Created by Richard Levinson & William Link
Starring Peter Falk
- All eight second season episodes
Released by: Universal
Anamorphic: N/A; episodes appear in their original 1.33:1 format.
My Advice: If you’re a fan of the series, go ahead and get it. Otherwise, just watch a rerun on the Hallmark channel.
Everyone is familiar with Lieutenant Columbo (Falk), the unorthodox, cigar-chomping, trenchcoat-clad detective. Whether he’s talking about his ubiquitously absent wife or commenting to a suspect, “Oh, just one more thingâ€¦” you can always hear the wheels turning in his head as he noodles out the mystery in front of him. The second season, set in LA in 1972, is just as packed with guest stars as season one, including Leonard Nimoy, Valerie Harper, and Robert Stack.
[ad#longpost]The episodes, unlike most television series, are 90 to 120 minutes long, and were originally aired sporadically, not weekly. Each episode starts with the commission of a murder seen by the viewer, and then the police show up to investigate, including the wily Lieutenant. Instead of flashing a badge and calling for backup, Columbo has his own style of detection. While the suspects write him off as a bumbling idiot, he keeps pestering his suspects with “just one more thing” until he gets the one piece of the puzzle that nails them.
I know that Columbo is well-loved by many people, and that Peter Falk’s exploits as the loveably disheveled detective won him multiple Emmys, but I can’t help but find the show boring. The fact that as a viewer you see the crime committed, and you see the evidence that Columbo is supposed to eventually uncover–plus the time it takes him to do said uncovering–somehow lessens his astuteness. If the viewer was also following clues more blindly, it might work better, but as the episode progresses, I find myself wondering when the heck Columbo is finally going to get it and catch the guy, instead of trying to unravel the mystery along with him.
If the show were a bit shorter, perhaps the formula would work better. There are shows I like that follow a similar premise: crime first, and then let’s see how the perps get caught. Criminal Intent is a good example. But because it moves at a much faster pace and isn’t bloated, I can wonder how the mystery will get unraveled rather than how much more bumbling I’m going to see Falk get up to. And honestly, it feels like if they had just cut the existing script back, it would have avoided the drag…but otherwise, it’s just a normal hour-length episode in a fat suit.
I’m a big fan of mysteries and crime seriesâ€”I don’t even mind cheesy ones (Magnum, P.I. is one of my favorites), but Columbo just doesn’t hold my interest. Plus, this set has zero features, so there was even less to bolster my attention. If you’re a fan of the series and want to have the episodes for keeps, go ahead and pick up the set. But if you’re lukewarm about the series, catch a rerun on TV and call it a day.