AN EXCERPT FROM THE SERIES
I LOVE YOU, LIEUTENANT
COLUMBO’S FINAL SEASON
“Columbo Goes to College” (Season 10, Episode 1)
Gary Hershberger is Cooper, a rich college guy with a range rover and a tennis kit. The stupid bastard has gotten 3 girls pregnant in 18 months and isn’t academically gifted. His dad isn’t happy, anymore of this nonsense and he’s out. His creepy friend Justin helps him cheat on tests, maybe Justin is in love with him? I don’t know.
One of their professors knows they are big rich kid cheaters and he’s going to tell on them. But Professor Spragger isn’t so squeaky clean himself. He’s having an affair with the football coach’s wife. Cooper and Justin know and they’re going to use it against him. But also they will kill him.
Columbo shows up at 14 minutes and 40 seconds to give a lecture on crime fighting. And why the hell not? As far as I can see he has a 100% murder solving record. Cooper and Justin have rigged the Professor’s car with a remote control gun. So as they kick back and listen to Columbo they can also shoot their nemesis in the head. Bad luck for them that Columbo is on the scene though. These guys are real nasty pieces of work and try to frame the security guard’s no-good brother. Robert Culp (huzzah!) shows up as Justin’s dad and patronises Columbo.
The Columboid is his wife’s car. And entrapment. In this episode we learn that Columbo’s wife wants to burn his suit, his wife’s niece is called Annette and he gets a lot of offers on his car. During this episode I re-assessed my life.
“Caution: Murder Can Be Hazardous to your Health”
(Season 10, Episode 2)
George Hamilton is Wade Anders, the anchor of a Crime Watch-esque show called CRIME ALERT (caps mine). Some guy called Budd wants to be the anchor and he’s prepared to use blackmail to get what he wants. Turns out old Wade was in a ‘skin flick’ with an under aged girl back in the day. If this gets out he’ll be ruined. There’s only one solution- KILLING (caps mine). So he poisons Budd’s cigarettes and sits back and relaxes.
Relaxes until Columbo shows up at 26 minutes and 40 seconds. Columbo bumbles around but he knows who the guilty party is and he won’t stop until he’s pestered him into confessing.
The columboid is dog scratches and trimmed hedges. During this episode we learn that Columbo has had the same barber for 20 years, his wife would like it if he was sexier and he needs a tape deck in his car. I created a stink during this episode.
“Columbo and the Murder of a Rock Star” (Season
10, Episode 3)
A man and woman in the prime of their lives and height of their passion enjoy sexual congress. Another man watches a secret tape of it. She’s a famous rock star and she’s having an affair. Her corrupt lawyer life partner has planted secret cameras and now he’s out for revenge. He poisons her champagne and frames her knucklehead lover.
Columbo shows up at 19 minutes and 50 seconds. It turns out the lawyer’s assistant knows he did the murder and now she’s insisting on a promotion and a marriage proposal and a re-decoration of the office. He wearily complies like a poor downtrodden man.
The columboid is a paper mask. It is completely and utterly stupid. It kind of made me angry. Little Richard is in this episode. I can’t understand the noise that comes from his mouth. In this episode we learn that Coiumbo likes peanut butter and raisin sandwiches. During this episode I ate cheese.
“Death Hits the Jackpot” (Season 10, Episode 4)
Freddie and Nancy are getting a divorce and they’re fighting over the terms. Suddenly Freddie wins the lottery and he must hide it from Nancy so she can’t finagle it from him in the divorce. He turns to his loving uncle Leon, a fancy jeweller. He asks him to hide the money. BIG MISTAKE. Turns out uncle Leon is totally broke.
Uncle Leon plans a big party and dresses up like King George. Freddie can’t go because he’s chimp sitting. Leon sneaks out, drowns Freddie and then goes back to party. Here’s the real twist though- Freddie’s wife helps him out. THEY ARE HAVING AN AFFAIR.
Columbo shows up at 31 minutes and 13 seconds and he’s speaking to a chimp.
The columboid is chimp fingerprints on a King George medallion. In this episode we learn that Mrs Columbo paid $80 for a footstool made of coffee cans, it’s Columbo’s 25th wedding anniversary and his wife has 2 ears. During this episode I just watched this episode.
