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Columbo's Favorite Columbo's

Thanks to Steve Baratta for the pictures.

Have you ever wondered which "Columbo" episodes are the personal favorites of Peter Falk? Several years ago, when A&E wanted to broadcast a series of four "Columbo" episodes in prime time, Peter Falk was asked to select his four favorite NBC episodes. These special presentations were called "Columbo's Favorite Columbos". Peter also did a new introduction for each of these shows.  Relaxed in his art studio and wearing a sports shirt, he offered his personal recollections and remarks about each episode. 

These introductions by Peter Falk have only been shown one time to date. Here are Peter Falk's selections for "Columbo's Favorite Columbos", with summaries of his comments:

1) Any Old Port In A Storm (Third Season - originally aired October 7, 1973)

Peter recalled this as the first episode in which Columbo developed a sincere fondness for the murderer.  Speaking of Columbo and the Donald Pleasence character, he said that "the two men shared something in common -- an admiration for excellence."

2) Forgotten Lady (Fifth Season - originally aired September 14, 1975)

Peter spoke of what a pleasure it was for him to work with Janet Leigh. He also enjoyed the humorous interplay between Columbo and the snobby butler, Maurice Evans.

Falk enthusiastically praised the writers, saying that "they really outdid themselves", that Columbo's observations were very good here,  and that this episode was "one of our better efforts". 

He said that the "first investigation scene," where Columbo picks up a series of small clues that the death was not a suicide, was later used as a model,  to show other "Columbo" writers how these scenes are supposed to be done.

Peter recalled that this episode was the first time we ever saw Columbo not wearing his raincoat -- not literally true, but this was indeed the first time Columbo appeared in a tuxedo.

And he described this episode as "a real rarity" because of the unusual ending where Columbo does not bring in the murderer.

3) Now You See Him (Fifth Season - originally aired February 29, 1976)

Peter spoke highly of Jack Cassidy as an actor. And he again credited much of the show's success to the writing.  He said, for example, that the writers had "come up with a terrific running gag" about Columbo's efforts to lose the new raincoat given to him by his wife -- like leaving the new coat in his car and instructing his dog to look the other way if anybody tried to steal it.

He also particularly liked the scene where Columbo goes onstage to assist The Great Santini in his act. Peter recounted of the origin of this episode.  He said that the writers would sometimes seek inpiration by flipping through the yellow pages of the telephone book, looking for possible professions for a Columbo murderer.  One day, the yellow pages opened up to the listings for "Magicians" -- and so began the creation of "Now You See Him".

4) Identity Crisis (Fifth Season - originally aired November 2, 1975)

One of the episodes featuring Patrick McGoohan, a favorite collaborator. 

Peter gave especially high praise to McGoohan's uncredited work as a writer on this episode.  In addition to McGoohan's roles both co-starring and directing this one, Falk indicated that McGoohan's contributions as a writer included all of his own dialogue.

Peter's commentary gave insight to his view of Columbo's interplay with murderers:

"In this episode, the scenes between Columbo and the murderer are, in my judgment, among the best we ever did. They have that perfect balance between being both compelling and amusing. And that's what we always strive for -- that's the trick in those scenes, keep 'em tense and keep 'em funny. And a great deal of credit for that goes to Patrick

McGoohan....I'll always remember how much fun I had playing 'em, and to this day I get a kick out of watching 'em."


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