"Columbo" Columbo Cries Wolf (TV Episode 1990) Poster

(TV Series)

(1990)

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10/10
Columbo gets it wrong!
Dawnfrancis5 January 2003
Yes, Columbo gets it wrong or does he? This is an excellent Columbo story which adds a neat twist to the usual formula. Falk is lively throughout and by setting it in the glamour world, there are plenty of opportunities for comic moments. Very well paced and a treat to watch.
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A uniquely entertaining Columbo story
The Welsh Raging Bull30 December 2002
Warning: Spoilers
I'm not a big fan of the "new" Columbo adventures, but this one simply has to be watched because the murder untypically occurs about a quarter of an hour from the end of the film.

On the negative side, Ian Buchanan's performance as the murderer is rather bland and I can't ignore the fact that the chauffeur does not check inside the limousine when he hears the gunshot.

Nevertheless, the whole thing keeps you guessing right up until the end and you really do start thinking that, for once, Columbo has got it wrong.
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7/10
One of the more successful Columbo experiments.
Boba_Fett11381 October 2008
Over the course of years the Columbo movies have tried out some different things, which differ from its usual successful formula. Most of those movies however did not worked out and weren't as remotely as good as the Columbo movies which sticked to the usual formula. However I see this movie as an exception. It picks a different story approach, which works out well and although this isn't really among the best Columbo movies it can still be seen as a successful 'experiment' to try and be different.

Because it's different it isn't more surprising though but the movie its different approach makes sure that there is more mystery to enjoy. In this case we don't see a murder being committed and all we know as that a woman disappeared somewhere on her way to the airport. But we don't know why or who is behind it all. With this approach this movie is obviously different from the usual Columbo movie entry. Due to this approach we get more inside Lt. Columbo's head and we see how he approaches and investigates the case.

The story and approach makes this a very entertaining movie to watch. Because of its approach the story also for some reason feels like it's a better and more cleverly written one compared to other Columbo movie entries, while it in fact perhaps isn't. I think that it is because of the fact that we ourselves also don't known what has happened and the movie for most part is a true mysterious thriller to us as well, just as it all is a big mystery for the main character Columbo.

One thing that didn't made me enjoy this movie was it's typical early '90's style. In terms of style the '90's was perhaps the worst decade for movies ever. The clothes, hair, make-up, the music...it's all so completely horrendous. But oh well, perhaps in 50 years from now people will start to appreciate this more and look back at it as the good old glorious '90's!

The movie features Ian Buchanan in one of his earliest roles. He began acting at a pretty late age and he now days is very well known all over the world for his role in the long running and successful soap-series "The Bold and the Beautiful", for which he has played in for 15 years, and still counting. He was good in this movie opposite Peter Falk and they had some good necessary chemistry together. Chemistry between the main suspect and the Lieutenant always had been an important key element of the series.

A different Columbo movie that actually works out.

7/10

http://bobafett1138.blogspot.com/
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9/10
One of the better "newer" entries to the series...
TheLittleSongbird6 March 2012
To me, Columbo is one of the best detective series of all time, and one of my favourites ever. Columbo Cries Wolf is not among my absolute favourites of the series, but it is for me one of the better "newer" entries and one of the more successful change-in-formula episodes. Much better than for example Last Salute to the Commodore, another attempt to be different from the usual formula but fell flat, anyhow. Like with all Columbo episodes, Columbo Cries Wolf is beautifully shot, and the location(s) great. The fashions are nice to look at as well, and I liked the rock soundtrack at the start. The writing is smart and always maintains interest, and while I agree about the chauffeur business(the three or four times I've seen this episode, that has always bugged me also) the story(somewhat re-calling Prescription Murder at times) is well paced and makes the most of the formula used. It also has a very clever ending. Peter Falk as he always was is brilliant as Columbo, looking very lively and natural throughout. Ian Bucchanan is not my definition of a great performance, never quite as flamboyant as his character promised to be, but he is solid enough and works well with Falk. Deidre Hall is gorgeous and very convincing. Overall, a favourite it isn't, but I enjoy it very much. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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9/10
One of the best of the latter-day Columbo's
garrard17 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
From the opening credits playing the Fine Young Cannibal's hit "She Drives Me Crazy" and the glimpse of a Hugh-Hefner-like mansion, the viewer knows that he or she is in for something special. And that is no surprise, for "Columbo Cries Wolf" has a lot of surprises in store ahead.

