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Didn't know all these shows were part of the Friday night entertainment on NRK. When I think Detektimen, I usually think of Derrick, haha!
My favorite episode of the season is “Death Lends a Hand” (with Robert Culp as the murderer) but my favorite murderer of the season would have to be Ross Martin in “Suitable for Framing” (my second favorite episode of the season). I think Martin and Falk have great chemistry together and I actually found out that those 2 have known each other since Falk was 12 and Martin was 19. Ross Martin was camp counselor at some camp where Falk was doing some play (at age 12) and so Martin was a sort of mentor for Falk. They were friends ever since. When you watch “Suitable for Framing” you can see instant chemistry between the two! I think Ross Martin was a very charismatic foil to Falk’s bumbling detective. Compare Martin to Roddy McDowall from the same season and there’s a world of difference - McDowall is just unbelievably hammy and twitchy. Way too OTT!
I agree that McDowall isn't very good. His acting is too manic for Peter Falk's Columbo. The chemistry isn't there either. It's like having Columbo investigate Ace Ventura for murder.
Ross Martin was Falk's acting coach, I believe.
By the way, I don't agree with making this thread a catch-all for these crime shows. Columbo needs its own thread.
Had to Google Ellery Queen; it's interesting how many crime shows Richard Levinson and William Link were involved with!
Season one of Columbo is some of the best I've seen from a TV series. Jack Cassidy, Ross Martin and Patrick O'Neal were all fantastic in their roles, so choosing a favourite murderer is very difficult. Maybe Cassidy for me.
My favourite episode from season one has to be the first - Murder by the Book. One of the first episodes I saw as a kid, and still the best.
Regarding Roddy McDowall, I didn't mind his acting. There was some moments in the episode that was a bit OTT, but it didn't bother me too much.
Also, bear in mind, that episode was a bit thrown together. NBC wanted a seventh Columbo for that first season. Peter Falk had a hard deadline to do a play on Broadway. So deadlines were tight. It was actually the final episode produced that season, though it aired (I think) next to last. Source: The Columbo Phile book.
That voice belonged to Hank Simms (1923-2013), an announcer with a remarkable career.
Columbo related: Simms did the "bumpers" for The NBC Mystery Movie. As the Henry Mancini theme winds up, Simms says, "Tonight starring Peter Falk as Columbo." Ditto for the other parts of the Mystery Movie.
re: the Cannon clips earlier in this thread. Simms had a 15-year association with QM Productions (first episode of The FBI in 1965 to the final episode of Barnaby Jones in 1980)
re: other stuff. Worked as the announcer for the Oscars for more than 20 years. Also announcer for the Emmys. Also announcer on movie trailers. Also did "bumpers" ("SHOW TITLE brought to you by SPONSOR NAME") for shows as diverse as Mannix to The Phyllis Diller Show.
Short Fuse is played as the second last episode on my DVD set, too. Now that you mention it, that episode does have a bit of 'thrown together feel' to it. Not as good as the other episodes perhaps (but still very good, I think).
Great trivia! Hadn't heard about Hank Simms before. Seems like he had quite a voice-over career!
Been meaning to get my hands on a DVD set of The Police Squad. Seems like my type of show!
From what I remember, the Columbo Phile says when Richard Alan Simmons took over as producer in S6, he wanted Columbo to have a more "formidable" entrance each episode --to make the killer feel a bit more uneasy right off the bat-- and to have Columbo give him a harder time, and not to appear so much to be "on his side," so to speak. He also wanted the social and psychological motivations of killers to be explored in greater depth.
And precisely beginning on S6, Columbo becomes more confrontational than before. It's still all smiles and politeness on the surface, but there is greater tension in the relationship with the killer, with Columbo much more openly signaling that he's onto him. For some reason, not everyone sees this-- it's so obvious to me! (Would you agree, @AlexanderWaverly ?)
Make Me a Perfect Murder is an episode which presents both this "new" Columbo and a more detailed exploration of the life and mindset of the murderer.
I feel the same way about Culp in S2/S3 myself. I probably prefer his season one character (and probably the episode too), but the way he and Falk act together in those two episodes is just perfect.
Really interesting! I finished rewatching the 70's episodes earlier this year. The impression I was left with - which I was reminded of when reading your comment, is that I felt something was different from season 6 onwards (and probably by season 5's Last Salute to the Commodore).
I didn't like these episodes as much as the earlier ones, and these changes to Columbo's character might be one of the reasons. Make Me a Perfect Murder is an exception, though. I really liked that episode.
...and Hank Simms did that also! He, in effect, was doing a parody of himself.
Absolutely agree. The murderer is initially startled, then things settle down.
