It’s like the old saying: Sometimes, it’s not enough to stab a guy; you also have to blow him up. At least, that seems to be the thought in “Grand Deceptions,” a confusing late Columbo set at a military think tank which also trains mercenaries on the side. Oh, and illegally runs arms. When he’s not busy shaking yarrow sticks, Frank Brailey, the think tank’s head, diverts millions of dollars from the foundation in the off hours he’s not busy cheating with the wife of his boss, an esteemed retired general. When one of Brailey’s subordinates catches wind of his many, many irons in the fire, that’s when the stab/blowup twofer happens. Call in Lt. Columbo who observes the chain of evidence one moment, while straight-up stealing documents the next. All in all, its a weird mix that never quite gets there and the panel is left wondering exactly who the heck this was for and what it was trying to say. Guests Jennifer Wright (Get Well Soon: History’s Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them) and Daniel Kibblesmith (Late Show with Stephen Colbert) return for this, the 50th show.
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As a Columbo fan, this is fine. Not Murder By The Book, but eh, it’s okay.
As per my previous comment, I really enjoyed this one on recent re-watching. Sure, it drips in hokey – loads of dubiousness here, and really hard to disagree with any of the objections on the pod – but I got my moneys worth from it. Methinks no one watches Columbo for the gritty realism (or basis in reality?)
There are – relatively speaking – far worse late period ones from this. I know about the ‘alternative classics’ (Undercover, Sex & Married Detective, Strange Bedfellows). I watched Murder : A Self Portrait yesterday, and I think you’re going to have a ball with that one, not to mention Columbo Cries Wolf…
Cracking pod. Definitely do a little more Mrs Columbo (I only found out today that 2 whole series were aired!). And I reckon you should do at least one episode purely discussing making a Columbo now: could it work, how it would go, definitive cast, clues, in the digital age, & so on. Keep up the great work!
When I read the title of the episode and saw that it had a paramilitary setting, I immediately thought of Grand Illusion, the classic 1937 anti-war movie directed by Jean Renoir. Not that this episode had anything in common with the movie, other than the military thing.
I would definitely be up for more Mrs. Columbo, if you guys don’t mind wallowing in the awfulness.
The people are speaking up, RJ!
Since you mentioned Andy RIchter in the podcast – if you’re gonna do Mrs. Columbos, might as well do an Andy Barker, P.I. podcast!
The people are speaking up too much, RJ! 😉
Enjoyed the podcast. Got me watching a Columbo episode that I usually skip. Just an IMDB note – the General in this episode played a much nicer husband than when he was Carl Donner in the A Deadly State of Mind with George Hamilton episode. I guess the actor – Stephen Elliott – only takes on roles for shows in which an office building houses some odd foundation that does bizarre experiments behind closed doors.
I second the nomination for Mrs. Columbo. That or Murder She Wrote. I guess Mrs. Columbo better because fewer episodes.