As you can see, Columbo himself is embarrassed by this episode.
I’m afraid it is so, kid.
Even as Hollywood libs freak out upon discovering that Islam is not so nice for women, my wife and I last night saw a bad Columbo episode: A Final Salute to the Commodore in Season 5.
I missed this series the first time around, so I’ve been really enjoying it on DVD. In the first four seasons, the quality of the episodes ran from good to superb.
But this one was just horrible.
Peter Falk’s friend, Patrick McGoohan, directed this fiasco. Instead of the usual Columbo schtick of torturing smart, sophisticated murderers by talking about his wife and coming out with philistine remarks on art and culture, all the while appearing to be the innocent little twerp in a crummy raincoat, McGoohan had Peter Falk muttering, constantly repeating himself, and pawing the rest of the cast. At first we thought it was just Columbo trying to unbalance a suspect played by Robert Vaughn, crowding and mauling this guy who hates to be touched; but we soon noticed he was doing it to everyone. Sometimes he did it while muttering and repeating himself. All in all, a flop.
But it teaches a lesson that everyone who tries to tell a story, in any genre, in any medium, would do well to take to heart: unintelligibility does not equal profundity. “Man, that was deep!” is the college sophomore’s way of admitting that he didn’t understand the story he just read or saw in a movie–probably because it had no meaning, it wasn’t about anything. Falling for this old trick is one of those things you’re supposed to grow out of. This is why I don’t like Serious Mainstream Literature, or movies like Carnal Knowledge–it’s either about nothing at all, or something irreducibly trivial blown up as a big deal. And pretentious pseudo-intellectuals say they like it.
This Columbo episode didn’t rise even to that level.
And now I must return to the Real World, where the Pope, who seems not to have paid any attention to the past 60 years of history, says governments have gotta Redistribute Wealth and put an end to Income Inequality.
That doesn’t rise even to the level of a bad Columbo episode.