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GALACTICA 1980 CONQUEST OF EARTHZUMA BEACH • SHOTGUN SLADE • PLANET OF THE APES • NIGHT TERROR • EIGHT IS ENOUGH SEASON ONELITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE SYLVIA  • NIGHT COURT WITH KRISTINE DEBELLALICE PILOT EPISODENELS OLESON TRIBUTE • LITTLE HOUSE THE MUSIC BOX • BRADY BUNCH IN VEGA$WHITE SHADOW NEW YORK NICKKELLY PRESTON ON BLUE THUNDERSMASHUP ON INTERSTATE 5 • SURVIVING GILLIGAN'S ISLANDOSCAR RECAP 2012
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BETTER CALL SAUL SEASON ONE: 101 UNO • 102 MIJO • 103 NACHO • 104 HERO • 105 ALPINE SHEPARD BOY • 106 FIVE-O • 107 BINGO AKA BETSY KETTLEMAN EPISODE • 108 RICO • EPISODE 109 PIMENTO • EPISODE 110 MARCO/FINALE • WALKING DEAD SEASON 5THEM • THE DISTANCE • REMEMBER • FORGET • SPEND • TRY • FINALE • HAPPYISHHAPPYISH • TWO • THREE • FOUR • FIVE • SIX • HOUSE OF CARDS SEASON ONE: CHAPTERS 1 • 2-3 • RANDOM PILOT EPISODE REVIEWSMAD MEN • iZOMBIE  • ORIGINAL MOVIES: BEHIND THE CANDLEABRA • RIDICULOUS SIX 
SUMMARIES OF THE FIRST COUPLE OF PRIME SEASONS OF COLUMBO
Peter Falk stars as the scruffy "omnipresent constable," Lt. Columbo, who figures out homicides by badgering and complimenting his perpetrators into submission. As reoccurring villain Jack Cassidy describes him: "Beneath that ruffled exterior, there ticks away the heart of an empiricist philosopher, probing for the truth at all costs."

SEASON ONE (1971-1972)

Title: Murder by the Book
Killer: Jack Cassidy
Victim: Martin Milner
Accomplice/2nd Victim: Barbara Colby
Summary: Young director Steven Speilberg helms this, one of the best Columbo episodes and the pilot series (although several TV movies, starting in 1968, introduced the show). Jack Cassidy is half of a successful mystery writing team, taking care of the promotion while Martin Milner does the writing. Milner quits the team and is about to publish a new book. This would prove Cassidy never wrote anything. That's the motive; Milner is killed; and it's a terrific "perfect crime" setup, and a cat & mouse ensues between scruffy Columbo and haughty Jack Cassidy, who'd guest star in two more episodes. A+

Title: Death Lends a Hand
Killer: Robert Culp
Victim: Pat Crowley
Other: Ray Milland
Summary: If Columbo was Superman, Robert Culp would be his Lex Luthor. In this, one of three Culp capers and probably the best, he's the head of a detective agency hired by Ray Milland to shadow his wife. Then Culp tries to extort the wife (Pat Crowley), and she turns the tables on him: bad move. One of the best episodes as Columbo and Culp go head-to-head: the poor cop verses an independent, affluent detective. A+

Title: Dead Weight
Killer: Eddie Albert
Victim: John Kerr
Other: Suzanne Pleshette, Kate Reid, Timothy Carey
Summary: Eddie Albert is a famous war hero who kills his business partner who might not be reliable in covering up some dirty deals. But there's a witness: Suzanne Pleshette, sailing with her mother in the Bay outside Albert's condo. Columbo has a tough case here, especially when Albert romances Pleshette: successfully. A-

Title: Suitable for Framing
Killer: Ross Martin
Accomplice/2nd Victim: Rosanna Huffman
Other: Kim Hunter, Vic Tayback, Don Ameche
Summary: Some guest star killers are sympathetic, but not Ross Martin, a haughy, jerky, conceited art critic and the nephew of a millionaire art collector who, faceless, is killed within the first minute. Ross, wanting to inherit his uncle's valuble paintings, then has to shut up his lover/accomplice: and Columbo has to peice everything together, solving two crimes at once. A-

