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Columbo: Fade in to Murder (1976)
One of my favorites
This is an interesting Columbo episode, and quite different from some of the other episodes. At times it appears a bit more light- hearted than usual, but what really makes it unique is the interplay between the two lead characters, Columbo and the guest star. It was a special treat seeing two of my favorite actors on screen together, and they had a great chemistry. William Shatner plays a character who is playing a character, and Peter Falk plays Columbo in the usual endearing way, though what makes this episode different is that the two characters really hit it off. Now, if you've watched enough Columbo episodes, it becomes clear that it is part of Columbo's style as a cop to pretend to befriend suspects. He does this so that he can lull them into a false sense of security. But in this episode, Columbo really does have genuine affection for Ward Fowler, and the two characters become so enamored with each other, that there are some very slashy undertones, which is not something that is usual for a Columbo episode. It's clear that Columbo comes to really care for Ward Fowler, and Fowler feels the same about him. This is really what makes the episode so good. Also, the allusions to Shatner's real life with the character of Fowler wearing lifts and heeled shoes to appear taller on screen and also dealing with weight fluctuations was a nice touch. All in all, it's a very enjoyable episode and one in which Shatner's haminess is very contained and when it does surface, plays very well with the Fowler/Lucerne characters he portrays in this episode.