We Ain’t Winnin’

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.

9 comments on “We Ain’t Winnin’

  1. Fun podcast ep as usual! Hart Bochner’s accent was similar to the one he adopted in at least one ep of Mission Impossible, which I believe that show used to call “Gellerese.”

    You can never have too many One Night in Bangkok references.

  2. Nice work, everybody.

    “The Most Dangerous Match” was a mixed bag, but I definitely appreciated it more after listening to the podcast.

    Mmm… garlic…

  3. Also: I know I’ve said this before, but I applaud your decision to do more ’90s episodes now. You really, really don’t want to be stuck doing a whole string of them back-to-back in the final months of the podcast.

  4. I appreciate when the podcast will get me watching an episode that I tend to skip during re-watches. Didn’t listen to whole thing yet – but wondered if anybody else hears Six Million Dollar Man music at certain points during the episode. I know the composer is Oliver Nelson. His stuff was also used for the Requiem for a Falling Star episode. Thanks again.

  5. I lived through the intense media coverage of the Fisher-Spassky chess championship matches, which dominated the news in the summer of 1972, ending just as the Munich Olympics were starting. Interest in chess skyrocketed. This episode aired only six months later (on March 4, 1973). I’m hard-pressed to think of another Columbo episode so linked to something so topical. [The only other Columbo that comes to mind is “Try and Catch Me,” which aired (on November 21, 1977) just 4 days before Agatha Christine’s “The Mousetrap” marked the first 25 years of its run. The episode contained something similar in its plot.]

  6. Listening to the podcast, good so far.

    A couple thoughts

    On the medicine, given the paranoia of US/Soviet relations in the era I could see them demanding to use “our superior Soviet medications”.

    On the gotcha, it always seemed to me this was a non gotcha.

    The theory is a hearing person would hear the machine stop and push the button

    But the whole point was to make it look like an accident. If you push the button then it is clearly not an accident (unless the victim reached up and pushed it themselves).

    So a hearing person who wanted to keep the accident theory going would absolutely NOT have pushed the button

  7. Love the podcast. Alternative (or real?) Columbo Universe is sinking in more heavily with me. Columbo obviously has a huge beef with the upper class. The initial parts of the show where the murders take place before he appears are not reality – they are Columbo’s visions. He is making up his version of the murder so he can (a) maintain his astronomical close rate and (b) artificially impress others with his ability to find crazy little nuisances that lead to the murderer. With (b) he is overcompensating for his lack of social stature and style…some of this also comes out in Sexy Uncle Columbo where he ties a feeling of power to his “homicide detective” role and attempts to impress younger females with this power and position. Either he is the actual murderer or it is a John Doe or Jane Doe who is never properly discovered or vetted through sloppy detective work. Initially the upper class target is very helpful and wants to assist in finding the real murderer – because a loved one or someone close to them has been killed. But Columbo is a psychopath and a compulsive liar (he has no wife, no uncles or cousins or…). He manipulates and hounds them to demonstrate that the murder is going to be pinned on them one way or another. Once they slowly realize this and that evidence has been planted everywhere, they become increasingly irate at his presence and insinuations. Like an innocent person worn down through hours of interrogation, they are worn down by Columbo’s extreme body odor, planted evidence, and stalking. To make it all go away they eventually capitulate and confess to the crime or allow Columbo a temporary victory before the case ultimately gets thrown out on court.

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