re: ...Considering how many clunker episodes there had been...
When I look back over the list of 69, I only see a few "clunkers", not bad for a run of 69 episodes. I don't want to start a whole topic on what those clunkers are; it's been discussed on this board many times over, and you know who you are!
I agree. Considering that there were so many episodes, there really were relatively few "clunkers". It was nice to go out on a positive note with Nightlife, as opposed to something like Murder in Malibu.
Matti, I, too, have really enjoyed your episode "reviews". They certainly provide a unique perspective and reveal your devotion to Columbo. Well done!
As for "Columbo Likes the Nightlife", this is one of my favorites, not just of the latter seasons, but in the series overall. It is something of a poignant episode, as well. The poignancy comes from us knowing it will be the final one and we want to see the character go out on a good note.
You offer a few things I'd never considered - the dark and moody atmosphere and "dirty apartments rather than mansions". I guess Vanessa's house, while quite lovely, doesn't quite cut it as a mansion. Linwood's apartment is pretty seedy, however. As for the mood, I rather enjoy it, although it is in stark contrast to much of the series. The episode is from 2003 and brings Columbo into the modern era and I thought the use of a rave backdrop works well. It shows how Columbo can adapt to a new generation and not be stuck in the 70's. Instead of interrogating Dr. Kepple, Ken Archer or Leland St. John on the brightly lit manicured grounds of a golf course, Columbo does his best work amid the blaring sounds, flashing lights and back rooms of nightclubs.
The murder, as you mentioned, is particularly brutal. And Matthew Rhys, as Justin, shows the true nature of its brutality, as he is visibly shaken when he gets back in the car with Vanessa. I never liked the "toenail" scene. I don't know about you guys, but when I cut my 10 toenails, there are NEVER just 10 pieces. And fishing into a toilet WITHOUT gloves doesn't seem likely, especially given the slovenly feel to the Linwood character and his apartment.
I enjoyed the final scene with the fish tank. I thought it was a clever clue and "Gotcha" moment, especially with the way they revealed the body on the TV screens in the nightclub and the quite honest reactions from some of the audience (the blonde in particular).
I for one really enjoyed Nightlife. It moved along at a good pace and Vanessa is clearly one of the most beautiful women to appear in the series. (of course seeing Gretchen Corbett in a bikini wasnt too shabby either).
In Nightlife it is interesting how Columbo kept digging to tie the two murders together. Although for most the episode it was just one murder and one missing person.
It was a good way to end the series.