PRESCRIPTION: MURDER

title: PRESCRIPTION: MURDER
year: 1968
cast: Peter Falk, Gene Barry
rating: ***

Columbus discovered America, and I've discovered Columbo, one of the best crime shows ever made. The perfect murder almost pulled-off by usually high class high brow society members thwrated by the epitome of "the little guy": a sloppy glass-eyed remora cop who eventually gets his man or woman by slowly figuring out what we, the audience, already know by sticking to them like crazy glue: each episode beginning with a creative homocide - the audience sees who the killer is and it's up to Columbo to figure things out from there. That was the series that came out in 1971, but this, the 1968 TV movie, not even called COLUMBO: PERSCRIPTION FOR MUDER but simply PERSCRIPTION FOR MURDER, isn't that great because, for one, Falk hadn't completely found the character yet. He only wears his trademark trenchcoat (the reverse superman cape) halfway through the episode, in the beginning donning a somewhat nifty suit. He's not clumsy and unassuming but precise, clean-shaven with a neat short haircut, not looking much different than the classy psychiatrist he's out to bust for killing his wife: aided by his lover, a beautiful actress. Columbo is more of a snarky tough guy than an accidental, neurotic genius here... although he does underrate himself somewhat and badgers people - only it's not as fun or entertaining. The third episode (actually, the second episode, not including this movie which ISN'T a pilot) MURDER BY THE BOOK (1971), directed by Steven Speilberg, REALLY gets the ball rolling. And it's all uphill from there. "Oh, and one more thing..."

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