Columbo's on a Crime Alert
Wade Anders (George Hamilton) is the perma-tanned host of "Crime Alert" a TV show where he calls on the viewers to help with unsolved crimes. But Wade has his own dubious past as he once shot a porno movie called "Holly Does Houston" with an underage girl, something that Bud Clarke (Peter Haskell) his rival has discovered and is using it to blackmail Wade into quitting and proposing him to take over the show. Lacing some cigarettes with a poison Wade murders Bud and then finds the tape he has on his dubious x-rated past and steals it. Of course a death in suspicious circumstances leads to Lt. Columbo (Peter Falk) to investigate and soon suspects all is not as it seems as the cigarette butts don't have any nicotine stains in the filter whilst a printout has different size font to others on the desk.
"Columbo: Caution: Murder Can Be Hazardous to Your Health" not only has a long title it feels like it has one of the longest set ups as we witness in detail every aspect of the crime; from lacing the cigarettes, switching them, then switching out the evidence afterwards and so on. But it is worth it because alongside all the usual things you expect from an episode of "Columbo" this one almost goes out of the way to highlight the detail as we have Columbo fist spotting the inconsistency with the cigarette butts and then with the font of a printout. Usually this stuff would get mentioned at the end as Columbo explains how he came to his conclusions but here it reveals some of the clues as it goes along, unfortunately not always too subtly but still making it both interesting and entertaining.
Now aside from what you could be called a slow but interesting reveal everything else in "Columbo: Caution: Murder Can Be Hazardous to Your Health" is familiar and rightly so. As such we have George Hamilton turning in a smooth and confident performance as Wade who whilst looking increasingly like Cary Grant aims to be as helpful as he can when it comes to Columbo's investigation. And of course we have Peter Falk who delivers what can only be classed as a wonderfully weathered performance as Columbo, bringing all the knowing humour to the role which made him a joy to watch. And truth be told looks to be enjoying himself more than ever when it comes to making Columbo more forthcoming with his observations giving us lots of those knowing looks which are great.
What this all boils down to is that "Columbo: Caution: Murder Can Be Hazardous to Your Health" is for me one of the better made for TV "Columbo" movies which came in the 90s as whilst it is not always subtle does a good job of putting us in the position of Columbo and getting to see the details which lead him on his path of investigation. Plus of course Peter Falk is on great form as the shabby lieutenant with the knowing look.