The inspired casting of soap favorites Ian Buchanan and Diedre Hall are just two of the pluses in this episode, set in the cutthroat world of high fashion and glamor.

Though one of the plot devises is very similar to the first Falk-Columbo "Prescription: Murder," there is still enough that keeps this one fresh and memorable.

The final scene where Columbo solves the case is - pun intended - a "killer."
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9/10
The Set-Up
AaronCapenBanner4 March 2016
Ian Buchanan stars as a smug, self-satisfied man named Sean Brantley who is co-owner of a successful men's magazine called "Bachelor's World", with him as the chief bachelor, though his partner Dian Hunter(played by Deidre Hall) owns majority stock, and wants to sell out to a wealthy British businessman who will shut Sean down, so an elaborate scheme is devised that makes it look like Dian was murdered and replaced before she arrives at the airport on her flight to London. Lt. Columbo(Peter Falk) is asked in on the case by old friend Chief Superintendent Durk(from earlier episode 'Dagger Of The Mind') and is convinced it's murder, but after the vast estate is turned upside down looking for her corpse, Brantley benefits from all the free publicity it provides, which of course is no accident... Outstanding episode is the best of the revived series, and a highlight of the entire series, with an ingenious, lively script that inverses the traditional formula on its head most effectively, leading to a perfect "Gotcha" ending. A delight from start to finish.
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7/10
Comeuppance for Columbo at the Bunny Ranch?
punishmentpark16 September 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Could it be true? Will Columbo finally be outsmarted? By a smug playboy / gold-digger type, no less? Nah. But it was a fun twist on the old formula. Ian Buchanan plays the slick killer with style. The location of the 'Bunny Ranch', with all its fine female specimen and a wide variety of exotic animals, was great fun. There were some fine supporting roles (David 'The big Lebowski' Huddleston and Mark 'Pi' Margolis). The finale resembled an old Edgar Allen Poe story, if I'm not mistaken, but the kill and the uncovering of the body were more-than-usual harsh for a Columbo episode - something I can appreciate.

Maybe it makes no sense that this highly intelligent killer forgot to take off the bracelet gadget from his dead wife's wrist, or even that he let Columbo back on the property just like that, but alas... most Columbo episodes have a flaw or two or more, and if not, they're rather far-fetched. That's just how it is. Love it or leave it.

I'd almost forget: there's some fine '80s music here, such as the Fine Young Cannibals.

7 out of 10.
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7/10
Surprising departure for Columbo
zmartever15 March 2014
This installment of '90s Columbo isn't half bad if you can overlook some corny dialogue and stilted acting delivered by soap opera actors (a very attractive Deidre Hall and a sufficiently oily Ian Buchanan) in bad clothing and repeated scenes of cheesy photo shoots designed as fillers for this 120 minute format. I really think that the newer shows would have benefited from a 90 minute format, tightening up the story lines. Peter Falk is still great and easily out-acts anybody he shares a scene with. Older of course but still wonderful. I just really miss big name guest stars as villains. I would love to have seen Elizabeth Taylor and other classic stars. These lesser known actors just don't bring the omph. A huge part of the fun of vintage Columbo were the big name villains. The menacing music also added to the atmosphere and tension where most of the music in the newer installments is just plain bad. All in all, this is certainly not the worst among the newer Columbos.It actually got better as it went along. The plot entertains and surprises....with a cool twist at the end.
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9/10
Columbo Goes On A Shopping Spree
DKosty1236 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Daryl Dukes direction shows up here in a Columbo which is more intense than many & that intensity comes from the director. This 1990 Columbo is one of the longer ones that goes for 2 hours but this length flows unlike some of the later ones where the longer format drags. The original series shows were made for 90 minute time slots. Sometimes they seem better because they are shorter.

The opening credits include the rock song "She Drives Me Crazy" by The Young Cannibals & sets the tone for this one.

