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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Re: Re: Worst episode

Okay, I agree...

But let's cast aside "No Time to Die" and "Undercover."

For me, the worst 70's episode was "The Greenhouse Jungle" and "Columbo and the Murder of a Rock Star." They're both in the traditonal format, but for some resaon just don't hold water for me. In "Rock Star", for instance, there's a lot of time devoted to Little Richard. For a time when there were only two-hour episodes being aired, it seems that "Rock Star" has an awful lot of padding with an actor (Dabney Coleman) that would have been a great Columbo adversary. It's disapointing that this was sandwichd between "Caution: Murder can be Hazardous to Your Health" and "Death Hits the Jackpot", the two best post-70s episodes, in my opinion.

As for "Greenhouse Jungle", ugh! Normally the plot centered around the murderer's occupation, but this one just lingered around Jarvis' orchid hobby. And at the end, it didn't have much to do with botany.

Any critics?

Cheers, Sean

Re: Worst episode

I don't own any Columbos after the first 7 seasons - its just a sentimental thing with me I guess - so i can't speak to any of those episodes.

Within the first 7 seasons, the worst episode has to be "The Bye-Bye Sky High IQ Case". I think Dawidziak's book does a good job of dissecting this episode.

Re: Re: Worst episode

I am not familiar with the book that is referred to: Dawidziak? Could you in a nutshell explain why "Sky-Hi" was considered such a poor episode? I loved the riddle and the characters. Are there plot problems?

Re: Re: Re: Worst episode

Michael, the book is The Columbo Phile by Mark Dawidziak. Fantastic book!!! I love it so, even though it is getting a bit frayed...just this morning I had to tape it up a bit. Poor thing!
Anyway...in it Dawidziak cites a few reasons why he considers it a poor episode. For one thing, he says that since Oliver is so intelligent it is higly unlikely that he would incriminate himself the way he does in the end. I feel that he did so because he was under a lot of pressure, not only because of the murder but also because he may be uncovered as an embezzler, and also that self-centered wife spending all his money!! And another reason why I think he incriminated himself was because of his pride. He was so proud of how he commited the murder that he didn't want even one part of his scheme to be misunderstood.
The other reason Dawidziak cites is that Oliver is just too weak. He doesn't show an air of superiority, even though he is a genius. He says that Columbo has the guy from the get-go and there is really no challenging cat and mouse game to be played. And this part I will quote from the book, because I just love it..."You wnat Columbo to close the case and put this poor sweating guy out of his misery."

Re: Worst episode

ok...i am thinking of lovely but lethal...it hurts to have to pick a worst episode..but if i had to pick one..i guess it would be this one...i hated her hair!!!! is that enough of a reason???????????

Re: Re: Worst episode

As far as I am concerned, only the original 1970's episodes are really "Columbo", so among them, by
far the worst is "Mind over Mayhem".
If they were to make a Saturday morning
cartoon version of Columbo, it would be like this. Actually, I consider it a disgrace that Falk, Levinson and Link would
even agree to anything like this. Robby the Robot and the character "Steven Spelberg" were stupid. I hate this episode so much I intend to write over the tape it is on.
There is no other episode I would cast these epithets at, although "Lovely but Lethal" is probably the second worst (there are still some episodes I have not seen), but it is still watchable.
Greenhouse Jungle is not too good, but Ray Milland was pretty good as an irritating suspect (Jarvis Goodland).

Re: Re: Re: Worst episode

Worst episode of the 1970s was "Old-Fashioned Murder."

Worst episode of the ABC years and the entire series
was "Undercover."

Re: Re: Re: Worst episode

Dead Weight. Eddie Albert was not right for the role. I mean he played a cowardly officer in Attack! It needed someone who conveyed toughness and arrogance. The "Pattonesque" tone (pearl handle revolvers) just didn't wash with me.

No Time To Die....ugh!

Re: Worst episode

Not to nitpick Kev...but Patton carried Ivory handled revolvers....he had some very funny things to say about guys who carried Pearl handled revolvers...stuff I couldn't say here.

Re: Worst episode

Certainly there are more bad episodes of columbo in the newer series than the originals (no time to die, trace of murder, murder in malibu, undercover) but from the originals lovely but lethal is pretty bad and i find it difficult to watch fade into murder.

Still its not impossible to watch these episodes but when watching something is lacking. Its not the same experience.

God bless

Re: Re: Worst episode

I actually think "Fade into Murder" is pretty
good. The planning that went into the murder
and alibi
was pretty intricate and there is good
chemistry between Columbo and Ward Fowler.
Then, there is the classic line Fowler says:
"Let's stop pretending for a moment that I'm
a genius and that you're simple!"

Re: Worst episode

I love that episode....and I love..love..love..that line!

Re: Worst episode

No Time To Die, which is what I did watching it. Dreadful, dreadful episode. I can't think of one bad one from the 60's/70's series.

Re: Worst episode

Responding to a VERY OLD thread, because now that I have the boxed sets I can respond intelligently (and with a bit of word play!).

I love the entire series so picking the "worst" of the best show on TV is difficult. These worsts are still better than most shows bests!

