Best Columbo Episodes
By Billy Ingram
Want to watch Columbo for the first time and wish to start with the best episodes? Try these...
"Prescription: Murder" was the pilot episode, airing as a TV-movie on NBC in 1968. The role of Columbo was written with Bing Crosby in mind. When Crosby passed on the role it went to Peter Falk. In this storyline, Gene Barry portrays an egotistical psychiatrist who murders his wife (Nina Foch) then convinces his mistress (Katherine Justice), who is also one of his patients, to impersonating his dead wife to provide an alibi.
Ratings were so strong for that TV-movie another was filmed for airing in 1971, "Ransom for a Dead Man," starring Lee Grant as a smart but ruthless attorney who murders her husband for his money.
Based on audience numbers for "Ransom for a Dead Man," NBC greenlit Columbo as a series - not as a weekly show but one of three series that were broadcast under the title NBC Mystery Movie (1971-1977), rotating with McCloud (Dennis Weaver) and McMillian and Wife (Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James ).
The first Columbo episode, 1971's "Murder by the Book," was directed by a young Steven Spielberg, under contract with Universal who produced the series. The villain was portrayed by the wonderful Jack Cassidy, a writer who kills his writing partner for the rights to their lliterary creation.
Cassidy returned as the murderer on Columbo two other times, all very much worth watching. In 1974, Cassidy again plays a writer accused of murder in "Publish or Perish". In 1976's "Now You See Him..." Cassidy plays a magician who's alibi was that he was on stage when the murder of his business partner happened.
Also during season one is "Suitable for Framing" with Ross Martin and Rosanna Huffman in an inspired tale in which Martin's character attempts to frame his aunt for murder in order to take possesion of some rare masterpieces.
The first episode of season two, "Étude in Black," stars John Cassavetes and Myrna Loy in a script by Columbo creators Richard Levinson & William Link along with Steven Bochco. Cassavetes plays a musical maestro who's having an affair with a pianist, together they conspire to murder the maestro's wife for her money.
Also during season two is another great episode, "Requiem for a Falling Star" with Anne Baxter as a famous movie actress. Oscar-winning costume designer Edith Head makes a cameo appearance as herself.
Season three's "Double Exposure" features Robert Culp in his third and final appearance as a Columbo killer.
"Negative Reaction" from season four stars a bearded Dick Van Dyke in a delightful role as a murderous photographer who blames his wife's death on a bungled kidnapping.
William Shatner portrays a vain but successful star of a TV detective show who murders his blackmailing producer then makes it look like a robbery in "Fade in to Murder," another excellent outing.
The first episode from season 7, "Try and Catch Me", stars Ruth Gordon in one of her finest TV appearances as a murder mystery writer. Absolutely delightful from start to finish.
Each of these represent the best of Columbo although, in all honesty, there were no real clunkers during Columbo's original NBC run. Columbo returned in limited form in 1989 on ABC with the final episode, "Columbo Likes the Nightlife," airing in 2003.
"It's very hard to explain why a character and a show to be around for 32, 33, 34 years," Peter Falk commented in 2003. "My God, who would have dreamt such a thing, I'm just so grateful to it. I guess it's the nature of that character. He's very comfortable with himself. There's not a pretentious bone in his body. I think that having the brain of Sherlock Holmes but dressing like the gardener, he's a very average guy."
In 2020, the entire NBC run of Columbo (1971-1978) can be seen on IMDB TV.
Peter Falk talks Columbo...
