Going way, way back for Columbo‘s second pilot, “Ransom for a Dead Man.” Lee Grant murders her husband (pretty much just for being a boring, okay guy), then tries to cover it up with an elaborate fake kidnapping. Attorney and writer Bob Ingersoll (The Law Is a Ass) and the mysterious “Jim” will be the guests.
So, this pilot for Mrs. Columbo, this “Word Games.” It has Kate Mulgrew. It has Robert Culp. It has Edie Adams. It has Bob Dishy. It has a host of other good people. It has the car. It has Dog. It does not have Columbo. But, it also has a great deal of unpleasantness. A great deal of missed opportunity. The whole thing is just odd and confounding, so much so that Jon and RJ actually go through an episode in chronological order FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER. Historian and author Amanda Reyes (Are You In The House Alone?: A TV Movie Compendium 1964-1999) is back on the program, to help sort through the whole mess. If you’d like to see for yourself, it’s on YouTube.
Well, that whole Mrs. Columbo/Kate Columbo/Kate Loves a Mystery thing had to come from somewhere, didn’t it? In our next one, we discuss the pilot, “Word Games.” Author Amanda Reyes (Are You In The House Alone?: A TV Movie Compendium 1964-1999) returns to take it all in. If you really want to see it beforehand, it’s on YouTube and nowhere else. But that’s entirely up to you.
In “How to Dial a Murder,” Nicol Williamson plays Dr. Eric Mason, a behavioral psychologist looking to exact revenge on his business partner, who may have had an affair with the doctor’s late wife. This revenge takes the form of having trained dogs viciously tear the partner apart after hearing the phrase, “Rosebud,” all while Dr. Mason listens with pleasure over the phone. Quite a guy. Columbo sees right away that these dogs couldn’t be the sole culprits and sets out right away to ensure that they aren’t the only ones going to the pound. Author Glen Erik Hamilton (Every Day Above Ground) returns to analyze the episode, as well as posit the idea of a “Sinister Six” for Columbo villains. Who’d be in that? Let us know!
On our next show, author Glen Erik Hamilton (Every Day Above Ground) returns to talk about Season Seven’s “How to Dial a Murder.” Ever wonder what Those Amazing Dobermans would have been like with a gruesome death and the Landmark Forum added to the mix? Well, here you go!
The Season One finale, “Blueprint for Murder,” stars Patrick O’Neal as an architect whose big upcoming project is placed in jeopardy due to a minor funding issue. What issue? Well, a Texas tycoon’s (Forrest Tucker) young second wife has agreed to devote a huge chunk of the galoot’s fortune to the project and he’ll have nothing of it. So, the architect’s only way to keep the development alive is to kill the tycoon by… uh… well… we never find out exactly. Which is weird, right? It’s just one of many off parts of a solidly okay episode that prevent it from possibly becoming one of the good ones. Peter Falk directs for the only time and he’s good! Really! There are just some odd things here and there that don’t quite gel. Mallory Ortberg (Dear Prudence) returns to the show to sort it all out and talk about how much we all loved the Texan’s ex-wife, Goldie.
What’s this? A high-ranking delegate from a Middle Eastern nation has committed murder to cover up the the theft of $600,000? Yes, it’s “A Case of Immunity”! Thanks to a mistaken assignment, Columbo just happens to be around when Hector Elizondo starts killing off his embassy staff in order to cover up a sloppy embezzlement. In the end, Columbo gets him, sure, but- well, it’s an episode with a few good moments and some drawbacks. Professor Emily Houh is on the show to talk about the good, the not-so-good and hot dogs. Lots of hot dogs. And The Kinks. And critical race theory. And Die Hard. Plus: Viewer Mail!
What happens when a foreign diplomat starts killing off embassy staff? Can Columbo even touch him without sparking an international incident? Find out, in Season Five’s “A Case of Immunity.” Joining to discuss will be law professor Emily Houh.
In Season Two’s “The Greenhouse Jungle,” Ray Milland and his nephew cook up a fake kidnapping scheme to get at the nephew’s $300,000 trust fund. The scam goes off without a hitch- well, except for the nephew, who ends up getting murdered by his uncle. It’s a broad, odd anomaly of an episode, but Milland plays things to such a ridiculous hilt that it retains the fun, despite a few bumps here and there. Kevin Mellon (Archer) is here to talk about the whole thing, along with the Kubert School, deadly clowns on Matlock, the Goo Goo Dolls, and the Human Hickory Farms Log.