This Could Have Killed ‘Columbo’

Columbo" Last Salute to the Commodore (TV Episode 1976) - IMDb

Fully dressed and lounging on the dock? (Not buying it.)

We watched a Columbo episode last night which, if it had been the pilot for the series, would have killed the whole show in its tracks. In a way, it was the biggest Columbo mystery of all: “What in the world were they thinking?”

Directed by Patrick McGoohan and written, I presume, by persons high on various drugs, Last Salute to the Commodore is not just awful: it’s inexplicable.

Peter Falk mumbles, repeats things that someone else has just said, and drapes himself over other characters (Robert Vaughn, mostly) like some kind of blanket. Dialogue is staged with very loud heavy machinery operating in the background so you can’t make out what anyone is saying. Clusters of characters whom the audience has already met waste several minutes merely introducing themselves to each other. The script keeps putting Columbo into weird positions, including an unsuccessful stab at yoga.

This stuff goes on and on all throughout the episode. It has a plot, but with all the distractions, who can follow it?

Didn’t anybody on the set ever ask, “What the dickens are we doing?” There’s a scene in which too many characters pile themselves into Columbo’s car and aimlessly cruise along, practically in each other’s laps.

Somehow the show survived this episode. We can still find Columbo fans wherever we go. But I’ve yet to meet anyone who liked “Last Salute.”

It mystifies me.

7 comments on “This Could Have Killed ‘Columbo’

  1. I so agree! This was not even a Colombo episode, really. When I watched it, I missed large portions of it because it was so boring and stupid I wasn’t paying attention. I couldn’t believe how stupid it was.

  2. This reminds me of chase scenes in TV shows. They have to fill up their time slot with something when not enough clever, interesting dialogue has been written so have a chase scene.

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