Title: Lady in Waiting
Killer: Susan Clark
Victim: Richard Anderson
Other: Leslie Neilson
Summary: Susan Clark is a mousy heiress who kills her dominating brother Richard Anderson, who, head of the family business, doesn't approve of Clark's lover, Leslie Neilson. Clark goes from geek to gorgeous in this, the first episode with a killer who you'll really feel for. B+

Title: Short Fuse
Killer: Roddy McDowell
Summary: The first dud episode. Roddy McDowell, while a terrific actor, doesn't make much of a Columbo villain: usually rich elegant dudes who counterbalance the scruffy Columbo. He's too weak and uninteresting, not allowing the audience, or Columbo, to anticipate a decent rivalry: which never occurs. D

Title: Blueprint for Murder
Killer: Patrick O'Neal
Victim: Forrest Tucker
Other: Janis Paige, Pamela Austin
Summary: Patrick O'Neal makes a fantastic villain: a debonair and pompous genius/climber architect who takes out the money man, Forrest Tucker, while bedding his trophy wife. Columbo has quite a battle here, because unlike many killers, O'Neal doesn't wanna pal around too much with the ever-complimentary lieutenant. A 

SEASON 2 (1972-1973)

Title: Etude in Black
Killer: John Cassavetes
Victim: Anjanette Comer 
Other: Blythe Danner, Lee J. Cobb
Summary: Peter Falk's real life buddy John Cassavetes is a famous symphony conductor who silences his piano player: a lady he's had an affair with, who wants him all to herself. This means maestro could lose his trophy wife, and that won't wash. Good execution of the execution involving breaking out of a mechanic's garage and not being seen by anyone, Cassavetes and Falk have nice anti-chemistry here. A

Title: The Greenhouse Jungle
Killer: Ray Milland
Victim: Bradford Dillman
Other: Bob Dishy, William Smith
Summary: The first episode with Bob Dishy as a bumbling young cop "helping" Columbo, when in reality, Columbo does the opposite of whatever the young protegee suggests. But onto the main plot, a film noirish maze involving Ray Milland and Bradford Dillman pulling off a fake kidnapping so both can score with the ransom. Things go wrong quickly, and Columbo has a complicated plot on his hand, hanging out in Milland's fancy greenhouse till he finds the truth. B

Title: The Most Crucial Came
Killer: Robert Culp
Victim: Dean Stockwell
Other: Dean Jagger, Suasan Howard, Valerie Harper
Summary: Second episode involving Robert Culp as the killer Columbo's out to nab. Culp's as nasty as ever playing the manager of a football franchise giving the heir's spoiled millionaire son a lesson in... mortality. A very intricate and involving scheme going beyond the initial murder, taking place in a swimming pool. An overlong scene involving Valerie Harper as a prostitute slows down what's almost a perfect episode. A

Title: Dagger of the Mind
Killer: Richard Basehart
Summary: Not bad, not great episode where Columbo travels to London. There's a murder involving a famous Brit Bard who thinks he can get away with anything, and Columbo stalks the foggy streets showing who's a better snoop than Sherlock Holmes. Kinda bland, but a fun travelogue. C+

Title: Requiem for a Falling Star
Killer: Anne Baxter
Victim: Kevin McCarthy
Other: Mel Ferrer, Edith Head
Summary: Anne Baxter is an aging movie star, and yet another idol of Columbo's wife, and you know what that means: she's gotta cover up a murder while Columbo dogs her trail. Another episode where the murderer's more sympathetic than the victim, and you'll hope Columbo won't nab the poor old gal. A decent episode, but drags at times. B

Title: A Stitch in Crime
Killer: Leonard Nimoy
Victim: Anne Francis
2nd Victim/Red Herring: Jared Martin
Other: Will Geer, Nita Talbot, Victor Millan
Summary: One of the best Columbos ever. Leonard Nimoy makes an epitomizing killer: rich, swarthy, conceited, and loathes the badgering lieutenant who tries figuring things out no matter what tricks, traps, or red herrings are thrown in his path. Nimoy is a surgeon who tries getting rid of his mentor Will Geer, but this plan, involving heart surgery, will take time: unlike the fake mugging/real murder of snoopy nurse Anne Francis, who's on to doc from the get-go: threatening to expose his motives. Bad choice for her, perfect episode for us. A+

Title: The Most Dangerous Match
Killer: Laurence Harvey
Victim: Jack Kruschen
Summary: Chess is the game here, and the best player in the world, Laurence Harvey, really isn't numero uno, since the true champion, a stalwart old man, retired before his cocky upstart took over. So now, the big anticipated match will prove who's the better player, but not if murder gets in the way: which, of course, it does. Harvey, in one of his final roles, makes a terrific Columbo foil.

