04-05-06-08-11-16

Get your scratch-offs, it’s “Death Hits the Jackpot”! Wielding a southern accent slightly less broad than Foghorn Leghorn’s, Rip Torn is the owner of a fancy Beverly Hills jewelry store who’s just gone dead broke. Thankfully, at the moment he gets the news, his nephew (Gary Kroeger) shows up with a winning lottery ticket. The problem? The nephew is in the middle of a divorce and would have to give up $15 mil or so to his ex. The solution? Rip Torn drowns the nephew, claims the prize and makes out with the ex-wife. What a helpful, helpful uncle. Alex Knapp (Forbes) returns to the show to discuss the episode, his theory on how Columbo met Mrs. Columbo, a building full of refugees from other sitcoms, and things chimpanzee-related.

7 comments on “04-05-06-08-11-16

  1. I have to admit that I expected you to tear this one apart, for all the reasons you mentioned in the teaser post (Torn’s accent, the chimp, the sitcom neighbors, the ridiculous costume), plus some of the other stylistic choices. For example, I thought that the musical cues early in the episode (based on “We’re in the Money”) were incongruously cheerful, given that the viewer knows that the Poor Bastard is shortly going to be brutally murdered.

    After hearing the podcast, though, I have to admit that it wasn’t as bad as I thought. At the very least, it’s entertaining. I’d gladly watch it again, which is more than I can say for “No Time to Die” or “Rest in Peace, Mrs. Columbo.”

    1. I have seen this episode many times since it’s first run, it pops up on PayTV in Australia on occasion. I have never thought this was one of the bad 1990s episodes, there are worse. Rip Torn is particularly loathsome as the greedy and sleazebag uncle and the murder of his daggy, but fundementally decent nephew, is horrible and unnecessary as he would have got a reasonable cut of the winnings anyway. A killer with no redeeming qualities. Podcast was highly entertaining. They make me remember why I enjoy Columbo so much, so thanks for your efforts in producing them.

    2. Totally agree about the music – that alone threatened to derail the episode. But it is good fun, and for a 90’s Columbo, the ‘logic’ holds up pretty well (even with the monkey – the fingerprint is one one level tenuous, on another inspired). I always thought that, as cold as Rip Torn’s character is, the almost ex-wife is equally nasty. Straight from the thing with loan at the beginning, the fact she’s clearly with the uncle before the lottery win, to her absolute absence of any hint of regret – she seems to entirely relish being the other woman.

      Great pod, and once again finding depth & substance in a 90’s Columbo, that absolutely makes watching the series better and better.

  2. I remember once reading an interview with the writer Louis Grizzard, who was an expert on Southern regional accents and used to coach actors in TV and film. He said the only actor he ever worked with who “got it” was — of course — Rip Torn. I had the suspicion all through the podcast that the only reason Torn did the accent just that Grizzard told him he could.

    And I, too, am a spot bleeder.

  3. On the monkey’s fingerprint: Listen to this 2002 William Link interview — http://www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/william-link# — go to part 5 (of 8) and scroll ahead to the 23:45 mark. Link tells the story of the origin of this clue, which he considers one of Columbo’s three best ending clues (along with “Suitable for Framing” and “Columbo Cries Wolf”). It was originally conceived for an unidentified 1970’s Columbos, vetted by a forensic expert, but nixed by Peter Falk only to be resurrected here.

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