There IS Just One More Thing...
E. Hornaday | Lawrenceville, NJ United States | 06/29/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Peter Falk's Columbo ranks as one of the greatest TV detective characters ever created. His ability to capture the kirky Los Angeles Lieutenant has captivated decades of viewers and is sure to also capture younger fans with this long-awaited DVD release.Created by Richard Levinson and William Link, the series debuted in 1971 with "Murder by the Book," which was actually the third appearance of Falk's Columbo (there had been two previous two-hour NBC World Premiere Movies prior to the series launch.) Interestingly, "Murder by the Book" was directed by a then unknown talent: Steven Spielberg.Columbo was unique in so many ways, the first was that the viewer learned the killer's identity in the first few minutes of every episode. Up until then, detective shows and mysteries had tried to keep the audience guessing "Who Done It?" until the very final scene. Levinson and Link turned that formula upside down, letting viewers in on the intracacies of the crime from the killer's viewpoint, their motivation, and what they did to cover their tracks to avoid discovery.Often, Columbo was not even introduced until 20 minutes or more into the episodes (which ran a network 90 minutes with commercials instead of the usual 60 minutes for dramas.)However, as soon as the audience caught a glimpse of the short, rumpled, cigar-smoking detective with the tan rain coat, they knew that they were watching something really special. Columbo feigned a scatter-brained approach, but it was soon obvious to viewers and the episode's killer that beneath his step-and-fetch-it manner lay the cooly brilliant mind of a master detective. And, it was the cat-and-mouse interplay and dialog between Columbo and the criminal that was at the heart of this brilliant series.Smartly written and tightly crafted, the dramatic tension was created as Columbo slowly chipped away the layers of subterfuge left by the killer to reveal the mechanics of the crime and the killer.Throughout the series, which spanned three decades after several relaunches as specials, Falk's black hair turned gray, but he wore the exact same rain coat while pursuing some of the best actors and actresses on TV or in the movies who portrayed various extremes of melevolent killers. A virtual "who's who" of the acting profession did a turn on Columbo.To say that Columbo affected the TV mystery genre is to give it far too little credit: it changed it forever and produced a detective from which his alter ego, the vastly talented Falk, will also never be able to escape.Let's hope the studio takes a clue from Colombo and quickly releases the rest of these outstanding episodes!"
Why is there no remastering of Columbo?
William Smith | 07/17/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Universal has done the same thing to Columbo that they did to The Night Gallery series-no interviews,no documentaries and no remastering of the print. This is not good enough.
If other studios can remaster everything from Star Trek to such average fare as Wonder Woman and The Dukes Of Hazzard,then Universal should have remastered the classic Columbo dramas and given us a new print of the series.
It would be so nice to have an interview with Peter Falk and have him tell us about his movie career and his 30 year association with Columbo,which is one of the longest acting experiences in media history. Peter filmed his first Columbo in 1972 and his latest in 2003. Quite an effort and it would have been great to hear some stories,but fans get nothing.
It would also be nice to see an interview with actor Patrick McGoogan and to hear how he got involved with acting and then writing,directing and producing some Columbo tele-movies,but again fans get left with nothing.
Altough the print of Columbo will be an acceptable standard comparable with video tapes,with such new technology as plasma and high definition television,viewers deserve better these days.
Other studios recognise this and Universal needs to wake up and join the new century. Perhaps when Vol 2 gets released,they might recognise this and give us a remastered set with some interviews."
T.V.'s Most Famous Detective Finally on DVD
Steve | Virginia | 06/05/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's great to see Lt. Columbo is finally going to make it on DVD! For those familiar with the cigar-smoking detective in the rumpled raincoat only through the specials produced in the 90s, the originial 1970s episodes show Columbo in his prime.Most people are familiar with the Columbo formula: guest star plots murder; guest star kills victim (a series trademark - we know all along who the killer is); Columbo appears on scene; Columbo investigates - "Ahh, just one more thing, maam/sir"; just as it looks like guest star will get away with it, Columbo discovers piece of evidence that seals the case; Columbo nails guest star with evidence; guest star is led away to jail. A formula, yes, but a formula that worked incredibly well for over 40 episodes in its original run.The first season contains two of my favorites: "Death Lends a Hand" - Robert Culp plays a private investigator who kills a client's wife, then is hired by the unknowing client to help Columbo with the investigation; and "Suitable for Framing" - an art critic murders his uncle in order to obtain two priceless paintings...this episode has one of the best endings in the series. For the possible exception of "Lady in Waiting", the other five episodes from the first season are also very strong.
