Skip to the start of Columbo

2nd November 2008 – 11.25 am

There's me whining like a schoolgirl about Columbo showing spoilers at the start of each episode on DVD when I have technology to rescue me! I feel foolish now for turning the sound down and trying to avoid looking at the screen, until the cut-to-black signals the start of the episode proper, when all I have to do it skip the first chapter of each episode. The second DVD chapter marks the start of the episode, allowing the spoilers to be bypassed effortlessly.

It doesn't help that there are no chapter lists in the packaging or on the DVD itself, but it is such a simple and obvious method that I wonder why I didn't simply try it in the first place, as I could always have gone back to the start quickly enough had it not worked. Ah well, I know now, just as I am coming to the end of the seven-series DVD box set, currently working through the seventh series.

Here are a few notes about the series:

  • Columbo never mentions his forename and is always referred to as either 'Columbo' or 'lieutenant'. However, his name can be seen during the episode A Matter of Honour, co-starring Ricardo Montalban. Columbo is on holiday in Mexico and is involved in a car accident. His driving licence is requested by the police and when he offers it there is a full-screen shot of the licence, from which Columbo's first name can be read.
  • The episode Last Salute to the Commodore, directed by Patrick McGoohan, is nothing more than a standard whodunnit mystery. The murder isn't even witnessed by the viewer and we are left in the detective's shoes trying to deduce who did it. The final staging is slow and awkward, and the murderer's slip-up is unconvincing and obvious. I would recommend avoiding this episode.
  • Jamie Lee Curtis appears as a waitress in the episode The Bye-Bye Sky High I.Q. Murder Case, although a bit of checking shows that she also appeared uncredited in an earlier episode. The episode features one of the best moments when the murdered incriminates himself, not so much because of the way Columbo gets him to do this—although it was masterful goading—but because of the glorious extended moment of realisation the murderer experiences as he reveals himself to be the perpetrator of the crime.

The DVD box set also includes a bonus extra in the form of an episode of Mrs Columbo. Frankly, I dare not watch it. In Columbo, Mrs Columbo is a device for the lieutenant to flatter and beguile the main suspect, to convince him that the detective is a simple man, and the constant references serve this purpose wonderfully. I would prefer the lieutenant's wife remain as ambiguous and amorphous as she is represented.

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