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You’ve Done a Very Nice Job

In “By Dawn’s Early Light,” Patrick McGoohan is Colonel Lyle Rumford, overseeing a military academy whose enrollment has been steadily declining for years. When the scion of the academy’s founder announces plans to turn the institution into a co-ed prep school, the commandant sees fit to rig an antique cannon with C-4 and blow the guy to smithereens. Lt. Columbo is on the case, even bunking in with the young cadets (including a young Bruno Kirby!) and driving Rumford closer and closer to a confession. Michael Grasso (Hold My Order Terrible Dresser) is the guest.


  1. Chana Masaledar Chana Masaledar

    Like the title says, you’ve done a very nice job.

    (I was betting that the title of this podcast would be “No Urinals,” but the one you chose is better.)

    Columbo at its best manages to be so much more than a detective show; it creates fascinating characters who stand on their own. This episode is a prime example.

  2. Jason Brown Jason Brown

    Another cracking pod, and another cracking 70’s episode. Certainly McGoohan’s best by miles, but everything is top notch .

    Re actors popping up in more than one role; what about Culp & Cassidy in the 70’s? It seems if you looked like them, you were to be avoided (here in the Columbo-verse)

    Here’s a thought for a special episode (towards the end, obviously) ; the Columbo awards! Invent a bunch of arbitary categories, such as…

    – Poorest B*astard
    – Sexiest Dad Moment
    – Best Gotcha
    – Best Killer
    – Best Clue

    …and of course, the worst as well! Maybe have a poll to contribute towards it?

    PS Loving the LRS book, eagerly awaiting the follow up…

  3. Joe Joe

    I was hoping the title would be “the battlefield of adulthood,” which comes from what was, for me, the funniest line, for me, in the episode: Logic is the battlefield of adulthood. Why, of course it is. I’m still trying to figure that one out. Rumdord is full of helpful aphorisms that, upon closer inspection, turn out to be meaningless.

    Excellent discussion of an excellent episode. One thing I was hoping you’d bring up while you were talking about Rumford’s psychosexual issues is his repressed homosexuality, with a touch of BDSM. He gets a thrill out of the idea of punishing young boys — the giveaway is the relish with which he growls the word “discipline.” Of course there’s no jealousy over a woman. There wouldn’t be. He’s living an all-male fantasy.

    The symbolism of the exploding cannon should be obvious.

    And it just struck me: the two biggest troublemakers among the cadets — Springer and Morgan — are also the two who we are told have girlfriends. They’ve found the means to escape the boys’ world they find themselves trapped in. And Rumford hates them for it.

    I do take issue with something Jon said, though. I don’t think identifying the cleaning rag would have been Rumford’s way of confessing. It would have been a way of deflecting Columbo’s suspicions. Anyone familiar with the cannon would know what it was. When Rumford said “no idea,” Columbo knew he was hiding something.

    • Jade Dermody Jade Dermody

      Could not agree more

  4. Katya Katya

    Best-ever JOMT for the best-ever Columbo. You caught everything that makes it special — the performances, the script, the memorable atmosphere and visuals. I agree with Joe that Rumford comes across as a repressed and deeply messed up homosexual — closeted even to himself — but I think that was at least implied in your discussion.

    As he dismisses Columbo’s suggestions about factors in his personal life –Any enemies? No. Something involving a woman? Oh no — he’s revealing how empty his life is. McGoohan’s performance conveys that he understands that.

  5. Joe Joe

    Speaking of Bruno Kirby — anyone else notice the dirty look he gives Rumford at the very end of the episode, as he begins to walk back to the dormitory? It says anger, disillusionment and disbelief all at once. It’s wonderful.

    I doubt Capt. Loomis is going to discipline anyone after breakfast. I have have a feeling he’ll just confiscate the cider and tell everyone to forget it. The commandant has been arrested and will be charged with first-degree murder. Cider doesn’t mean much compared to that.

    • Jade Dermody Jade Dermody

      Very much agree

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