November 9, 2015

Mondays with Columbo: HOW TO DIAL A MURDER

You know, sometimes, it's good to have a professional background you rarely use.

For me, it's counseling psychology - as both an undergrad and graduate student, I always loved mocking behaviorists. With their emphasis on pure stimulus/response - and refusal to consider internal motivation - they seemed easy pickings.

Which is probably why this latter-era Columbo hits several sweet spots.

Now first, you may not think it's one of the more memorable episodes (in an interview for The Columbo Phile: A Casebook, lead villain Nicol Williamson admitted that he barely remembered this episode), it actually has quite a bit of well as twists and turns.

First, there's the entire premise - a behavioral-style psychologist/lecturer murders his best friend, suspecting the friend of having an affair with his late wife. It's a very clever idea, involving training...and Dobermans.

Dobermans are great dogs. My neighbor has a Doberman, and they're the most charming, lovable breed. (Just don't mess with them). So that's a plus.

There are also some great character beats - Williamson's obsession with "classic" Hollywood. (Very few Columbo episodes rarely have a villain with a really cool hobby). Some great use of operant conditioning. The "reveal" at the end.

And Kim Cattrall as well.

One of the smaller, yet more enjoyable, Columbo entries.

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