While the guest cast here is not as famous as some of the shorter ones, it goes by with a story that is not standard Columbo fare. There is a disappearance but whether or not there is a murder and who did it are not given sway which is unusual for a Columbo case. There are some major twists along the way. Columbo is literally shopping for a crime in this show, unlike others in the series.

The curves of the women models and the opening rock soundtrack give this episode a different flavor than almost any other Columbo.
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9/10
Very Entertaining!
Sylviastel24 May 2006
Soap stars Ian Buchanan from General Hospital and the always beautiful Deirdre Hall from Days of Our Lives are involved in a disappearance and possible murder of a publisher. Of course, this brings a slew of much needed publicity for a starving magazine. Gigi Rice has a role as well. It's a familiar story with Ian playing a British Hugh Hefner style younger man and his empire in financial ruins. His partner is played by the beautiful Deidre Hall (she hasn't aged in years) wants out of the business. Of course, the motive is about money. Columbo episodes try to use simple motives rather than complex and the crimes are always pretty simply done whether it is done with a gun. We are never truly left with a gruesome crime scene in Columbo episodes and that's a good thing because Columbo has always been light-hearted at heart and his interactions with the prime suspect is always fascinating. When he thinks he's wrong, he's not.
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8/10
Great ending
ntvnyr301 December 2001
Kind of plodding at times, but I thought the ending was very unique.

I'm surprised that no one had commented yet, but I thought this Columbo was very entertaining. One of the better, newer Columbos. I wish Columbo had never gone off the air.
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Unusual plot-flip
sbarr1028 July 2002
Warning: Spoilers
We know that Columbo always gets the murderer, but this episode has an unusual twist. Columbo looks like a complete fool digging around for a body in a murder that was NEVER committed. The "body" shows up perfectly alive and well. What happens after that and how Columbo gets the murderer is pretty slick. It's always the little details!
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4/10
Convoluted story makes this Columbo hard to watch
Leofwine_draca13 October 2015
COLUMBO CRIES WOLF is my least favourite Columbo to date. It's one of the more modern offerings that feels strained, thanks to efforts to distance it away from the usual set-up and layout of a typical Columbo movie. In this one, we don't actually see a murder at the beginning, just a disappearance, so this has the unusual aspect of watching the detective investigating a crime that he doesn't even know was committed.

It has potential, for sure, but that's wasted away in an increasingly convoluted narrative that becomes ridiculous by the climax. Falk does his best with the material, and there are a few funny and goofy moments (typically involving his embarrassment at being surrounded by nubile young women in their bathing suits) but it's a far cry from the classic episodes of the long-running series. The supporting cast are also very hammy, particularly the grinning Ian Buchanan, although it's fun to see familiar faces like Alan Scarfe (DOUBLE IMPACT) and Mark Margolis (REQUIEM FOR A DREAM).
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Might just please fans but not good enough to do more than
bob the moo23 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Sean Brantley is a famous bachelor because he runs the biggest selling men's magazine from the comfort of his mansion filled with Playmates, err, I mean Pin-Ups. However his amorous ways have finally hit the end of the road for his business partner Diana Hunter, who decides to leave him, fly to London and sell her controlling stocks to business magnate Harry Matthews. However when she doesn't get in touch with him, Matthews reports her missing to Scotland Yard's very own Superintendent Durk. Unable to make progress, Durk turns to his old friend Columbo to follow up things on the other side of the pond.

As with many TV film series (such as Perry Mason), if you like one or two of them then you'll pretty much like them all. This entry in the Columbo series pretty much follows the usual formula – we know the killer and the "perfect" plan but then watch Columbo follow his hunch and gradually starts to pick holes in the story he is told before eventually finding enough to prove his suspicions. Knowing this ahead of time won't ruin anything for you; it is simply what happens in all the films. With this strict adherence to formula it is usually down to several factors whether or not the Columbo film stands out or if it is just average. With this film the writers tried to freshen it all up by writing the murder as potentially a hoax or a murder – we're not sure. For the most part this plays pretty well because it looks like the murder was real and that the formula is all in place even if the body is not. So the majority works to formula even if it isn't great. The revelation that it was all a hoax is a bit of a b*gger because it knocks the wind out of the film and made me feel cheated and put back to square one.

