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Columbo: Make Me a Perfect Murder (1978)

 
 

Columbo Produces a Murderer

Peter Falk in Columbo: Make Me a Perfect Murder (1978)

TV executive Kay Freestone (Trish Van Devere) has been having a secret affair with her boss, Mark McAndrews (Laurence Luckinbill). But when he gets the offer of a better job in New York he not only dumps her but doesn't even arrange it for Kay to get the job he is vacating. After Mark is found murdered in his office whilst Kay was in the projection room it is Lt. Columbo (Peter Falk) who is called in to work out who killed Mark and quickly latches on to Kay when it comes to his inquiries.

Watching "Columbo: Make Me a Perfect Murder" whilst delivering all the elements you expect from an entertaining episode of "Columbo" does one more thing, it highlights why the series came to an end in 1978, well of course I mean a temporary end because Peter Falk and "Columbo" returned in 1989. But as I said it highlights why the series ended and it was a case that fresh ideas were running thin, those they tried disrupted the routine and unfortunately the character of Lt. Columbo was not just becoming absent minded but veering too much towards becoming a clown. All of which presents itself in the opening scene of "Columbo: Make Me a Perfect Murder" with Columbo driving along, singing at the top of his voice and ending up in a crash with police cars, suffering whiplash in the process. Of course the whiplash eventually has a purpose but starting with Columbo feels wrong and the comical nature of it all is too forced.

Trish Van Devere in Columbo: Make Me a Perfect Murder (1978)

Anyway in between all those things which highlighted that the series was coming to an end "Columbo: Make Me a Perfect Murder" of course delivers the expected which sees the bumbling Lt. zeroing in on Kay Freestone as he tries to get to the bottom of the murder. The thing is that again it highlights issues because it doesn't take time to build things, it just takes it for granted that the audience will accept that Columbo's instincts will of course see him only really bug and question the one he is suspects.

The sadness of all this is that Trish Van Devere delivers one of the best performances as she gives Kay such a split personality that you would never know she was capable of being a cold, calculated murderer. And to be honest all the supporting performances in "Columbo: Make Me a Perfect Murder" are pretty decent but in this episode Peter Falk appears to be torn between delivering the class Lt. Columbo and the comical one which makes it an uneven performance.

What this all boils down to is that unsurprisingly "Columbo: Make Me a Perfect Murder" is an entertaining episode of "Columbo" but for me this episode highlights why they decided to bring the series to an end in 1978 with ideas running out and too much comedy creeping in.

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