From the early days of this podcast (In what, 1986? 2002? 2014?), there has been one episode set aside for the very last Columbo we’d watch. Well, this is it, folks. The last roundup. The final act. The fourth quarter. The seventh ogre. Here, now, is “Strange Bedfellows.”
George Wendt is the owner of a racing horse farm who’s having trouble living up to the standards of his late father. Throw in a brother who’s an inveterate gambler and the guy’s wound a little tight. When little brother owes the mob tons of money, he sees an opportunity to not only kill his brother, but also a gangster in order to clear the debt away. He didn’t count on the local mob boss being a scene-chewing Rod Steiger who has no problem whatsoever working with the cops to entrap Norm Peterson in a third act gaslighting nightmare. Joining us to wrap up the podcast is the same guy who helped start it off, Leonard Pierce.
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I felt so sorry for that poor bicycle that carried Columbo’s heaviest killer away from the crime scene.
Got to give your guys credit, the last quote saying “there’s just no more just one thing” from George Wendt is actually, in its own way, a genius way to end the podcast.
Well played sirs.
And you can always redo Columbo with new guests. The great thing about Columbo at its best is how layered it is. There are always new things to notice.
I really appreciated this podcast and will miss it.
And because you talked about Barney Miller actors, that’s a show that cries out for a podcast.
It really caught the zeitgeist of New York City at a time when it was down.
Peter S. Fischer was credited as “Lawrence Vail” (the writer character in Kaufman and Hart’s first comedy, “Once in a Lifetime,” that Kaufman himself played on stage) not only in this episode but also in “Old Fashioned Murder” and the TV movie “Hellinger’s Law.” According to IMDb, Fischer used this pseudonym “chiefly for scripts which were altered without his approval.”
Thanks for all of the wonderful podcasts over the years. I agree that George Wendt was not great in this episode. You know how you guys always spoke about Columbo shows having “poor bastards” in each episode? Wendt seems like a nice man, but always reminded me of a “lucky bastard” for being in Cheers all of those years. He tends to play a pretty flat, one-dimensional character who seems like he can’t wait to sit down. Cheers fit the bill.
Also interesting to me – it is often said that great actors raise actors around him or her. Peter Falk is wonderful actor, but seems to work best with co-stars who are also good actors (ex – Robert Culp, Jack Cassidy, Tyne Daly, Patrick McGoohan). Bad actors seem to look worse around Falk, by not being able to keep up with him.
Again – thanks for hours of entertainment!
“Strange Bedfellows” was worth the wait. There have been boring Columbos, and disappointing ones, and downright bad ones, but this manages to be boring, disappointing, and bad all at once. There’s almost nothing to recommend in it. George Wendt was woefully miscast, and Rod Steiger’s mafia-don role was really embarrassing.
The podcast episode was great, though; I especially liked how RJ sang his episode recap. Nice work, everyone. This was definitely the right way to end the podcast.
Considering I’ve yet to sit through “Too Soon to Die” from beginning to end, I still think “Strange Bedfellows” is better than the Ed McBain episodes. I will concede that Rod Stieger and George Wendt being the McVeigh brothers might have been an improvement, and I didn’t like the whole entrapment/coercing a confession ending, but I like the scene of the ailing Columbo sitting in the car gathering evidence saying “Bag this. Bag everything” and the cop at the murder scene of the mobster being surly to Columbo. Considering how inexplicably baffled all three of you were by the episode title, I’m going to assume you are wrong about the two mobsters who initially take Columbo to see Rod Stieger being the two cops pretending to be mobsters at the restaurant. Your complaint about Jeff Yagher and George Wendt looking nothing alike was unbelievably petty. Like that’s relevant; boys used to play the parts of women on stage. Thanks for not bothering to explain why Graham killed the mobster and its connection to his acquiring the gun in the opening scene. Not a particularly high note for you guys to go out on. And I’m not related to George Wendt (as far as I know).
A fine end to a great series. And I agree entirely; everything about it is ‘off’ and just half-assed. It’s like a really bad Last Salute To The Commodore, where no-one cares – in a bad way. At least Undercover gave us the scene with Suave magazine to laugh at (RJ’s summary of that moment being particularly memorable).
