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Columbo: Columbo Goes to College (1990)
Season 10, Episode 1
what brats
14 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I really enjoyed this later episode of Columbo, "Columbo Goes to College" from 1990. Two obnoxious students (Stephen Caffrey and Gary Hershberger) caught cheating and about to be in big trouble with their families decide to kill their professor (James Sutorious) by an ingenious method.

Columbo is actually a guest teacher for the class and is with the students when they walk into the parking garage and find the body.

I'm not sure when Columbo realizes who the killers are -- I think it's early on, but he has to prove it. That's where some luck comes in.

The two students are so arrogant and think Columbo is a stupid slob - I realize that's what they are supposed to think but they were so obnoxious, I wanted to slap them. And Robert Culp as one of the kid's father was excellent as always, but patronizing. I couldn't wait for all of them to get their comeuppance,

Entertaining episode.
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uplifting, beautifully acted
11 December 2017
Mark Ruffalo stars in "Infinitely Polar Bear" along with Zoe Saldana, Imogene Wolodarsky, and Ashley Aufderheide, from 2014, directed by first-time director Maya Forbes. Forbes is a very talented woman I hope to be seeing more from as a director - she's already an established writer and producer.

The story takes place in Boston in the late 1970s, where Cam Stuart (Ruffalo) lives with his wife Maggie (Saldana) and their children, Amelia and Faith.

Cam is bipolar and job problems lead him to a nervous breakdown. He is institutionalized and then moved to a halfway house. Though he comes from a wealthy family, the money is in a trust. Maggie has a tough time making ends meet. She decides to get her MBA and wins a scholarship to Columbia.

Cam is doing okay on lithium and is more on an even keel, so Maggie has him move in with the kids while she goes to New York for eighteen months, returning home on weekends. Her plan is to return to Boston after school and get a good job, which has eluded her thus far.

It's a tough adjustment. The place is in disarray, Cam constantly embarrasses his kids for either being too friendly with the neighbors or hanging out with them and their friends, not to mention driving around in a pathetic car.

What a wonderful movie told with such warmth and humor. The acting is wonderful all around. Both Ruffalo and Saldana are totally likable, and the kids are great - not cloying at all. The title comes from the kids misunderstanding the term "bipolar."

Definitely worth viewing - a wonderful film.
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Columbo: Identity Crisis (1975)
Season 5, Episode 3
love this one
11 December 2017
Columbo does a great job unraveling this multilayered mystery in "Identity Crisis" from the fifth season. This episode starred Patrick McGoohan, who also directed.

McGoohan plays Nelson Brenner, who works for the CIA. He's a double agent but his front is being a speech-writing consultant. When another spy, known as Geronimo (Leslie Nielsen) wants money that is owed him from a scam, Brenner has to get rid of him. He makes it look like a mugging on the beach, and gives himself an alibi.

We all know he can't fool Columbo, and I loved the look on his face when he realizes that Columbo isn't going to give up on the case. The denouement is very well done.

A few people mentioned that Brenner, a tough, arrogant man, gave up too easily. I don't agree. He knew Columbo had him; also, I think he was fascinated by our sloppy police lieutenant and intellectually really wanted to know why he persisted on the case.

Truly excellent episode, with Columbo followed by agents and being taken to task by someone at the CIA. But he really nails it.
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positively brilliant
10 December 2017
If this shows up on public TV or somewhere in your area, definitely go and see it. It's amazing.

The documentary is the story of Hedy Lamarr, one of the most gorgeous women ever in Hollywood, and also the inventor of frequency hopping, which is still used today in everything - WiFi, Bluetooth, you name it.

Her story is inspirational and also extremely sad. Above all else, it is fascinating.

Her children are interviewed, as is Robert Osborne, and there are film clips from her career, and interview footage with Lamarr.

A few years ago on Jeopardy, there was a category called "Hedy Lamarr." Alex Trebeck wound up running the category himself, and asked, "Have none of you ever heard of Hedy Lamarr?" "Well," piped up one woman,"I know Hedly Lamarr from Blazing Saddles." A real pity, and it would be lovely if that were a thing of the past.
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Columbo: Last Salute to the Commodore (1976)
Season 5, Episode 6
10 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Though the second half of this episode provided a nice twist and some clever work on Columbo's part, it wasn't worth getting through the first part.