SEASON THREE (1973-1974)

Title: Lovely but Lethal
Killer: Vera Miles
Victim: Martin Sheen
Summary: Although the always dependable Vera Miles guest stars as a cosmetics giant doing away with underling Martin Sheen, it’s a subpar episode with plot – involving a miraculous, utterly unrealistic skin cream – bordering on science-fiction. Yet it’s nice seeing our man Columbo sticking to the bitch like superglue. C+

Title: Any Old Port in a Storm
Killer: Donald Pleasance
Summary: Another episode with great actors but a bland execution, excuse the pun. Donald Pleasance is a greedy wine-maker who does away with the one person who has the power to sell the company, and Columbo gets to the bottom of things, as usual. Nice anti-chemistry between Falk and Pleasance, but it’s not one of the classics. C–

Title: Candidate for Crime
Killer: Jackie Cooper
Victim: Ken Swofford
Summary: In my book, Season Three begins here, with a “all around good guy” politician played by Jackie Cooper who takes out Ken Swofford, the shifty campaign manager who knows more about Cooper than anyone – but not for long. Now it’s up to Columbo to figure things out. A clever concept, with Cooper making the murder seem like a mob hit, works well and makes Columbo have to use that big brain even more than usual. B+

Title:
Double Exposure
Killer: Robert Culp
Summary: Aha, the Lex Luthor of the Columbo series is back: Robert Culp as a “motivation research specialist” using subliminal messages, while screening a documentary, to trick an important man into leaving the theater for a drink, and that’s when Culp goes to work – all the while using a tape recorder to continue his narration that everyone else i.e. his alibis are listening to. Another clever premise with Culp vs. Columbo – and although our villain isn’t as overly pompous this time around, he’s just as snarky. A–

Title: Publish or Perish
Killer: Jack Cassidy
Victim: Mickey Spillane
Pawn: John Davis Chandler
Summary: And yet another reoccurring villain returns, fan-favorite Jack Cassidy is a publisher who uses a Vietnam vet bomb expert (though not with an explosive) to take out a writer who’s about to leave Cassidy’s firm – that author played by the real deal, Mickey Spillane. John Davis Chandler adds spark as the mad bomber, who’s promised to get his book on terrorism published in return for the murder, and Cassidy’s “alibi,” taking a little while to permeate, is quite clever. A

Title: Mind over Mayhem
Killer: Jose Ferrer
Victim: Lew Ayres
Summary: A quirky setting and premise about a war room scientist, played by the awesome Jose Ferrer, who takes out the one man who can prove Ferrer’s son plagiarized the work about to merit a coveted award. Lew Ayres is the man basking in death’s shadow, and Robbie The Robot, as himself, is controlled by a genius kid with the name “Steve Spelberg” (his namesake directed the season one classic MURDER BY THE BOOK). Although Robert Walker, as Ferrer’s troubled son, gets whiny and downright annoying, it’s Falk verses the seemingly impenetrable Ferrer that takes the cake. But the conclusion, as Columbo reverts to lying and trickery, is a bit anticlimactic. B+

Title: Swan Song
Cast: Johnny Cash
Victim: Ida Lupino (and Janit Baldwin)
Summary: One of the great episodes – and with a killer you not only sympathize with, but you’ll hope he gets away with murder. Johnny Cash is a famous singer who’s religious zealot wife, Ida Lupino, can and will blackmail him – a few years before he had an affair with an underage girl, who now hangs out with Lupino like a pet kitten. The execution, involving a airplane and parachute, is as adventurous as it is clever. Columbo figures things out a bit too quickly, even for this show, and again, as things wind down, you’ll want Cash to walk the line straight past Columbo’s inevitable ring of fire. A+

Title: A FRIEND IN DEED
Killer: Richard Kiley
Summary: Another so-so episode about blackmail and double-cross involving a police commissioner and, well, it’s a filler track on an album of much better tunes. This one ends season three, and is directed by Falk’s pal Ben Gazzara, who would later captain a much better episode about a luxury liner. D

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MURDER, SMOKE & SHADOWS •  COLUMBO CRIES WOLF

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