When OWL acquired the Columbo series (DVD MYST/SUSP COL), I literally jumped up and down with delight! I remember watching the epic episodes when I was a kid and trying to figure out the clues before the mystery was solved. I was so proud of myself when I observed the key clue that Columbo used to catch the murderer.
When I brought home a stack of the series for the weekend my husband was less than estatic. “What…is…this?” he asked as he flipped through six DVDs with Peter Falk’s mug on the cover.
I couldn’t believe he didn’t know who Lieutenant Columbo was! “Only the best detective in the world!” I practically yelled at him. “I never heard of him,” Don responded with a blank look, fueling my anger.
I had to hold myself back from skipping dinner and staying up all night, going right through all six DVDs. I decided to feed Don first to try to ease him into my marathon plan. I played my card carefully. “Look! This one has Johnny Cash in it,” I said, trying to pique his interest. He grunted.
Columbo’s first introduction in this episode was hysterical! After Johnny Cash’s plane crashed (and he’s mysteriously the only survivor), the local news department sends a crew to survey the scene of destruction. Columbo repeatedly ruins the shot by walking back and forth behind the newscaster.
I laughed uncontrollably out loud. Don raised his eyebrows at me and said, “He wouldn’t be able to just walk through the crime scene like that. He’d have to wear special clothes like they do on CSI.” This time I grunted.
Columbo first meets Johnny Cash and fumbles for a pen to take notes with. Again, I doubled over with laughter. Don looked at me sideways, crossing his arms. “None of the Law and Order shows would ever take this long with a single scene,” he mumbled.
When Columbo pulled up to the next scene, they showed him driving his old beat up car. “Sorry sir, we don’t service cars here, just planes,” said a mechanic. I chuckled. “Wow,” said my husband. “That’s a 1959 Peugeot 403 Grande Luxe Cabriolet convertible!” This time I looked at him sideways.
Watching Columbo walk to the door with his hand on the handle and add, “Just one more thing…” really topped my night! By the time the seemingly bumbling lieutenant solved the mystery, Don was hooked. We watched a few more episodes over the course of the weekend, and each one we watched felt like opening a little present. The observation and deduction skills still blow me away. And the guest stars sprinkled throughout the series are fantastic! I hope you get inspired to know Columbo and his many nemesises found here in OWL:
Leonard Nimoy plays a doctor in season two’s “Stitch in Crime.” You’re reminded of just how primitive the show is when Nimoy is in the operating room. It’s a far cry from the technology in Grey’s Anatomy! I’d rather enjoy Nimoy in his Star Trek adventures (DVD SCI-FI/FANT STA) then see him try to outsmart Columbo.
Nimoy’s Enterprise partner, William Shatner also had a guest role in season six’s “Fade into Murder.” He played a cocky actor (imagine that?!) who thought he could outsmart the law. Shatner’s even taken a stab at writing his own mysteries (FIC SHA). They hardly compare to the great lieutenant’s mysteries! His prose is better found in Star Trek Memories (791.457 SHA).
Season three’s “Swan Song” features the great Johnny Cash, who also sings a tune as a rehabilitated conman. Hear Cash’s classics (CD COUNTRY CAS) and read Cash’s story (Cash: An American Man B CASH) in OWL’s stacks.
Dick Van Dyke takes a serious role as a photographer who just can’t take his wife anymore in season four’s “Negative Reaction.” You won’t believe how far technology has come when you see the camera equipment featured in this episode! I do prefer Van Dyke’s quirky humor from Mary Poppins (J DVD MAR). His gruff beard couldn’t fool good ‘ol Columbo, either!
Ruth Gordon tries to outwit the lieutenant as a murder mystery author in season seven’s “Try and Catch Me.” I think the only thing that gets the better of Columbo in this episode is the lime green and orange shag that litters the decade! This late bloomer actress is also a treat in the very atypical romantic comedy Harold and Maude (DVD COMEDY HAR). More about comedienne Gordon’s life can be found the biography stacks: My Side: The Autobiography of Ruth Gordon (B GORDON) and Late Bloomers (920 GIL).
Blink and you’ll miss Jamie Lee Curtis’ cameo appearance as a young waitress in season six’s “High I.Q. Murder Case” in which a chess player’s ego gets the best of him. I prefer Curtis more recently: as a children’s author (JP CUR).
Do you have a favorite Columbo episode or guest appearance? I’d love to hear about it!
Lisa Shaia is the children’s librarian who is always borrowing pens, just like her idol Columbo. She will be reading Peter Falk’s autobiography, cleverly titled “Just One More Thing,” this weekend.