The Lt. Columbo Forum

An area where fans from all over can ask each other questions and voice their own ideas and opinions on anything Columbo.

This Forum is fondly dedicated in memory of  "cassavetes45"  (Carleen Zink),
Columbo's greatest fan and a great friend to us all.
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The Lt. Columbo Forum
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Re: Which episode would be the best for 13-year-olds who've never seen Columbo before?

How about showing Prescription Murder, then Columbo Likes The Nightlife, the first and last of the Peter Falk ones?

Re: Which episode would be the best for 13-year-olds who've never seen Columbo before?

Cool! I taught 7th and 8th grade English and Science for close to 25 years (special education) and liked to incorporate appropriate Twilight Zone episodes into lessons. Sometimes, we'd even watch things just because. Amazingly, despite being a Columbo fan since I was 7 or 8 years old (that's a lonnnnng time ago), I never thought of showing a Columbo episode. Shame on me.

All that being said, I tried to think of which episode would appeal to this age group. One came to mind: How to Dial A Murder. The music and mood of this episode is dark and brooding, adding a certain extra element of style not normally seen. Nicol Williamson and Peter Falk are top-notch and the kids may even know Kim Cattrall! The running time is only 73 minutes (it seems shorter than that due to the tightness of James Frawley's directing) AND in addition to the large role of two Dobermans in the plot, it also includes a great "Dog" scene at the park ("with a little training he could be a lethal weapon":smile: )

Any Jack Cassidy episode would also be a great choice. To me, "Now You See Him" and "Murder By the Book" are two of the best Columbo episodes of all-time. While "Murder By the Book" comes BD (Before Dog), it WAS directed by Steven Spielberg, which should ring a bell with your students. It set the standard for the rest of the series. "Now You See Him" comes with the lovable Sgt. Wilson (whose name has changed since his previous appearance) and a Dog scene, too.

This is a wonderful idea, please keep us posted on how it works out.

Re: Which episode would be the best for 13-year-olds who've never seen Columbo before?

Nice idea!

Don't know if you're in the US or not, but some school districts might have an issue with overt violence. I think Swan Song would be great, since no one is visibly shot, strangled, drowned, injected with drugs, mauled by a dog, bludgeoned to death or electrocuted. Does kind of limit the genre though.:smile:

Re: Which episode would be the best for 13-year-olds who've never seen Columbo before?

Thanks a lot for your help, everybody!

Now my list has grown longer. And I like all your suggestions! I had never thought that seeing Steven Spielberg's name on the screen may change the students' perception of the series and make them a bit more likely to be well predisposed in its favour. So "Murder by the Book" could be a very good candidate.

As to overte violence... Oops, I hadn't thought of that. I'll have to check what the DVDs say about the age limits. I'm in Spain, so things may be different, but it's funny to think how the murders in Columbo can be seen as too violent, considering what kids see nowadays in almost any film or TV series. Though it's true that that's their parents' responsibility, not mine, what we see at school is my responsibility, so if I find the series is not suitable for this age, we'll watch "Swan Song", which I also love.

"no one is visibly shot, strangled, drowned, injected with drugs, mauled by a dog, bludgeoned to death or electrocuted"

Good Lord... What I have been watching all these years? :joy: I don't like violent films, but I didn't realise how violent this series is!

@Stephen, what do you mean by "the first and last of the Peter Falk ones"? Are there other episodes not with Peter Falk that I'm not aware of?

Re: Which episode would be the best for 13-year-olds who've never seen Columbo before?

Peter Falk was the third actor to play Columbo, the first was Bert Freed on tv, the episode exists in some museum but they refuse to release it for anyone to get it in the shops as a retail product, the next was Thomas Mitchell in a stage play version which toured.

Re: Which episode would be the best for 13-year-olds who've never seen Columbo before?

Oh, thanks God! I knew of those, but something in the way you said it made me think they had decided to carry on filming episodes with a different actor! I thought that, not being in the USA, I might have missed that information (I wouldn't have watched them, but I would have liked to have known of their existence - Same as with the Kate Columbo series).

Thanks!

Re: Which episode would be the best for 13-year-olds who've never seen Columbo before?

“Murder By The Book” is the best way to introduce someone to the show, especially a youngster! It’s got the Spielberg connection to “wow” them. It’s got a good crime, great clues, good music, crazy and exaggerated characters, and of course Cassidy.

Re: Which episode would be the best for 13-year-olds who've never seen Columbo before?

Some of the worst murders in Columbo films are light hearted in tone, maybe something to discuss? A Trace of Murder, two people kill an innocent human being to set another man up for the murder, and Columbo Goes To College, probably the absolute sickest morally, two men kill an innocent man as a project, a piece of entertainment.

Re: Which episode would be the best for 13-year-olds who've never seen Columbo before?

Two thoughts from reading this marvelous thread of comments. The show is about murder, and Stephen, you are right, mostly light hearted.

But, Columbo never carries a gun. How many times have we learned that Columbo has missed his firing range practice.

Next, I do recommend one of the Jack Cassidy episodes. I just enjoyed "Now You See Him." The writing and plot twists are gripping...and fun. Jack Cassidy plays charming villains.

I also have to make a shout out --I love the 1970's settings. The shows get better with popular culture age.

I like these Forum chats.

Re: Which episode would be the best for 13-year-olds who've never seen Columbo before?

First, choose a 90 minute episode that moves at a brisk pace.
Second, a familiar actor as guest murderer.
Third, zinger ending.

Most Crucial Game
Most Dangerous Match
Stitch In Crime

All are well paced with pop cultural
references I.e professional sports, dog, chess tournaments

Re: Which episode would be the best for 13-year-olds who've never seen Columbo before?

Hi after a long time,

The chosen episode was finally "Murder by the Book". The kids loved it, and they say they "woudn't mind" watching some more (which, with all of their reluctance to watch or to listen to anything older than five years, means a lot).

Since we have already done Johnny Cash's "Sunday Morning Comin' Down" as a lyrics-with-gaps-you-must-fill activity, we'll be watching "Swan Song" in a few weeks. And I think it'll be "A Stitch in Crime" next, as I've checked they know who Mr Spock is (and it's the episode they showed here in Spain on the day I was born, so it's a special one for me).

Thanks again for your great suggestions! It's a pity we don't have more time, or my students would end up being devoted Columbo fans.