Columbo Episode Review: A Trail of Murder (2023)

Billed to mark as a commemorative specialColombo25th anniversary (read moreThelater),a murder trailsaw the lieutenant rise like a phoenix from the ashesweird bedfellowsdisaster two years ago.

Issued on May 15, 1997,a murder trailgave Peter Falk's wife Shera Danese her sixth appearance on the series and her biggest to date, as she played half of a murderous couple who kill an innocent pencilneck to frame her rude husband in a crime he didn't commit. . .

If that sounds like a pretty formal formula, take heart! His accomplice (David Rasche) is aPolice Forensic Scientistand a colleague of Columbo's, offering the potentially delicious turn of an assassin skilled enough to confound the cunning lieutenant.

But anda murder trailSomething to be happy about, or is it more of a disappointment in a Renaissance era that had more failures than hits? Let's get into cat hair and carpet fibers and take a look.veryLook closely...


Leutnant Colombo: Peter Falk
Cathleen Calvert: Danish Shera
Patrick Kinley: David Rasch
Clifford Calvert: Barry Corbin
Howard Seltzer: Ray Birk
Tracy rosa: Dona Bullock
official will: Will Nye
Harry Jenkins: Capa Franklin
Harriet Jenkins: Alice Backes
stuart march: Dio Anderson
Barney: John Finnegan
Directed by: Vince McEveety
Written by: Karl Kipps
score for: Dick DeBenedictis

Episode Overview -Columbus a murder trail

Cathleen Calvert, the quarrelsome wife of billionaire business tycoon Clifford, wants to end her loveless marriage but is unwilling to accept a divorce that would severely limit her cash flow. As a result, she easily convinces LAPD lover and forensic scientist Patrick Kinsley to join forces with her in a murderous plan that will get Clifford out of the picture without violating his style.

Clifford is being sued by broker Harry Seltzer, who claims he was tricked into investing based on fraudulent financial information. After the pair publicly feud over a fancy dinner, Clifford gloatingly defeats his rival in front of a sea of ​​witnesses. This well-known animosity makes Clifford the perfect scapegoat when Cathleen and Kinsley conspire to eliminate poor Mr. Seltzer Water.

By timing the murder so that Clifford is traveling between the office and a family friend's wedding, Kinsley is able to break into Seltzer's house under the pretense that he needs to borrow his phone to call his ailing daughter in the hospital. After verifying that no one is on the property, Kinsley shoots Seltzer with a .38 caliber pistol that Cathleen stole from Clifford's desk drawer.

He then uses his ubiquitous Swiss army knife to slice off the end of one of Clifford's signature Cuban cigars and place it in an ashtray before pulling one outHAND VACUUM CLEANERMini vacuum and vacuum up some cat hair and carpet fibers around the carcass. He puts them in a plastic tub and goes outside, wipes his fingerprints off his phone and turns on the house alarmPANIChow good your exhaust is. Within minutes, a police officer arrives at the scene: opening the door causes Seltzer's aggressively furry cat to flee in terror.

Meanwhile, across town, Cathleen and Clifford endure the others' presence at the wedding when she excuses herself to get some fresh air. The sly lady actually collects a can of cat hair hidden in her car by her lover Kinsley before disappearing into the night. Back inside, Cathleen convinces Clifford to share a slow dance and discreetly rubs cat hair and carpet fibers into the back of his jacket to bring her moody husband to the scene of Seltzer's murder.

Of course, Lieutenant Columbo is among the officers investigating this murder, and he's optimisticdistribute bananasto his fellow officers as candy on Halloween. It is here that he first encounters Kinsley, the killer, who is present in his guise as head of the LAPD's forensic unit. However, his perfect assassination plan has an immediate downer. The tip of the cigar he left in the ashtray in daylight is nowhere to be seen! You can't frame Clifford effectively without that, can you?

Columbo, on the other hand, is more worried about the whereabouts of Seltzer's missing Moggy. He orders clumsy police officer Will to find the beast he was responsible for unleashing, telling him sternly, "That cat may be the only witness to this horrific crime.I WANT THIS CAT!How the lieutenant plans to search the cat for information about the killer's identity is an unsolved mystery.

