How can a show that lets you know everything up front be a great show? How can it show you who the bad guys are, and who the good guys are and still keep you interested? How can a show wait as long as Columbo does to have our main character come into the picture?
Apparently, when you have an actor as capable as Peter Falk inhabiting the title role, you can take your own sweet time. Columbo - The Complete Third Season was actually something I requested a few months ago when I initially heard that another season of the show was going to be released. I patiently waited, informing the powers that be every so often that I would love to review the new season when it was made available. I feel like I have been rewarded tremendously for my patience.
Peter Falk plays the title role like a lumbering wrestler. He grabs his opponents, gets thrown around, probably gets thrown off a lot too, yet when he sets his sights on people he thinks are guilty he doesn’t let go. He just keeps hanging on and hanging on, until the person in question, man or woman, has no choice but to submit, or they’re so beaten they couldn’t be anything but guilty.
On this 8 episode, 2 disc set, we are treated to performances by Martin Sheen, Vincent Price, Robert Culp, Jose Ferrer and even Johnny Cash. The thing that makes this show work is the faith it has in it’s stories. If this was a movie, viewers would be up in arms over how long it takes for Columbo to appear in some episodes. Yet, the writing is so rich, these characters so interesting, that one might think that Columbo was the bland one. Then he comes on to the screen, with his fearless swagger and amazing mind and you know it’s only a matter of time before he figures things out.
Mrs. Columbo - Murder Is a Parlor Game
This is a bonus episode from the show “Mrs. Columbo”. I gather that she is married to Mr. Columbo, which I guess explains the connection. She is a reporter who solves crimes in much the same way as her namesake. This show was okay, but I guess I am too much of a Columbo purist to see
ANYBODY else embodying the role that it seems like Mr. Falk was born to play. Still, Kate Mulgrew who plays the titular role is certainly believable and does a decent job with the material.
Full Frame 1.33:1. Having been watching this show on TV for the past few years, I was pleasantly surprised by how much the transfer and compression process has bumped up the level of quality for these DVDs. While I never thought that the quality of these shows was that bad, on DVD they look a lot better. I am sure that some preliminary work was most likely done before the compression of these discs took place, but on the whole I just noticed when I was viewing the discs that the picture quality stood out a tad more than when I watch the episodes on TV.
Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono. I think one of my favorite things about this show is the music. It just has such an eery, gothic feel to it. At times it seems out of place, considering the modern settings that Columbo works in, but even then I find that that the music works as it’s own character. It’s as if the music represents Columbo’s state of mind. The wheels are turning and through the audio we are allowed into his unique thought process. While I might be going completely overboard with this assumption and analogy, I do stand by my statement that regardless of the setting the music always works.
Both DVDs in this 2 disk set are housed in a vinyl, cardboard covering. There is a picture of Peter Falk with a big smile on his face, with the ocean and palm trees behind him. The back of this cardboard cover has a description of the show and a specs list. The cases inside the vinyl cover are regular DVD cases, with the same picture of Mr. Falk on both the covers. The back of each of these DVD cases has an episode listing and a description of each episode. This packaging is simple and truthfully, I don’t think this artwork needs any bells and whistles. They can save that for when they release all the seasons together, right?
Usually, we know more then Columbo does, yet as a viewer it doesn’t seem like it ever gets tiresome discovering the things we know all over again. If this isn’t a testament to how solid a show Columbo was then I don’t know what is. Just watching Peter Falk work the character. The way he talks, his mannerisms, it’s done to evoke emotion from whoever it is he is questioning. It derives clues from things that may or may not be there, but if there is something there, Columbo will certainly root it out.
As an aside, even though his part is small, Martin Sheen is brilliant in the episode, “Lovely But Lethal”, that kicks off this set. He’s so amazingly ruthless, yet takes his time and allows his cunningness to sink in like a slow burn. In fact, watching him in this show, it is seriously hard to believe that this is the same person who campaigns for so many social causes. Johnny Cash also shows some range in the “Swan Song” episode.
I guess it’s no surprise that I went into this review with my mind made up. I am just such a fan of Columbo, which I started watching when it aired in syndication on KDOC, that I would like to take this time right now to implore Universal to send us the first 2 seasons of the show!! That would be phenomenal.
As someone who is a big fan of the films of John Cassavetes, watching Columbois at times like seeing a repertory company, in which many of the actors from his movies appeared. In fact, if I remember correctly, Cassavetes appeared on at least one episode of this show.
Mrs. Columbo was released .