of a shipbuilding (boatbuilding?) company is found dead upon the ocean he loved so much. First-time guest Christy Blanch joins to discuss.
What was supposed to be a pleasure cruise to Mexico becomes a working vacation for Lt. Columbo in “Troubled Waters.” Also on board is used car kingpin Robert Vaughn, who kills the lounge singer who’s blackmailing him, while pinning the murder on her piano-playing ex. Though the crew is more than willing to buy the frame-up, Columbo can’t let it go, even on his vacation. Poor Mrs. Columbo. Back to travel the high seas of crime with Jon and RJ is comedian Richard Massara.