For our latest, we go back to Columbo‘s first episode (yes, yes- there was the TV movie and then the pilot, but this is the first episode), directed by a young go-getter named Steven Spielberg. It’s Jack Cassidy’s first turn as a murderous creep, killing his writing partner (Martin Milner), rather than letting him break up the team. Joining us is The AV Club‘s Gwen Ihnat, who wrote a wonderful column about Columbo‘s best episodes a little while ago.
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In honor of another great episode of the podcast, and to give RJ nightmares, I made this animated gif of Jack Cassidy toasting a corpse:
It’s beautiful. Should have sent a poet.
Nice work as usual.
I like the gif, too.
Your final phonecall reminds me that I must tell you of “Tonight’s Episode”: http://www.crummy.com/writing/misc/Tonight%27s%20Episode.html
There was a TV movie of the Superman musical, which you can actually find on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNXbdLDZLKM
It’s got Kenneth Mars as Max Menken, though, so you’ll have to imagine Cassidy’s turn.
When you consider the various phone calls in the episode, keep in mind that 1971 local calls didn’t show up in phone records — only long distance calls. So there would be no record of a call from Ferris’ office to his wife, but there would be a record of a call from Franklin’s San Diego cabin to Joanna Ferris. Accordingly, Franklin had to create an innocent explanation for the record of Ferris’ phone call from the cabin. That’s why he called Joanna from the grocery store.
But there is a plot flaw: Joanna would tell Columbo that as soon as she heard the gunshot, she immediately called the police. The LAPD would have a record of the precise time she first made her report. The phone records would show the time the call was made from Franklin’s San Diego cabin. It would be seconds before Joanna called the police. And Joanna could say that Franklin’s call to her from San Diego was significantly earlier.
my favorite theory in this episode is as soon as Colombo sees the wife hes trying to figure out if she is the murderer or not. Wives are often the murderer and she is the one who has called the police and took them to the supposed scene – which is odd. He is probably standing in the office while Joanne is having her breakdown but is being unobserved as she says “I didn’t see you”. Later in the corridor at the water fountain he thinks she didn’t do it but he just wants to make sure so he gets her away from the police, spends time with her driving her home, them makes her comfortable by making and omelette. Once she starts talking about Franklin and him not being a writer and his partnership ending Colombo now has a new suspects. So when Franklin shows up at the door and starts telling Colombo his alibi (without being asked) of being out of the state and he drove (instead of flew) and he knows the body is missing and he suspects who did it Colombo goes -YEP THAT’S MY GUY