I always found Lovely but Lethal a bit strange.
I know public opinion isn't favorable on this episode, but it's one of my favorites. My two biggest gripes with this episode is Mario and the march of food at the dinner.
He's entertaining, but Antony Alda makes a very broad Italian (Chico Marx wasn't a whole lot broader as one!). I know that that family IS Italian-American, so it must have been deliberate, but it can still be a bit much. Even Peter Falk gets pretty broad when he starts communicating with Mario in that first scene.
I know what you mean about the dinner. There's also Columbo declaring to the guests that he's going to arrest the murderer in the next 24 hours. It's a little like something a "flamboyant" detective character would do, as opposed to Columbo. It just occurred to me, but it's a little like something the Lieutenant Lucerne character would do!
To me, the episode that feels least like a COLUMBO is still "The Conspirators." Partly for the political side and partly in other ways. I almost have to think of it as genuinely outside of the series to like it.
Although far from the worst episode, I'd have to say "Mind Over Mayhem" had to have one of the weirdest alibis, with the claw-handed robot directing the war games from the keyboard to protect Cahill.
I guess they didn't have USB ports back then. :)
I've always enjoyed Murder Under Glass but I've never understood why the other restaurant owners don't drop Paul right in the soup over the fact he's an extortionist. When Columbo is talking to them at their restaurants they both had a golden opportunity to explain they were being blackmailed by Paul and that would have been a possible motive for murder. It's all a bit odd. The whole deal with the bottle opener and the poison is a bit strange as well. By the way, has anyone ever seen or owned a pneumatic bottle opener like that?
I pretty much agree with Rob L. It isn't the greatest episode, but it's watchable.
The biggest problem I have with the plot (apart from also not understanding what the other two restaurant owners are doing) is that I've never found it credible that Louis Jourdan has such a big influence on a restaurant's reputation that he can blackmail someone for $100,000. If these are award-winning restaurant owners, why don't they just stop paying?
So many stories about blackmail and other kinds of extortion make you wonder why the person doesn't do "counter-blackmail," especially when money is being extorted for something other than a CRIME. So I wonder the same thing. In fact, I can't help wondering it about Vittorio himself - it seems like he could have said to Paul, "Stop extorting money from me and the others, and I won't tell anyone that you've been doing it."
Of course, then there would be no story.