Columbo leaves Kinsley to his forensic investigation and sets out to break the news of Seltzer's death to his attorney, Tracy Rose. She unveils Seltzer's lawsuit against Clifford Calvert and lo and behold, the lieutenant's prime suspect is handed to her on a tray. Of course, he makes his way to Calvert HQ and is met by Cathleen, who calls the great Clifford out of his hungover bed.

The arrogant Southerner doesn't give a damn about Seltzer's death, describing it as "the best news I've heard in a long time." But the smile soon fades from her face when Columbo questions her whereabouts at the time of the murder. Clifford explains that he was traveling, although he stopped at a supermarket along the way to buy some throat drops. His spirits sink further when Columbo asks to see his gun. As he checks his desk drawer, the gun is conspicuous by its absence! Fiery Clifford is already between a rock and a hard place.

Columbo checks Clifford's movements and stops at the Jenkins house, where the odd couple Harry and Harriet (aka Captain Combover and Squirrel) confirm that, as claimed, he attended their daughter's wedding the night before. After taking a look at the incredibly amateur looking official wedding photos, Columbo saves some happy photos of the Calverts for future reference. Then they send him away with a basket full of apples left over from the big day.

Continuing the theme of Columbo happily sharing fruit with his peers, the lieutenant goes to the forensic lab to share the wealth. This is where he first sees Kinsley's pocket knife as the man makes cuts to peel the apple before eating it. Columbo shares his information about Clifford, leaving Kinsley even more desperate to search for the whereabouts of the missing cigar holder from Seltzer's house, further emphasizing his love rival's possible guilt. However, when he revisits the crime scene, he is still nowhere to be seen.

Columbo also shows up looking for an update on the missing cat, which idiot cop Will eventually found by extensively repeating "Kittens, kittens, kittens' and long vigils around the local bird baths. The creature is Kinsley's savior when his attempts to grab an object under a door reveals the tip of the cigar, which seems to go perfectly with our friend Clifford's favorites.

While Kinsley examines the cigar in the lab, Columbo pays another visit to his prime suspect. Luckily, the detective manages to salvage a cigar tip from Clifford's ashtray.which will no doubt be crucial later. Kinsley, in turn, proves that the crime scene cigar is the same one Clifford is smoking, allowing the LAPD to obtain a search warrant on all of the property. One of the most important items confiscated is the suit Clifford wore to the wedding, complete with its millions of cat hairs. It seems clear that CliffordErasin Seltzer's house. Things are looking pretty good for the smiling Cathleen!

However, Columbo's enthusiastic investigation into Clifford's alibi threatens to end his hopes of a quick victory. A receipt from a supermarket (confirmed by video footage) shows that, as he claimed, Clifford actually stopped to buy cough drops just 10 minutes after Seltzer's death. This annoys the lieutenant, as the walk to the store meant a detour south for Clifford, who resolutely drove north to get to the wedding. Kinsley's suggestion that Clifford may have been in shock after his heinous act and didn't know what he was doing does not convince the detective.

In an attempt to broaden his investigative parameters, Columbo arranges to meet Cathleen the next day and invites Kinsley over, rendering his forensic psychology knowledge useless. This is where Kinsley makes a big mistake. Though he says he doesn't know Cathleen, he hands her a tray of artificial sweeteners with his cup of coffee, leaving Columbo in an almost delusional state. This mistake is compounded minutes later when Kinsley opens the front door of the police car for Cathleen instead of the usual back door. It's like he knew she was suffering from motion sickness in the back seat.HOLY JAMColombo reflects when left alone:These two need to meet!

This realization opens the case. Colombo must now prove that CliffordI could nothe killed Seltzer before the assistant district attorney brought him before a grand jury. He visits Clifford again and the two talk about the V-shaped cigar cutter Clifford always uses on his Cubanos. The tip of the cigar in the seltzer house is not supported.Maybe he cut himself on Kinsley's razor? Columbo also takes a second look at Jenkins' wedding photos and what he finds will turn the tables on Kinsley and Cathleen.

