Eric Prince (Patrick McGoohan) has made a name for himself as a mortician to the stars that go to him for his professionalism. But it seems that Mr. Prince has a dark secret, a secret which gossip reporter Verity Chandler (Rue McClanahan) plans to use in her next exposé which will inevitably destroy him. It is why when Verity confronts Eric he smashes her over the head with a mortician's tool, cremates her body and then heads to her home to amend her story to make it seem someone else had motive. When no one hears from Verity for a few days Lieutenant Columbo (Peter Falk) is called in and eventually finds things leading back to Prince.
Whether you preferred them or not the 90s Columbo TV movies were all about the characters and the humour and these episodes were never better when the case involved the world of show business. It is why "Columbo: Ashes to Ashes" is so entertaining because we have that show business element from Rue McClanahan giving it over the top as a gossip reporter to Spencer Garrett as her assistant giving it the full theatrics which puts a smile on to your face. Plus you have the standalone amusing scenes such as one widow scattering her actor husband's ashes over the Hollywood sign, although as we know they're not his ashes.
What is clear right from the word murder as we watch Prince kill Chandler on the spur of the moment this isn't one of those episodes where it is all about the ingenuity of the killer but more their bravado. And that makes this all about Columbo and the humour in his voice as he plays it dumb to fool his suspect in to under estimating him. And it is enjoyable as ever especially as "Columbo: Ashes to Ashes" sees Patrick McGoohan not only playing the bad guy again but also sees him direct which he wasn't too shabby at.
Now whilst "Columbo: Ashes to Ashes" is a lot of fun with lots of performances which make you smile, when it comes to the crime solving the elements of detail, the almost in to the mind of Columbo side is lacking some what. It is a bit of a disappointment as those scenes where we get to appreciate Columbo's eye for detail were always as entertaining as a guest star making you smile by giving their characters a humorous tone.
What this all boils down to is that "Columbo: Ashes to Ashes" is an episode/TV movie for those who enjoyed the more comical episodes as it is a movie reliant more on the character quirks than the clues of the case.