Columbo Seeks the Proofs
Renowned photographer Paul Galesko (Dick Van Dyke) has had enough of his wife, Frances (Antoinette Bower), as she makes his life a misery with her constant nagging and belittling remarks. So he comes up with an intricate plan to stage a fake abduction so he can murder it and make it look like the abduction went wrong. And it all goes to plan with the police arriving and believing that Frances died when a plot to abduct her went wrong. That is everyone except for Lieutenant Columbo (Peter Falk) who doesn't believe all is as it seems.
Whilst I haven't watched everything Dick Van Dyke has done I am pretty sure I have never seen him play a bad guy before. And to be honest Dick Van Dyke pulls it off in "Columbo: Negative Reaction" quite nicely delivering a performance which at times echoes Richard Chamberlain when ever he played bad guys. But the interesting thing is that because Dick Van Dyke has that nice guy persona and because Antoinette Bower makes Frances such a nagging woman you almost sympathise with the character of Paul for wanting to get rid of her.
Now beyond Dick Van Dyke playing a bad guy "Columbo: Negative Reaction" is very much a typical episode of Columbo from back in 1974. We have Peter Falk delivering that iconic performance with such ease that you forget that Falk is actually acting. Then there are the familiar faces, the actors who show up in supporting roles such as Joyce Van Patten and Vito Scotti. On top of that there is the comedy such as when Columbo, in his old car, pulls into a junk yard and someone thinks he is there to junk his old car. But what we also get and what is typical of 70s Columbo is that the Lieutenant finds himself kind of out on his own as whilst the police as a whole believe it is an abduction gone wrong Columbo is more suspicious. But a typical Columbo is always an entertaining Columbo and never a disappointing one.
Aside from that what is also good about "Columbo: Negative Reaction" is that whilst you can spot various flaws in Paul Galesko's plans, none more so when he is spotted by a drunk homeless guy, you are not sure what the evidence will be when Columbo finally pieces everything together to provide Galesko killed his wife. But along the way we get to see all the things which make him suspicious right down to a clock with no dust on top of it when everything around it is dusty.
What this all boils down to is that "Columbo: Negative Reaction" is a typically entertaining episode from 1974 which has all the usual ingredients including the entertaining guest appearances. But typical is what everyone loved about Columbo and as such even now this is a joy to watch.