Famous (and fraudulent) psychic Elliot Blake uses his old mentalist skills to live a lavish lifestyle at the expense of a psychic research institute and hopefully, the US Government. What seems at first like a threat, a test devised by a well-known magician and debunker of psychics, turns out to be his chance for revenge against his former mentor. What he can't foresee is a police lieutenant who knows all the tricks. Written by
Mark Cabot Robinson
When Tommy does the card trick for Columbo in the magic shop he holds the deck a bit too high for the camera angle - you can see that, in fact, the entire deck is made up of Aces of Diamonds. See more »
While not ideal, a Phillips head screw can be screwed by a "regular" flat-bladed screwdriver, but not the other way around. To make the screwdriver plot viable, they should have reversed it. See more »
What is all this?
It's a guillotine. I don't exactly get rich hiring out to people like Mr. Harrow. This? I build magic effects. I have a magic store downstairs.
[Max demonstrates by placing a head of cabbage in the guillotine, chopping it in half]
Do me a favor? Lie down.
[nodding to the guillotine bench]
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Although I am not a fanatic about Columbo, whenever I come across an episode while I'm channel surfing, I take it. The Columbo mysteries definitely beat the offerings of many other shows, even the Columbo entries that aren't as strong as others... which this one happens to be.
Let me make clear that I didn't hate or merely dislike this entry - I was to a significant degree entertained. But at the same time I saw some significant weaknesses. The most obvious one is the fact that this entry was designed to fit a two hour time slot, while the older episodes were made for a ninety minute time slot. While you might think that more Columbo would be great, for this particular mystery it is a problem. The setup takes far, far longer than usual; it takes a long time for Columbo to make his first appearance. And after Columbo starts to make his investigation, there are a few other places where the story seems unnecessarily padded out.
Also, there are some predictable touches here and there, though that may be because I know the hero so well by now, I have a good idea how he works.
But I'm glad I saw this entry despite its flaws. It's always nice to see this character, who is a little older but still a brilliant and interesting detective. Series fans should enjoy this entry, though people unfamiliar with Columbo should probably start with some of the older (and stronger) episodes first before watching this entry.
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