Columbo: Old Fashioned Murder (1976)

Peter Falk in Columbo: Old Fashioned Murder (1976)

Columbo gets Ruthless

When their mother died the Lytton children inherited everything and that includes the Lytton museum which Ruth (Joyce Van Patten) has dedicated her entire life to running. So when her brother Edward (Tim O'Connor), the trustee of the museum, declares that they are going to sell it leads to Ruth craftily murdering him but also the man she hired to stage a fake robbery at the museum. When Columbo (Peter Falk) is called in to investigate he of course notices something is not right and starts digging into the eccentric Lytton family history with his focus turning to the cool Ruth.

I guess when you run a museum you have time to think a lot and maybe even plot how you would murder someone. I say that because shortly after Edward tells Ruth of his plans to shut down the museum she has come up with a plan to not only kill him but at the same time kill the security guard she bribes in staging a fake robbery so that it appears they shot each other when one stumbled across the other. In truth it is one of the issues which I have with "Columbo: Old Fashioned Murder" an episode from season 6 which I hate to say almost has a production line feel to it.

Joyce Van Patten and Jeannie Berlin in Columbo: Old Fashioned Murder (1976)

But my biggest issue when it comes to "Columbo: Old Fashioned Murder" is that it almost feels like they have tried to turn this episode in a pantomime with acting which feels over the top. This ranges from a young detective at a crime scene who acts completely dumb around Columbo to Ruth's sister, Mrs. Brandt, fainting like a drama queen when she meets Columbo and hears he is from homicide. These over the top elements feel utterly forced and to be honest with the storyline which in some ways reminded me of "Columbo: Any Old Port in a Storm" it feels like those who wrote the episodes were running out of story ideas and so turned their focus on embellished characters and this includes Columbo himself who is struggling with hay fever through out this episode.

What this all boils down to is that "Columbo: Old Fashioned Murder" is as with most episodes of "Columbo" entertaining, but it feels like by the time they made this they were struggling to come up with new ideas and so focussed on embellishing characters which didn't always work.