First of all, this is one of the loudest episodes of anything ever done. I thought Diane Baker would never shut up.

There are all kinds of boring discussions about mizzens and booms on ships, etc.

The story concerns a very wealthy shipyard builder (John Dehner) who doesn't like the way his son-in-law (Robert Vaughan, married to the aforementioned drunk Diane Baker as his wife) is running things. Suddenly he's dead and Robert Vaughan is in a skin-diving outfit. The murder - in fact, two murders, are off-camera. I found the technical details surrounding the first murder preposterous.

Apparently, this was to be the last Columbo episode, and also it was highly improvised. Good thing it wasn't the last one, though at the end Columbo rows into the sunset by himself.

I love Columbo, it's probably my favorite show, but I could have done without this one.
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Columbo: A Case of Immunity (1975)
Season 5, Episode 2
a good one!
9 December 2017
Columbo really delivers a one-two punch in "A Case of Immunity" in this Columbo from season 5.

Hassan Salah (Hector Elizondo) is first secretary to the King of Suaria, and has a scheme for gaining power in his government. He convinces a young man working in the legation (Sal Mineo) to help him in the murder of a security officer and robbing the safe so that it looks like radicals (protesting outside) have broken in.

It doesn't take Columbo long to become suspicious of Salah, though having him arrested is going to be tough since he has diplomatic immunity.

Very good episode with Elizondo beautifully portraying a distinguished, proper Suarian interested in serving the visiting king (Barry Robins) and being gracious to Columbo. But Columbo wears out his welcome in a big way.

Really top notch.
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Mrs. Columbo: Caviar with Everything (1979)
Season 1, Episode 4
kind of dumb
9 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I never related "Mrs. Columbo" to "Columbo," which is one reason I watched it back in the '70s. I love mysteries, and Kate Mulgrew is a strong actress.

"Caviar with EVerything" concerns a catering company run by two women, Sybil (Claudette Nevins) and Patty (Trisha Noble). Patty wants Sybil to buy her out and also has plans of marrying...Sybil's ex-husband (Sam Groom). Sybil is not supposed to know about this, but she does, and she wants her husband back and Patty gone. Mrs. Columbo writes for her local community paper and is on hand doing a story about a huge party the women are catering and the firm itself.

If it hadn't been so ridiculous, the episode might have been good. Claudette Nevins is kind of Glenn Close-ish in the role of Sybil. Unfortunately you could drive a truck through the holes in the plot. The clues are so obvious. And the behavior of Sybil is dumb. She wants her husband back, apparently, until he wants to be part-owner of her business. Then every time he turns his back, she's got a fireplace poker in her hand and is trying to kill him, or push him off a railing. Mrs. C always interrupts her. But how stupid is it, after your partner dies, to knock off your ex-husband too?

Also, being someone highly allergic myself, Patty would have realized the absolute second that hors-d'oeuvres hit her mouth that it was lump fish -- and she would have spit it out.

As others have mentioned, the final scene was good. And that's it.
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Psych: The Movie (2017 TV Movie)
The boys are back, and they're crazier than ever
8 December 2017
It was such a delight to hear the Psych theme song again and see the wonderful cast, including James Roday, Dule Hill, Maggie Lawson, Kristen Nelson, Corbin Bernsen, and Kurt Fuller. The only one missing was Carlton "Lassie" Lassiter (Timothy Omundson) who actually did appear when Maggie contacted him by phone.

When the film begins, it is three years later, and the whole group is now working in San Francisco. Shawn (Roday) continues to search for the engagement ring he wanted to give Juliet (Lawson), Gus (Hill) has a beautiful stalker, and someone is out to get Maggie.

There are the usual one-liners, the singing in harmony, and some familiar villains, including a hilarious bit at the end of the film. There's a scene in a closed insane asylum and one in Alcatraz. All par for the course.

