Columbo: Season 2, Episode 8

Double Shock (25 Mar. 1973)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 932 users  
Reviews: 19 user | 5 critic

A smarmy TV chef and his identical twin brother, a rigidly proper banker, are suspects in the electrocution of their rich uncle.

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Title: Double Shock (25 Mar 1973)

Double Shock (25 Mar 1973) on IMDb 7.6/10

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Cast

Episode complete credited cast:
...
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Dexter Paris / Norman Paris
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Mrs. Peck
...
Michael Hatheway
...
Lisa Chambers
...
Clifford Paris
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Detective Murray
Kate Hawley ...
Mrs. Johnson
Michael Richardson ...
Young Lawyer
Robert Rothwell ...
2nd Detective
Gregory Morton ...
Older Lawyer
Tony Cristino ...
Stickman
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Storyline

Flamboyant television chef Dexter Paris and his twin brother, Norman, a conservative banker, are supposedly not talking to one another. But both disapprove of their wealthy uncle Clifford's impending marriage to a young woman. One of them enters Clifford's bathroom and drops an electric mixer with a frayed power cable into Clifford's bath water. Clifford is electrocuted, and the murderer takes Clifford's body to an exercise room to make it appear that Clifford died of a coronary. But Lieutenant Columbo, the infallible, cunning detective in a rumpled raincoat, suspects foul play and believes that the Paris twins, both heirs to their uncle's estate provided he didn't marry, had a motive for murder. But which one did the deed? Columbo pursues both with incessant questions as he tries to determine which of the two brothers killed their uncle Clifford. Written by Kevin McCorry <mmccorry@nb.sympatico.ca>

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Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

25 March 1973 (USA)  »

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4:3
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Debut of actor Marc Singer (as the young Doctor on Mrs. Peck's television). See more »

Goofs

When Dexter puts the new mixers on the counter, Columbo is holding his jacket and raincoat on his arm with the raincoat on top. Dexter puts the mixers away, and the jacket is now on top. See more »

Quotes

Norman Paris: You got the Degas. I got the Picassos.
Dexter Paris: [Derisively] Norman, you couldn't tell Picasso from a Rorhshach test!
Norman Paris: Can anyone? I know very much what they're worth.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Pioneers of Television: Crime Dramas (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Columbo investigates twin Martin Landaus in this disappointing effort
14 April 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Martin Landau? Playing twins? This thrilled me when I first saw the plot synopsis, but something told me the novelty was not going to work, and unfortunately that proved to be right.

As in all "Columbo" episodes, we watch the killer carry out an elaborate scheme to murder someone. This time Landau is the killer. He plays smarmy TV chef Dexter Paris, whose rich uncle (Paul Stewart) is about to marry a woman (Julie Newmar) young enough to be his granddaughter. The uncle's nephew visits him while he takes a bath, plugs in an egg beater and throws it into the tub, electrocuting the old man. But when the young fiancée and a trusted housekeeper (Jeanette Nolan) discover the body, it's clothed in a sweatsuit and slumped over an exercise bike. It looks as if he had a heart attack while riding it. But our rumpled Lt. Columbo (Peter Falk) is on the case and notices a few things that just don't add up.

That's when we meet Landau again, this time playing the rigidly proper banker, Norman Paris, identical twin brother to the looser-mannered TV chef. This immediately alerts us to the possibility that not everything we see is what we think we see. When we think we're watching TV-chef-Landau, are we really seeing uptight-banker-Landau, and vice versa?

Stephen Bochco – now well known for creating popular TV series like "Hill Street Blues" and "L.A. Law" – wrote some of the best episodes of the series, including "Murder by the Book" and "Étude in Black." This time he's listed only as co-writer, which may explain how the script could have turned out flabby and shallow.

The script really fails Martin Landau. Both his characters have some atrociously arch dialogue, including a wisecrack right before the electrocution-murder: "I think you're going to get a charge out of this." Ugh.

Other elements almost – but don't quite – work. For instance, the housekeeper takes an extraordinary dislike to Columbo. She screams at him when she sees him dropping cigar ashes on the carpet and continues screaming throughout the show. This is supposed to be funny, I guess, but it comes off as shrill. However, their interplay does produce a nice moment where Columbo tries to win her back to his side, apologizing for his habitual untidiness and expressing genuine hurt feelings over her dislike of him. This is a side of Columbo we don't see too often.

Then there's the scene where Columbo goes to visit Dexter as he tapes his TV show. Columbo winds up on camera assisting him in preparing a dish. It comes close to being charming because Falk and Landau are clearly improvising. But ultimately it's just long and pointless; and it was an indulgence to include it in the episode.

Two supporting performances are notable. Newmar gives an overly quirky performance as the flighty fiancée. Her behavior is so odd I kept expecting her to turn out to be a drug addict. (Also, her face looks a little too tight, as if she'd had some work done on it. She was around forty but her character was probably supposed to be in her mid-20s.) Dabney Coleman plays another policeman and gives some personality to a minor, functional character without being too distracting. He demonstrates in this early role what a gifted character actor he would later prove to be.

This is an interesting, but ultimately disappointing episode. Die-hards may want to check it out, but casual "Columbo" fans can skip it.


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