Artie Stokes. Salt Lake City.

EP17_titlecard

“Undercover” is not a typical Columbo, by any stretch of the imagination. Columbo carries a gun. The mystery (such as it is) isn’t solved until the end. There’s no one central murder. He kind of has a partner. A lot of this is due to it being based on an Ed McBain 87th Precinct novel. But still, why on earth…? And the whole Tyne Daly thing? Anyway, Jon, RJ and returning guest Leonard Pierce (leonardpierce.com) try to figure out why this season 12 episode happened. It is a very, very strange thing.

7 comments on “Artie Stokes. Salt Lake City.

  1. Now that you’ve done this one, I’m going to suggest that there’s no good reason do the other McBain-derived episode, “No Time to Die.” While NTtD is a little bit better, most of the things you said about Undercover are true of that one.

    On the subject of Ed McBain, I’ve never read his 87th Precinct books, but I have seen the unjustly obscure 1961-62 TV series, with Robert Lansing and Norman Fell. I thought it was a really solid police procedural with great characters. It reminded me a little of Dragnet, but with better acting and without the fascism.

  2. I think they’ve kinda committed to doing all the episodes, even the bad ones. (Heck, after doing a Mrs. Columbo episode, there’s nowhere to go but up.)

    Personally, I think “No Time to Die” is worse than this one; there aren’t any fun character performances, and the plot feels like a below-average episode of Criminal Minds, excuse the anachronism.

    At least “Undercover” has Shera Danese and Tyne Daly (hey, I liked her performance), and the little joke that everyone who met Columbo while he was undercover immediately thought he was a cop.

    1. You’re probably right about that. My impression re: relative quality was based on a single viewing of each a couple of years ago. I remember liking “Undercover” more—or maybe disliking it less—so naturally I assumed that “No Time to Die” was objectively better.

      “No Time to Die” was also a serial killer story, but maybe they get a pass on that because it was made before that became the single most overdone thing ever.

      1. We’re definitely going to tackle No Time To Die, for better or worse, although “when” and “with whom” are up in the air. Hopefully it’s a bit down the road so that I can read the novel on which it’s based, for background …

    2. I like Tyne Daly too! I dunno why people object to a little scenery-chewing, this ain’t a documentary! We pay these people to act, so let’s see ’em ACT! Act HUGE!

      1. I hated “Undercover”– Tyne Daly (and the Zubaz pants) may be the best things about it. Though it works better if you think of it as episode of “Police Squad!” rather than “Columbo”

  3. I actually like this episode lol
    not because its amazing, but because it was different. i remember watching and thinking “wait whats going on this isnt the usual episode”. of the 90s columbo its one of the better ones for sure

    and i dont think the worst ep is Strange bedfellows. by far the worst episode is “columbo likes the night life” now that is god awful

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *