Some Columbo Magic
Elliott Blake (Anthony Andrews) has made a name for himself as a psychic, and he leads quite a luxurious life living off the money he gets from a psychic research institute. But the thing is that Elliott is a fake who is in cahoots with the head of the institute as the various tests he agrees to undertake secure the institute funding. But things get interest when magician Max Dyson (Anthony Zerbe) is brought in to expose Elliott as a charlatan, something he knows as he was the man who taught Elliott the tricks of the trade whilst they were in prison together. It leads to Elliott taking advantage of Max's fondness for his former student and arranging his death during Max's preparations for his stage act. But of course when there is death there is Lieut. Columbo (Peter Falk) and whilst Elliott is a master of manipulation and deception is he up to Columbo's standards.
I think I have enjoyed 99% of "Columbo" episodes and TV movies but my favourites are always those where the dishevelled lieutenant finds himself dealing with someone who is both skilled and thinks they have a superior mind. And that is what you get in "Columbo Goes to the Guillotine" as we have the confident Elliott, a fake psychic taking on the sharp eyes of Columbo after his mentor is murdered. Now I am not going to lie as whilst "Columbo Goes to the Guillotine" is certainly entertaining there are better episodes of Columbo where are favourite lieutenant takes on an egotistical mastermind but this certainly delivers a lot of entertainment.
A lot of what is entertaining about "Columbo Goes to the Guillotine" is that Columbo finds himself in the world of magic and surrounded by props and anyone who loves Columbo knows how much he liked to play with props and tricks. But it is not just props and magic as you also have the psychic research facility for him to meander around especially as it is a place full of secrets and intrigue.
In fairness Anthony Andrews plays a huge part in to why "Columbo Goes to the Guillotine" entertains as he delivers a classic Columbo villain. On one hand he seems charming and congenial, initially being nice to Columbo but the minute the lieutenant is out of the room you get that distain for his questioning and the growing annoyance at his constant questioning. And of course the timing is perfect when it comes to the switching persona when of course Columbo has just one more question.
What this all boils down to is that "Columbo Goes to the Guillotine" is very much a classic Columbo TV movie with the great lieutenant not only dealing with a confident mastermind but in a world of props and tricks to be fascinated by.