Pocket-Sized Hemingway

title-card_publish-or-perish

When a best selling author tries to leave Riley Greenleaf’s (played by Jack Cassidy) publishing company, the smooth, smarmy operator sees no choice but to have the writer killed, then blow up the creep he hired to do the deed. “Publish or Perish” is the last Jack Cassidy Columbo episode we’ll be covering, and it’s a doozy. Mickey Spillane! Bomb-making books! Bad interior design! Chili with catsup! Alan Fudge! The Valley! Leonard Pierce (leonardpierce.com) returns to the podcast to give it all a good look-over.

10 comments on “Pocket-Sized Hemingway

  1. By this point, the series was really into a tight groove, and this one (from season 3) is one of the best from arguably the all-round best season. Cassidy was great, wasn’t he? And his batting average was 3-for-3 (even Culp had one clunker…)

    I think Candidate For Crime gets another reference in this season (the Culp classic Double Exposure). I also seem to recall a reference (in the 90’s) to the Columbo’s ‘doing a cruise once’ which was a clear nod to Troubled Waters. The series has a few nods to continuity, but not too many, which I think helped the suspension of disbelief. To be fair, though, it seems the ‘expanded universe’ approach and super critical continuity is a more recent thing; I seem to remember the 70’s & 80’s cop show’s generally being more self-contained.

    By the by, if Strange Bedfellows (eh…) is going to be the finale, will your respective personal favourites be the preceding two episodes?

    Many thanks as ever for a great podcast.

    1. We haven’t quite decided what we’re doing in the run-up around the final episode, but I know we’d like to make it somewhat special, in content if not format. We’re open to all ideas.

      The cruise ship gets a reference in A Matter of Honor, as well. Weird thing I noticed about whenever past cases are referenced is that they get referenced pretty completely — Columbo or whoever’s talking about them goes into some degree of detail about them, so that there’s little to no doubt what episode they’re talking about. It’s a little … I dunno, exposition-heavy? Fan-service-y?

      Thanks for listening and commenting!

  2. “Strange Bedfellows” is so much worse than “Undercover.” So is “No Time to Die.” That’s my two cents’ worth, anyway.

    Another fun podcast. How could it not be, when you had such a great episode to discuss?

    1. I quite like No Time To Die. Not perfect, sure, and almost certainly adapted from a spec script (“Hey, lets’s have Columbo go after a psycho!”) but having it against the clock was a decent novelty. Due to the amount of police station / cop-heavy stuff, another McBain adaption? Also, it gets (for a Columbo) I think quite full on for a too-long second or so. You know the bit I mean, towards the end. As an episode, it’s almost Criminal Minds : Columbo, or that kind of thing.

      Strange Bedfellows reputation is, the more I think about, well deserved…

  3. The best Columbos have great endings. The ending of this episode (a topic you don’t discuss) was weak. The how-could-you-have-known-what-hadn’t-yet-happened bit is a cliche (see “Identity Crisis”), with the set-up revealed by Mariette Hartley’s character for no compelling reason. Another cliche was the murderer using an accomplice while giving himself an alibi, and then murdering the accomplice (see “Suitable for Framing”).

    Perhaps the cliches were intentional — to make you think Alan Mallory had written the story.

    By the way, in discussing Mickey Spillane, you didn’t mention the great speech in “Marty” about him. (“Boy, can that guy write.”)

  4. I was mistaken about who had the exquisitely bitchy (dare I say, Riley Greenleaf-esque) line about Ayn Rand making Mickey Spillane look like Dostoievsky — it was Flannery O’Connor, not Mary McCarthy.

  5. About the motive: I watched this episode the other night, and at first, from the way they were talking, I thought the killing had something to do with the contract — that is, if Mallory died before his contract expired, then whatever he was working on would be owned by Greenleaf. But the contract angle was dropped, replaced later by the insurance policy.

    Columbo does mention the Heyward case in Double Exposure — another reference to Candidare for Crime.

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