In “Old Fashioned Murder,” Joyce Van Patten plays Ruth Lytton, who has put her entire life on hold in service of the family museum. When her brother threatens to liquidate the collection and shut the joint down, she stages a robbery with an ex-con museum guard and murders both men. Columbo has to unravel the whole sordid case, dealing with eccentric wealthy people, annoyed hair stylists, uneven performances and story threads that just sort of peter out. It’s a bit of a mixed bag. Writer Jaime Fountaine (jaimefountaine.com) joins Jon and RJ to discuss.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | RSS
Very funny podcast. The whole watch thing was hilarious. Also, I would so watch Let’s Call Darryl, a show about a 70s hairdresser/gay rights activist. (Deliberately conflating the Three’s Company Episode with this one..which to be honest I did a search and I can’t find an episode where Tripper is read the riot act by a gay activist, which makes me wonder if RJ hasn’t conflated Three’s Company with something else as well… I found lots of articles where people from Tripper apologists, so you’d think they would have brought it up if it existed.)
I think Jeannie Berlin’s acting was good in the jail scene, but her style was very jarring when placed alongside Joyce Van Patten. They just didn’t work together. Same thing with Celeste Holme as well. Maybe it was just poor direction or inexperience actor, but yeah she was quite stilted at times.
I think the first time I watched this I mentally filled in my own ideas about the characters and didn’t realize that the writers hadn’t quite gotten there. You’re right though the backstory doesn’t add up. They strongly hint that Janie was Ruth’s daughter, but why would Janie’s father have married the sister ? That would have been a very public break-up that made it look like he was having to marry the sister because she was pregnant. Which is what the episode sort of winds up saying happened. Which I guess it makes sense that she resents Janie and tries to pin the murder on her. But it’s very convoluted. I feel like maybe they changed the script radically half way through and didn’t bother to fix these problems. Also the motive for killing the brother just seems super weak. If she was gonna kill anyone in her family, why not kill her sister who either stole her man or her baby or both?? Just a mess.
As I don’t want to see RJ saddled with the shame, it is I who conflated the Three’s Company episodes in question. I have a pretty clear memory of seeing the episode in question when I was a kid, but then memory can fail us in our dotage (RJ and I are both in our nineties).
And you’re right, this episode is a mess. The more I think about it, the less sense it makes. Also, I forgot to mention that it was filmed in the same mansion as the old Batman series, which might have explained everything — these folks might have been Batman villains! No wonder they were so all-over-the-map …
This Columbo had a lot of potential. Joyce Van Patten did a good job portraying a deeply bitter, ice-cold revenge killer. The family drama could have been compelling. And there were occasional scenes (such as the jail scene) that worked well.
But on the whole, it just didn’t gel. The script clearly needed a couple more revisions. Jon mentioned the back-and-forth dialogue editing: not only is that tired editing, but the blocking wasn’t even done properly, so it didn’t look as if the actors were in the same room at the same time. I also thought the pacing was off; some scenes just seemed to drag on unnecessarily. And then there was the haunted suit of armor…
All in all, the episode was just too uneven and apparently rushed. At least the podcast about it was entertaining.
Incidentally, thank you, RJ and Jon, for continuing to make such a fun podcast. I hadn’t watched Columbo since the 1970s, and it’s been great being reintroduced to the show.
Thanks Chana! And thanks for being an avid commentor, I always like reading what you have to say!