What’s this? A high-ranking delegate from a Middle Eastern nation has committed murder to cover up the the theft of $600,000? Yes, it’s “A Case of Immunity”! Thanks to a mistaken assignment, Columbo just happens to be around when Hector Elizondo starts killing off his embassy staff in order to cover up a sloppy embezzlement. In the end, Columbo gets him, sure, but- well, it’s an episode with a few good moments and some drawbacks. Professor Emily Houh is on the show to talk about the good, the not-so-good and hot dogs. Lots of hot dogs. And The Kinks. And critical race theory. And Die Hard. Plus: Viewer Mail!
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As a Detroitet, have to go with Detroit coney sauce. I will eve go so far as to have a favorite restaurant’s sauce.
As I wrote earlier this episode has the same problem as the George Wendt one. Columbo doesn’t catch the killer. The killer confesses only after learning a fate worse than death awaits them. That is not justice, it is blackmail or extortion. I am not a lawyer.
Also, as you pointed out, there is a lot of padding for a short episode.
I’m an Arab-American, and as such it can be a challenge to watch TV or film depictions of Arabs. All too often, they’re cartoons: fanatics with smoldering eyes spouting gibberish. So I was pleasantly surprised that this Columbo episode (in the ’70s, no less) made some attempt to be culturally sensitive. The graffiti spray-painted on the legation walls may have been squiggles, but at least they tried to make it look like Arabic script. And Salah, as was pointed out in the podcast, was cool and standoffish because a) he had a lot to hide and b) he’s a diplomat. Diplomats are not known for sharing their innermost thoughts.
I have to agree with the overall assessment: a decent Columbo; a little padded; not top-shelf, but quite watchable.
I also liked the hot dog digression. In the summer of 1989, my girlfriend and I went to Red Hot Lovers every week for lunch and got the tofu char dog. I still miss those tofu chars. I think my girlfriend does, too. (She’s my wife now.)
The hot dog discussion went on so long, I thought for a second that I’d accidentally downloaded an episode of War Rocket Ajax.
Great show. I’m also an Arab-American and a huge Columbo fan. This episode is one of my favorites and I have to disagree with your guest about the ending. I absolutely love the ending because you know the King is trying to reform the country but you also know that Salah is a hard-liner and I think the King really enjoyed using his own traditions against him. I think we all agree that the fictional country portrayed in this episode is a thinly veiled Saudi Arabia. The harshness of the Saudi justice system is not just a “Western stereotype” as your guest seems to believe. It is well documented, and below are links to three recent stories to back that up. All that being said, this is a great podcast and I’m glad I discovered it. Keep up the good work!
I will second the “great ending.” I can’t argue with the podcast that the plot is not as clear-cut as many episodes, and Salah’s motivations might look at first glance like mumble-somethingsomething-money, but I think hosts and guest overlooked some pretty clearly stated text and some not terribly opaque subtext.
The protesters, yes, are iffy in their motivations, but protester Bart clearly says they are agitating against the old-school holdover hard-liners (like Salah) that the King inherited when he (recently) assumed the throne. They are trying to drive the King to follow his “progressive” leanings and purge the hardliners, a sentiment which will come in handy later…
I don’t see that Salah is merely interested in staying an LA diplomat as was suggested on the podcast. He makes a pretty clear statement that the throne makes the man, not the blood. Which you only say if you’re planning to put somebody on the throne who isn’t of the blood. Like, maybe, yourself.
Which brings it back to the ending, a classic “hoist by his own petard” moment. Although Salah is an urbane, modern sort of fellow himself, he wants to keep a hardline boot on Suaria’s collective necks. The King plays that card against Salah by pointing out that the current hardline policies Salah would steal and kill to preserve would make Salah a very, very unhappy man indeed when turned on him.
I agree that with some reshuffling, Salah’s motivations could have been clearer. It’s not hard for me to imagine that he’s funneling money to shore up his own power/forces in an upcoming coup attempt and that Alafa was starting to get wise and would have stood in his way. And that absolutely could have been spelled out without losing anything of importance. But I think the ending only lags if you see Salah as a greedy gangster with no bigger plan.
Was the King bluffing? Was Columbo? Maybe. Columbo’s played some dirty tricks on some far-less-deserving people before (Neil Cahill/Margaret Nicholson). At least this one didn’t have any collateral damage.