November 28, 2009

Review - Columbo: The Complete First Season

 Today, I'm reviewing Columbo: The Complete First Season on DVD. Yes, I know the box set was released years ago, but I only got it on Tuesday, so bear with me.

 To be honest, in my early years of watching mystery shows on television, I somewhat avoided Columbo because of its tendency to show the murderer commit the crime at the beginning of each episode. To me back then, figuring out who the killer was was half the fun. Now that I'm older, I can see why this show has remained so beloved years after it first aired. Because these episodes show the murderer at the beginning and are much longer than most episodes of mystery shows, they allow for more character depth and get the murderer's identity out of the way so we can instead try to find how our title character figures out who the killer is and how he proves that person's involvement in the crime.
 Our hero Lieutenant Columbo is not your usual mystery-solving cop, as he's trench-coated, cigar-chomping, super-polite, and doesn't carry a gun. His slow-witted demeanor, though, is actually a put-on to lull suspects into a false sense of security, and in every episode Columbo proves to be a brilliant detective with an eye for detail.
 The set includes the two pilot movies, Prescription: Murder, and Ransom for a Dead Man, and features a wide range of guest stars like Leslie Nielsen, Roddy McDowall, Eddie Albert, and Ray Milland.
 Image quality is no issue here, as these episodes are beautifully restored. The set's devoid of special features, although later DVD sets include an episode of Mrs. Columbo.
 I should add that the music, especially that in Prescription: Murder, is fantastic and very effective, giving each episode kind of its own theme.
 I captured some images from the DVD to illustrate (sorry about the image quality, my computer's DVD player captures an image in bitmap, so I had to use Paint to convert these to JPEG). Click each image for a larger version.

Lee Grant as Leslie Williams in Columbo: Ransom for a Dead Man

Peter Falk in Columbo: Ransom for a Dead Man

Jack Cassidy as Ken Franklin in Columbo: Murder By the Book

Ken Franklin (Jack Cassidy) and Lily LaSanka (Barbara Colby) in Columbo: Murder By the Book

Pat Crowley as Lenore Hunnicutt in Columbo: Death Lends a Hand

Brimmer (Robert Culp) and suits in Columbo: Death Lends a Hand

Peter Falk in Columbo: Dead Weight

Eddie Albert as Martin Hollister in Columbo: Dead Weight

Ross Martin as Dale Kingston in Columbo: Suitable for Framing

Dale Kingston (Ross Martin) in Columbo: Suitable for Framing

Susan Clark as Beth Chadwick in Columbo: Lady in Waiting

Peter Falk in Columbo: Lady in Waiting

Betty Bishop (Anne Francis) and Roger Stanford (Roddy McDowall) in Columbo: Short Fuse

Roger Stanford (Roddy McDowall) and Columbo (Peter Falk) in Columbo: Short Fuse

Patrick O'Neal as Elliot Markham in Columbo: Blueprint for Murder

Peter Falk in Columbo: Blueprint for Murder

Mystery buffs and children of the mystery-obsessed 70's should definitely check this set out!


  1. You definitely have a very nice and unique blog. I have not seen before somebody reviewing the best classics.
    Keep it up.

  2. I like how Columbo was not so much a who did it as it was a how he got caught. It usually worked backwards telling you who the criminal was and what he did in the beginning.