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Mario Elizondo Regalado | Guadalupe, Nuevo León Mexico | 02/22/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Been a Columbo fan for so long, I have seen all these episodes over and over again in VHS. Already own my first season in DVD and I'm glad that it is being released the second with one hope in mind, that the seasons ahead would also be scheduled for the near future. Peter Falk is amazing, simple, funny, humble, absent minded but very smart. This is a short review I'd wish to share of the episodes included in the second season, forgive me if some information is not correct. 1.-ETUDE IN BLACK: Features John Cassavettes (from the classic "Rosemary's baby") as an orchestra director that has a love affair with one of the musicians. Great episodes that marks the debut of Lt. Columbo as a piano player. 2.-GREENHOUSE JUNGLE: Outstanding performance by Oscar winner Ray Milland (from 1945's "The lost weekend") who arranges a fake kidnaping. 3.-MOST CRUCIAL GAME: Robert Culp is featured here as a fotball team's chairman who manages to leave the stadium in the middle of a game to murder someone disguised as an ice cream salesman. 4.-DAGGER OF THE MIND: Columbo finds himself in England and helping actor Bernard Fox to solve a crime committed inside a teather. Richard Baseheart (from El Quijote) also stars in this episode. 5.-REQUIEM FOR A FALLING STAR: Another Oscar winning is featured, Ann Baxter from "All about Eve", plays the role of an actress who tries to kill a blackmailing friend. 6.-STITCH IN CRIME: Great episode it features Will Geer from the Waltons and Leonard Nimoy from Star Treck. Nimoy tries desesperately to kill Geer but finds in his way a smart nurse that puts him in trouble, and him at the same time, puts Lt. Columbo into so much trouble that he almost loses the case. 7.-MOST DANGEROUS MATCH: Another excellent episode and a great performance of Laurence Harvey who plays a chess player who finds out he would not be able to beat his opponent in a major chess championship match so he decides to murder him. 8.-DOUBLE SHOCK: What can I say about this one?, Excellent , it features the great actor Martin Landau playing a double role as the Paris twin brothers who consipre to kill their uncle. PS.- After all this, I don't need extras"
Six stars if possible...
Mario Elizondo Regalado | Guadalupe, Nuevo León Mexico | 05/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Each and every one of Columbo seasons are great and have something special but this third one stands as on of my personal favorites because of the plots and guests actors that are featured. LOVELY BUT LETHAL features the great Vera Miles, Martin Sheen and the one and only Vincent Price; ANY OLD PORT IN A STORM features the great Donald Pleasence in an outstanding performance as a wine industry man; CANDIDATE FOR CRIME features Jackie Cooper; DOUBLE EXPOSURE features Robert Culp; PUBLISH OR PERISH features Jack Cassidy and John Chandler; MIND OVER MAYHEM features Jose Ferrer; SWAN SONG, my personal favorite that features the great country legend Johnny Cash and actress Ida Lupino; A FRIEND IN DEED closes this extraordinary third season with the help of actor Richard Kiley."
M. Olender | San Juan, PR USA | 07/18/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What can be said of Season 3? Let's break it down, shall we?
3.1 Lovely But Lethal
Not my favorite episode, but still features some great moments. And who can deny Vera Miles her beauty, charm, and sophistication? Did you know that Miles was Alfred Hitchcock's first choice to play Madeline in Vertigo?
3.2 Any Old Port In A Storm
This is held by many Columbo fans - including those who frequent the Ultimate Columbo Site - as the all time best Columbo episode ever. While its not my personal favorite, it is within my top 3 and I can easily see why this would get top ranking by some. It is a masterpiece. Falk is absolutely amazing, Donald Pleasence is just as good. And the story makes you want to go out and pick up a bottle of port!
3.3 Candidate For Crime
Ah, Nelson Hayward and his camel hair sports coat. Jackie Cooper makes an excellent Columbo killer, as well as a great politician! He schmoozes everyone, including his wife and girlfriend, like a pro. As usual, Columbo is great in this, and his pestering gets under the skin of Hayward like no one else, pushing Hayward to tell him that he likes Columbo a lot, but that he's a busy man and doesn't have time to fool around. Great moments are when Columbo goes to the shop to get fitted for a coat and later when, during the taping of a political commercial, Columbo absent-mindedly makes too much noise by clanging the victim's watch against an umbrella poll to prove how indestructible it is. Classic!