I really miss these guys. I think today we need to laugh more than we ever have, and the Psych group belongs on the landscape. Thankfully, I don't think this is the last time we'll see them.
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Columbo: Now You See Him (1976)
Season 5, Episode 5
Jack Cassidy was my favorite Columbo villain
7 December 2017
Of all of the repeat offenders who appeared on Columbo, I admit to liking Jack Cassidy the best. Handsome, charming, exuding great self-confidence, always immaculately dressed, he's one you just love to see Columbo drag off to prison, no matter what character he's playing.

Here's he's a well-known magician with a secret. Calling himself The Great Santini, he's known by the blackmailing club owner Jesse Jerome (Nehemiah Persoff) of the Magic nightclub where he performs as Stefan Mueller, former SS officer.

Jerome collects 50% of The Great Santini's earnings - he's a regular Tom Parker. Elvis may not have known any better, but Santini does, and he's sick of paying up. When he tries to pay just 10%, Jerome informs him that if he doesn't have the rest of the money by performance time, he'll be writing to the Israeli government and turning him in.

Santini doesn't appear with the rest of the money - he has other plans, which include shooting Jerome during the time when he has an excellent alibi, stuck on stage in a locked case submerged in a tank of water.

I always try to find the moment where Columbo knows the identity of the killer - this one didn't take him long. Bob Dishy is a riot as the officer assisting Columbo, constantly returning the new raincoat Mrs. Columbo gave her husband, which he is desperate to lose.

Fantastic episode, with the lovely Cynthia Sikes as The Great Santini's daughter. Sadly, it was Cassidy's last appearance - he died in a fire in December 1976, the year of this episode.
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Anger begets more anger
7 December 2017
Frances McDormand is a grieving mother who puts up "Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri" in this 2017 black comedy directed by Martin McDonagh.

Mildred Hayes (McDormand) is disgusted that the police haven't found her daughter's rapist and killer, so she takes out billboards asking why the chief of police, Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) hasn't done anything about the case.

The billboards set off anger, violence, and revenge motifs in this small town. Things become worse when a pent-up police officer, Dixon (Sam Rockwell) becomes enraged and starts acting out.

Lots of swearing, lots of violence, and lots of laughs to be had in this film. It was strange to watch as I had just seen another film, Past Life, that focused on the subject of anger and pain, and how it can eat a person up and destroy them. This film is yet another good illustration of that, as Mildred stops at nothing to make a point.

The one-liners are amazing, and Mildred's speech to the priest who comes by to ask her to remove the billboards is hilarious. The movie is filled with strong performances and equally well-developed characters. We see all of their sides - violent, kind, vengeful, angry, sad; we finally realize they're just people driven in some cases to extremes.

Harrelson's performance is touching -- we're prepared to dislike him but his sincerity and humanity come through. As Dixon, Rockwell seems like a monster, but once he acts out, he's able to focus his energy a little better.

And then there's McDormand, a powerhouse. She's not good ol' Marge in Fargo. She's a tough woman with a broken heart who takes out her anger any way she can. It's a beautiful, multilayered performance. Highly recommended, asking the questions of where revenge and hatred can take us, and deciding when and if it stops.
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Columbo: Death Hits the Jackpot (1991)
Season 11, Episode 1
fun episode
6 December 2017
I think my favorite part of any Columbo episode is that closeup on the killer when he realizes that he's not dealing with an idiot. When Rip Torn is the killer, you just can't wait for him to crash.

Freddy (Gary Kroeger) is going through an awful divorce because his wife (Jamie Rose) is refusing to be part of a debt he incurred. Consequently he is unable to convince her to sign the papers.

Then he finds out he has won $30 million in the lottery, and now he's afraid since they're not divorced, his wife can claim half. His Uncle Leon (Rip Torn), a jeweler, suggests that he claim the money for Freddy. They draw up a letter of agreement.

But Uncle Leon is going to find it difficult to part with that money, even if he is getting 10 percent off the top. He makes it look as if Freddy drowned while taking a bath, and changes the time on the victim's watch to give him a perfect alibi.

