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Daddy’s Here!

So, this pilot for Mrs. Columbo,  this “Word Games.” It has Kate Mulgrew. It has Robert Culp. It has Edie Adams. It has Bob Dishy. It has a host of other good people. It has the car. It has Dog. It does not have Columbo. But, it also has a great deal of unpleasantness. A great deal of missed opportunity. The whole thing is just odd and confounding, so much so that Jon and RJ actually go through an episode in chronological order FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER. Historian and author Amanda Reyes (Are You In The House Alone?: A TV Movie Compendium 1964-1999) is back on the program, to help sort through the whole mess. If you’d like to see for yourself, it’s on YouTube.


  1. Jason Brown Jason Brown

    I YouTubed this earlier today, and I’m commenting before listening to the pod, but…

    – worst. intro. EVER! to a TV show
    – Culp was a good presence, wasn’t he?
    – The main event death is nastier than anything in Columbo – the episode as a whole
    has far more threat and menace than any Columbo.
    – This may have the ultimate poor bastard, as played by the poor wife.
    – the tone was all over the shop, veering from broad comedy to sitcom to slasher horror
    – all that said, it is still better than Strange Bedfellowes. If they had simply had no connection to Columbo, toned the comedy down a bit, they might have had something.

    Looking forward to the pod on the drive in to work tomorrow!

  2. Chana Masaledar Chana Masaledar

    A fun podcast! You covered everything that was objectionable about this Mrs Columbo (and there was a lot to cover).

    As Jason says above, the episode’s tone is amazingly uneven. It’s cutesy, then it’s menacing, then it’s twee, then it’s horrific, then it’s dull, then it’s ridiculous, then it’s horrific again, and finally it’s extra twee. (When there was a cut from Mrs C incinerating the psychopath to her doing a silly tap dance with her daughter, I put my head in my hand and groaned. It was just awful.)

    If you do another episode from this show, you should either aim for terrible (“A Riddle for Puppets”) or tolerable (whichever one Amanda Reyes thinks is best).

  3. Lee Lee

    I watched “Word Games” prior to listening to the podcast (still listening as I write this, btw), and I have two humble requests:

    1) Please devote an episode to the Levinson-and-Link penned TV movie “Rehearsal for Murder,” which is coincidentally also available on YouTube and is a thousand percent more enjoyable than this dreck; and

    B) Please never devote an episode to any iteration of “Mrs. Columbo” ever again. I thank you in advance.

    • perletwo perletwo

      LOVE Rehearsal For Murder. Lynn Redgrave as the murder victim was AMAZING. It’s also on Amazon Prime, and it’s available on DVD for a little under $10 new on amazon or under $2 for a used copy.

      • DrGlitterhouse DrGlitterhouse

        I’m an even bigger fan of Murder by Natural Causes.

        I remember watching the pilot for Mrs. Columbo when it was first broadcast, and I think I only watched one of the actual episodes. As you and your guest suggested, I watched the pilot out of curiosity since I was a fan of Columbo, and it didn’t appeal to me enough to watch it regularly. (And I’m somebody who watched both Turnabout and Sweepstakes regularly.) In fact, every time I saw that the title of the show had changed, my reaction was “Wait! This show is still on?”

        I don’t understand what you mean by saying no one connected with Columbo was involved in Mrs. Columbo, since Richard Alan Simmons, the producer on Columbo’s final season, was the developer on this.

  4. perletwo perletwo

    One thing y’all didn’t touch on: Kate Mulgrew’s performance + the scripted characterization of Mrs. C.

    To wit: They worked so hard to write Mrs. C as arch and witty and clever, and KM pushed those notes so hard, that she came off as overbearing and her ability to communicate information was muddied. (i.e. the first meeting with the sergeant.) She wants to be a reporter? In a paper with extremely limited space for news copy? CONDENSE. BE CLEAR. I felt like Columbo, whose speech is so simple and direct, and Mrs. C spoke completely different languages!

    Also, having seen Caviar With Everything, I think the directors/network must’ve given KM the note to tone that down. It’s still there, but not nearly pushed as hard.

  5. Calum Calum

    I have no fewer than two full episodes of Mrs Columbo on DVD. Of all the extras they could’ve put on the European Columbo box sets, this is what they chose.

  6. Lisa Stein Lisa Stein

    Hi – really enjoying the podcast episode. Love you guys and guest. Some general thoughts in car on way to work while listening:

    – 1970s TV really was sadistic toward women at times. I grew up watching Charlie’s Angels – that prison episode was a sadistic-palooza.

    – So funny that Mrs. Columbo’s realization and existential moment was reflected in kitchen appliances. Very 70s. I was thinking would have been funny if during that psychedelic appliance view, if Robert Culp’s face wearing those sunglasses in Death Lends a Hand would have appeared.

    – Lastly – what if instead of Bob Dishy being the detective who showed up – it was Bruce Kirby playing Detective George Kramer. He would not have been so accepting of Mrs. Columbo’s attitude at times.

    PS – possible name for series if they were not so hooked on a Columbo theme – Kate Mulgrew would play a character named “Penny” – then could be “Penny Save Her.” (it’s a very long ride from Phila to Trenton, NJ every day).

    • Jonathan Morris Jonathan Morris

      You’re fired.

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