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.
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.
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
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.