Thursday, June 29, 2006

Future Jones Is Now Rolling Over Like He Was Born To It! Come to think of it...

...Maybe "Born To It" is not the proper phrase... anyhoos...

New "Columbo Season 5" collection out on dvd!

Here now the episode reviews... music maestro, if you please?

"Forgotten Lady" (1975)
Season: 5, Episode - 1
Director:Harvey Hart
Written by:William Driskill
Produced by:Everett Chambers
Originally aired:September 14, 1975
Run Time:120 (mins)

Peter Falk as LT. Columbo
Ross Elliott as Dr. Landberg
Maurice Evans as Raymond
Sam Jaffe as Dr. Henry Willis
Janet Leigh as Grace Wheeler Willis
John Payne (I) as Ned Diamond
Robert F. Simon as Dr. Westrum
Army Archerd as Himself
Linda Scott as Alma
Francine York as Sergeant Leftkowitz
Jerome Guardino as Harris

The big news in Hollywood is gala opening of Song and Dance, a That’s Entertainment! Type of compilation of memorable numbers from classic musical films. The grand reception has stirred the comeback hopes of onetime screen queen Grace Wheeler, With former co-star Ned Diamond on her arm, Grace tells Tinseltown reporter Army Archerd that she plans to star in a Broadway revival of One Touch of Venus, that Ned will direct and choreograph.

My take- Obviously, the team of Diamond and Wheeler are supposed to be an Astaire and Rogers in Earth-Columbo ( a parallel world, not unlike our own where lower class detectives routinely get murder convictions on upper class, arrogant murder suspects on the flimsiest proof). SPOILER ALERT- this is one of the few "sympathetic murderer" episodes, because of Wheeler's Altzheimer-like brain disease (she'll die in three months!) convincing Columbo not to immediately book her. And just to be totally upfront, I know John Payne's granddaughter, but that, in no way, makes my opinion of this incredible, fantastic episode any less legitimate. Ahem.

"A Case of Immunity" (1975)
Season:5, Episode - 2
Director:Ted Post
Written by:Lou Shaw (from a story by James Menzies)
Produced by:Everett Chambers
Originally aired:October 12, 1975
Run Time:(120mins)

Peter Falk as Lt. Columbo
Hector Elizondo as First Secretary Hassan Salah
Sal Mineo as Rahmin Habib
Barry Robins as The King
Andre Lawrence as Youseff Alafa
Kenneth Tobey as Police Commissioner
Xenia Gratsos as Zena
Dick Dinman as Kermit Morgan
George Skaff as Kura
Nate Esformes as Hakim
Bill Zuckert as Captain August
Bart Braverman as Second Picketer
Harvey Gold as Coroner
Jay Varela as Captain Ortega

Hassan Salah, first secretary of the Surian legation in Los Angeles, wants to see his country hold to traditional ways. The young King of Suria, however, seems quite open to Western influences and ideas. The ruthless Hassan sees a way to get rid of a dangerous opponent, legation chief of security Youseff Alafa, and blame it on the protesting Surian students who support the King.

My take- Hector Elizondo, who plays every nationality well (just ask Garry Marshall!), gets the upper class foreign murderer gig here, and plays it to the hilt. With Sal Mineo as the "not-gay-at-all" character. I think he died tragically just after this episode premiered. Not so for Bart Braverman, who went on to delight "Vega$" fans everywhere! COLUMBO GEEK NOTE- I guess Kenneth Tobey plays the police comissioner who replaced Richard Kiley's Police Commisioner as Murderer character from the previous season

"Identity Crisis" (1975)
Season:5, Episode - 3
Director:Patrick McGoohan
Written by:William Driskill
Produced by:Everett Chambers
Originally aired:November 2, 1975
Run Time:(120mins)

Peter Falk as LT. Columbo
Val Avery as Louie
Patrick McGoohan as Nelson Brenner
Leslie Nielsen as Geronimo /A.J. Henderson
Otis Young as Lawrence Melville
Bruce Kirby as Sergeant Kramer
Vito Scotti as Salvatore Defonte
David White as Phil Corrigan ( The Director )
Barbara Rhoades as Joyce
William Mims as Gallery Attendant
Carmen Argenziano as Coroner Cliff Anderson
Cliff Carnell as Don ( Photo Shop Man )
Edward Bach as Executive
Paul Gleason as Parsons
Angela May as Ruth
Betty McGuire as Della

Top government operative Nelson Brenner is surprised to learn that an old partner, code named Geronimo, is still alive. Geronimo, who is using the cover identity of businessman A.J. Henderson, suspect that Nelson is a double agent - using vital information to improve his bank account.

My take- McGoohan, directing and starring, presents an alternate hell for a secret agent man who never made it to the village... being nailed by Columbo! With David (Bewitched) White as Larry Tate's evil CIA boss twin brother. Someone should do a study of White's roles in films and tv. Ah, who am I kidding... it'll be me. Again. This episode also has the late Paul (Breakfast Club, Die Hard) Gleason and a not-funny Leslie Nielsen as the victim ("Is he funny?" you ask... "Twice. In 'Airplane' and the 'Police Squad' television shows. And then never again." I ruefully sigh.) And Barbara Rhodes as the hot red head. Which is what she always played in the seventies.

