Saturday, February 28, 2015

TV Review: Columbo - A Stitch in Crime (1973)

TV Series: Columbo (1971-1978, 1989-2003) - USA
Episode: A Stitch in Crime (Season 2, Episode 6; Original Airdate: Feb. 11, 1973)
Directed by Hy Averback
Series Regulars: Peter Falk
Guest Stars: Leonard Nimoy, Anne Francis, Will Geer, Nita Talbot, Aneta Corsaut, Jared Martin

Even with Leonard Nimoy as the guest murderer this episode is a letdown due to a rushed and inconclusive ending.

A surgeon (Nimoy) plots to kill his research partner and fellow doctor (Geer) by botching his heart operation with improper sutures. A nurse (Francis) becomes suspect and he kills her to keep her quiet. Along comes Columbo to solve the murder of the nurse, but can he catch the killer and save his original intended victim before the surgery goes wrong?

In an unusual twist for a Columbo mystery, the intended victim has not been killed yet, but instead someone who suspects what the killer is up to is the murder victim. Unfortunately this is not the only deviation from the usual formula for a Columbo mystery, but the other deviations bring it down.

Being one of the shorter (74 minutes) Columbo movies to fill a 90 minute airtime it is a little rushed. Columbo comes into the case almost immediately suspecting the surgeon of the crime, I guess because he wondered about him bothering to set his clock while he heard about the news of the nurse's death. A pretty weak reason to suspect someone of anything. The conclusion is just as weak, as it happens abruptly. You can almost hear the director telling them they have to wrap it up in a few seconds with Columbo's speed in finding the fatal clue.

For me the even weaker part is that with the evidence Columbo has found, he has proven nothing more than attempted murder as it does nothing to tie (pun not intended) the surgeon to the two people he actually did kill.

Having watched many Columbo movies over the years I had never seen this one and was looking forward to a treat with Leonard Nimoy as the killer. Needless to say I was quite disappointed. At least it does provide one of the few times that Columbo gets angry with a suspect; the only other time that comes to mind for me is when Robert Conrad played a killer and Columbo lashed out at him in a hospital.

My Rating: 2 Fingers. Despite any good performances and it still being entertaining because it is Columbo, the rushed ending is a disappointment and the inconclusive evidence is a head scratcher.

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