The Disappearance of Dian Hunter

Peter Falk in Columbo Cries Wolf (1990)

Business woman Dian Hunter (Deidre Hall) has decided to sell her shares in "Bachelor's World", a man's magazine she runs with her lover Sean Brantley (Ian Buchanan) as Sean can't stop himself from having affairs with the models. But when Dian never reaches England for her meeting with the prospective buyer Lieutenant Columbo (Peter Falk) is called in to investigate and immediately suspects a case of foul play with Sean having murdered Dian, except he can't find a body and without a body there is no crime. The question is, has the work finally got to Columbo and he is becoming over suspicious?

Fans of TV detective shows will all tell you that the majority of the episodes/ TV movies will be built to a formula. And "Columbo" is no different as the rule of thumb is an episode starts with a murder and we then watch Columbo target one person and toy with them till either he finds the proof or he causes the over confident killer to slip up. But once in a while you come across one of these episodes which shake things up and "Columbo Cries Wolf" is one such episode. Why? Well it doesn't start with a murder but in fact the disappearance of Dian Hunter yet with Columbo on the case his instincts make him believe it is murder.

Ian Buchanan in Columbo Cries Wolf (1990)

Of course whilst with "Columbo Cries Wolf" they play about with the formula the one thing they don't mess with is Columbo himself and so Peter Falk is on fine form as the rainmac wearing lieutenant. And that rainmac provides the first of many laughs when he walks in on a topless photo shoot and is referred to as a dirty old man in a raincoat. What is apparent is that in these later episodes of "Columbo" the humour of the lieutenant's knowing style is played upon a lot more and as such we get more of those wonderful knowing smiles and little over reactions such as the way Columbo sys "very puzzling" whilst shaking his head.

What "Columbo Cries Wolf" also has is Ian Buchanan as Sean Brantley as his reactions to Columbo investigating help to sell the mystery of the storyline as in whether or not Columbo's instincts have let him down and he's jumped to the wrong conclusion. But at the same time Buchanan brings just enough conceited sinister to the character that you think maybe he is capable of murder. Yet at the same time knowing that Sean is prone to causing a bit of stir to generate publicity and boost sales you wonder whether this is some stunt which maybe even Dian is colluding in.

What this all boils down to is that "Columbo Cries Wolf" is still as entertaining as ever and this is with the usual formula being tinkered with. As per usual the success of "Columbo Cries Wolf" is as much to do with Peter Falk as anything but it is nice to come across an episode where there is a bit more of a doubt than usual.

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