3.4 Double Exposure
Can you say, double your pleasure? This is definitely one of my top favorite 3 episodes. Robert Culp is back as Doctor Kepple, a highly organized and anal retentive research scientist specializing in cognitive science, and gives a stellar performance. But aside from the top knotch acting and tense character relationships (which includes one of the relatively few times where Columbo comes right out and tells the killer he believes they're guilty of homicide) is the story itself: subliminal cuts, mind games, and beating the killer at his own game make for some intriguing story here. Top knotch all the way. The ending is second to none, perhaps the best one yet. Doctor Kepple is so proud of his abilities, he is almost proud of having gotten caught by his own method! This is a must see episode.
3.5 Publish Or Perish
Jack Cassidy is back! The second victim (who is the first killer) is creepy with a capital "c", but it adds to the nature of his character. Cassidy himself is on fire the whole time, playing a great drunk in one scene and a charming gentleman caller in another. The ending is pretty good, not my favorite, but good.
3.6 Mind Over Mayhem
This isn't my favorite story but the cast boasts of a favorite of mine from my childhood - Robert Walker, the little guy who played the "bad" Hulk twin in the Incredible Hulk TV series. The victim's wife is a knock-out, which isn't a bad deal, either. I do like the killer's method though... very good alliby!
3.7 Swan Song
Ahh, the one and only Johnny Cash, God rest his soul. If there was ever a killer for whom you could feel bad, it is Cash's Tommy Brown. Cash plays music, wears black, and kicks back as a killer who was caught in a corner and gave it to a woman who deserved it! This is one episode I know a lot of people treasure.
3.8 A Friend In Deed
This is perhaps my all time favorite episode. Columbo nabs his boss! It happens to be the first episode I ever saw. Richard Kiley is fantastic as Commissioner Halperin, John Finnegan is top knotch as Lt. Dryer, Michael McGuire is chilling as Hugh Caldwell, and Val Avery is second to none (not even Falk) as Artie Jessup. The characters in this are so well developed, it makes for great TV right there. But the story itself is great and the ending... I can't give it away. He nabs him SO BAD its not even funny! Fantastic! Classic lines: "Are you crazy, I ain't goin' to no roller derby" - Artie Jessup.
Season 3 is worth adding to your collection."
Etude in a Trench Coat
William Smith | Fontana, CA United States | 03/15/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First, I do like the new package design. The 2 hard-shell cases fit nicely into the sleeve (complete with episode synopsis), better than the awkward foldout from season one if less colorful. What I don't like is the artwork. Why are there pictures adorning this set from the mid-nineties (just a guess)? Are there NO still pictures available in the Universal archive from Season 2? Seems unlikely. I would like each set to represent the exact place in time they inhabited, instead it seems like an 11th hour dig through publicity photo's. Sad. The disc artwork is decent but seems a bit generic, and doesn't seem to capture the true "spirit" of the show. Each disc should portray a memorable locale from an episode on the disc; like Robert Culps private box overlooking the stadium, the fountain in Requiem, etc.
Having said this, you know you want this and you know there is no way I cannot endorse the brilliance of Peter Falk. The picture is near perfect and the sound, while only Dolby Digital 2.0, is strong and clear... still the shortcomings linger, like the price which seems a bit steep for only 8 episodes. It does make me wonder how they will package some of the future seasons, some of which only had 3-5 episodes.
1)Etude in Black (4 Stars) - (96 min.) Since this is a 96 minute episode my local network has never ran this one so this is welcome new ground for me! Not sure why the lengths tend to vary, but I'm pleased. This really is a great one. John Cassavetes is definitely an animated foe and Blythe Danner's throaty haughtiness still gets to me. The story is interesting, the pacing is generally quite good, I only lopped a star off because judging from the first two acts I thought Cassavetes was truly going to be a juggernaut of denial to the bitter end and yet in the final act he went out more with a whimper than a bang. Columbo Moment: Columbo's near constant subject changes (rents, cars, room sizes) each time he would mention he had something important to say about "the case."
2)The "Solarium" Jungle (2.5 Stars) - (74 min.) Despite this being a supposed "fan favorite" and in spite of my love for all things Sandra Smith, I seem to like this one less and less with each viewing. Several performances are just lacking; the kidnappee, the "boyfriend", etc. I tend to rate my Columbo's based on the demeanor of the rival and Ray Milland just doesn't capture the essence of the great Columbo villains. He is certainly far from the worst but falls somewhere in the middle. Columbo Moment: Columbo's many exchanges with protégé Sgt. Wilson on the newest techniques for solving crimes, along with his tumble down the steep hill.