Columbo picks up problems with the scene immediately. He comes to believe it was not an accidental death, and not so slowly begins to put the pieces together.

Torn is a riot, using a very broad accent (sounds like Texas) and being a real scum. Betsy Palmer plays his dizzy wife.

Lots of atmosphere here, including a party of hippies singing songs like Where Have All the Flowers Gone, a chimpanzee in a romper, and a millionaires masquerade party. Highly entertaining.
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Run a Crooked Mile (1969 TV Movie)
beautiful European locations, good story
6 December 2017
In 1969's TV film Run a Crooked Mile, Louis Jourdan plays Richard Stuart, a math teacher in a British school who witnesses a murder when he follows a car that sideswiped his. The police, in the person of one bicycle-riding constable, becomes involved, but when Stuart brings him to the site, there is no one there, no sign anyone has been there, and no dead body. Stuart does find an unusual-looking key, which he pockets.

Next thing he knows, Stuart is struck on the head and comes to in a Geneva Switzerland hospital. His name is suddenly Tony Sutton, he had an accident at a polo match, and now has a wife (Mary Tyler Moore). Then he finds out it's two years later. With the second accident, his memory of the murder has come back and he remembers the past.

Convinced the whole thing is a ruse set up by the killers to get him out of England and keep him from talking about what he saw, he sets out to find out what happened to him, and also, if his wife is part of the charade.

The fine cast includes Alexander Knox, Wilfred Hyde-White, Stanley Holloway, and Ronald Howard.

The movie reminded me a little bit of the Alain Delon film Diaboliquement Vôtre ("Diabolically Yours") which has a similar premise - a man involved in an accident who has amnesia and wakes up to a wife, a new name, and different surroundings.

Run a Crooked Mile has some neat twists and is very enjoyable. It's also an opportunity to see Mary Tyler Moore in a different kind of role for her. And the European scenery is magnificent.
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A little Pulp Fiction, a little Usual Suspects
5 December 2017
Directed by Jackie Earle Haley, "Criminal Activities" from 2015 is about four high school friends - Zack, Noah, Warren, and Bryce (Michael Pitt, Dan Stevens, Rob Brown, Christopher Abbott, who meet up after the funeral of their friend Matthew. Warren tells them about a stock that's about to go up - he has insider trading info - and the agent who has been stockpiling the stock is getting nervous about being caught and needs to dump his shares. He wants $200,000. Noah says he can get it.

The stock tanks and wipes out the investment. Unfortunately, Noah neglected to tell him the money came from a mobster, Eddie (John Travolta) and he wants repayment of $400,000 - accrued interest. He will wipe the slate clean if they will help him with a problem he's having - kidnap the brother of the man who kidnapped his niece so that he can get her back.

Boy could this have been better. It's a complicated story, and a good one, but the script and direction aren't strong enough to carry it. It's similar to many other films of today with its surprises, but at the end of the film I was left confused about certain money issues. There is an homage to Pulp Fiction with the presence of Travolta and the guys' initial meeting at the Royale. And it has gross violence, just like Tarantino. It's just not Tarantino.

The acting is uneven with some good performances. Travolta does a great job, but earth to Travolta: if you're bald, shave your head and/or wear an expensive hairpiece, and stop looking like a chimpanzee with that hairline. It's so distracting.

The director, Jackie Earle Haley, hands in a good performance, as do Pitt, Edi Gathegi, Pitt, and Stevens.
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Lifetime - need I say more
4 December 2017
I actually thought this was pretty good for Lifetime, mainly because it starred Shawnee Smith, whom I love. Somehow she always makes a role memorable - she's 38 here and could pass for 25.

She plays Lisa (Shawnee Smith) who is no sooner out of the church after being married than her new husband Paul is arrested. At first, he's accused of fraud as $10 million is missing from his company. Lisa puts everything on the line and gets bail for him. But the situation gets worse. Paul's ex-girlfriend and CFO of the firm was murdered a year earlier, and now there is evidence against him. His business partner, Clayton, separates himself from the situation. Paul is arrested again.