The next morning, Columbo meets Kinsley at the criminal courts, where Kinsley is shocked to learn that Clifford's case has been dropped. Columbo produces additional wedding photos at 8:30 p.m., showing cat hair on Clifford's back. M. on the night of Seltzer's murder, but no longer on his back by 7 p.m. m. while talking to another guest outside the church. Clifford can no longer be placed at the crime scene. Instead, his wife appears to have tricked him by planting cat hair on his jacket.

As Kinsley digests this shocking revelation, Columbo (who has secretly borrowed the other man's jackknife) crosses the street to speak to Cathleen, who has just arrived with a police escort. The detective asks her if she and Kinsley had a previous relationship, which she denies. So why is he trying to trick you in this case by showing me those photos? Columbo asks, showing me the wedding photos that used to make Kinsley nervous.

Columbo plays Cathleen like a violin and convinces her that Kinsley is trying to sew her up to frame Clifford. In addition to the photos, Columbo also shows the jackknife from an evidence bag, suggesting Kinsley gave it to him and claims it contained fibers matching carpets from a foreign car owned by the guy Cathleen, who drives himself. Police know the knife was used to cut off the end of one of Clifford's cigars, clearly suggesting Cathleen herself could be the killer.

Angry at her apparent betrayal by Kinsley, Cathleen suggests that she could positively identify the knife and would be willing to speak to the DA's office on the phone and then extricate herself from the situation. Columbo Poodle back to Kinsley. His past relationship with Cathleen is off the hook, he says, and the lieutenant is pretty sure he'll find microscopic traces of cigar tobacco on the jackknife, clearly indicating that Kinsley killed Seltzer. In Columbus' own uncharacteristic words: "You're in big trouble, Pat.— a sentiment accentuated when both men watch as Cathleen stalks off to meet with the prosecutors, sour-faced, and presumably dumps a load of shit on her lover's plate.

That's supposed to be the end, but instead we're "treated" to an incoherent epilogue at Barney's Beanery, where a television news program informs us that Kinsley and Cathleen are in custody and blaming each other for Howard Seltzer's murder. Columbus enters and exitsmany minutesExplain to Barney and some busboyevery stephis investigative journey before the credits finally roll...

my memories ofa murder trail

Like many of his later stablemates,a murder trailis one of themDoveInstallments I haven't seen in what feels like an eternity to revisit for this review. It's an episode I've rarely seen, but I have a vague sense of unease about it, something I credit to Shera Danese for casting such a prominent role after many mediocre performances on the show.

While I don't hate Shera by any means, I find her a boring presence in all but very small roles, which is what makes her the leading rolea murder trailone of the reasons I avoided picking it on the DVD case. Other than that, little is memorable aside from the touch of cat fur on the jacket that looks dapper on paper, and Barry Corbin's boisterous turn as the cigar-chomping, hat-wearing force of nature. 10 gallon hat, that's Clifford. Kalvert.

Interestingly, I hardly remember David Rasche's performance as Pat Kinsley, even though he had the biggest role in the episode. My memory tells me he lacks the panache and stature to be considered a big manDoveVillain, but I'm prepared to be wrong by ending my years of abstinence by embarking on the 66th adventure of the series...


a murder trailis a peculiar entry inDoveCanon, which hits screens more than two years after the previous episode,weird bedfellows, and marks the series' first apparent attempt to compete with modern police procedures by placing a strong focus on forensic science rather than the hunches and inferences of a lone wolf detective.

It was also promoted as a special episode to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the series first airing, an odd claim as to whenpathreally debuted26 yearsafter Season 1 began in 1971, and29 yearsbased on Peter Falk's 1968 Colombo arc inRecipe: Murder. Aside from this shaky understanding of basic math,MordspurIt feels like an attempt to redefine the long-running series that had been lost since its return to the big screen in 1989.

As usual in an episode that distorts the familiarDoveFormula has merits for the concept of having a forensically heavy history. Episode writer Charles Kipps (his onlyDovecredit) impressed the production team with his manipulation of forensic stories inThe Cosby Mysteriesand pledged to put the show (and the lieutenant) at the forefront of the TV police investigation some distance away.

Once again, however, the whole is less than the sum of its parts, with some clever ideas dashed by how easily they fall apart on closer inspection, a tendency to clumsily mark every crucial clue, and quite a bit moreAh, indeedas a supposed celebration of the series,a murder trailit is often a downright disappointing experience.

