It would be a mythic number.”
In my family, this is a day of celebration as my nephew turns thirty. But in Toobworld, it is a day of sorrow as this is the seventh anniversary of the death of Peter Falk, the star of 'Columbo'.
There’s nothing to be done for it now of course, but if only we never had that Great Hiatus – that decade without any new ‘Columbo’ investigations. What a missed opportunity!
To mark the occasion in remembrance of Mr. Falk and Lt. Columbo - Peter and Frank - herewith is a Super Six List of my favorite episodes from the series....
1] IDENTITY CRISIS
For over forty years, 'The Prisoner' had been my favorite TV show. It is now permanently locked in as "the new Number Two". So this episode, with my favorite actor, Patrick McGoohan, is a treasure with all of the callbacks to that series. But even without that, there is so much to savor in the interplay between McGoohan and Falk. And McGoohan - did I mention he's my favorite actor? - has the most marvelous inflections in his delivery that makes simple words and phrases like "I know!", "Is it?", "Geronimo...", "Luxuriant.", and "Mah Jong" indelible in the memory. In fact, for any other fan of this episode, I doubt they could read those examples without doing so in McGoohan's style.
And Mr. Falk matches every step with his more mundane presence to keep McGoohan's character grounded. (Even when Falk himself is floating in the air....)
2] TRY AND CATCH ME
3] DAGGER OF THE MIND
4] ANY OLD PORT IN THE STORM
5] NEGATIVE REACTION
6] DOUBLE EXPOSURE
The last entry in any list such as this, no matter how many choices you get to fill (like the usual Top Ten), has to be the hardest to make. And I was sad to think that because of my druthers, I couldn’t get any of the Cassidy episodes included. At least I have two out of three of the Great Triumvirate of Columbo Killers included, and of Robert Culp’s trio of murderers, I think Dr. Kepple is the most fun to watch opposite Peter Falk. I will admit, however, that it took me a long time to reach that conclusion. (I used to be more favorable to “The Most Crucial Game”. But eventually I found Hanlon too strident throughout with nowhere to go on an emotional level. As for Brimmer? Well he killed Patricia Crowley and I had a crush on her just as I was entering my teen years. LOL) This may not have been the first episode where Columbo entered the investigation at a disadvantage in knowing how that particular world operated, but this may have been the most complicated up that point. Luckily, he was always quick to learn enough to help him solve the case and this world of subliminal advertising proved to be no match.
I may not have been as big a fan of the later episodes, but I still wish Peter Falk was with us, if only to give us a final episode in which he got to retire (perhaps against his wishes), but first had to solve one last case.
And perhaps we could have had the opportunity to finally meet Mrs. Columbo. (Mrs. Columbo as Levinson and Link envisioned her, of course.)
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NEIL!