Local Kid Shows / Movie Stars on TV / Saturday Morning Shows / Video Vault / TV Goodbyes / Fabulous Fifties / Unseen Scenes / Game Shows / Requested Forgotten TV Shows / The Super Sixties / The New * * Shows / 1980's Wrestling / TV Blog
|TV's Embarrassing Moments / Action Shows of the Sixties / TVparty Mysteries and Scandals / Variety Shows of the 1970s / The Eighties / The Laugh Track / 1970's Hit Shows / Response to TVparty / Search the Site / Add Your Comments|
Hit Shows of the Seventies: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy / Gene Roddenberry in the 1970s / 1977-1978 Superhero & Science Fiction TV Shows / Funniest SNL Skit Ever! / Prisoner: Cell Block H / Why John Amos Left Good Times / Reviving Match Game / How Betty White's 'Happy Hommaker' Came About / TV Dads Talk Sex & Fatherhood / Angie Dickinson Blows Off This Is Your Life / Rare Audio of Bette Davis' Broadway Bound Flop 'Miss Moffat' / Orson Welles' Last Interview / Remembering Ed Asner / Bruce Vilanch on Writing for Donny & Marie / Writing For Fernwood 2 Night / Kris Kristofferson vs Barbra Streisand on A Star Is Born? Kinda... / Remembering Gavin MacLeod / Cher Reviews Her Iconic Outfits Since 1965 / Best Columbo Episodes / Star Maidens Sci-Fi Series / One of the Most Controversial Episodes of All In The Family / Outside Chance / Norman Mailer & Muhammad Ali / Charles Nelson Reilly Flops on Broadway / Chuck Norris vs Eva Gabor / Dirty Sally / The Protectors / Chevy Chase Talks Hollywood Cocaine Parties / 1977 Season Show Openings / Love Boat's Oscar Winning Guest Stars / Tom Snyder Interviews Star Trek Cast & Harlan Ellison / Tim Conway's 'The Dentist' Sketch / Henry Winkler on His Happy Days Audition / Patrick Duffy of Dallas Interview / Time Express / Wonder Woman Leaves Paradise Island / 1972-73 TV Season / George Burns on the Carson Tonight Show in 1989 / Best Season of Dallas Ever? / Cloris Leachman Remembered / Ken Berry Interview / Why Barney Miller Ended / Vivian Vance Almost Joined the Cast of Rhoda / Marilu Henner Talks About Andy Kaufman / Cher on Mike Douglas 1979 / TV Show Book Tie-Ins / 1972 Jackie Robinson Interview / Dr. Strange 1978 TV Movie / Kathy Garver Interview / Space: 1999 / Paint Along with Nancy Kominsky / Mary Kay Place Albums of the 1970s / The Supremes - Mary Wilson vs Diana Ross / When Bruce Dern Killed John Wayne / 1974 Tom Snyder Our Gang Special / Remembering Ken Berry / Bruce / Caitllyn Jenner? / Billy Crash Craddock Interview / Melissa McCarthy Almost Quit Acting Days Before Landing Gilmore Girls / Bar Rescue's Wildest Customers! / TV HITS - By the Numbers / Alex Baldwin On His TV and Film Roles / Top Ten Sitcoms of the 1970s / James Cameron Made No Money for Titanic / Growing Up In The Playboy Mansion / Ed McMahon Drunk on the Air! / Lucy Interviewed by Barbara Walters / Valerie Harper Cancer / Jeff Bridges Breaks Down His Iconic Roles / Dallas vs Eight is Enough / 1974 MAD Magazine TV Special - Never Aired! / Iconic M*A*S*H Restaurant Coming To Kroger? / When Lucy Got Fired / Partridge Family and Brady Bunch at Kings Island theme park 1972-73 / Awkward Talk Show Moments / Allan Blye Interview / Jack Benny's Last Tonight Show 1974 / Patricia Heaton's Audition for Everybody Loves Raymond / Luke Perry's Last Role / Johnny Cash's Last Interview / Judy Garland's Last Film / Who Was Bob Gordon? / Richard Dreyfuss vs Bill Murray / Jeff Ross vs Everybody / Tennessee Williams 1972 Interview / Ed Asner Interview / Norm Macdonald vs OJ Simpson / Tony Kornheiser Interview / Freddy's Nightmares TV Series / Emmy Award Multiple Winners / Nathaniel Taylor aka Rollo Lawson / Mary Kay Place Albums of the 1970s / That Girl & TV's Single Working Women / Can You Identify These Stars? / Betty White vs Joan Rivers / Paul Lynde's Greatest Hollywood Squares Zingers / Sonny Comedy Revue / Star Trek Animated / Dark Shadows / Hal Linden Interview / Dark Shadows Movies / Dark Shadows Novels / The Night Stalker / One of the Funniest Carol Burnett Show Skits Ever / Fred 'The Hammer' Williamson / Johnny Carson interviews Lucille Ball / Dawn