The film does try to gather itself up from here for a strong conclusion and, although it gets something back, the idea that Brantley would be able to so simply f**k up the real murder having staged the hoax one so well is just too much to swallow. The script does have some nice moments in it though; the thinly veiled portrayal of the Playboy world adds some comic value if not any real value while an early reference to another Columbo film was a nice touch (Durk was in Dagger of the Mind, although it is sad to hear that he hasn't been promoted in almost 20 years). Falk enjoys himself around the girls and also gets to show off his Sherlock skills in the first two-thirds. However I though he (and the film) could have done a better job with showing us how he deals with defeat – as it is it just brushes over it too quickly. Buchanan is not a great actor but he has the presence of an average Sean Connery and does well enough – hardly a match for Columbo but he does just about enough. Hall is OK but it is the support cast that is amusing, with showings from recognisable faces such as Scarfe, Margolis and, of course, David Huddleston.

Overall this is an OK Columbo – pretty much up to the standard of the modern Columbo movies, although that isn't much praise. The writers try something new and it does work reasonably well, perhaps to the point that fans are happy but the final twists are just not that well delivered.
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8/10
"Columbo Cries Wolf" (1990)
Wuchakk3 January 2019
PLOT: The majority owner of a popular men's mag (Deidre Hall), the kind with layouts of hot women, disappears when she travels to London. Columbo smells murder and zeroes-in on her womanizing partner (Ian Buchanan), as well as his latest model-trinket (Rebecca Staab).

COMMENTARY: Who cares if the two guest-stars are soap opera actors? This is one of the better latter-day installments. The plot follows the Columbo formula up until the last act and then pulls the rug out from under you.

I thought it was good up to that point with an interesting murder scenario that includes an element of the original Columbo movie "Prescription: Murder" (1968), but the unexpected twist takes it to the next level, even though it's pretty preposterous. Entertainment is the name of the game and this episode entertains. It is also perhaps the best showcase of beautiful women in the show's history, rivaled only by the outstanding "Now You See Him" (1976).

GRADE: A-
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Nice change of pace episode
Wizard-819 February 2017
Warning: Spoilers
It's pretty evident with this particular "Columbo" episode that there was a serious intent to change the formula around to bring in some freshness. For one thing, if I recall correctly, Columbo doesn't talk about his wife at any time here (though this may have been edited out of the episode for syndication purposes.) And the murder plot unfolds in a decidedly different fashion than usual, and on that note I will refrain from saying any more about the plot, only to say that towards the end there is a big twist that will probably surprise most viewers, even those who are serious "Columbo" fans. Though I do like the formula that was set by the original episodes, I did find somewhat different unfolding story to be a pleasant change of pace. And Peter Falk, as usual, is solid as our favorite detective. One of the better newer episodes, in my opinion.
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8/10
Good One, But Shows How The Show Was Getting Dated
verbusen10 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Columbo is best viewed when he's in the 1970's (or 60's), simply because today's technology for crime fighting (DNA evidence, the internet, wide spread cell phones), was not around yet. This episode is on the cusp of that time era, it's film standards and styles look really close to a present day TV show, in this one there are cordless phones, video cameras everywhere, and beepers (I bet 20 somethings have no idea what those are! LOL), so we are almost there in today's modern era. So when you watch this it's sooo close that you start to think it is now and you see how easy things are to solve if Columbo has the modern techniques available. (mainly DNA testing) That off of my chest, I did enjoy this episode and loved the way it unfolded. Lets face it, I'm sure I'm not the only one who grew up on Perry Mason and Columbo re-runs, to want a TV episode that is dark, where the killer gets away! This episode is good for that and in the end yes Columbo gets his killer but you know that ending was rushed and people like me can make believe that was a dream Columbo was having and the Playboy got away with one (ala OJ Simpson). I find the show frustrating to watch mainly because I grew up watching this show so I've gotten nit picky, I guess that's a testament to how great this show is as a series! Columbos attention to details (lets face it most are very convieient like they are in most murder mysteries), has driven me to a point where I nit pick the show because now I am paying to much attention! Without saying anymore negatives (why is Columbo in a missing persons case? on and on and on, search warrants, lawyers, etc etc), in the end it's cool to watch the ultra rich life styles, not many shows give you that now, it's nice escapist fare. 8 of 10.
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Please don't call this a 'Columbo' movie.
sos45-977-26735229 April 2014
I must say I was shocked at how many reviewers gave this a fine rating. And I say this as one who does not despise every episode from the later Columbos. Despite the overall downgrade in quality, and the ridiculous and failed attempts to change the formula in many, I still think there were quite a few superb episodes, including the two with McGoohan, the Faye Dunnaway and Dabney Coleman episodes, the one with the dental filling, 'R.I.P Mrs. Columbo,' and the very last episode - just to name a few. However, this one, like most of the others that changed the formula, fails miserably in my opinion. Basically, it is extremely good in the final fifteen minutes, and downright awful for the first 75 - when one is suffocated by dreadful soap opera acting, endless shots of bathing beauties, and the kind of infantile detective work that one finds in a typical cable channel movie of the week whodunit. Only when all this is mercifully gone, is the great Peter Falk allowed to shine again. Moreover, the entire plot and sleuthing in the first 75 minutes have no connection whatsoever to the Columbo style, and the clues he discovers are downright childish by his standards - such as the creamer clue upon which he builds his entire case. Basically, it is nothing more than a bit of good luck that any lousy detective could fall into, w/o requiring any of the Columbo ingenuity and brilliance to notice or decipher. When you stick to the formula, even if the actors and script are mediocre, you can at least enjoy Columbo and his inimitable acting and comments. In this film, you have neither. Just look at the list of 'Quotes.' There is not even a single line worth repeating. Likewise, no dog, car or raincoat jokes to laugh at. Humor in this flop amounts to Columbo getting splashed with water, or sitting in a limo with 6 bimbos. God have mercy on me.
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4/10
Columbo Cries Wolf
Prismark103 October 2019
The title Columbo Cries Wolf implies that he has raised a false alarm.