“No Time to Die” (Season 10, Episode 5)
There’s a wedding going on and Columbo is a guest. He turns up at 1 minute and 10 seconds. Turns out it’s his nephew Andy’s wedding reception. Despite having no attractive qualities or discernable personality he has just married a top model called Melissa. Before any consummation can take place Melissa, in only her underwear, is kidnapped. Now Columbo and Andy have to team up to find her. Her kidnapper is a mad fan of her modelling work. He wants to marry her and cut her throat, just like his dad did to his mother. They save her just in time. This is not a good episode.
The columboid is solid, dogged police work. Things we learn: Columbo had his wedding reception in an Italian restaurant, his mother broke her hip, his mother lives in Chicago, Mrs Columbo taught him how to dance and dancing is the only exercise he gets. I ate peas with my feet on a hot water bottle during this episode.
“A Bird in the Hand” (Season 10, Episode 6)
Big Fred owns a football team. Harold is his no good nephew. Dolores is his alcoholic wife. He gets hit by a mystery car and this kills him. Columbo appears in silhouette at 17 minutes and 3 seconds. His full face is visible at 17 minutes and 15 seconds. Later Big Fred’s car explodes. Harold had planted a bomb there but it couldn’t kill Fred because Fred was already dead. Dolores knows he planted the bomb and starts sex blackmailing him. But then here comes the twist- DOLORES WAS DRIVING THE MYSTERY KILLING CAR. When Harold hints he knows this Dolores kills him too.
The columboid is hair in a cowboy hat. In this episode we learn that Columbo’s wife got him into crossword puzzles. During this episode I contemplated my greying hair.
“All in the Game” (Season 10, Episode 7)
Faye Dunaway is a hot older lady in a backless red dress at a party. There’s a sexy foreign gentlemen at the party too. This is her lover Nick. He rushes off to ‘play poker with his friends’ but what he’s actually doing is having sexual relations with another woman. He’s a damn fool though because Faye Dunaway and the other woman have hatched a plot to kill him. They shoot him, keep his body warm with a blanket (cf. Suitable for Framing) and then Dunaway goes back to the party. She comes back later and rustles up a landlord, the other woman fires a gun and thus the alibi is cemented.
Columbo shows up at 18 minutes and 43 seconds. He isn’t wearing a shirt and is eating a boiled egg, swoon! Columbo and Faye Dunaway do a lot of flirting. It turns out that although she’s a murderer she’s actually ok. The ‘other woman’ is her daughter and Nick had been abusing her. So it’s all justified then.
The columboid is a mother’s love for her child. During this episode we learn that Columbo can’t take the sun, he starts sweating, mostly his feet. This is why he has such soft feet. His wife is always cold and she likes the heat. He claims his first name is Lieutenant. I tore my pyjamas during this episode.
“Butterfly is Shades of Grey” (Season 10, Episode
Vicky is writing a book but her controlling father, Fielding Chase, doesn’t want her to. He sabotages her chances to get published and also hints at an incestuous desire. Her gay BFF is being a bad influence by giving her book to a literary agent. Fielding goes to his house and kills him, then messes about with the phone as some sort of technical alibi.
Columbo arrives at 21 minutes and 55 seconds and bugs Fielding immediately. There are some dubious comments about homosexuality.
The columboid involves breaking into the suspect’s car and also mainly entrapment. We find out that Columbo is thinking of getting a cellular phone, his cousin Dominic has one. Mrs Columbo gives him tea and honey when he’s ill, she likes to play nursemaid and if she’s happy he’s happy. He can’t stand lukewarm tea and his wife puts him on the porch when he smokes. During this episode I got a headache.
“Undercover” (Season 10, Episode 9)
A man breaks into an apartment looking for something. Another, slightly cross-eyed, man comes in and there’s some shooting. Now they are both dead.
Columbo shows up at 3 minutes and 49 seconds. One of the dead guys has a squiggly bit of a photograph. Apparently these guys robbed a bank, now all the robber gang is dead and no one knows where the money is. A slick blonde insurance man, who surely smells of talcum powder, explains the they need to find the pieces of the photo, put them together and this will lead them to the missing money. Obviously the only option is for Columbo to go undercover. It all gets quite ridiculous and then it turns out the insurance guy did all the killing.
We find out that Columbo snores. During this episode I made my hands smell like Turkish delight.