We can also start by examining the most important aspect of manyDoveConsequence:the occupation. ForMordspurTo truly feel like a celebration of all that was great in the show's proud history, one might expect at least one blockbuster name to make headlines alongside Peter Falk. Unfortunately it wasn't meant to be. David Rasche and Barry Corbin may be solid professionals in whatever role they're given, but they're not names that will win the hearts of viewers.

Shera Danese simply cannot be trusted to produce the goods in a critical role.

And what about Shera Danese? Well, we might as well address the elephant in the room: she's an extremely limited-range actress, and she isterriblein this. One dimensional and melodramatic with synthetic moves and a perpetually sour expression, she is agony to watch and there can be no rationale for giving her such an important role other than the fact that she is married to Peter Falk.

Perfectly capable in smaller parts (like Eve Plummer inmurder under glass), Danese simply cannot be trusted to produce the goods in a central role. She does little more than pout and stand with her hand on her hip like a smug schoolgirl.hundredsof the actresses could have done a better job, including many for whom the role of Cathleen Calvert could have represented a career change. However, in Danese's hands, Cathleen looks like a vanity project, right down to the impressive array of outfits (14 different outfits if I'm counting) that she appears in throughout the episode.

Cast alongside Danese as Patrick Kinsley's accomplice, David Rasche is tolerable as a slightly nerdy forensic scientist, but as superficial, demanding and obsessed with money as Cathleen as an animal lover. I just can't believe Kinsley would have even caught Cathleen's eye as I'm not particularly stylish or good looking. In fact, he's such a reserved guy that he would have been a much better choice to play Graham McVeighweird bedfellows- a role for which George Wendt was hopelessly cast.

These shared traits are at the heart of the problem I have with the Kinsley/Cathleen relationship.Their love story never feels authentic.. She is a gold digger who is obsessed with living a rich life and spending a lot of her husband's money. He's a mild-mannered, average citizen who drives a station wagon and wears jackets with elbow patches. These two don't hang out in the same social circles and live in vastly different worlds. How would they have met, let alone end up as lovers?

It's an issue that could have been succinctly addressed in the script. Perhaps they were college sweethearts who met again by chance when she was unhappily married to Clifford, and responded to long-buried impulses to reignite their romance? But without a good reason why she would be so attracted to a man so far below her social status, I just can't accept their relationship.

Kinsley's character writing also fails in several areas, making him a lesser villain even for "newbies".DoveHe proves to be a smart and practical man, a leader in the field of forensic science, who never leaves the house without his Swiss Army knife; However, he accepts Cathleen's idea of ​​murdering Howard Seltzer and framing Clifford on the fly. . by suggestion, as if it were the work of a genius. The plan, as it unfolds, is as complicated as a Swiss cheese and relies heavily on Selzer being home alone at any given time on any given day.

Are we to think that the allure of Cathleen's slim build and the promise of a cut of Clifford's millions in prison would persuade this no-nonsense, practical man to kill an innocent farmer, especially if it would violate his oath to protect and serve? And how do you envision retaining his affection when Clifford is out of the way? Once again I find it impossible to buy. Perhaps if Kinsley displayed unrelenting arrogance to demonstrate his own excellence in the field (as Drs. Mayfield and Collier inColomboclassic era) may seem more believable. He never does.

Not only that if heEsThe ace forensic scientist whose position at LAPD would suggest (the guy who taught at the academy, for heaven's sake, which is why he's held in high esteem in the halls of power) should have avoided some of the amateurish mistakes he made on the way . If you were planning to incriminate a well-known cigar smoker, you would know exactly how to cut the tip to make fake evidence look real. However, for all his forensic knowledge, Kinsley doesn't think twice before cutting off the tip with his razor's scissors. Of course, a detective will notice this discrepancy!

We're also told that Kinsley is a forensic psychologist who should have improved his ability to create accurate descriptions of other people's personalities and behaviors. However, he completely misplays Columbo, stupidly allowing himself to be fooled at the end of the episode, and obviously having no real understanding of Cathleen, whom he flatters until the last moment when he believes she cheated on him. At this point, he finally seems to see her as the schemer who's going to shove him under the bus so he doesn't go to jail. Why didn't you see it before, huh, Pat? Of course we are spectators...