From the original series I find myself "bored to tears" with the weapons plot in The Conspirators. Irish it wasn't so because the limericks and interaction between Columbo and Devlin are great!

And I just can't identify with Identity Crisis!

I also yawn at By Dawn's Early light, but that may simply due to it being replayed too often in reruns.

From the ABC series I would rather be asleep under the covers than watch "Undercover" !

Re: Worst episode

i very rarely watch "the conspirators" or "last salute to the commodore."

i am not crazy about "matter of honor," either.


"identity crisis" was not initially among my favorites, but it is now in my top 10 or even top 5. the more i watch it, the more i love patrick mcgoohan's performance.

Re: Worst episode

same here laura, i just popped it in the other night.

Re: Worst episode

i'm with both of you, laura and robbie. it took me a long time to quite understand what was going on, and i still may not know, but i understand it a bit better after watching it over the years.

Re: Worst episode

it is an amazing episode, patrick was made for that role. just look at how he smokes a cigar! so many unforgettable scenes. columbos tour de force!

Re: Worst episode

i totally agree robbie. this one knocks me out when i watch it. there is so much going on, and patrick brings it all to us. he truly was amazing, and i will never understand why he wasn't appreciated more as one of the best actors on tv or in movies.

he WAS the role, and he WAS the character, regardless of which one he played. i've often mentioned a movie called 'brass target' here, which had (yes) john cassavetes, and then sophia loren, and robert vaughn, and the wonderful patrick mcgoohan.
in this movie, patrick had a smaller role than johnny, but what he delivered in those short scenes was unbelievable. he was the epitome of patrick mcgohan..he was suave, and sexy, and perfect...he was patrick..and that was the best!

Re: Worst episode

He was a Jeopardy clue yesterday.

Re: Worst episode

i saw that, laura.

Re: Worst episode

Surprising that this thread has been going for 5 years with no more than a passing mention of 'Commodore', by far the worst '70s episode.

Re: Worst episode

Yeah that whole "Commodore's Watch" conclusion was pretty lame!

Re: Worst episode

I just watched "No Time to Die" again tonight...omg, I remembered how bad that one is. That episode just stunk...my most hated.....and just for the record I liked Bye Bye Sky High. I thought the murder plan was genius!

Now to add one more. "Troubled Waters", only because my wife would play that episode every night for like a month because she loves that one so much....sometimes I think she would leave me for Columbo! Lol!

My favorite is "Bird in the Hand", because all the footage used for the Football team the "Stallions" is actually the Saskatchewan Roughriders, and the quarterback footage was actually Roughriders Grey Cup 89 hero Kent Austin! (I live in Saskatchewan in case your wondering).

Re: Worst episode

I like Bye Bye Sky High because my Dad has the same Accutrak turntable. He didn't kill anyone with it though...

Re: Worst episode

I pretty much don't ever watch Last Salute to the Commodore, Identity Crisis, or the Conspirators.

Commodore is just weird on many levels. The acting is very wooden and almost surreal in places, as if it's a bad dream. The victim isn't very sympathetic. The characters are all one-dimensional. The whole sea-going thing leaves me cold--"the flanagan hose is aft of the misen-wanker....on a yawl" (or whatever it was). Umm, yeah. Oh, and I need eye bleach to rid myself of the visual of Wilfrid Hyde-White having a one-night stand. The whole "Commodore's watch" scene--WTF was *that*?

Identity Crisis--I need a flowchart to follow what the hell is going on. Every time I watch it, at some point, I stop caring. They got their spy movie in my Columbo, and those are two tastes that taste like poo together. All I can even remember is that there's a cigarette machine in it, which perhaps was indeed the most memorable role in the whole episode. I think it won a Golden Globe, in fact.

The Conspirators--Devlin isn't all that charming to me. More like grating. Perhaps he's too close in character to people I've actually known and disliked, but I think of him as a vicious, sneaky drunk. He tries to be warm and charming, while all the while he's planning to slit your throat. Get out of my face, you demented leprechaun, and take your goofy puns and limericks with you. The whole guns thing, again, was kinda "your spy movie in my Columbo." Plus I think the episode lingered for like 76 minutes on Devlin trying to buy guns from everyone but the Girl Scouts and getting rejected. (I had no idea it was that easy, by the way--just ask? Really? Is that how you buy drugs, too? No pretense? Just--"hey, got any guns? No? Okie dokie then..." Wasn't he worried about *someone* he asked spilling the beans on what he was up to?)


So, umm, yeah, those episodes kinda rub me the wrong way. That's among the original run. The later stuff--yikes.

Re: Worst episode

Havent posted for ages and then i come on and find one of my own posts in a running thread. Scarey.

Had only season 1 on dvd for ages so got bored with all of them. Had to rely on tv showings which were generally the same ones over and over so got bored with them. Finally got seasons 1-8 for £35 new (not at all bothered with the come-back episodes so dont bother with season 8 onwards) but only saw a couple due to dull reasons til recently. No time To Die and Undercover are abysmal and you can throw in strange bedfellows, murder in malibu, a trace of murder, grand deceptions and murder of a rockstar (tho that one might be because ive seen it 4000000000 times due to countless repeats on hallmark, five and other tv channels). There are further poor episodes from the late 80's onwards. Im a billy connolly fan (being scottish) and so that does help if i do ever see Murder with too many notes.

