This is kind of strange episode for me. Let's say "forgetable". I know it has a lot of fans but I can never be among them. I mean I like this one and everytime I start to watch it I enjoy with hope that I will find something which will make me like this one much more. And I don't know where is the problem exactly. I think most probably: the murderer himself. And I guess I mean both actor and killer himself. For me it is one of the less interesting oponent of Columbo ever. Even his appearance is very insipid for me, he looks rather like some underpaid teacher from primary school than a killer with guts as we used to see in Columbo. I just can not buy it
- first of all at the end we are supposed to see that Oliver is in fact some kind of martyr, he suffered all his life, first with peers, then colleagues, and then wife in the end. So we are supposed to believe that he suffers, he is sensitive or vulnerable, but take a look at him when he prepares the crime scene - he looks like the happiest guy in the world! Is this the behaving of a friend who is going to kill best friend? No... everything here looks totally fake to me
- this Sigma society doesn't look at all like geniuses. All of them look rather stupid (I guess that was the comedy aspect of this episode), the jokes are hopeless (listen to the jokes Oliver tells when he enteres the club at the beginning) and everybody is laughing
- Brandt is saying that this intelligent people are 2% of mankind. Then he says that there are 20 000 of them around the world. This numbers don't match
- Oliver is not nice to Bertie. He is sarcastic, which in fact happens between a lot of friends, but when you have a friend, you should know if he is ok with sarcasm or not, obviously Bertie was not, so again I see - they were NOT real friends. At least from Oliver's point of view
- I always have a feeling that the murder is too far-fetched. It is supposed to show us how genius plan geniuses have. But it is overcomplicated. In reality I think that genius would figure out some simple plan but just masked it cleverly. This are those small things that I don't feel comfortable with in this episode
- the scene with his forehead being dirty is also ridiculous for me. Why is it dirty to start with? he used his hankerchief to wipe his forehead. But how come this handkerchief can be dirty with soot? He never used that. I never understand this scene and it annoys me everytime I watch it. And then he comes home and his wife sees that again! even if he got rid of that
- I don't see any chemistry between Columbo and him. Once again - I think that is the worst casted actor to play murderer. Maybe except of Wayne Jennings and Dr. Cahill :P
- some funny momments I like: "here I've been talking with most inteligent people in the world and I never even noticed", the scene and conversation in night club, Suzy is the best, donut scene, Columbo getting completely different opinions about what happened "twh steps at a time" etc :D " you mean he shot himself in a chest then fell to the floor then did it again". The whole scene with Danziger is brilliant. Observe Columbo all the time, his reactions, priceless
- I find Oliver's wife completely unattractive :P But at least she is very nice and helpful for Lieutenant
- hiding a gun in a trash bin. Couldn't have he waited until Columbo is gone? and when he saw the gun in the trash he should have walked towards Columbo to minimise his chances of seeing that. Instead, he just waits next to the bin. Again very stupid thing for guy with this IQ
- this umbrella monologue. For me it reaches the top of stupidity. First of all the monologue itself is senseless. I know we are supposed to "feel the moment" here. Oliver is so happy that Columbo didn't notice a gun so probably he is able to sing a karaoke at that time. Anyway he shoud realise (again - people with such a high IQ???) that it makes no sense. And then again even worse happens: he tells all the story to finish it with "the only place to keep umbrella is my home". What?! it was obvious that he took umbrella from club to work place. So why do mension his house?? I find this monologue as one of the stupidest and most annoying things in all Columbo series. Judging by Columbo's face expression he must have felt exactly the same as me :D
- the words Columbo tells to Caroline, the yougest member, I don't find them strange. He did a good thing! he is good in psychology, he knew that this girl needs to be appreciated for any reason. What I would find much more strange is Columbo in Identity Crisis. He is in the park and says something like "you are beautiful, is that your sister? she is also beautiful" Gosh, that wouldn't be accepted now. Anyway I know that our good lieutenant meant nothing wrong, we all know him right?
I agree about that final part. It just doesn't qualify as "creepy" for me.
I think the reason for the ash on Oliver's face is because he pushed the umbrella (squibs and all) up the chimney. Then he relaxed because the "hard part" of the murder was done and that's when he saw that chimney soot was on his face. That would clue the police to look up the chimney. That's how I saw it anyway.
I think the 20,000 members obviously don't represent the top 2% in IQ. There are many who are in the top who don't want to be in the Sigma Society (or Mensa).
I agree that the wife was unattractive, but mainly because of her personality. Oliver is confessing embezzlement and she doesn't care. His best friend died and she wants to go on vacation: "But darling we're alive!" She doesn't come off as being very compassionate.
I like the episode though. Some people put it at the very top, but, like Matti, I don't find Oliver sympathetic. He picks on his friend Bertie. He embezzles rather than tell his wife to take a hike. He belittles and threatens an employee for no reason. It's hard to feel bad for him.
I disagree about the wife, in the sense I think she's good looking, however not a very good person obviously with the reaction to bertie's death or "not wanting to understand" oliver's embezzling problems, and for this reason I liked his answer in the end (keep in mind I watched all columbo episodes in italian, so words might differ a little in the english version): she asks him to come home to bed with her and that she needs him, and he answers "unfortunately I doubt I'll need you any more... for a while" and hangs up.
I also don't find those compliments columbo made creepy, on either episodes.
Indeed, the monologue about the umbrella was strange and I'm guessing it made him even more suspect in columbo's eyes, also agree that for a genius he didn't make it difficult for columbo to catch him.
Lastly, I don't think the sigma members are stupid, just eccentric, which oliver says as well; the president danziger in particular, and I liked the ending, when oliver calls them stupid or something along the lines: columbo answers: "the president danziger, you can't call him stupid", "why?", "cause the idea of the book was his, vibrations" "vibrations? What are you talking about?" "of the first squib that exploded, he explained it to me in the easiest way: when the squib exploded it provoked some vibrations and that's right what made the dictionary fall! That danziger's a genius!", and then ofc brandt incriminates himself; columbo knew this theory was crazy and gave danziger credit for it, and brandt couldn't stand that and that's what led to his fatal mistake!
Overall, it's one of my favourite episodes, I also liked that problem with the sacks of gold.
You did such a great job of describing the ending of the episode that I could almost hear Tcaichovski playing as the veins in Oliver's forehead bulged out, lol.
And yes, the wife is physically attractive, but what a nightmare for a life partner. As evil as Oliver is, he embezzled and killed Bertie to keep HER happy, and she won't even let him finish his sentence.