Sean Brantley (Ian Buchanan) is a womaniser and part owner of a girlie magazine based on Playboy. He lives in a vast estate modelled on the Playboy mansion as well.

His partner Dian Hunter is not happy with his philandering. She is the majority owner of the company and she flies down to London to sell the magazine to a British businessman. The trouble is Dian did not arrive in London and it seems she disappeared on her way to the airport and replaced by a lookalike.

Although there is no body, Columbo is called onto the case and Brantley is the main suspect. Columbo even contemplates digging up the grounds to find the body of Dian even if it means the LAPD looks foolish to the press.

A change in the formula as you do not see Brantley killing Dian. A Columbo episode that opens with a Fine Young Cannibals song and plenty of flesh of nubile young ladies. After a while you get sick and tired of seeing the same models and I doubt they were there for artistic reasons.

As for the plot, you kind of sense that there might not be a dead body but there would be a further twist and murder.

Buchanan is a facile actor. He only ever convinced in Twin Peaks where he was required to play a supercilious character. Here he can never give the script the spark that it requires, he is not helped by a dull and messy story.
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If it's worth doing at all, it's worth doing to excess
rmax30482327 May 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Ian Buchanan is the chief villain in this piece. He has the dark black quizzical eyebrows and wide turned-up smile of Sean Connery. Buchanan was born in Hamilton, Scotland, and Connery in Edinburgh. Is there some kind of limited breeding pool up there? Was the whole rainy country settled by a handful of rogue Kelts? Well, actually, the two men are different in most respects, Buchanan being a sort of Connery-Lite.

Anyway, the usual Colombo episode goes like this. The first half hour is devoted to a depiction of the crime, usually intricately executed, in which means, motive, and opportunity are explained. The remaining three quarters of the film involve Colombo being called in, all scruffy, stumbling around and falling over clues, until he figures things out. The world into which Colombo is introduced is usually a fancy or highly specialized one with which he's had no prior experience. The social world may be technological, gourmet cooking, oenology, fitness and health, cosmetics, high fashion, orchid raising, medicine, high-end art, Hollywood celebrity, bullfighting, that sort of thing. Colombo is nothing if not ordinary. He smokes cigars, loses his pencils, is mussily groomed, and seems obsequious. Only gradually is it revealed that he has the skills of Sherlock Holmes.