To top it all off, Kinsley's inability to control his unconscious urges, which reveal to Columbo that he has a past relationship with Cathleen and that he must, in fact, know her very well. The fact that he hands her the bowl of sweetener to wash down her coffee and automatically offers her the front seat of the squad car to combat her motion sickness is handy to the plot, but further underscores the character's weakness. Thisthey arethe sort of mistakes criminals make, but they're much less plausible when made by a forensic psychologist.

As a final thought on the crime itself, it's a very small matter, but does anyone else find the amount of cat hair applied to Clifford's back at the wedding ridiculous? Cathleen rubs around 10,000,000 hairs (and carpet fibers) on her jacket, so wouldn't the police find it odd that there's no hair on either the front of the jacket or the pants? Perhaps they thought that Clifford turned around in glee after killing Seltzer, swinging his legs in the air before jumping to his feet and continuing on his way?

Come ona murder trailThe main antagonists were definitely lacking in several areas, the episode really needed the rest of the cast to step up and deliver the goods to make up for it. Thankfully, Barry Corbin gives it his all as the obnoxious, misogynistic, and rude Clifford Calvert. It's hardly a subtle feat as he seems instructed to scale down all the rabid cowboy stereotypes to 11, but Corbin at least brings some pep to an episode that badly needs it.

Unfortunately, that doesn't apply to Raye Birke's Howard Seltzer, who is a real contender for least evolved victim in series history. Aside from being criticized by Clifford for standing his ground during an argument in the opening scene and then reluctantly letting Kinsley into his house before the shooting, we got to know him pretty well, so it's hard to give a damn take care of. either way when he meets his maker. This underscores another flaw in this episode: there's simply no one to worry about more than Columbo himself.

However, at this stage in his television career, Columbo is no longer the man he once was and the lieutenant we meet ona murder trailIt's not a vintage version. From his stunning performance at a crime scene, handing out bananas to his co-workers, to his overreactions and goofy expressions when crucial things hit him, Columbo has arguably not been this unnerving to watch since. .last salute to the commodoremore than 20 years ago.

Interestingly, author David Koenig describes Columbo's performance in this episode as "nearly senile," a harsh assessment, but it's not hard to agree on a closer examination of Falk's performance. For many years, we've seen Columbo's peers find frustration in his meandering style and distraction when lost in their own investigative world. However, they stopped calling him "stupid" and "crazy" like Kinsley does when he talks to Cathleen about the detective.

It's easy to see why he would think that way. Kinsley's interactions with Columbo included seeing him tossing apples around the forensic lab and yelling at a uniformed police officer to track down Seltzer's missing cat as the only potential witness to his death. Later, when Columbo notices Kinsley pushing the bowl of artificial sweeteners towards Cathleen at the diner, he stops in the middle of the stream and goes into the bathroom with a shocked look on his face. Upon his return, he apologizes for feeling bad, cancels the meeting, anddrop a burp! I am now almost screaming in anger at how Falk allowed his most beloved creation to fall into such a state of shame.

Unbelievable, the worst is yet to come. After being dropped off at police headquarters in Colombo,talk to yourselfHe has his epiphany when he realizes that Kinsley and Cathleen had a previous relationship. The way Falk manifests this perception is so elaborate and over the top that I can't understand why nobody on the production team stopped him from doing it. This suggests to me (not for the first time since the 1989 revival) that the viewer is considered too dumb to see the cues and their meaning, and needs that sort of visual cue to know something significant has happened. I don't claim to have a sky-high IQ (I was rejected to join the Sigma Society), but this kind of presentation is condescending and irritating. See for yourself…

The clip above is the worst example of "signaling of importance", but there are many more out there. If you played a drinking game that required you to down two fingers of alcohol each time the spectator was awkwardly pointed out an important clue or major accomplishment, you would be in a coma before the hour was up. quieta murder trailhe continues to despise the intelligence of the viewer up to his last moments.

