Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

19 Jun 2010, 11:34 a.m.


Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2010 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

So, first I was sick, and then I started to get better and Leonard got sick. So that's been a timesuck. The last few days we've watched three episodes of Columbo together and it's a lot of fun.

There's probably some taxonomy of mysteries and fictional detectives out there that's far more complete than the one I've been constructing ad hoc, and I'd like to know what it says about Lt. Columbo. Leonard loves the change in suspense you get from finding out exactly who killed whom and how as the first scene in the show. I love seeing Peter Falk's Columbo drive the wrongdoer crazy with delays, dumb questions, rambling, proximity, and general mindfrakkery. Sometimes the viewer also has to sit through a five-minute exposition on how people tie their tennis shoes, but then you get an episode like "The Bye-Bye Sky High IQ Murder Case" with Theodore Bikel at a Mensa-like club, and it's just amazing all the length of it (aside from the very strange but arguably believable female characters).

Three episodes I haven't yet seen intrigue me. There's one where Faye Dunaway's & Claudia Christian's characters team up to kill their lover. There's one with rival scientists at a cybernetics thinktank, Robby the Robot and Jessica Walter. And then there's one where:

Egocentric actor Ward Fowler (William Shatner), who portrays Detective Lucerne on a weekly TV show, kills [someone]. He then steps in and out of character to assist Columbo with the investigation. ... Walter Koenig guest stars as a police sergeant.
Relatedly: I told Keith that I'm into movies with insurance fraud (and actuarial science fiction). He told me that nearly all Cinemax erotic thrillers hang off some semblance of an insurance investigation plot -- sexy widow killed her husband, blah blah blah. He also cautioned me that these films are in fact neither erotic nor thrilling.