Lisa's best friend Diane discovers information that could help Paul, but she is found dead. The bondsman she went to is the widow of a bounty hunter and detective. She helps Lisa, who gets a job with one of the companies connected to Paul, determined to find something out that will free her husband.

Jane Sowerby as Max the bail bondsman lends good support, and Michael Woods as a mysterious executive in the firm reminded me a lot of Donald Trump - not in looks, but in his voice and attitude.

It held my interest. Smith is such an interesting actress and vibrant person, she's always a pleasure to watch.
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Columbo: A Trace of Murder (1997)
Season 13, Episode 2
lots of good things here
3 December 2017
"A Touch of Murder" is a late Columbo and, as a few of the later ones do, it deviates from the formula. In this case, unlike other cases, the deviation works.

The real-life Mrs. Falk, Shera Danese, plays Cathleen Calvert, the wife of millionaire Clifford (Barry Corbin). She is having an affair with the head of forensics with LAPD, Patrick Kinsley (David Rasche) and wants to get rid of her husband. She and Kinsley decide, since Clifford is in the midst of a lawsuit that could cost him millions, killing the litigant (Raye Birk) and framing Clifford is a better idea.

This was a fun episode, with Shera Danese in a spectacular wardrobe and jewels throughout. David Rasche is charming and lighthearted in his delivery - but I must say, his character was not a very good forensics person. Or perhaps he wasn't counting on someone as sharp as Columbo.

I loved Columbo's "aha" moment, as well as his observations, but the ending with him demonstrating how he figured things out to Barney was obviously done because the episode was running short.

Nevertheless, highly enjoyable.
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Columbo: Strange Bedfellows (1995)
Season 13, Episode 1
Despite an inconsistency, enjoyable
3 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
"Strange Bedfellows" is a 1995 Columbo that guest-stars Rod Steiger, George Wendt, and Jeff Yagher.

Wendt and Yagher play brothers Graham and Teddy McVeigh who co-own a thoroughbred stable. Unfortunately, Teddy is a compulsive gambler and now owes something like $200,000 to the mob. Graham has held back his prize racehorse on several races to increase the odds, and agrees to let him finally win to pay off Teddy's debts. Well, that's what he says he's going to do. Knowing Teddy will just end up with another debt, Graham has other plans. Those plans include two murders.

What he doesn't count on is Columbo, who gets onto him almost immediately because of a couple of mistakes. But Columbo isn't Graham's major problem. His major problem is a capo (Rod Steiger) who knows he's responsible for the murder of one of his minions and wants him dead.

Rod Steiger is hilarious as the don, with the worst Italian accent in history, doubling every consonant. Also suddenly Columbo doesn't know any Italian - he did twenty years earlier in Murder Under Glass, and if there's one thing I loathe in any show, it's inconsistent character history.

The running thread throughout is Columbo's stomach problems, which add immensely to the show.

I happen to have interviewed both Steiger and Falk and adored both of them, so this was a special episode for me. Hard to be objective, but I disagree with the poor reviews. This is an excellent episode.
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Past Life (2016)
Good but could have been great
3 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
When I read reviews of "Past Life" that described it as "melodramatic," I wasn't sure what that meant. I'm a big sap, so sometimes, sentimentality or heavy drama don't bother me. But that isn't what the reviewers meant by "melodramatic" here. This is a story that suffers from a director not knowing where to put his focus.

The plot concerns two Israeli sisters, Sephi (Joy Rieger) Milch, an aspiring composer, and Nana Milch-Kotler (Nelly Tagar), a journalist working for a skin magazine with her husband. Together the sisters endeavor to learn what their father did during the war that caused a Berlin concertgoer to verbally attack Sephi when she was there singing.

It's an odd family - Nana seems jealous of Sephi and antagonistic toward their father, a somewhat distant man who nevertheless loves his daughters. Their mother is in the background, saying little - I am sure her role was designed that way for a reason apparent at the end of the film. But it doesn't work on that basis.

Nana's plight is what brings the film into the sphere of melodrama - not only that, but unnecessary melodrama, and pulls it away from the real story. The real story is about fear, blame, and forgiveness, and how a lack of forgiveness can eat someone alive, ruin a life, and rob it of all joy. The daughters' quest was interesting, but it took away from the story of the Zielinski family, how their lives intertwined with the Milch family, and how they may continue to intertwine.

