Have you ever thought about what kind of dessert you are? No? Perhaps that’s for the best, because the answer to that question drives sex therapist Lindsay Crouse (rice pudding) to murder her business partner/lover and develop a bit of a split personality in “Sex and the Married Detective.” It’s the third episode of Columbo‘s 80s-90s run and, well, it isn’t the best example of the series. Goodness, that tuba scene. Thankfully, guest “Hollywood” Steve Huey (Yacht Rock, VH1) was more than game to watch Lt. Columbo visit a sex room multiple times.
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My memory of this at the time was that the tuba march went on for about half an hour. This is also the episode where my inattentive listening to the scene where “Lisa” leaves a message for “a man named Columbo” led me to the erroneous belief that the show had just casually dropped the fact the lieutenant was called “Emmanuel Columbo”.
Oh, and Sherry Trifle.
I have fond memories of Lindsay Crouse from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so I didn’t have as much of a problem with her acting as the panel did. I thought she did the best she could with what she was given, which unfortunately wasn’t much. As you said, the writers really, really didn’t know how to make this character work.
The tuba scene could have a neat riff on the recurring bit where the killer gives Columbo some task to do in an attempt to embarrass him. But the music teacher wasn’t the killer, and the dancing fountains really destroyed any remaining potential the scene might have had.
The scene with the cleaning lady was even worse.
Sigh. The next ’90s episode you do can’t be this disappointing, can it?
One would hope.
QUEUE UP THE WENDT EPISODE!
Grande grande trash!
Oh, hey, I had rice pudding for dessert just last night (not a metaphor or euphemism).
Thanks for making something good out of something bad…it was great to wallow in the awfulness of this episode. Now instead of dreading the George Wendt podcast, I can’t wait for the day. In fact, can you get that guest who already hates everything about Columbo back for it?
I’m not sure he’s answering our calls.
You guys had me believing that the elision of Robert Culp episodes was purely a factor of the guest’s selection… until it came out that Mr. Huey had no say whatsoever in choosing “Sex and the Married Detective.” Whoops.
The main problem with the Nineties-era episodes is that they are indelibly stamped with the decade in which they were made, something the Seventies-era episodes mostly avoided (aside from the casual, ubiquitous sexism and high frequency of denimwear). Having said that, I found this episode strangely entertaining, perhaps because it was the most overtly sexual Columbo episode I’ve yet seen. (I’ve only started watching the ABC entries — saw most of them in first run, but the memory fades — so it’s possible that “Columbo Loves the Nightlife” will blow my mind even more than this did.)
Regarding the bizarre tuba/fountain scene, I can only guess that the writers had some sort of game going in which the worst ideas for padding were rewarded by being filmed. No other explanation could possibly justify the sheer weirdness on display.
I should probably leave this last topic for later, when the episode from which it derives is finally being discussed, but as RJ as seen fit to mention it twice now, it feels like fair game. What exactly is the problem with Columbo’s introduction into “Murder, Smoke and Shadows?” He’s merely sitting in Fisher Stevens’ Boys Club, playing with the train set! Why does that provoke such strenuous objection?
We will get to it, of course, but it just seemed so elaborate and fake and overdone. And his bit in the beanbag chair. I don’t know. Like I said, we’ll see when we get there.
I think the ending is much harder to digest, with Fisher Stevens’ brief hallucination of Columbo in a ringmaster’s costume. But as you say, we’ll see when we get there.
i liked the bartender school scene, and I really enjoyed the two old guys on the stairs at the music center, and Columbo saying “how ya doin’ fellas”. I don’t know what that was about but I found it very funny.
Yes, but WHO WERE THOSE TWO OLD GUYS???! (Sorry for shouting but I just didn’t get that bit at all, and it’s driving me mad.)
Wait- which old guys?
Oh! Right. No idea.
Right. THESE two jackasses: https://vimeo.com/138320676
I felt like one of the problems with this episode was that they were trying to make it like a conventional detective story where you have a bunch of red herring characters to throw you off guessing the killer, such as having two of the psychiatrists in love with her. (BTW, I agree that both the male docs at the clinic were in love with her but they expressed it differently.) Obviously that’s a waste of time in Columbo when we know the killer already. And yes all the padding in combination with the rushed conclusion. Maybe this was a story written for a different TV show but they hacked it into Columbo format and padded the hell out of it to make it work in the Columbo time slot.
It’s weird I remember watching these late 80s Columbos when they aired and I don’t remember them being this awful. Maybe in the context of other TV at the time, they weren’t.
Surprised that this episode was so poorly received. I though it was a well put together episode and enjoyed the way the episode music linked in so closely with Lisa . Didn’t understand the tuba scene, that easily could been cut, maybe the episode was too short for its tv slot! Bit of a theatrical ending and like all later Columbos, Peter Falks character is played slightly different to the quirky 70s Columbo.
Ok.so the guys on the stairs I thought was an odd reference to laurel and Harvey???? Also I would of loved to hear what the guys fort of the cleaner scene. Also I have an odd theory that the lead character in this was a werid female version of Columbo. First saw it when she asks him -first- “just one more thing”. Columbo often plays mind games and she ties this with him throughout. Embarrassing him and wanting to get to no his personal life. Also the last scene where they are stood face to face and in cream coats Woh a mirror behind them seemed to hold alot of meaning