I wondered that about the mail, too. Unless Columbo happened to notice the date on the postmark or recognized a piece of junk mail he also received that day?
Re: The Mail
Franklin would've had to think awfully quick for that reply. Columbo puts him on the spot. He sets up Franklin by putting forth the premise that he did open his mail when he got home. And it's the way he delivers it: "Isn't that funny... now, if it were me, etc" Franklin would have to deny the assumption, putting him at risk of, as you point out, the dates on the mail not corresponding. And, Columbo is seen picking up an envelope and sneaking a glance, just before he springs what's bothering him. And if he didn't see the dates, he would've checked into that had Franklin denied opening them when he got home. Maybe right then and there too. The scene works well, even looking back on it after all these years.
There is a similar scene when dr. Mayfield was resetting his desk clock and Columbo walked in. And after a short conversation he said to the doctor that he was amazed that he took time to reset his desk clock while he was hearing about Sharon Martin's murder.
That would never work now a days because his car would have been searched and certainly some type of forensic evidence would have been discovered.
There's a lot that wouldn't work today:
- DNA evidence
- Fiber and hair evidence
- Cell phone tower pings to verify alibi (For perps who don't turn their cellphone off).
- Tracing ability of every phone call, not just long-distance
- Other Improved forensics
- Columbo can't smoke in most of the places that he does on the show!
While "the lab boys" do identify a lot of evidence, most of the Columbo forensics is finger-prints. A few tire tracks and footprints, but not much else. Most of it is Columbo-derived circumstantial evidence.
Except for DNA evidence, forensics could obtain and identify a lot of physical evidence in that era.
Certainly hair and blood.
It wasn't exactly the Dark Ages.
I know nothing about forensics, but I know what you mean by that. Often someone commenting on some earlier story will say "That wouldn't happen NOW." But in a lot of cases, the same thing probably also wouldn't happen THEN. Or at least it wouldn't be that common.
It always amazes me how many killers wipe the gun to obscure their prints but they seldom wipe the shell cases or wear gloves when loading the gun.
Ward Fowler learned that lesson the hard way in “Fade in to Murder”.
Columbo used many new forensic techniques and high tech apparatuses that helped solve the crime and would not solve a crime today. Remember he introduced the Selectric typewriter and caught the killer because of the cartridge ribbon. Killers wouldnt be caught dead with a selectric typewriter today. He introduced the fax machine...now why would a guy fax a joke to his wife if he was planning a suicide. YEP, gotta be murder and the killers print gotta be on the paper. He intro'd the answering machine to get a greedy developer. He showed us a 50 lb cell phone and his understanding of the blackout zone caught Shatner in Shades of Grey. Today the cell phones know what we're plotting and have it recorded before we finish dialing. Let's not forget the fancy cigar cutter. Ah yes, we could go on and on.
Answering machine appeared in RANSOM!