Now that you bring it up, I'd say Etude is one of my least favorite episodes. Most, if not all the characters are very difficult to like, except for maybe the auto mechanic. While John Cassavetes always gives me the weird willies (see Rosemary's Baby and Etude), he's just very unlikable in general. Maybe that's why they gave him the roles they did. He's good at being a shifty slime ball.
Also not a fan of the mistress girl either. The bad fake piano playing is really cringe level stuff if you ask me, even for Columbo.
1. I noticed that scene where the mother orders for Janice. was very weird. Janice is old enough to order for herself. Janice seemed helpless and insecure. The scene where Alex gives the operator Jenifer's home number and Janice gives a look, also, "how well did you know her Alex?" He married for the money.
2. The way the girl talked to Columbo about his dog. That would not go well in today's society. People don't put up with that type of behavior especially when they are strangers to each other. The girl was not very nice to Columbo throughout the entire episode.
I don't know if anybody noticed but in the episode, "The Most Crucial Game," the musical piece that Alex conducted was playing in Dean Stockwell's house the day after the murder when the flowers were being delivered.
We on here could probably pick apart just about every episode but having said that here's my 2 cents for what its worth.
Alex is a total scum. I also believed he married for the money. And yes, Mrs. Fielding is arrogant as all hell. Still an enjoyable episode to me.
The whole thing with Mike's garage has always puzzled me as well. But as mentioned, Alex was stupid to think that the mileage on the car wouldn't be written down some place. Also dear old Mike must like to close shop early because it was still bright and sunny when Alex took the car out.
As far as the girl that sort of assists Columbo, she is arrogant as well Especially for her age. In a few years, I would hate to be a teenager with a crush on her -- looks like she and her attitude will break a lot of hearts.
I think the whole issue about the mileage is that he thought he did a good enough job making it look like a suicide and having an apparent alibi of being at the “Bowl” resting with no vehicle on sight that no one would even think to go check on his car at the shop.
What always surprised me is why they put his car up on a hoist. I’m no expert but I suspect there’s a bit of knowledge you have to have in order to properly set a car up on one of those. Plus, his complaints about the car’s issues don’t sound like something you would work on from underneath. Always thought that was kind of dumb.
I'm thinking the kid mouthing off to Columbo would be MORE common nowadays, but maybe I'm being an old curmudgeon there. I personally enjoy it when secondary characters are rude to Columbo - contrast that against a lot of newer episodes, where every character (minus the killer) is inordinately delighted by his antics.
As for the episode itself, I think it's among the best - at least in the top 10. Cassavetes is SUCH a good actor, and his exchanges with Falk are incredible. The whole scene with Columbo playing chopsticks at the Hollywood Bowl may be one of the best exchanges in the whole series (it's on Youtube as "That's My Specialty, Homicide | Columbo").
I agree about the music, though... the trumpet "player" obviously has no clue how the instrument works, and Benedict's conducting doesn't look like it's at all in synch with the orchestra.
The biggest problem I had with this episode (which I enjoy) is how Alex Benedict gets the car back IN the garage. When he drops off the car, he cracks the bathroom window. When he returns from the Hollywood Bowl, he closes and locks the window. Once in the garage, he has to lower the car from the lift and UNLOCK the garage to open. He then closes the garage and drives off (miraculously not hitting any of the antique cars parked in the lot).
How did he get back in the place? The garage was locked. The window was locked. If the garage wasn't locked, why did he bother to climb in the window the first time?
The piano playing was painfully fake (almost as bad as Charlie Sheen pretending to play, but at least they don't show his hands faking it), but Cassavetes is great for this role. I also get a kick out of some of Myrna Loy's dialogue: "Now being a good boy and vanish." "Let's not get smart about how old I am. If you're trying to win me over, you're not making it, sonny!" (I love that delivery)
Even though Pat Morita had a small part, his character made me laugh. "Mr. Benedict, Mr. Benedict."
Whether or not her makes the right moves with the trumpet, James Olson has just the right "intense" look for a musician, including I guess a jazz musician.
One thing I forgot to mention is that if you compare this episode to the other musical episode (Murder with too Many Notes) this one is far superior.