Next time, we discuss our final 70s episode, Season Four’s “Playback.” Oskar Werner is a gadget-happy electronics executive who’s about to get fired from his mother-in-law’s company. This far into the podcast, we all know how he decides to address the situation. Guest Dylan Meconis (The Long Con) will be on hand to discuss.
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One of the very, very best episodes of Columbo ever. So does this mean the rest of the run of pods will be a glorious wallow in the, erm, rest…?
I think it does mean a wallow, but there aren’t too many left. Once “Playback” is done, the only Columbo episodes left are season 9, ep 5, “Uneasy Lies the Crown”; season 13, ep 4, “Murder with Too Many Notes,” and of course season 13, ep 1, “Strange Bedfellows.”
And of course our gracious hosts might come up with other material to cover: maybe another Mrs Columbo, or a retrospective of the whole series, or something I can’t even imagine. That wouldn’t be a wallow.
P.S. I know Leonard Pierce would scoff at me for saying this, but “Strange Bedfellows” is definitely worse than “Undercover.”
Heh, when I say wallow, I mean revel in the mess that the remaining episodes represent… There’ll be a lot of fun ripping the episodes on to shreds!
Love this episode! Always been a favorite. I have to say I also enjoy Uneasy Lies the Crown, although many seem to disagree.
The Harold character in this episode is so delightfully combustible . One of the most unstable murderers in the series, always on the verge of a coronary. It’s fun to watch as Columbo gets under his skin. You half-expect steam to come out of Harold’s ears—especially at his schitsoid end meltdown. Fun.
I always thought this episode was something of a snooze. Oscar Werner pretty much sleepwalks through the part, Geena Rowlands never catches on that he’s a bad guy, and what’s Robert Brown doing there at all? The thing that puzzles me the most — and I hope you’ll address it — is, when does Columbo begin to suspect Harold? At the summation, he says he accepted Harold’s story, and during the scene at the window, when Harold suggests maybe the burglar took off his shoes, Columbo just smiles, taps his head, and thanks the guy. In any other episode he’d have a comeback explaining why the killer’s theory doesn’t work.
And the scene at the art gallery — jeez, we get it. Columbo is a philistine. (The thing about the air vent is right out of Reiner and Brooks.)
And does anybody else think it’s weird that the owner of a technology firm would fire a guy who’s actually interested in technology?
Guess we’ll mark you down as “undecided,” then?
If the guy interested in technology is burning through your cash reserve, seemingly dragging the company down, is a complete douche nozzle, and most importantly cheating on your daughter, then yes!
“You’re incredibly evil, Margaret.” God I hope that’s the podcast eppy title. I have yet to get one right.
This is another Columbo that I definitely watched in the 1970s, possibly when it was first aired. I remember the gotcha moment clear as day.
I’d rank “Playback” among my top 10 Columbo episodes. I think I have a soft spot for episodes of shows with atypically dark cinematography (Wild Wild West’s “Night of the Simian Terror” and “Night of the Undead,” Star Trek’s “The Doomsday Machine,” the first half of Miami Vice Season 3). Maybe it’s an offshoot of my love of film noir. And seeing Charlie Chaplin try to kill Martha Raye in Monsieur Verdoux gave me a new perspective on this episode.
Well. This’ll be a controversial episode.
I love when the woman at the art gallery describes Harold’s watch as a super watch with “red letters” instead of numbers. Also, the lunch order always makes me want Chinese food. Lastly, was always interesting to see Steve Major’s mom on Six Million Dollar Man be so nasty on this show.
I’d completely forgotten who played Steve Austin’s mother. I remember Ford Rainey playing his father (and Jaime Summers’ apartment being above their garage), but before seeing Monsieur Verdoux, I knew Raye mostly from her Polident denture commercials.
I’m surprised at how many people have affectionate memories of The Six Million Dollar Man, of which I remember Andre the Giant looking like someone covered his face in rubber cement and pencil shavings.
I’ll put this way: Richard Anderson is in Forbidden Planet, Kubrick’s Paths of Glory, Frankenheimer’s Seven Days in May, and Detective Steve Drumm on the last season of Perry Mason, and Oscar Goldman is still not only the role he’s probably best known for, but the role that’s probably kept him out of obscurity.
Plus, D.C. Fontana was the head writer on The Six Million Dollar Man season 1.
One other unusual thing about this episode: It’s the only one I can remember in which Columbo doesn’t bother about motive. Usually he is, as he once said, very big on motive. But here, he never figures it out. He never even considers it.
Further pointless intel : on the DVD Box set, the disc this is on has three episodes that decrease in quality as you go through the disc, with a cliff drop at the end :
1) Playback (great, my all-time number 3 Columbo episode)
2) A Deadly State Of Mind (middling – no. 34 on my all time list )
Bonus Episode) Mrs Columbo – A Riddle For Puppets (Oh heavens, not in my top million of any TV; still better than the Mrs Columbo pilot, mind/)
Jason, you HAVE to share the full list now, you know that, right?