"A Matter of Honor" (1976)
Season:5, Episode - 4
Director:Ted Post
Written by:Brad Radnitz
Produced by:Everett Chambers
Originally aired:February 1, 1976
Run Time:(120mins)

Peter Falk as LT. Columbo
Robert Carricant as Hector Rangel
Maria Grimm as Nina Montoya
Ricardo Montalban as Luis Montoya
Pedro Armendariz, Jr. as Lieutenant Sanchez
A. Martinez as Curro Rangel
Jorge Rivero
Emilio Fernandez
Enrique Lucero
Evita Munoz Chachita

Columbo has a small car crash in Mexico and due to a delay in processing insurance paper work becomes involved with the local Police to help investigate an apparent tragic accident inside a Bull ring. Legendary Mexican bullfighter Luis Montoya is a national hero respected for his great courage and daring. Only his longtime friend and assistant Hector Rangel knows that the retired matador has a dark secret. Luis must get rid of Hector knowing his terrible secret, Hector plans to leave the Montoya ranch. "Everything is different," Hector tells Luis. "I must leave." His bags are packed. Before he can depart, however, Luis puts on a show of bravado. Together they will kill the animal that wounded Hector’s tempestuous son, promising young toreador Curro Rangel. Once Luis has lured Hector into the ring, he uses an air pistol to shoot his old friend with a dart dipped in a strong tranquilizer. With Hector helpless and only barley conscious, Luis releases Marinaro the killer bull.

My take- A pre- "Fantasy Island" toupee Montalban gives his all in another "get Columbo out of LA, where surely all white collar murderers are onto him" episode. With typically bad Universal Studios Television scoring (heavy psuedo-Spanish guitars... because eet's een Me-hi-co, si?), and a cast of latino actors, many of whom don't even get character names.

"Now You See Him..." (1976)
Season:5, Episode - 5
Director:Harvey Hart
Written by:Michael Sloan
Produced by:Everett Chambers
Originally aired:February 29, 1976
Run Time:(120mins)

Peter Falk as LT. Columbo
Jack Cassidy as The Great Santini
Bob Dishy as Sergeant John J. Wilson
Robert Loggia as Harry Blandford
Nehemiah Persoff as Jesse T. Jerome
Cynthia Sikes as Della Santini
George Sperdakos as Thackery
Thayer David as Clerk
Redmond Gleeson as Danny Green
Victor Izay as Lassiter
Robert Gibbons as Rodger
Michael Payne as Jefferson

Master magician "The Great Santini" (no relation to Pat Conroy's book or the Robert Duval film based on the book) is amazing audiences at the Cabaret of Magic. What they don’t know is that Santini hopes to pull of the grandest illusion of his career - making club owner Jesse T. Jerome disappear. The crude Jerome is the only person who knows that Santini was a Nazi death camp guard named Stefan Mueller, He has been blackmailing the magician since learning his dark secret.

My take- The last Jack Cassidy episode, who I believe also died shortly after the show premiered (coincidence or "Columbo" curse?). As I've said before, these episodes that have Cassidy or Robert Culp, or McGoohan, show what Levinson and Link were aiming for in their villain-types. Controlled, moneyed, cultured jerks. I've only met Culp, so I don't know if the other guys were like this in real life. Although in Cassidy's case, Malcolm McDowell played him in son David Cassidy's tv bio-pic, so probably "yes".

"Last Salute to the Commodore" (1976)
Season:5, Episode - 6
Director:Patrick McGoohan
Written by:Jackson Gillis
Produced by:Everette Chambers
Originally aired:May 2, 1976
Run Time:(120mins)

Peter Falk as Lt. Columbo
Robert Vaughn as Charles
Wilfrid Hyde-White as Kittering
John Dehner as Commodore Otis Swanson
Dennis Dugan as Theodore "Mac" Albinsky
Fred Draper as Swanny Swanson
Diane Baker as Joanna
Bruce Kirby as Sergeant George Kramer
John Finnegan as Guard
Joshua Bryant as Wayne Taylor
Susan Foster as Lisa
Rod McCary as Coast Guard Officer
J.P. Finnegan as Guard
Joseph Roman as Shop Foreman
Hanna Hertelendy as Woman
Jerry Crews as Watchmaker
Fire Poert as Sailor
Jimmy Joyce as Handwriting Expert
Tom Williams as Bartender

The family and friends of brilliant naval architect Commodore Otis Swanson have gathered for the company’s annual party. The commodore, however, has become increasingly discontented with the way his son-in-law, Charles Clay, has developed the ship-building firm into a vast, impersonal corporation. He is tired of being surrounded by freeloaders like his alcoholic daughter, Joanna, his irresponsible nephew, Swanny, and of course, Charles. The only man he respects is Wayne Taylor, the head of the boat yard. In fact, the Commodore intends to sell the company. That night, Charles is wiping clean the belaying pin used to bash the Commodore’s skull.

My take- This is one of the few I haven't seen all the way through. From what I know, it is notable for being a) the only one where the murderer is, himself murderered and 2) the only one where the ultimate murderer was not revealed until the end of the episode. Anything with Robert Vaughn is a worthy episode.See above for my brilliant Columbo villain analysis.

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