"Past Life" is based on an actual story, and the real-life composer sister actually did write some music for this film. There is some lovely choral music and solo singing throughout.

The end of the film is emotional and really lovely. This is a movie worth seeing, and had the story been reframed, it would have been better. But that's just my opinion. I don't make movies, and I give incredible credit to anyone who does.
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Columbo: Butterfly in Shades of Grey (1994)
Season 12, Episode 2
good Columbo with an obnoxious performance by William Shatner
2 December 2017
"Butterflies in Shades of Grey" is a 1993 Columbo, the 12th season. William Shatner is on hand again, this time as a Rush Limbaugh type radio talk host, Fielding Chase, who is overly protective of his foster daughter Victoria (Molly Hagen). He may also have some unfatherly feelings for her.

A shy young woman who acquiesces to her father's wishes and works for his radio show, a coworker and friend Lou (Richard Kline) shows her novel to a literary agent and urges her to branch out on her own. Chase uses his influence to quash interest from a publisher, though the literary agent still wants her to go to New York and be represented by him.

After a huge showdown with Lou, Chase takes it upon himself to get rid of him - permanently - and turn Molly's attention back to his own needs since they're both so devastated by Lou's death.

The method of murder is clever, but we're not sure how long Columbo is fooled as to the murderer's identity. Something tells me not long.

William Shatner gives one of the worst performances of his career, maybe the worst, and who the heck did his makeup? It's awful and so distracting. Next to the perfection of Falk as Columbo, he manages to come off even worse. I mean, Shatner has always been hammy, but many times, his over-the-top work has paid off. This wasn't one of them.

Despite this, it's an enjoyable episode, sticking to the Columbo formula. And let me tell you, seeing Fielding Chase get his comeuppance was extra pleasurable.
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Crooked House (2017)
adaptation of Christie's favorite novel
2 December 2017
"Crooked House" is an adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel of the same name, published in 1949. It was a book she personally loved the most, and she steadfastly refused to change the ending, despite the insistence of her publishers. Nowadays, I suppose, we're more used to this kind of story.

The film has a great cast - Glenn Close, Mox Irons, Terence Stamp, Gillian Anderson, Christina Hendricks, and Stefanie Martini. A detective, Charles Hayward (Irons) is asked to look into the death of an old girlfriend's (Martini) grandfather, which she thinks may be murder. It's a wealthy family and not all that anxious for publicity.

The house has several discontented generations under one roof, including the victim's late wife's mother (Close), his young, beautiful wife (Hendricks), his sons, their wives, and another younger granddaughter. The will the family thought was in effect was never signed, and there's plenty of disappointment when the family learns about the heirs. Everyone is at each other's throats.

There are plenty of suspects and more death in this dark story that contains some excellent performances. I found the second half much more exciting than the first; the movie is slow in the beginning, but the characters make it interesting enough.

I read all of Agatha Christie's books probably 50+ years ago, so it's hard for me to remember if this story stuck to the book or not. Some producers have taken a lot of liberties with Christie's works, sticking Miss Marple in when she wasn't in the novel, etc., but this one is probably pretty straightforward.
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Homeland (2011– )
one of my all-time favorites
1 December 2017
"Homeland" is a fantastic series starring Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin, Damien Lewis, Rupert Friend, F. Murray Abraham, Maury Sterling, and Tracy Letts.

When we first meet Carrie Matthison, she works for the CIA and investigates a soldier (Lewis) who may have become a traitor while imprisoned by Al Queda. The Damien Lewis storyline takes us through the first three seasons.

The show covers career moves and problems for Carrie, Saul (Patinkin), Dar Adal (Abraham) as they move into different positions. Carrie is found to be bipolar, she and her mentor Saul are speaking and not, and plenty else.

For me, Homeland is a binge-watch show - I watch one episode and can't stop. And that is even true in season 6, which I just finished. Carrie is often in trouble -- she does what she feels she has to do, either thinking it will not be an issue, or completely aware of the fallout and takes the risk. In season 6, she spends a lot of time apologizing to people.

