In this next-to-last edition of the podcast, Jon and RJ list their top and bottom five Columbo episodes, talk about favorite performances and answer lots of your listener questions, along with a bunch of other talk about the program. And yes- a bunch came in after this was recorded! Don’t worry- they’ll go through them and cover what they can during the George Wendt Episode.
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Thanks for great podcasts, cleverness, and keen insights. Really going to miss you guys.
Enjoyed hearing your takes on best and worst and reviewing our questions.
Some of my favorites from the 1970’s that were not mentioned are: Prescription Murder, Double Exposure, Candidate for Crime, Negative Reaction, and Playback.
From the more recent shows – I also like: Columbo Goes To College and Murder In Malibu.
Looking forward to the Wendt podcast – but sorry it is the last one.
Thanks for all of your podcasts these past few years – I just finished a re-listen through your entire catalog in anticipation of the final episode, and it all holds up on a second listen (the first Aaron Bleyaert is more entertaining once you know what you’re getting). I’m really hopeful that you guys will come up with an idea of another podcast to do together because I really enjoy the format and the banter between the two of you and your guests.
OK, as a Brit who has lived in the US for nearly 20 years, I have to weigh in on why the show is more popular in the UK:
* You’re not wrong about the syndication thing – when I was a kid (growing up in the UK in the 80’s) there were literally a grand total of 3 – eventually 4 – channels that you could possibly watch. The BBC channels were two of those, and they would mercilessly repeat the few US shows that they paid to import, Columbo being one of those. I think I remember that Columbo would be shown on weekday afternoons, probably because they had literally no other content to show. This was a time when PRIMETIME viewing on Sunday on the second BBC channel was sheep-dog herding. Honestly. For some reason, whenever I turned on the TV on a Sunday it seemed to be showing ‘A Matter of Honor’ – my gateway to the Columboverse.
* Brits like old people, not-conventionally attractive people and just regular people in their TV. Look at all our movie stars. In particular, watch UK soap-operas – they are full of regular-looking people with bad clothes doing ordinary things – running market stalls, working in pubs. We like our TV stars to look like us, and Columbo is relatable – he’s one of us.
* Which leads to what I think is the biggest reason – I think Jon mentioned this as his theory – class. Nearly everything in Britain art and culture touches on class, to an astonishing degree. The big difference between UK comedy and US comedy is that nearly all UK comedy is to some extent about class: Fawlty Towers is about a middle-class person trying and failing to be upper-class. Keeping Up Appearances. Only Fools and Horses. The Office. We Brits love nothing more than the little guy trying to be the big guy. If he fails, it’s funny. If he succeeds, it’s drama. British audiences identify with the underdog and the common man, not aspirational glamor and beauty. Colombo fits perfectly because he is the little guy fighting back: he is always underestimated, belittled and ridiculed by his ‘better’ foe. But he turns this to his advantage, and every time, the little guy wins. We – the audience – win. Brits just love this stuff. I can’t think of another US show that is so explicitly about class, it’s intrinsic to every episode.
* It’s a very good show (when it’s good). Brits like a good show 😉
Great podcast, guys! I’ll miss you when it’s over. The George Wendt episode is bad, but not extraordinarily awful like ‘Undercover’ (which breaks all the rules – it isn’t even about class!)
Many thanks for answering (a great many of) my questions. I hope they were okay!
Top pod again, good fun to listen to, and to get your overarching opinions on the whole kaboodle.
As it’s the season for this, my top 10 episodes of all time are…
1) Candidate For Crime 2) Suitable For Framing 3) Playback 4) Death Lends A Hand
5) Etude In Black 6) Murder By The Book 7) Troubled Waters 8) A Friend In Deed
9) By Dawn’s Early Light 10) How To Dial A Murder
and the bottom 10 of the list; there is a 70’s one here…
60) Caution : Murder Can Be Hazardous To Your Health 61) Grand Deceptions
62) Butterfly In Shades Of Grey 63) Sex And The Married Detective 64) Ashes To Ashes
65) Old Fashioned Murder 66) Murder In Malibu 67) Undercover
68) Rest In Peace, Mrs Columbo…..and 69) Strange Bedfellows
Strange Bedfellows is just rubbish TV, full stop. So I’m looking forward to you and your guests (was that a spoiler / teaser at the end of this pod about who it might be?) ripping this one to shreds.
