Columbo – The Complete First Season

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Rating: Not Rated

Starring:
Peter Falk as Lieutenant Columbo

Special Features:
None

Other Info:
Full Frame (1.33:1)
English Dolby Digital 2.0
Spanish and French Subtitles
Running Time: 12 Hours 5 Minutes

Synopsis:
The following is from the DVD cover:

“It’s the landmark series that inspired an entire genre. Now, television’s greatest detective, Columbo, comes to DVD for the first time in this deluxe collector’s set. Starring Peter Falk in his 4-time Emmy-winning role as the cigar-chomping, trench coat-wearing police lieutenant, this 5-disc collection includes every fascinating episode from the series’ first season. Also included are the two original movies: Prescription: Murder and Ransom for a Dead Man. Columbo’s first season features legendary guest stars like Robert Culp, Ray Milland, Eddie Albert, Suzanne Pleshette, Don Ameche, Leslie Nielsen and Roddy McDowell, It’s no mystery why Columbo: The Complete First Season is the DVD set crime fans have been waiting for!”

The episodes included on this DVD from 1971 – 1972 are as follows:

Prescription: Murder
Ransom For A Dead Man
Murder By The Book (Directed by Steven Spielberg)
Death Lends a Hand
Dead Weight
Suitable For Framing
Lady In Waiting
Short Fuse
Blueprint For Murder

Columbo: The Complete First Season is not rated.

The Movie:
Believe it or not, this is the first time I’ve ever seen Columbo. For whatever reason, I never caught an episode on TV. Despite this, there’s no way anyone can not be familiar with the character. Between the trench coat, the cigar, and the odd mannerisms, Columbo has really become a TV icon.

It didn’t take me long to figure out the Columbo formula. Unlike other murder mystery shows, they lay out exactly how the murderer completed his or her crime in advance. It’s all laid out there for audiences. The hook is then seeing Columbo work his way back to figuring out how and what they did while putting the screws on the suspect. Seeing the guilty party squirm while trying to lie to Columbo is somewhat satisfying.

Peter Falk is excellent as Lieutenant Columbo. As proven by his 4 Emmys, he has created quite a unique, eccentric, stand-out character. He’s able to play the character as a bit of a dunce and scatterbrain while intimidating the other characters in short order and being in complete control of the situation. He constantly blindsides the suspects with his insight and off the wall questions. These episodes also feature quite an array of supporting guest stars as you can see above.

One of the other major noteworthy things about this DVD is that it features one of the earliest directing jobs of Steven Spielberg. He directed the episode “Murder By The Book”. Having seen a couple of the other episodes, his directing style really stands out. While some of the shows feature stationary cameras on studio sets, Spielberg has the camera in motion out on location. His dynamic camera angles and unique perspectives also help move the story along and give it a freer feel than the episodes directed by old school directors. Some of his trademarks are also spotted even this early in his career.

Despite the legendary status of the character, the noteworthy direction by Spielberg, and the good acting by Falk, most of the Columbo episodes were a little slow for my tastes. The stories were generally clever, but they took so long getting to the point that I often found myself losing interest quickly. Still, this DVD is quite a treat for mystery fans and Columbo fans. They’ll get a kick out of it.

The Extras:
There are no extras included on this DVD. They could have at least included an interview with Peter Falk seeing as how he’s not dead yet, eh?

The Bottom Line:
Despite lacking in extras, Columbo fans and mystery fans should enjoy this DVD set. The episode directed by Steven Spielberg may also be of particular interest to his die hard fans.

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