Besides Danes, Patinkin, and Abraham, a real standout in this series is Rupert Friend as the highly-trained soldier Peter Quinn, whose work over the seasons has been astonishing.

I've heard - though I don't know first-hand - that Mandy Patinkin and F. Murray Abraham are both unpleasant people. I don't know how Danes does it - she's been working with both of them for years.

Suspenseful, absorbing, sometimes a real nail-biter, I highly recommend Homeland if this is your type of show, which touches on 9/11, political maneuvering, and dirty dealings.
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gorgeous-looking with stupid additions and one UNACCEPTABLE omission
1 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Kenneth Branagh and and all-star cast ride the Orient Express in "Murder on the Orient Express," a remake of the magnificent 1974 film. The stars, besides Branagh, are Michelle Pfeiffer, Johnny Depp, Derek Jacobi, Judy Dench, Penelope Cruz, Daisy Ridley, and Leslie Odom, Jr.

For those who don't know the story, it concerns the murder on the Orient Express, which is stalled out due to an avalanche. Poirot is asked to investigate and finds many clues and many anomalies.

The care taken with the cinematography, the costumes, the performances, the interior settings of the train, all went out the window when the screenwriter failed to deliver.

First off, we have Hercules Poirot, who looks ridiculous, solving an unrelated case, then talking to a picture of his beloved Katherine. Who the hell is she? Why was this added?

Also, if you know the story, it's possibly more interesting than if you don't. One thing I will say, unlike others, is that the film didn't seem boring to me or my sisters. I imagine you'll find that complaint from younger people, but I could be wrong.

I could have put up with anything, but when a script introduces a clue and Poirot doesn't pick up on - uh, we have a problem. The problem is sloppy writing. On the night that Ratchit was killed, a disturbance is heard, and the porter knocks on the door to see if he's all right. He answers in French. Here he says, "It's nothing." In the original film, he says, "cauchemar" (nightmare).

Why tell us that and then have one of the characters say that Ratchit didn't speak a word of French, if Poirot wasn't going to realize a) he didn't answer; and b) someone else was in his room. But that clue is never brought up. No, these writers can't be bothered with a petty detail like that.

Branagh is a youngish, attractive Poirot with an absurd mustache - although he is good, it's not enough, and he's not Poirot. It's always a pleasure to see people like Jacobi, Colman, Pfeiffer. It's a good cast, but the original cast was on a consistently higher level with Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Vanessa Redgrave, Ingrid Bergman, Sean Connery - I could go on but you get the point.

With its extraneous story details and lack of wit, I'm giving this a 6. Hollywood, come up with something original.
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Supermarket Sweep (1965–1967)
Responsible for a very happy memory
30 November 2017
I'm giving SS a favorable review - I only saw it a few times - people ran around a grocery store hoping to have the biggest take at the checkout.

In 1966, Rochester, NY had one of the worst blizzards in history. Schools were closed - in fact, some kids couldn't even get home from school and spent the night. The whole city was in lockdown.

This meant all of us were home, including my dad. I fondly remember watching Supermarket Sweep every day the schools were closed, with my father yelling at the TV, "Go for the meat!" It was fun, but if you asked my dad for his happiest memories, that would be on the list - the chance to stay home and enjoy his family. When I saw "The Nanny" episode where they were all stuck in the nanny's mother's apartment watching Wheel of Fortune, and realizing how much they were going to miss it, I thought of that time.
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Continuum (I) (2012–2015)
Guess I thought there were smarter people on IMDb
27 November 2017
Continuum is a show about time travel -- a woman from 2077 is inadvertently sent back to our present. In the future, the corporations run the world, and she's one of their soldiers.

Okay, corporate rule is part of the definition of Fascism; and truly, the world she lives in with her family seems Big Brother-ish, intrusive, and restrictive.

On the basis of this, a bunch of people on IMDb decided to write off the show, sometimes as early as the first episode, because the lead character, Keira (Rachel Nichols) is on the wrong side.

