Not Quite a Vintage Columbo
When Adrian Carsini's (Donald Pleasence) father died he inherited the elite Californian winery whilst his brother Enrico "Rick" (Gary Conway) inherited the land the winery is on. When Rick having had enough of Adrian's over spending at fancy wine auctions says he is going to sell the land it leads to Eric killing him and initially leaving him in an airtight wine cellar for a week whilst he is in New York with his assistant Karen (Julie Harris) for a series of wine auctions before returning home to stage his death to look like a scuba diving accident. When Lieutenant Columbo (Peter Falk) is called in to investigate he soon senses something is wrong.
As I've mentioned in previous reviews of "Columbo" different things appeal to different audiences, for me I always enjoyed the slightly more humorous episodes of "Columbo" and occasionally find those older, more dramatic episodes less entertaining although rarely weak. It is why when it comes to "Columbo: Any Old Port in a Storm" I am not so blown away by it like others are although it doesn't mean I find it a disappointment.
Now "Columbo: Any Old Port in a Storm" works through the usual formula of Columbo spotting a flaw in a crime and then like a dog with a bone not stopping till he has gotten what he wants. As such we have Columbo working on the small trait of a man who loves his car would not leave his fancy car with the top down on a day when it rained and that there is no rain marks on it after several days in the opens. And so with that small chink we get his usual absent minded hounding of those he questions till he either gets all the clues he needs or exasperates them in to making a slip.
What "Columbo: Any Old Port in a Storm" has which makes it stand out is a storyline which works for a thespian performer such as Donald Pleasence. With Pleasence playing the fanatical wine enthusiast he brings a sense of ego and elitism to the role which works well with Falk doing the mumbling absent minded stuff and it embellishes that sense of superiority which Adrian has. But what this also has is Julie Harris playing a bossed about assistant but one you get a sense from the first minute you meet her could snap at any moment, frustrated by her bosses elitist, belittling attitude.
What this all boils down to is that "Columbo: Any Old Port in a Storm" is as always an entertaining episode with the performance of Donald Pleasence alongside Peter Falk's making it entertaining. But this is one of those episodes which has a more serious, dramatic tone which is not what I enjoy the most when it comes to "Columbo".