So how does the Good Columbo Guide work then?
Well obviously it's an episode guide for Columbo, so as you'd expect we go through episodes and review them. We haven't launched with every episode reviewed - that would take forever - so we're going to add them to the site as we go along.
But as they're repeats - and very old repeats some of them at that - broadcasters tend to show them in increasingly random orders. And then ITV1 likes to show older episodes, whilst Five goes for new ones. So we're going to add episodes to this site in a random order too!
The Episode Guide itself
Each episode is broken down in the following way:
Pretty much what it says on the tin. We give you a synopsis of the episode, usually up to the point of murder. I mean, why go further? After all, that's when Columbo starts getting interesting....
Cleverness of the way Columbo catches out the murderer
Another fine element of any Columbo episode is how the dishevelled detective finally gets to book the murderer. No sitting in a room whilst every aspect of the case is discussed in front of everyone, until someone cracks and cries "I would have got away with it too if it hadn't been for those pesky kids" for Columbo. Most of the time. No. Columbo does it more style.
Often he still needs that bit of evidence to finally nail them, and as such sets them on some highly superb way to make sure they incriminate themselves big style.
Convolutedness of the murder
Lets not beat around the bush - we all love a good murder. There's something deeply unsatisfying about a Columbo episode where someone gets hit on the head with a hammer spontaneously, and then the murderer panics and comes up with a convoluted scheme to hide their crime.
Thankfully for us, the average Columbo episode isn't like that. Most Columbo murders are very pre-planned and often in a quite spectacular way. Every murderer wants the perfect murder, and that makes it even harder for Columbo to find his man. Or woman. Or, in one episode, his dogs. And the man who programmed the dogs to kill.
Anyway, that's what this section is all about. How good is this murder? How much thought have they put into it? And so on.
How annoyed does the murderer get with Columbo?
Columbo often has to deal with smug, arrogant or important people. They often get annoyed easily. Especially when Columbo asks them "just one more thing." We like it when the murderer gets really annoyed - especially as it just seems to persuade Columbo more and more that he's on the right track.
The smug-richness factor
Ever watched a detective drama and really hated the murderer? Yes, some are just horrible. We reveal whether you'd want to murder them yourselves, given the chance.
Quality of sub-plot
Not every Columbo has a sub-plot, but often they do and some are better than others. The one where Columbo gets a new coat is particularly good for example. Or even the episode where the police department keep chasing him cos he hasn't done his gun practice for years. Columbo of course doesn't even carry a gun, yet alone like using them...
Mentions of Mrs Columbo
The mighty lieutenant loves his wife and seems to delight in mentioning her every minute if he can get away with it.
But not all the time. Sometimes he never mentions her. We don't like those things. We prefer to know what Mrs Columbo is up to.
Some people think Mrs Columbo doesn't even exist just because we never see her, and that every time the mighty Lieutenant mentions to some famous person that his wife is a big fan, he's just using it as an excuse to flatter someone.
Well okay, he might be. But at least this way we get some inclining into the domestic life of the top cop.
What new-fangled thing does Columbo learn about this episode?
Every week our dishevelled detective gets thrust into some new world or other. Horse racing, cruise ships, television and so on, and as a result, sometimes the crimes get rather technical and Columbo has to learn. And learn this man does!
It's less in the early episodes, but over the years Columbo does spend an insane amount of time learning about new stuff, and often uses his rudimentary knowledge to catch the murderer out in the end!
Was anyone given sedatives?
If you're reading this going, "what on earth?" then you clearly haven't watched much early Columbo. I don't know what they were thinking about in the 1970s but the answer to everything seemed to be a doctor giving someone a pile of pills!
Logically in the mid-1980s they would have moved on to refering them to therapy. Alas that never happened.
Deviations from the norm and inconsistencies with other Columbo episodes
You know the score. The times when you realise in every episode Columbo hates guns, and then in one episode there he is surrounded by them and barely bats an eyelid... (not that I'm thinking about that terrible episode where there isn't even a murder... oh no...)
Appearances by the Regular Cast
Given there was only a handful of episodes every year, you'd think they'd always be able to find fresh actors. Well hmm. Not all the time. Some people came back time and time and time again. And we're not talking the big stars here - we're talking people who played the smaller roles.
Amongst those who returned several times are...
- Bruce Kirby - his first role was as a lab attendant before knocking up four appearences as Columbo's foil, Sergeant Kramer. Kramer changed career to be a TV repairman, before returning one more time as a sergeant where he'd mysteriously changed his name...
- Shera Danese - Peter Falk's real life wife. Now we don't want to make accusations of nepotism here, although there's no doubt that Shera made the role of "evil bitchy horrible woman" her own. Several times.
- Vito Scotti - usually plays Italians, probably because he is Italian, and seems to be playing a waiter far more than is good for him. Mind you in one episode he played a French waiter... Scotti's appearance usually signifies that somewhere in the episode you're going to get a fantastic comic piece between him and Peter Falk which rarely drives the plot forward, but who cares?
- Val Avery and Fred Draper - each knocked up four appearences in the early Columbo, and Draper even got to be a murderer!
- John Finnegan - with eleven episodes under his belt, Finnegan spent much of his time in the police force rising through the ranks from sergeant to lieutenant, before deciding the police wasn't for him. Instead he became a security guard, before being tempted into TV as an assistant director on a detective drama. But the police came calling, promoting him to be Commissioner, and then changing to be Police Chief. What do you do when you've done that though? Well change your name to Barney and take over a favoured purveyor of chilli... Quite a career I'm sure you'll agree.
You can find out more about the regular cast at The Ultimate Columbo Site.
Well what do you think it is? It's where we sum it all up and give our view!
The bit where we through open the doors and ask for your comments! Are we very right (of course we are!) or very wrong? (pah!)