“Strange Bedfellows” (Season 10, Episode 10)
Graham is acting shady in a pawn shop. He gives a man an envelope of money and gets a gun in return. Graham’s brother Teddy is in debt to a mafia boss called Romano. Graham says he has scam to get him out of it. He gives one of his horses a sugar cube with drugs on. Then he dresses up in a beard and glasses and goes to Romano’s bar and makes a phone call. Then he takes his brother to a deserted wood and shoots him. He rides away on a fold up bicycle.
Columbo shows up at 19 minutes and 9 seconds and yet another young cop mistakes him for a scruffy civilian. Columbo is also ill from eating clams. He hasn’t got time for nonsense.
The columboid is the threat of death by the mafia. Things we learn about Columbo: his brother Sal got him started on cigarettes when he was 12, his dad smoked too. His wife things smoking us hereditary. Columbo claims he can’t speak Italian. He’s a cream soda type of guy. During the episode I prepared to go on a date with a real human man.
“A Trace of Murder” (Season 10, Episode 11)
Clifford has a big ten-gallon hat and is an ass. He’s in litigation with a man named Howard. Clifford’s wife Kathleen is sexy and is having an affair. She can’t get a divorce though because the pre-nup is terrible. Her lover Patrick suggests that rather than killing Clifford and framing Howard that they kill Howard and frame Clifford. So, anyway, that’s what they do. They also plant some cat hair from Howard’s house on Clifford’s jacket.
Columbo comes in at 17 minutes and 35 seconds. Now he’s the real twist. The crime scene investigator is Patrick, the lover. It doesn’t take Columbo long to figure out Kathleen and Patrick know each other and after that they’re basically dead in the water.
The columboid is cream and sugar. In this episode we learn that Columbo doesn’t waste anything on an apple- he eats it all, including pips. His dog never forgets where his toys are and he bites off the ends of his cigars. During this episode I pulled grey hairs from another person’s head.
“Ashes to Ashes” (Season 10, Episode 12)
Patrick McGoohan is back! This time he is Eric Prince, a creepy celebrity funeral director with a shady past. He’s being blackmailed by Verity Chandler, a Hollywood gossip columnist. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. As far as I can tell this is the first reference to email in an episode of Columbo. She’s going to reveal that Prince stole a diamond necklace from a corpse. He kills her and cremates her in the place of cowboy actor ‘Chuck Houston’.
Columbo comes along at 20 minutes and 12 seconds and he has his dog with him. He knows something is up because Verity left her puppy ‘Luella’ without food. Eric Price receives the ‘mortician of the year’ award.
In this episode we learn Columbo has a cousin who works for a cab company. During this episode I ate pickled foods.
“Murder With Too Many Notes” (Season 10, Episode
Billy Connelly is Finlay Crawford, a composer writing scores for films. But Crawford has a secret, he actually ran out of ideas ages ago and is stealing ideas from someone younger and more talented who wears plaid instead of satin. His name is Gabriel and he’s getting pretty fed up with Crawford using him. He tells Crawford that he’s going to spill the beans. Crawford claims he’ll give him credit but instead drugs and kills him.
Columbo shows up at 26 minutes and 56 seconds. He gets right on Billy Connelly’s nerves.
The columboid is music. In this episode we learn that Columbo’s wife goes to the museum every now and then. During this episode I listened to the sound of suspected woodworms.
“Columbo Likes the Nightlife” (Season 10, Episode
Tony is a gangster nightclub type man. He goes to his ex-wife Vanessa’s house and pushes her about a bit. They fight and she kills him. She gets her new boyfriend to come and help and together they pretend Tony is still alive. But Linwood Cobin has seen this and is going to blackmail them. Justin goes to his office, kills him and leaves a suicide note on his computer.
Columbo makes an appearance at 21 minutes and 47 seconds. He’s like a fish out of water on the nightclub scene and there is much hilarity at his misunderstanding of youth culture.
The columboid is a ground penetrating device. During this episode we learn that Columbo takes 2 sugars in his coffee, his wife keeps up on all the celebs, he has no sense for interior decoration, his wife is always telling him to brighten things up and he has a nephew who works in San Diego Zoo with the big whale. I watched this episode on a really big telly. Afterwards I felt strangely empty and sad. My life is now devoid of meaning and I’m not sure where I go from here.
Victoria Manifold is a writer from County Durham. Her story ‘Clerical Error’ was shortlisted for the 2016 White Review Short Story Prize and she has been published by tNY Press, Swarm Literary and The Chapess, among others. She appears in Hotel #2. She watched every episode of Columbo and wrote about them all, one by one.