By the time this episode appeared the idea was rapidly losing steam. I mean, you can only repeat the same formula so many times and this formula doesn't readily lend itself to paradigm overthrow. (Colombo as Nick Charles?) So here the writers have tried to make it a LITTLE new by keeping us as much in the dark about the crime, or even if there was a crime, as Colombo. In the end, the apparent crime turns out to have been an event staged for its publicity value. When the plot turns sour for Buchanan, he tries to pull it off again, only this time for real.

This attempt to replicate the success of the earlier scheme fails, of course, as the series itself was failing at the time. The writers no longer seemed to know how to come up with plots as engaging as those in the 1970s. In any state of continuing crisis, one of several sane reactions is to get the hell out. Colombo should have hung up his raincoat for good and all after this one, although it isn't terrible, and worse was yet to come.
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3/10
More of a Big Goof and not a Review
gene-072022 February 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Columbo confronts them after she returns alive. He then pours out the glass of champagne on the ground instead of drinking it. As he walks away, we see about a gallon of champagne on the ground from that itty bitty glass.
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Bad writing, hammy acting...
BeltaneEve25 June 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Happened to catch this on a retro channel showing, and was curious about it from the start because it was clearly not like any other Columbo episode I'd ever seen. Not only is it hopelessly dated (unlike many of the classic 70s episodes), it's a lazy mess of a show that should not be considered Columbo canon in any way. While there's nothing wrong with shaking up the formula a little bit, the whole appeal of Columbo is that even though the audience already knows who the killer is right from the start, the fun is in watching Columbo piece it all together. The writing and acting in this one are cringe-worthy and Columbo is actually made to look like a complete fool at one point, instead of the usual formula of him playing dumb to work out the solution to a case. Maybe better writing and acting from the supporting players could have pulled this off and made for an interesting change to the Columbo formula, but this one just didn't work.
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8/10
A successful experiment with an increasingly stale formula
jbirks1069 July 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Face it folks, "Columbo" by 1990 was in desperate need of a reboot, or at least some new ideas. Unfortunately, what may have seemed hip and cool at the time (Fine Young Cannibals wasn't all that even then) just sounds hopelessly dated today. But to show the brilliant Lt. Trenchcoat getting outwitted, in the most public and humiliating manner possible? Now that's entertainment!

Of course it wasn't going to be that simple, but credit the writers and producers for trying. And Peter Falk for going along with the gag. Just the sight of Columbo dumping his flute of champagne on the ground while his tormentor basks in victory was worth the scenes of airport footage and bulldozers.
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4/10
Where in the world is Deidre Hall?
bkoganbing5 February 2017
It's certainly hard to prove murder without a body. So when Deidre Hall gets on a plane for London gets off and disappears it causes an international incident.

Hall is co-owner of a Playboy type magazine with Ian Buchanan. But she does the work and Buchanan is the Hugh Hefner type public image. When it's a missing persons case. So in a reference to a character that Bernard Fox played back in those Columbo stories of the 70s, Chief Superintendent Durk of Scotland Yard asks his old friend Lt.Columbo to look into it from the American end.

With the dogged determination he's known for Columbo looks into the matter and zeroes in on Ian Buchanan. He comes up with bits and pieces of a homicide case, but no body.

More I will not say because I think the double twist ending was a bit much. Yes there is a body and yes there is a murder. But not one word more.

I think the Columbo writing team was being a bit too clever.
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6/10
Great idea but.....
eckesg1-800-66320726 November 2014
I hate when Columbo is made to look like a fool, when a killer outsmarts Columbo because that goes against the whole grain of the program. Columbo is the wolf in sheep's clothing. Now this did happen in the 70s a couple of times when Columbo was wrong, but it wasn't as big as this to the story. You felt at some point that Columbo was in danger of losing his job, which is bad. It injects drama, but it takes away from the show's format. To me, the show is like comfort food that shouldn't be messed with. You can tinker with it, but don't make the majority of the show about it.

That being said, it is an ingenious plot to commit a crime and Columbo shines again at the end. I didn't think the acting was that bad, just meh.
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