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Universal Studios Home Video presents

Columbo: The Complete Second Season (1972/1973)

"Gee, I never thought of that."- Columbo (Peter Falk)

Stars: Peter Falk
Other Stars: George Gayne, John Cassavetes, James Olson, Blythe Danner, Anjanette Comer, Pat Morita, Ray Milland, Bradford Dillman, Bob Dishy, Sandra Smith, Robert Culp, Dean Jagger, James Gregory, Valerie Harper, Susan Howard, Dean Stockwell, Richard Basehart, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Bernard Fox, Honor Blackman, John Williams, Anne Baxter, Mel Ferrer, Kevin McCarthy, Pipa Scott, Edith Head, Nita Talbot, Leonard Nimoy, Anne Francis, Jared Martin, Will Geer, Laurence Harvey, Jack Kruschen, Lloyd Bochner, Michael Fox, Martin Landau, Jeanette Nolan, Tim O'Connor, Julie Newmar
Director: Nicholas Colasanto, Boris Sagal, Richard Quine, Hy Averback, Edward M. Abroms, Robert Butler

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 10h:38m:15s
Release Date: 2005-03-08
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B+B+A- D+


DVD Review

Television's frumpiest detective returns to the scene in the second season of Columbo. Peter Falk resumes his trademark role as the unassuming, cigar toting homicide detective, whose nose for a criminal is equal only to his ability to find the crucial flaw in the suspect's plan that will expose the truth. Continuing in its tradition of open book storytelling, the audience witnesses the crime and the killer's attempts to cover their trail, then follow Columbo's analysis of the clues, to find that one fatal mistake that allows him to zero in on the villian. Like the first season, Columbo was presented as part of the NBC Mystery Movie wheel, rather than a weekly installment, which allowed a longer running time. Five of the eight episodes here clock in at 90 minutes, the remainder run two hours.

In the season opener, Étude in Black, a married conductor (played by director John Cassavetes) murders his mistress, a famous pianist, using a televised live performance as his cover. In The Greenhouse Jungle Columbo is assigned a novice partner (Bob Dishy) while investigating an apparent kidnapping, which is actually a ruse of a young man (Bradford Dillman) and his uncle (Ray Milland making a return appearance to the series) to extract $300,000 from a trust fund. Plans change when Uncle Jarvis decides to remove his nephew, leaving Columbo to solve a murder. Robert Culp makes a return engagement as Paul Hanlon, the business manager of an irresponsible heir (Quantum Leap's Dean Stockwell) to a sports franchise empire. With no motive or murder weapon, the death looks like an accident, but Columbo must see through an almost perfect alibi in The Most Crucial Game. The production goes on location to London, as Columbo takes on Scotland Yard in Dagger of the Mind, in which a theater owner's death puts blackmail and murder on-stage.

Keeping with the entertainment industry theme, Columbo must unravel a case in which the victim seems not to have been the intended target, as an aging movie icon becomes the suspect in Requiem for a Falling Star. Star Trek's Leonard Nimoy plays a doctor bent on killing his colleague in A Stitch in Time, where Columbo must figure out the method before it is too late. With the attempted murder of a world chess champion the night before an important match, Columbo must make all the right moves to get his suspect in mate in The Most Dangerous Match. Finally, Space: 1999's Martin Landau takes on a dual role as twins suspected of killing their uncle for his fortune on the eve of his wedding to a much younger woman. Columbo, as always, finds a way to outwit his opponents in Double Shock.

Columbo remains entertaining for his ability to sleuth out the details, leaving the audience hanging until the final trump is played. Falk is brilliant as he totally inhabits the role, and the scripting for the most part lets his deductions flow naturally, although there are a few overly coincidental twists, and the interplay with his co-stars as he bares the truth is great to watch. The locations are often stunning, from the sun-drenched Los Angeles mansions to the streets of London. This collection is fairly even in terms of story and execution, but I would draw attention to Double Shock, which features a hilarious sequence with Columbo as a chef, the cat-and-mouse game with Ray Milland in The Greenhouse Jungle, and the intriguing premise behind A Stitch in Time.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Image quality is excellent overall, with only the quality of the source material sometimes becoming distracting. The image is crisp, and well detailed, colors are sharp and nicely saturated. Grain is generally moderate and natural looking, except for a few stock shots, which are more pronounced. Print defects are mostly minor scratches and dust, but there is some pulsing in select areas that is a bit distracting, and in places there appear to be unnatural jumps, especially in A Stitch in Time. Still, this set looks miles better than anything I recall from over-the-air, and it should please fans greatly.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: Mono audio is clean and clear, with no excess sibilance and a reasonably full presentation. Dialogue is distinguished, and for the most part easy to discern except for a whispered passage in Étude in Black. There is the odd occurence of very faint distortion in a few instances, otherwise there are no complaints here.

Audio Transfer Grade: A- 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu
Scene Access with 32 cues and remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Kojack, Magnum P.I., Knight Rider and The A Team, Miami Vice
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
4 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: This second set is spread out on four discs, housed in a pair of keepcases in a box, unlike the first season which came in a Digipak. Each disc has an episode guide and Play All feature. The episodes have a meager four chapters apiece.

The first disc opens with a preview blip for Kojak, a combined trailer for Magnum P.I., Knight Rider and The A-Team, and a Miami Vice trailer.

Extras Grade: D+

Final Comments

The second season of Columbo continues its high production values and intriguing stories in these eight feature-length episodes. The presentation quality is sure to please, but Universal could make some improvements in the number of chapters per episode.

Jeff Ulmer 2005-03-08