Under the Simmons regime, one of my favorites is the episode with Ruth Gordon as an Agatha Christie-type author/playwright. Her niece was murdered and she takes her revenge on the niece's husband. At some point, in the middle of the episode, Ruth Gordon essentially pleads for mercy (in an indirect, hypothetical way). Columbo tells her to not count on that.
Haha, that's brilliant!
Any Old Port in a Storm is a great episode. Easily top six for me. A bit controversial maybe, but I don't feel season three is the best. I enjoyed season one, two and four more, actually. Can't put the finger on why.
Another one was the former actress played by Janet Leigh in "Forgotten Lady". Not only did Janet prove that she still had it, even at 48, but she gave quite a heart-wrenching performance as an actress.
Anyway, in episodes from season 6 onwards, in the scenes with the murderer, Falk isn't just more threatening, he also overacts and is considerably more "cartoonish" than before, with a more pronounced "Noo Yawk" accent. In earlier seasons, he is clearly a bit eccentric but still comes across as a relatively normal person. But in something like Try and Catch Me and Murder Under Glass he is much more affected-- more "Poirot", so to speak. I think it actually works well with Ruth Gordon and Louis Jourdan, who have a bit of a larger-than-life style to them, though I still would've preferred Falk's earlier style of interpretation, which had already worked well with other larger-than-life performers.
In Make Me a Perfect Murder, his co-star is Trish Van Devere, an actress who is a bit more natural and subdued, so he isn't as affected as in the other episodes, but the arrogance and edginess, which weren't present in the first seasons, remain. They have some long scenes together and all throughout them, he rather openly lets her know he knows she did it: he has a threatening smile on his face and a generally more commanding, authoritative presence. (IIRC, in the scene in her office in which he tells her about the buttons in the blazer, at one point he asks her to "please sit down"-- something in his acting there is markedly different than in older seasons; it's a "please" but it's really an order he's giving her). There's nothing like that in earlier seasons, where he generally makes the killer think he does not suspect him at all, and even when the killer realizes Columbo is pretending to be a fool and tells him so, Columbo remains generally rather subdued and non-threatening in his appearance and behavior, even if he knows the guy did it and is intent on arresting him. (Well, with the exception of those occasions in which he gets angry at Leonard Nimoy or Robert Conrad.)
I also like Make Me a Perfect Murder. One bit I really love is when Van Devere enters her office, in her first scene with Columbo, and he is lying on the couch, reading something, IIRC. He pulls up his glasses and looks at her. Glasses on his forehead, neck brace, cigar in his mouth. Very eccentric and striking image. It would tell anybody who's never seen the show before that this guy may not look like a leading man, but he is going to be a major presence in the story. And that is followed up with Columbo asking her to walk toward him as if she was holding a gun in her hand. Great stuff.
Also in that episode, I remember greatly liking the part in which Columbo is sitting down outside the safe, thinking and puffing on his cigar. Then he steps inside and finds the scratches in the metal boxes. The lighting is superb-- his silhouette, the cigar glowing in the dark and the smoke. And the percussive music is magnificent. It has these metallic hits that sound like the victim banging on the safe door, crying for help.
I enjoy that one. The solution is a bit weak --not in cleverness, but in terms of not feeling enough like it would lead to the killer being convicted--, but the setting, acting and characters are great. Pleasence feels relieved that he gets caught at the end. Fine moment.
Though if we talk season 3, the Johnny Cash episode is second to none. The ending is truly touching. Cash makes the most out of it.
Think I read something about the series not being renewed or similar, too (can't remember where). The "whodunnit" bit was a bit strange. Can totally understand them wanting to change things, but it could have been done better. Didn't think much of that episode in general, either - in comparison with the other episodes of season five.
Good points about Make Me a Perfect Murder. That couch scene you mention is great - just love hove they did that. Regarding Trish Van Devere: Make Me a Perfect Murder is one of the few episodes where I find an actor/actress just as good, if not better than Falk himself. Van Devere stole the spotlight in that episode.
Haven't seen Cash in many acting roles, but really like him in this one. I wonder; was this role written with Cash in mind, or was it a case of brilliant casting?
A Christian and at the end. He expresses sorrow at his actions, so much. He tells Columbo he would have handed himself in, as he wouldn't be able to live with himself.
Good point. The role definitely suited Cash, that's for sure!
That is true. Enjoyed every scene he shared with Falk!
Was unaware of most of these facts, with the exception of the cameo's of Jeff Goldblum and Jamie Lee Curtis, Columbo revealing his first name, and that Falk himself directed an episode. The return of the modernist house from the first episode took me by surprise; hadn't noticed that at all!