After the absolutely unforgettable scene of the episode comesmore than six minutesby Columbo explaining to the viewer (via Barney and some rando) all aspects of the case that bothered him and how he put things together to close the case. Supposedly added by Falk to disguise the tag's relative weakness, it isCops complain about idiots, or for those who skipped all the scenes with Shera and therefore had no idea what happened during the episode. For the viewer of average or higher intelligence, this Goliath monologue is almost entirely redundant. His only saving grace is the presence of John Finnegan as Barney, perhaps the only truly triumphant hint of itColombowar goldenMordspurcan collect

When all this agony makes me look like oneDoveHaters, rest assured that I don't enjoy attacking a series that has brought me so much joy.pathHowever, it is an episode that hides its virtues so well that if you miss them completely, you could be forgiven. It does have its moments, however, and the concept of planting the cat hair evidence on Clifford's back to help locate him at the crime scene was a good one. However, it was marred by Clifford's decision to buy cough drops from a supermarket, which would have thrown him off his track had he actually stopped to kill Seltzer on the way to the wedding, an incident that only underscores how weak it is is . and the all-out assassination plot of Cathleen and Kinsley.

Giving Columbo a corrupt colleague with the intelligence to really outsmart him is another commendable build. Kinsley's handling of the evidence and his wisdom in unhurriedly revealing the discoveries to the lieutenant might have made an absorbing drama had he shown more wit and common sense than he so casually revealed. In the end it became someone else.Dovevillainous when it could have been top notch with stronger writing.

If there's such a thing as a time to appreciatea murder trail, comes in the form of a restrained aside that Columbo Kinsley makes around the 61-minute mark. Columbo invites his colleague to meet Cathleen the next day (to use his psychic abilities) and ends the conversation by saying, "You and me together, Pat.Three eyes see better than one' while addressing one of the old fan questions: Does Columbo only have one eye like Peter Falk?

It's a topic that many fans have embraced (I even wrotean article about itto this blog many moons ago), but if you think this confirms that Columbo is a Uniclops, or just think it's a little inside joke, this is an important moment because you're giving the knowledgeable public a nice Easter egg give ... and subtle. without blunting anything.

Sea murder trailcredited the viewer with a bit more wit and made a few more nods to episodes from the '70s (perhaps a nod to a classic case or two, or Columbo taking theDame Colombospin-off) could have been a much more commendable sequel. How is,MordspurIt's a sad ride, notable more to show how far the series has fallen from its commanding heights than to celebrate its enduring greatness.

Did you know?

Shera Danese, who played one half of the murderous duo here, became the second actress to play a victim (1994 as Geraldine Ferguson).disguised) and central villain in variousDoveThe only other actor to share this honor was Robert Vaughn, who was the killer inTroubled Watersand one of the deadlast salute to the commodore.

how do i rate them

A tepid ride that ends up not being as smart in execution as it should be,a murder trailit fits at the end of the rating, although it's much more tolerable than any of the episodes below.

To read my reviews of other revivalsDoveEpisodes up to this point, just click on the links in the list below. can you see like meRate all "Classic Era" episodes here.

  1. Columbus goes to collegenew episodes of first class Columbus
  2. murder schedule
  3. Death wins the jackpot
  4. Colombo-Chora-Wolf
  5. It's all in the game
  6. Rest in peace Dona Colon
  7. Columbus goes to the guillotineThis is where the second level begins.
  8. Warning: Murder can be hazardous to your health
  9. Butterfly in shades of gray
  10. A bird in the hand...
  11. Murder, a self-portrait
  12. Columbus and the murder of a rock starThis is where the 3rd level begins
  13. Restless lies of the crown
  14. a murder trail
  15. weird bedfellowsThis is where the fourth level begins.
  16. no time to die
  17. big disappointments
  18. disguised
  19. Mord in Malibu

Here I summarize things for you, dear readers! In some recent social media interactions, I've been surprised to see an outpouring of goodwill for this episode, so I'd love to hear your thoughts on it. A celebration worthy of a series or a wet abortion? And what do you think of Shera Danese getting another big role? Sing along in the comments section below.

It's time to part. Thank you for your time and I look forward to bringing ours Conversations in due course as I review 1998ashes to Ashes– Notable for bringing back Patrick McGoohan for a record fourth appearanceDoveMurderer. watching you...

Columbo Episode Review: A Trail of Murder (19)

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