Really enjoyed the journey these last few years, and look forward to whatever you guys work on next. And yes – a Columbo source book would be a magnificent idea. Or why not go the whole hog, and create a Columbo RPG…
A Columbo RPG? Check this out:
RJ mentioned Columbo’s humility as the reason he is such a great character. For me, when I was growing up (the show premiered when I was about 13), it was a combination — not only was he humble, but he was also the smartest guy in the room. He saw things no one else saw, and he always got his man (or woman), dropping little hints, in a series of seemingly random conversations, that he knew exactly what was going on.
This episode was terrific, and made me wistful. I’m going back to watch some of the 90’s episodes for the first time in decades, which will at least give me an excuse to re-listen to those eps of JOMT. Thanks for having me on (twice, even!), and giving us all so many hours of fun.
Rather than list my favorite Columbo episodes or killers, I’ll leave you with my Top 5 Rageaholics from Columbo*…
*limit one (1) Culp.
10. Abigail Mitchell – Try and Catch Me – not an angry woman? Try mentioning nieces or sailboats and see how that goes
9. Adrian Carsini – Any Old Port in a Storm – blows his top twice, making one guy dead and another wish he was dead
8. Fielding Chase – Butterfly in Shades of Grey – to be fair, being righteously angry is kind of his job
7. Hugh Creighton – Columbo and the Murder of a Rock Star – Creighton’s Law clearly involves a lot of barking at people
6. Luis Montoya – A Matter of Honor – seething is a good look on him
5. Emmett Clayton – The Most Dangerous Match – but where is my PROOF he shouldn’t be #1?
4. Vivian Dimitri – Rest in Peace, Mrs. Columbo – at least she had good reason to be so ticked off
3. Jarvis Goodland – The Greenhouse Jungle – apt that a man so obsessed with flowers specialized in withering asides
2. Paul Hanlon – The Most Crucial Game – infuriated right up to his mustache with EVERYBODY
and our Number One Rageaholic from Columbo…
1. Mrs. Peck – Double Shock – just drop the health cookies and run
I was relieved to hear that you were agreed on how bad “No Time to Die” was.
I will gladly concede that “Undercover” has a multitude of flaws, but at least it had a few redeeming features. “No Time to Die” has all the problems that “Undercover” has, plus a few more, and zero relief from the awfulness.
I’m looking forward to what you’ll have to say about “Strange Bedfellows,” but I’m sad that the podcast has to end. It’s been a great ride.
For me, the Rage Queen was Ruth Lytton (Joyce VP) from Old-Fashioned Murder. The woman was a tower of repression — very controlled on the outside, but every couple of years, she’d have to compensate by bumping off a family member.
Greatly enjoyed the podcast but I don’t think you understand Columbo as a detective at all. He’s not some avenging sprite, he’s supposed to be the most traditional drawing room detective. He’s Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple, Poirot and many others. He’s certainly not really a cop. Does he ever indicate he even has a gun? Has he ever slapped the cuffs on anyone? No, he solves impossible murders, locked room mysteries, breaks perfect alibis, etc. I also almost completely disagree with the 90s episodes you liked. Rip Torn is brought to justice by a monkey? Are you nuts? Columbo in the ringmaster’s outfit? Jeepers. How did you leave out Roddy McDowell as an excellent murderer as well as Lawrence Harvey for honorable mentions? Didn’t you think Jose Ferrer was sympathetic for trying to protect his son’s reputation? I also think you’re wrong about how well know Columbo is — especially among baby boomers. It was a huge hit when it was on and Peter Falk was one of the biggest stars on tv. The fact that you work with a bunch of baby morons who don’t know MASH doesn’t say anything about Columbo’s fame. I think what is says — other than that they have no taste — is that they don’t watch tv at all — just YouTube. The raincoat, the cigar, the false humility — those are such famous tropes that you can’t have a detective in a trench coat without it being a Columbo reference.