The wrong side. I really don't know what that means. First of all, I was intrigued that she was a soldier in the future and wondered if, seeing the seeds of the future planted now in the past, if she would change sides.

I'm now watching season 4. While I'm not big on sci fi, I am enjoying "Continuum". The acting is a little all over the place - Victor Webster was a soap star known as a young man for being drop- dead gorgeous and unable to act. He gets by. Rachel Nichols is better. I also like Erik Knudson, Ian Tracey, Stephen Lobo, Luvia Peterson, and Omari Newton. It's a young, attractive cast.

I can understand giving up on a show after the first season, the first ten episodes, but come on -- the first episode? Must everything be pegged right or left wing? I guess so. Today a woman is sexually assaulted and it's politicized. So I'm not surprised.
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Columbo: Undercover (1994)
Season 12, Episode 3
kind of late to be messing with the formula at this point
27 November 2017
It seems that Peter Falk didn't mind veering from the "Columbo" formula from time to time, but the attempts weren't always successful. "Undercover" from season 12 is one example.

The big problem is that it isn't a script meant for Columbo, and very little was done to adapt it to our rumpled lieutenant. It begins in a precinct and concerns the hunt for pieces of a photograph, cut to resemble jigsaw pieces, that will tell the police where $4 million was hidden after a robbery six years earlier. When they are approached by the insurance agent (Ed Begley, Jr.) who couldn't recover the money, the captain says that Columbo and another detective (Harrison Page) can take it on.

It's not an altogether unsuccessful episode, but the beginning is offputting. It's not just the precinct set and a 67-year-old man getting permission from his captain, it's the fact that the dialogue and setup are just not the character in any way, shape, or form.

Later it becomes fun, when Columbo actually goes undercover as a low-life to track down the photo pieces and then as a Mafia godfather. Also, he has good scenes with the real-life Mrs. Falk, Shera Danese, and a fun scene with Tyne Daly, who plays an old hooker. However, this scene wasn't in tune with Columbo either as I don't think he would have kissed her on the lips.

Burt Young, who once played Columbo in Murder Can Hurt You - but the name was changed to Palumbo - is one of the people looking for the puzzle, and the absolutely gorgeous Kristen Bauer, now Kristen Bauer von Straten is Begley's girlfriend.

There is a little Columboism at the end.

I can't say I didn't enjoy this episode because it's hard not to enjoy Columbo and I always took him any way I could get him. I'm just disappointed that a little more effort wasn't put into the script -- it actually could have been a Movie of the Week with Falk playing a completely different character.
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Columbo: Columbo Likes the Nightlife (2003)
Season 13, Episode 5
last episode - but Columbo goes out on a high
27 November 2017
A very young Matthew Rhys ("The Americans") is one of the stars of the final "Columbo," "Columbo Likes the Nightlife" from 2003. Also starring is Jennifer Sky, who has since become a journalist, and The Sopranos actor Steve Schirripa.

Rhys plays Justin Price, the owner of a soon-to-be-open rave club, but he's waiting for money to be transferred from his business partner Tony Galper (Carmine Giovinazzo). Before the money can be confirmed to be in his bank account, Galper's ex-wife and Justin's girlfriend (Sky) accidentally kills him. It's imperative that Tony not be discovered as missing or dead before the money lands. Unfortunately, a tabloid reporter puts the screws to Justin for blackmail money. When the reporter is found dead from an apparent suicide, Columbo doubts that's what it is.

Very good episode and a fitting farewell to Columbo, who in the last years has been hit or miss thanks to the producers using scripts that fiddled with the formula, including one that was a script by 87th precinct author Ed McBain.

Here, Columbo doesn't depend on the killer making a mistake but figures this out anyway, and it's very clever.

At 75 years old, Columbo would have been retired, not to mention that, were he still working, he would be a Police Deputy Chief, a Captain, a Commander - something! So I tell myself in these last years he was called in as a consultant.

I didn't like Peter Falk - I adored him. I interviewed him in the late '90s. The day he died I sat in an airport and cried. An amazing actor who left a great legacy and will always be fondly remembered as Columbo.
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