Not sure which ones you have seen, but Death Lends a Hand springs to mind, as does Short Fuse. There are many others.
"Ransom for a Dead Man". Not only does he trap Leslie Williams, but he gives her a
lesson in ethics and psychology...i.e. she thinks everyone is as corrupt and uncaring as she is, and that is what brings about her fall.
Let's also not forget the trap in "The Bye Bye Sky High I.Q. Murder Case," an episode which is perhaps underrated because it was in one of the later seasons.
Jay, interesting idea.
There are really a lot of them. Prescription: Murder, Lady in Waiting, Dagger of the Mind,Mind Over Mayhem, Negative Reaction, A Deadly State of Mind....
I prefer clues to traps at the end. Even episodes with weak final clues (Murder by the Book, The Most Crucial Game, The Most Dangerous Match, for example) I like better than episodes like Negative Reaction or Mind over Mayhem because at least the writers attempted a clever clue rather than a "deus-ex-machina" type of ending.
However, there are some traps that I did enjoy: Blueprint for Murder, Double Exposure, Swan Song, A Friend in Deed, A Deadly State of Mind, A Case of Immunity, Bye-Bye Sky High..., Make Me a Perfect Murder, and How to Dial a Murder.
Thanks for the input everybody. I have seen most of the first 4 seasons but not much from seasons 5-7 of the 70's episodes. So I am looking forward to buying these when they come out on DVD in the next few years. I've heard good things about the episode Forgotten Lady. Could somebody tell me how Columbo catches the murderer, is it with a trap or just a number of clues?
Jay..Forgotten Lady is probably my second favorite episode...it is just beautiful...it is so romantic to watch and it has a terrific story......but do you really want to know the ending since you haven't even seen it yet?
It was a number of clues...no trap.
That is an interesting point...i.e. trapping the suspect is a "deus ex machina"..but I didn't think of these traps as something like that. Frankly, I find the ending of "Murder by the Book" to be something of an anti-climax, it just isn't very dramatic and I find the ending unsatisfying (most Steve Bochco endings are like that).
A good example of how a "trap" can be very dramatic is in "Troubled Waters". Columbo shows Lloyd Harrington the picture of Hayden Danzinger. Harrington asks Columbo if he thinks that Danzinger is the murderer. Columbo answers quite frankly:
"Yes..but don't say anything...I haven't gotten him yet!". Wow! You know something good is coming up.
Ok...will everybody stop throwing this "deus ex machina" around, and tell cassa what the heck it means!!!
And I agree YM, for such a terrific episode as Murder by the Book, the ending really leaves an empty void for me. The last clue is quite a stretch, and as it has been said here before, it would never hold up in court. I don't even think Ken Franklin would be indicted on that kind of flimsy evidence...it really isn't even evidence.
And as far as that scene in Troubled Waters...I always loved when Columbo says that. Firstly, he is confiding in the guy that everybody else thinks is the real murderer...it just shows so much confidence on the part of Columbo..he is true to his convictions and he is sure of his wisdom in knowing that Danziger is the killer. And when Columbo says that line it is the greatest, because the viewer knows how much fun they are in for. I love it!!!
"Deus-ex-machina" literally means "God by machine," when in (I believe) ancient Greek theater the conflict in a play would be resolved by God appearing and solving the problem, rather than the characters working it out for themselves.
Some of Columbo's traps are, in my opinion, a "deus-ex-machina" because the case is not really "solved" by Columbo.
I also wanted to mention that the ending to Murder by the Book does leave a void for me, too, but the endings to Mind over Mayhem or Death Lends a Hand leave an even bigger void.
I am more of a plot/clue fan than a character fan.
Thank you E.
So in other words...when there is a trap...like for example Negative Reaction...that would be a "deus ex machina" ending??
I'm getting confused!
Not necessarily...a subtle and well-developed trap can be very satisfying. In my post up above I mentioned some examples of good traps. But the traps in Mind over Mayhem or Prescription Murder were too obvious and unoriginal.
Thanks for asking what Deus Ex Machina meant Cassa...you asked about five minutes before I was going to ask. And thanks for the explanation E. Personally I don't mind traps or clues. Clues leave a very satisfying feeling, but traps are good for the enjoyment of seeing what Columbo is up to. A prefer a good clue to a bad trap and a good trap to a bad clue...
Well put Paul!
And E, I was just in the pool with my 17 year old son and I was telling him about the "deus ex machina" thingy...and the little smart aleck (I love him to death! ) told me I was pronouncing it totally wrong!!
Hey Cassa...In every post this week you have mentioned your pool...you are making me so jealous..I wish I had a pool..
Paul..I truly hadn't realized that!!! I am a bit absorbed in my pool!! It is my saving grace from the heat!! Come on over Paul......oh wait!...do you own a pair of bathing trunks?!?!?
I have to agree that the ending of
"Prescription Murder" is just too much
like a punch in the face, totally unsubtle.
"Negative Reaction" is beautiful because he maneuvers Galesko into thinking he is going to show Columbo how stupid he is ("you're a gem...not too bright!") but it turns out blowing up in his face.
In "Prescription", Dr Flemming is so unbelievably stupid and arrogant to say
"an accident could have been arranged", however, since this was a one-shot movie, the writers probably felt they could get away with it--it is still a good episode.
Actually I do own some trunks. I found them the other day. And to keep this Columbo related...episodes in which a pool plays a big part, Troubled Waters, The Most Crucial Game, ...others??
Yippee!! You got trunks!! Come on over,Paul!!
I don't know if you remember, Paul, but I actually started a thread on colsy's site about pools in Columbo. There were no responses!!! ....until Headache saved my face and wrote something goofy and Darth chimed in.
But to continue...pools were plot related also in Prescription: Murder, Friend In Deed and Deadly State of Mind. And pools could be seen in Candidate for Crime, Swan Song, A Stitch in Crime, Any Old Port in a Storm, Exercise in Fatality, Forgotten Lady, How to Dial a Murder....and the mother of all pools...Arthur Kennicut's pool in Death Lends a Hand.
Right, I remembered somewhere that someone had asked that. I just forgot who and where Thanks for filling me in Cassa.
Yeah, Paul, it was Joe who started it on colsy's site and I had the bird-brained idea to make it into a thread! I mean...what can you add to it??????? "Oh...I liked the pool in The Most Crucial Game" or "Didn't the pool water look so clear when Nadia Donner plunged to her death in A Deadly State of Mind?"....it was a dead post...
I enjoy clues *and* traps. For me, the enjoyment is watching Columbo wear down the murderer until s/he makes a mistake. Columbo always knows from the start who the murderer is, he just has to prove it and the best endings are where the criminal unwittingly proves it themselves. In this respect, I do not think it accurate to call 'trap' endings deus ex machinas, though I can see why the term has been used. Really, a machina ending has no relation to the rest of the plot and is parahcuted in e.g. if Columbo's boss suddenly appeared in the last 5 minutes with new evidence. Columbo's traps are part of the way he puts pressure on people. One of my favourites is Prescription: Murder, one that others have criticised. IMO, the trap works because it comes as a natural development of Columbo's tactics with Dr. Fleming. It is Fleming himself who creates the trap. In the brilliant psychotherapy scene, Columbo asks Fleming how he catches a murderer like him and Fleming gives him the answer - he can't. So Columbo switches his attention to his accomplice and uses Fleming's 'substitute girl/wig' trick to complete the trap. I thought this a seamless and satisfying ending because the murderer, in effect, traps himself.