With his rumpled raincoat, ever-present cigar, bumbling demeanour and Sherlock Holmesian powers of deduction, disarmingly polite homicide detective Lieutenant Columbo took on some of the most cunning murderers in Los Angeles, most of whom made one fatal, irrevocable mistake: underestimating his investigative genius.
The show follows a crime, usually adapted from current headlines, from two separate vantage points. The first half of the show concentrates on the investigation of the crime by the police, the second half follows the prosecution of the crime in court.
Jesse L. Martin,
After a visit to Parade film studios with his friend Captain Hastings, Poirot finds himself investigating the murder of Henry Reedburn, the head of the studio. Reedburn was something of a tyrant who had fired a veteran actor, taken over a major film from a young director and had recently blackmailed actress Valerie Saintclair into signing a new contract. Upon finding the body, Saintclair ran to a neighboring house to seek help, interrupting the Oglander family's bridge game in the process. However, the lack of a king of clubs on the card table provides Poirot with only clue he needs to solve the crime. Written by
"To get level with a snake, you have to crawl on the ground"
I may be biased in liking this episode, as I have always loved Agatha Christie and the Poirot series in particular. The King of Clubs is not one of my favourites, I always admire it for how interesting it is but the ending has always underwhelmed me, mainly not only because the culprit is left unpunished(not a problem as such, but I do prefer it when he/she gets his/her comeuppance) but there have been more ingenious and suspenseful build-ups before and since(of season 1 Four-and Twenty Blackbirds and Third Floor Flat were very simple yet were still effective because of it). However, it is interesting for its look at the movie industry from the era and for the use of the filming through painting on glass technique for the effects of the opening sequence. It is as ever sumptuously made and hauntingly scored, with an on the whole clever story and intelligent, humorous dialogue("you're the matter you skunk" is another gem of the episode as well the one above). The acting is of the usual high standard, not just from the outstanding Poirot of David Suchet but also the amusing Hastings of Hugh Fraser and Japp of Phillip Jackson, Niamh Cusack as Valerie and especially a suitably tyrannical David Swift as Reedburn. Overall, a very good episode, if not quite a great one. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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