Wells / Betty White : An Appreciation / Bette Davis' 2 Best Interviews 1971 / Barbara Eden Interview / Gavin McLeod / Spider-Man 77 / The Next Step Beyond / The Music Dark Shadows / 1970 TV Shows / Mike Connors Remembered / Mike Wallace, Virginia Graham & Jim Longworth / Dick Clark / Woody Allen Hosts Tonight Show 1971 / Carson Tonight Show / Alan Alda Interview / Jackie Gleason Show / 1973 TV Shows / Thriller / Post Modern Sitcoms / Elvis in Greensboro / Remembering Dick Van Patten / TV Dating Shows / The Jacksons TV Show / Fall Previews of the 70s / Lance Link, Secret Chimp / Star Wars Holiday Special / Alias Smith and Jones / 1977 Year in Review / Top Ten 1970-76 / The Rockford Files / All in the Family / Sam Hall (Dark Shadows) Interview / Actor Ed Nelson / Death of Archie / Battlestar Galactica / Wonder Woman / Network Jingles / Class of '74 / Happy Days / Good Times / Mr. Bill / Dinah! / Maude / Doris Day Show / Pamelyn Ferdin Interview / The Bicentennial Minute / Jingles & Catch Phrases of the 1970s / Early Cable TV 1970s / TV commercials for Women / TV Moms / Country Music TV Shows of the 1960s & 1970s / Betty White Show / Ron Palillo / Shirley Jones Interview / Tom Bosley / Rodney Dangerfield / How Sanford & Son Ended / Sanford & Son Spin-Off Grady / Great Memoirs / Virginia Graham Show / The "N" Word on TV / 10 Classic Comedy Routines You Have To Laugh At Before You Die / Hollywood Squares / 1970's Teen Idols & The Hudson Brothers / TV Stars with 3 Hit Shows / The Rookies / Unsold Pilots / Jackie Cooper / The Good Guys / Match Game / Make Room For Granddaddy / Mannix & Gail Fisher / Bette Midler in the 1970s / Bonus 1970's Stuff: Silent Star Marion Mack / Biff Burger / 1970s Fast Food Chains / Latin Casino / Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire / 1970's Daytime Talk Shows / The Fess Parker Show / Brady Bunch Sex Dungeon? / Love, Loss & What I Watched
|Classic TV Commercials / 1950's TV / 1960's TV / 1970's TV / Lucy Shows / Classic Cars / John Wayne / Gene Roddenberry / Rockford Files / Sea Hunt / Superman on DVD / Toy Gun Ads / Flip Wilson Show / Big Blue Marble / Monty Hall / Carrascolendas / Mr. Dressup / Major Mudd / Chief Halftown / Baby Daphne / Sheriff John / Winchell & Mahoney / Fireball X-L5 / Mr. Wizard / Captain Noah / Thanksgiving Day Specials / Disney's First Christmas Special / Saturday Morning Cartoons / The Magic Garden / Amahl & the Night Visitors / Holiday Toy Commercials / Lucy & Desi's Last Christmas Show / Joey Heatherton / Fat Albert / The Virginian / Bewitched / Death of John Wayne / 1974 Saturday Mornings / Chuck McCann / Rudolph Collectables / Shrimpenstein / Local Popeye Shows / New Treasure Hunt / 1966 ABC TV Shows / 1967 TV Shows / 1968 TV Shows / Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes & Baby Doll / Fridays / TV Moms / Red Skelton / George Lindsay / Star Wars / KISS / Lancelot Link / Saturday Morning Cartoons / The Magic Garden / Wonder Woman / Classic Comic Books / Andy Griffith / Cher / TV Shows on DVD / Outtakes & Bloopers / 1967 TV Shows / Romper Room / ABC Movie of the Week / The Goldbergs / Daws Butler Commercials / Saturday Morning Commercials / Captain Kangaroo / Chicago Local Kiddie Shows / Boston Local TV / Philly Local TV / NYC Local Kid Shows / Amos 'n' Andy / Electric Company / Bette Davis / Judy Garland / Christmas Specials / Redd Foxx / Good Times / Sitcom Houses / What's Happening! / Winky Dink & You / Sonny & Cher / Smothers Brothers / Commercial Icons of the 1960s / Soupy Sales / TV Terrorists / Irwin Allen / The Untouchables / Carol Burnett Show / Batman TV Show / Green Hornet / Today Show History / Our Gang / Doris Day Show / 1970's Commercials For Women / Bill Cosby in the 1970s / The Golddiggers / Lola Falana / 1970s TV Shows / David Bowie on TV / Hudson Brothers / Jackie Gleason / Hollywood Squares / Match Game / Bob Keeshan / Gumby / The Flip Wilson Show / Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour / The Bobby Darin Show / The Richard Pryor Show / George Burns / Celebrity Commercials / Rudolph / Movie Posters & More!|