Last Salute is watchable i find if you dont take it too seriously and with large time spaces inbetween viewings. I enjoy it for the fun the actors are having on screen, theres little else to enjoy it for. The ending comes far too out of suddenly, oh we've got 15 mins to fill with no idea how to fill it so lets jump straight to a stupid long-drawn stupid (yes its doubly stupid), unfulfilling ending.

Strange to see Swanney in another episode Fade Into Murder. Having just seen it again for the first time in ages, i remember why i rarely watch it - this episode stinks. (Is it wrong to blame swanney for this since he's in both or is it plain bad luck). I fail to see why fowler helps columbo even if he's pretending to be the dective, unless he's got a split personality. And so when he starts down that whole youre speaking to Lucerne and not ward nonsense i get so bored and plead for the ending to come.

On a positive note saw Murder Under Glass last night and, maybe because i remember watching it the bbc when i was just a wee boy so i have good memories, i really enjoyed it. Columbo getting all that food to eat, the humour thru-out, the cockiness of Paul Gerard and his face when columbo gets served fugu (sp?). But mainly for Columbo openly stating he really doesnt like Gerard and you totally agree and are thrilled he's been caught. I cant think of too many episodes where columbo says he really doesnt like a murderer. He shows it with Milo Janus and (i think) with Dr. Barry Mayfield (i havent seen that episode in a long time) but i cant remember any others - tho there probably are.

I will stop this rambling.

GB,

Mat

Re: Worst episode

"Identity Crisis" improves for me with subsequent viewings. And even if it were still weak story wise, there's still Barbara Rhoades!

"Last Salute" I admit has a weak finish but it's still interesting to see the formula broken once for a change.

The ones from the NBC years I never like revisiting remain "Any Old Port In A Storm" (never changing my mind on this one) and "Matter Of Honor" (boring).

Re: Worst episode

eric, i agree with you about 'last salute to the commodore'.
although it's far from a favourite of mine, and sometimes all that shouting, and craziness can get on my nerves, i do like the fact that we get to see a columbo episode which deviates from the normal formula.

Re: Worst episode

Well on the subject of EYE CANDY in Columbo (at least for the guys), I never grow tired of Gretchen Corbett in a pretty sexy bikini for the 70's, in Exercise in Fatality!

Re: Worst episode

^ agreed. and i think lots of the ladies of columbo are eye candy. i may be a straight woman, but i still find them lovely to look at.

Re: Worst episode

The trifecta for me are (1) Barbara-"Identity Crisis" (2) Gretchen (3) Janet Leigh-"Forgotten Lady" for that opening scene in the goddess-like gown.

Re: Worst episode

oh eric, i'm so happy you included janet leigh..she was stunning in that white goddess gown...she wears that beautiful creation wonderfully..and it doesn't wear her.

another i always loved (and have mentioned a thousand times here) was anne baxter. wow! she was a mature woman also, but her figure was gorgeous. all her outfits in requiem for a falling star were magnificent, and they emphasized that great figure of her's.

then there is joanna cameron/lorna mcgrath in negative reaction. what a little sexy/cutie.

and then there is ruth gordon, who.....ok...i better stop.

Re: Worst episode

thedollyllama


Identity Crisis--I need a flowchart to follow what the hell is going on. Every time I watch it, at some point, I stop caring. They got their spy movie in my Columbo, and those are two tastes that taste like poo together. All I can even remember is that there's a cigarette machine in it, which perhaps was indeed the most memorable role in the whole episode. I think it won a Golden Globe, in fact.

hell, as my italian family has always said..'SAUS-EEGE' his own...meaning, to each their own.

but you should really take another look at this episode, dolly. give it the attention it deserves.

sure, it's a bit involved and one of the more complex plots on columbo, but it has its merit, and then some.

to reduce it to a cigarette machine being the best performance, is a bit harsh. i know that's your opinion, but come on, llama.
there is so much more there.

it's the discoverrrrry of americaaaa! you gotta get caught-in just from that line alone. and the maaah jong that peter utters at the end! my son says that to me all the time.

but really, give this one another chance. sure, it's complicated, and there is that spy and espionage aspect that really doesn't belong in a columbo episode, but dam, it really is a cool episode.

it took me a good long time to discover all the nuances of the episode, and i've still not found them all.
there was a poster here named 'abigail_mitchell' who disected it and had some really wonderful insightful things to say about it...and i found it fascinating.

watch it a few more times and get back to us. ..i'd love to hear more of your thoughts.

Re: Worst episode

Hello all: Love this thread! Interesting to think about the weakest entries in a well-written series. For the record, I can't put "Identity Crisis" in here, because of McGoohan's performance, and his interaction with Falk. "Commodore" is saved by the format change, and the Robert Vaughn twist (he is innocent). I'm also not counting the ABC "rebirth", since there are too many sub-par stories. I will have to reread the "Phile", and watch some more, before I add my official entry. Keep this going! Best regards, Chris.