As this episode was portrayed as the worst here’s my favourite 5* episodes of JOMT, based on personal enjoyment & the number of times I’ve re-listened to ’em…
1) CRMNLG (Ep 31)
2) The biggest Garbage Dump In the World (Ep 47)
3) These People, They Go To Bed Here? (Ep 24)
4) The Gaff In the Head Act (Ep 7)
5=) That’s A Lot Of Fruit Salad (Ep 6)
5=) I Get Paid Not To Count (Ep 30)
* = I know its actually six, but I can’t split the last two)
…and that’s not to say there are any bad JOMT – far from it. Each one has been entertaining, informative and they’ve been a source of great fun & anticipation. Plus I’ve learnt about so much obscure TV and films. Comics, too (this is why I now own Jon’s ‘Regrettable’ Trilogy). I now know about Supertrain, Battle Beyond The Stars, Lookwell, Ten Speed And Brownshoe…
Many thanks RJ & Jon for the last 5 years, really look forward to whatever you guys work on next (maybe you could do a Columbo reboot – a one-shot comic, collaborating together, in a nod to Murder By The Book…?). Roll on that Bilko podcast…
One of the problems here is that the class element is missing. What makes a good Columbo killer is the combination of sophistication, intellect, and money. When all three qualities are present, even a forgettable actor like Gene Barry can make a memorable villain. George Wendt has none of them, and for reasons that have nothing to do with his weight. A heavy actor could bring a good deal of dignity and menace to a role– think of Sydney Greenstreet in The Maltese Falcon.
I put off listening for a full week, until I was ready to say farewell to JOMT. Despite your metric tonnage of self-deprecation and jokes about having no listeners, this podcast was always the one I saved for times when I needed a laugh. Always fun, even when the episodes in question were neither in the top tier nor bad enough to provide for great mockery. Thanks for having me as a guest but especially for the dozens of hours of fun. I look forward to Points and Plugs: The George Wendt Show Podcast.
I have about 20 episodes left but have enjoyed the hell out of your podcast.
Best proof Columbo has a wife… Identity Crisis when McGoohan says “I know!” regarding Mrs Columbo’s favorite music piece. Clearly he had to have been listening into their home conversations.
Best villain that never was…. Elvis Presley. Set in Vegas… with Elvis having killed someone who was blackmailing him. Columbo was on vacation and went to an Elvis show and became involved.
Appreciate all the time you dedicated to the podcast !!!!!
“Murder in Malibu” and either of the two McBain episodes have to be lower on the totem pole than “Strange Bedfellows.” Yes, George Wendt is miscast, but he’s so badly miscast that it’s almost good. George Wendt on a bike? That’s fantastic. The title of the episode makes sense: Columbo cooperates with a gangster to set a trap for the murderer. Many classic Columbo tropes are incorporated into the story. Maybe not incorporated well, but they’re there. Although the episode probably didn’t win any awards, it’s a good bad episode to end your podcast on (ending with a McBain episode would have been depressing).
For your next trick, I recommend you guys go for an original series Star Trek podcast. There are only slightly more episodes of Star Trek than Columbo, so it’s doable, and I know you had one or two guests who know their Star Trek well. I’m sure you could find more. The format of the podcast could be exactly the same as Just One More Thing (don’t fix it if it ain’t broke). The intelligence and sense of humour you bring to your discussions would be a welcomed change from most Star Trek podcasts that are so religiously devoted to Star Trek that they exclude honest critical discussions. You’re likely the raise the ire of those particular fans, but a little hate mail never hurt no one, eh? I’d listen.
Well, dang it, I just discovered this podcast was a thing. I don’t know why it never occurred to me until a couple of weeks ago there might be a podcast about my favorite tv show–it would have been more fun to follow along as you were dropping these. Anyway, I’ve been binge-listening to JMOT and really enjoying it, digressions and all! Good luck in the future.
COZI TV has been rerunning the 90s episodes. I’ve been watching them and listening to the podcasts again afterwards. I won’t rehash all the flaws in this episode, but one thing that did puzzle me was the initial meeting between Columbo and Rod Steiger, when Steiger rattles off some Italian that even I understood and Columbo tells him he never managed to pick up the language. Really? As I recall, he had some long chats with Anthony Alda in “Murder Under Glass.” At first I thought maybe it was a ruse, that Columbo was feigning ignorance so that Steiger and his henchmen (who were really cops) would let down their guard and give away a few secrets. But if so, there was no payoff. I can forgive some lapses in continuity between one episode and the next, but this was too much.
Oh, and the thing about the butts. Columbo says the butt should have been in the ashtray because there was no place else to put it. How about throwing it out the window? That’s what most Americans do.