And while details of the DVD haven't been released yet, I only hope this will also include the two rarely seen T.V. movies, "Prescription Murder" and "Ransom For a Dead Man", that introduced Lt. Columbo before it was decided to include the character in a rotation of Sunday night detective series on NBC.These are a must for fans of detective dramas. Thanks, Universal, for finally releasing these!"
"See. That's what I don't understand..."
William Smith | Fontana, CA United States | 09/08/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I love it when he says that, because it is always followed up by some miscalculation by the 'killer'. Well, I got into this show 'a bit late', like about 6 months ago...? I'm in my mid thirty's which is young enough to watch current programming but old enough to know current programming is, in general, unwatchable. So, what do we do? We reach back. This show happens to be on a current 'public-esque' TV channel and since I don't have cable, I take what I can get. Understand, I don't live by the mantra "what's old is good", because there are plenty of shows I actually used to watch that just didn't age well; Land of the Lost (**.5) and the A-Team (**.5) come to mind.
The Price*****: I'll admit it... I was standing in the store saying to myself, roughly forty dollars is a lot to spend on 7 episodes, and 2 mini movies/pilots. The minutes weren't really an issue but '7' seems a bit low when compared to other shows that have generally 24 eps. Well, having just viewed ONLY the Pilot: Prescription Murder, I feel as though I picked Universals pocket. This one ep. to me is worth what I paid for the set, heck it's better than most movies I own. Peter Falk hits the ground running, and even though the ep. does lag in places it is a truly remarkable piece of TV history.
Format*****: The format of the show is intriguing. Each episode is 1.5 hours as opposed to 1 hour. The first 1/2 hour is generally dedicated to the `set-up` (guest stars), but this is crucial b/c not only is it quite a long time without Peter Faulk/Columbo, but it shows each show can stand up alone without the VERY worthy Peter Falk propping it up. Sure there are some clunkers, but not many I've seen. Anyway, once the murder is committed you really feel attached to the story because you've lived with these characters outside of the murder for awhile (well, 20-30 minutes)... anyway, Columbo gets there and starts making observations that doesn't exactly jibe with what was said, and slowly the screw turns... "See..., that's what I don't understand..." An `awe-shucks' Columbo says scratching his head, "I thought you said..." and from there the screws turn... tighter.
Sound**: Why don't they take the time to go 5.1DD? I'm not going to rebuy this whole season in a few years like Star Trek. Thoughtful dialogue and characters do not NEED 5.1DD to be enjoyable so there is no reason to rebuy it, but why not just raise the price of the set somewhat to give us it right out of the gate? The actual soundtrack is often brillant, however.
Transfer***.5: Seems clear and clean. No complaints on a technical level, though I have only viewed the pilot.
Packaging*****: The boxart is perfect. The strip of trench coat at the top is genius! Plus, when you open it, you are greeted with a great sense of Columbo; his dialogue. I do wish all the photos taken would have been Season One exclusively but I guess they went with variety. Some Mr. Falk is easily 10-15 years older. But the quality of the art is fantastic, maybe a disc or two could have had pics of the car to break up the concept of needing multiple aging pics?
Conclusion*****: While I sit on the fence and wonder whether Baretta or SWAT are worth my time (VERY vague memories of these also), I can rest assured that they just might be worth it. It is possible for shows 'you weren't quite old enough' to watch to be treasures. Funny, if Columbo wasn't currently on TV I may have sat on the fence and 'wondered' about this release too. Columbo simply captures everything I view television for; great writing, great characters (starring and guest starring "