columbo is leaving netflix on january 1st!!!
what are the must-watch episodes? in my personal opinion:
murder by the book (season 1, episode 1) – great intro to the detective, directed by a very young steven spielberg
suitable for framing (season 1, episode 4) –
etude in black (season 2, episode 1) – john cassavetes is the killer!! directed by the dude who would later go on to play COACH in “cheers,” nicholas colasanto!
stich in crime (season 2, episode 6) – leonard nimoy is the killer!!! if you like him and you also like peter falk (as i do), you will be keeling over with joy throughout the whole ep. a lot of extremely cute scenes
the most dangerous match (season 2, episode 7) – this is a chess-themed one, and it has some truly wacky cinematography and character acting in it. the 1970s italian restaurant in this one haunts my dreams.
double shock (season 2, episode 8) – this is a very inventive episode featuring death by electric hand mixer thrown in the tub and twin killers (or are they??). there are some really insane gags in this one, including an anal retentive maid and a cooking show tangent that is in there for absolutely zero reason other than to show off how adorable columbo is (seriously).
lovely but lethal (season 3, episode 1) – this episode is all about makeup and glamour and watching columbo stumble through this pristine (and scientific!) world is a real treat. featuring vera miles, martin sheen, vincent price as a makeup guru and CEO …!
double exposure (season 3, episode 4) – all about subliminal advertising, which must have still been a novel concept in 1973, but it’s amazing how well the wonder of it still holds up. robert culp plays an ad man who specializes in psychology of advertising, who is also a serial blackmailer and… a murderer!! using subliminal messaging!! how can columbo figure this one out?
negative reaction (season 4, episode 1) – dick van dyke (!) stars as a bitter, perfectionist photographer. the detective work is top-notch, the character acting is great all around.
troubled waters (season 4, episode 4) – ben gazzara directs (he directed a few!) this completely nutso bottle episode, filmed entirely on an international cruise ship out on sea. involves a lot of sequences of lounge music and sleazy affairs. the killer is completely non-charismatic and peter falk’s hair is blown to hell. definitely don’t watch it first, but after you’ve already fallen in love with peter falk and can appreciate how weird this episode is.
playback (season 4, episode 5) – gena rowlands plays a supporting role as a tragic housewife in a wheelchair. the killer is an obsessive guy who has cameras all over the house. that’s all i gotta say
a deadly state of mind (season 4, episode 6) – actually a genuinely creepy episode, with some really trippy hypnotizing scenes. great acting.
a matter of honor (season 5, episode 4) – columbo takes a vacation in mexico and gets stuck there because his car breaks down; ricardo montalblan stars as a devious matador; lots of jokes about spanish and mexico and yet amazingly for a white american production in 1975 it’s not racist!
fade in to murder (season 6, episode 1) – william shatner stars as a fading tv star (!! which at the time, in 1976, he was!); his weird speech affectation is really starting to bloom at this point. lots of sneaking around studio sets and william shatner and peter falk sparring. the end monologue is kinda nuts iirc.
the bye-bye sky high IQ murder case (season 6, episode 3) – another episode full of nonstop delights; it’s basically a very long running gag poking fun at people with high IQs (who are proud enough of their high IQs that they would join a club about it). “columbo” has always been a show in favor of the underdogs, the working class, and the uneducated, so this is a wonderful flavor of the usual critique of class structure that this show has. watching the “simple” detective out-fox the smug killer will make u feel good down to your bones!