3)The Most Crucial Game (5 Stars) - (74 min.) If there is one thing Peter Falk must know, it's that the measure of his success depends largely on "the chase". My personal favorite in this regard is none other than Robert Culp. Shrewdly cautious, paranoid and yet generally optimistic no one quite captured the feeling of the chase like Mr. Culp. Though I preferred his season one performance this one is still head and shoulders above his rival rivals. If Ray Milland is middle of the road at rush hour, Robert Culp is the express lane at midnight. I love the rather ambiguous ending that left something to the imagination and yet wrapped up everything all at the same time. Columbo Moment: His preoccupation with shoes is classic.
4)Dagger of the Mind (3 Stars) - (96 min.) Because of the length it's more new ground! Sadly, the ground is a bit uneven. I love the leads; their chemistry is quite good. The change-of-pace locale adds to the sort of "holiday" feel from the normal LA areas still the story here is a bit uneven. Since the murder wasn't out of anger and the villains have nothing to gain it seems to sap the overall suspense of the episode and the bit with the umbrella switch seems padded and drawn out. Columbo as usual is his normal absent minded self but the best episodes always have a bit more than that going for them. Columbo Moment: Columbo's observation that Big Ben is "only" a minute slow.
5)Requiem of a Falling Star (3.5 Stars) - (74 min.) Good performances, solid story, and sincere intrigue mark a memorable episode. I have viewed this episode a few times and it is still great fun and has several scenes on the Universal back lot that have plenty of double meanings. "Lieutenant I would never type-cast you as a detective." -the Studio Head Columbo Moment: He gets a new tie. And it is recommended he also get a new over coat, shoes, shirt...
6)A Stitch in Crime (4.5 Stars) - (74 min.) Despite the silly name this is a great episode. As a Trekker you'd think I would be biased towards this because of Nimoy. In fact, I'm hyper critical of it because of that and I must say Leonard Nimoy is another in a series of great finds for Columbo to... find. Not quite the 5 star Shatner performance in Season 6's Fade in to Murder, but close enough. The episode seems to derail a bit in the third act regarding Harry Alexander's drugging but all in all this one has a certain charm. I especially like the Nimoy dinner party sequence. Columbo Moment: Not sure how much of this is adlib, but the part when Columbo asks to see the murder weapon only to crack his egg on it is... priceless.
7)The Most Dangerous Match (4 stars) - (74 min.) Having viewed this once before I still say this is one of the best. The heavy in this, Laurence Harvey (as Emmett Clayton) has the intensity needed to convey the best of Columbo. The "Tomlin Dudek" role is a bit thin but he isn't in this very much. Columbo Moment: The questioning at the simultaneous chess match is masterful.
8)Double Shock (4 stars) - (74 min.) Excellent, simply excellent! How do you get better than Martin Landau? You have two of them!! From start to finish this ep is amazing fun and well written. Columbo takes a hand at cooking and I for one definitely believe the roles of Landau, it truly seems like there are two of them, it's called acting, folks. Columbo Moment: The many exchanges with Mrs. Peck, the live in house keeper, are amazing fun!
Conclusion: Sometimes things are worth more than the sum of their parts, that's why this is a 5 star set. Season II is so worth your money and is so solid, the only truly negative thing I can say is (beyond the art work and rather steep price), you'll have to wait months for Season III, and you can burn through Season II in less than a week."
5 Stars for Content - 1 Star for Quality
Nathan Fisk | Utah | 08/17/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The season is great. If you're a Columbo fan or even just a 'mystery' fan I recommend it. The content (Columbo) is fine. It is the quality of the product that is poor.
First off - the packaging. The S1 Columbo episode used a higher gauge cardboard with higher gloss. The S3 set's outer package feels thin and flimsy. It is very obvious that they have cut back in quality. This extends to the plastic hardshell cases that the discs are in. They feel thinner and cheaper. The paper insert is also sort of plain and uninteresting. It really does seem like some super-cheap set that some guy pressed in his basement with generic plastic cases and printouts from Photoshop on an Inkjet.
Sadly, this lack of quality spills over into the actual DVDs. Firstly, these are double sided discs. I'm no fan of this kind of disc. It always seems that the quality of a double sided disc is iffy at best. For this production it definitely hurt because I have had 3 different DVD players balk on 2 different sets (I returned the first set because the disc just would not play).
And - worst of all - the actual mastering of the shows have some definite problems. In almost every episode there are points where the picture quality will go all 'fuzzy' and it looks like they are showing a grimy tape from the 1970s. Then 5 second later the picture snaps clean again. I have no idea what happened here, but it looks like they didn't bother cleaning up some scenes. It happens often enough that it gets distracting and the audio quality rises and falls as well sometimes.
I'm happy to have the shows, but I sure hope Universal cleans house a bit on Season 4. Season 3's quality is (at best) spotty and in some areas is downright poor. Caveat emptor."