Columbo: Season 8, Episode 4

Grand Deceptions (1 May 1989)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 612 users  
Reviews: 14 user | 4 critic

After the head of a private paramilitary think tank who is embezzling funds murders a blackmailer, he has to match wits with the persistent Lieutenant Columbo.



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Title: Grand Deceptions (01 May 1989)

Grand Deceptions (01 May 1989) on IMDb 6.7/10

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Frank Brailie
Andy Romano ...
Sergeant Major Lester Keegan
Janet Eilber ...
Jenny Padget
Stephen Elliott ...
General Padget
Michael McManus ...
Sidney Winnik
Lynn Clark ...
Bennett Liss ...
Paramilitary Man #3
John William Gibson ...
Paramilitary Man #2
Paramilitary Man #4
Milt Kogan ...
Medical Examiner
Paramilitary Man #1
Rick Marzan ...
Police Officer


A Colonel works for a highly revered and well respected General. Among the things that he has been doing is having an affair with the invalid General's wife and been diverting funds from the General's foundation to fund arms sales. The General discovers some peculiarities going on at the foundation, so he instructs Sergeant Keegan to investigate, he learns of the Colonel's activities, then instead of reporting it to the General, he tries to blackmail the Colonel. The Colonel in turn kills the Sergeant. But it's not long until Lt. Columbo is on the case and on the Colonel's trail. Written by <>

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Release Date:

1 May 1989 (USA)  »

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Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


When Columbo looks at the body of Sergeant Major Lester Keegan, you can see him blinking. See more »


Lieutenant Columbo: There's just one more thing, sir.
See more »


I've Got A Crush On You
Written by George Gershwin
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User Reviews

Consistently poor delivery pretty much kill it at every step
2 October 2005 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Colonel Frank Brailie has been stealing money from a foundation fund and enjoying the benefits of it for years until Sergeant Major Lester Keegan finds out and decides he wants his cut in return for silence. The two men work together at a private military training academy that takes citizens and makes them into soldiers. Not wanting to give up his income, Brailie uses a party for General Padget and the setting up of a gift as an alibi while he slips out to find Keegan on night manoeuvres with his unit. He stabs Keegan unseen and then leaves his body on one of many explosive packs set to simulate mortar attacks. The next day he is called to the scene of the "accident" to find that Lieutenant Columbo is there with this men. It all seems "open & shut" until Columbo finds a flashlight and a reason to doubt the accident.

As with many TV film series (such as Perry Mason), if you like one or two of them then you'll pretty much like them all. This entry in the Columbo series pretty much follows the usual formula – we know the killer and the "perfect" plan but then watch Columbo follow his hunch and gradually starts to pick holes in the story he is told before eventually finding enough to prove his suspicions. Knowing this ahead of time won't ruin anything for you; it is simply what happens in all the films. With this strict adherence to formula it is usually down to several factors whether or not the Columbo film stands out or if it is just average. Having had my fingers burnt with my first "new" Columbo, I wasn't sure if I should bother going back or should just rewatch the original series from the seventies, but I thought that the formula can't be that hard to pull off and figured that it was worth another pass. Sadly this film continues the trend of just not being as roundly enjoyable as it did in its heyday. The story is OK but it is the delivery where it falls down. We spend too long on the build up and too long on the characters rather than focusing on Columbo. The mood of the originals used to be quite bright and fun but here it is drab and serious – making it harder to enjoy while being too stiff to enjoy as a drama. The mystery unfolds in a quite uninvolving fashion and I didn't get into it that well.

The delivery problems continue with the characters and the performances. Falk isn't himself and he seems less comfortable in his character than before – a very strange thing considering I'm used to seeing him be so natural. It isn't his fault though that he is almost sidelined by the other characters and I did wonder why the film spent so much time away from him. Foxworth is too dull to interact with Columbo well and he is far from being a good foil for Falk if you use the standard set by the first few series. Romano is OK in a minor role but while the performances from Elliott and Eilber are OK, they don't deserve the focus they are given.

Overall an average Columbo film at best. The idea is OK but the delivery is roundly poor. The cast are poor, the story uninspiring, the music twee and silly all producing a modern film that doesn't deserve to really share the same character as the originals and will barely do enough to please even fans.

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