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Columbo - The Complete First Season
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Product Description

Lt. Columbo a disheveled cigar chomping sleuth appears to be an incompetent bumbler. But that facade is designed to lull his murder suspects into a false sense of security. Columbo is the shrewdest most resourceful detective in the lapd. Studio: Uni Dist Corp. (mca) Release Date: 03/08/2005 Starring: Peter Falk Run time: 725 minutes Rating: Nr

TV detective fans rejoice: Peter Falk's rumpled and infallible Lt. Columbo joins the DVD precinct with a five-disc set that features the detective's first nine appearances for NBC. Though Falk as Columbo (no first name) made his TV debut in 1967, the detective had actually first appeared on an episode of the 1960-61 Chevy Mystery Show (Bert Freed played the role) written by veteran TV scribes Richard Levinson and William Link (The Fugitive, Alfred Hitchcock Presents). The pair turned the episode into a stage play titled Prescription: Murder, which was adapted into a TV movie in 1967 with Falk in the lead. NBC greenlit a two-hour Columbo pilot (Ransom for a Dead Man) in 1971, and the series was launched that fall as part of the NBC Sunday Mystery Movie, a rotating 90-minute program that alternated Columbo with episodes of MacMillan and Wife and McCloud (another Levinson/Link creation). Viewers were quickly won over by Falk's shrewd performance as he matched wits with a host of exceptional guest stars (including Gene Barry, Patrick McGoohan, and others), all of whom assumed that the disheveled detective would never figure out their "perfect crimes"; the popularity and quality of the original series allows Falk to continue to don the trenchcoat some 30 years later for occasional Columbo TV movies.

All seven 90-minute episodes of the 1971-72 debut season are included here, along with Prescription: Murder and Ransom for a Dead Man; unfortunately, as the lieutenant himself would say, "Oh, just one more thing"--no extras are included in the set, but having these fine TV mysteries in one set should be reward enough for armchair sleuths. --Paul Gaita

Customer Reviews:

  • Columbo the first season
    Columbo is one of the few things me and my husband enjoy watching together.This set of dvd's is when Columbo was young and just starting out on the series.We having really enjoyed them....more info
  • TV's greatest detective
    Peter Falk first played Lt. Columbo in the 1968 made for television movie "Prescription: Murder" in which he squared-off against Gene Barry's wife murdering psychiatrist. According to Katharine Sharp in her book, "Mr. and Mrs. Hollywood," the movie was the highest rated program of the week when it aired on NBC. The network wanted a series, but Falk balked, not wishing to commit himself to a weekly hour show especially since the Columbo format relied on how the detective trapped his prey and its entertainment value was dependent on the interchange between the detective and the culprit. It might have been too clever to remain fresh and exciting when 22 to 24 episodes were produced each year.

    Three years later, however, Falk changed his mind when Universal and NBC proposed the Mystery Movie format. Instead of airing weekly, "Columbo" would rotate with two other series, "McCloud" and "McMillan and Wife," in one 90 minute time slot. A second movie, "Ransom for a Dead Man," aired to strong ratings in early 1971, and the series kicked off in September of that year, becoming an immediate hit.

    The two pilot films are included, along with all seven of the first season's episodes, in Universal's five DVD set, Columbo: The Complete First Season. The original film remains as strong as I remembered it upon first viewing way back in `68, as well as when it was repeated in the `90s on ABC which had revived "Columbo" for a highly rated but far less memorable run. Falk is more hard-edged in the first film, not yet having given Columbo the warm puppy-dog quality that endeared the character to millions. He loses his temper when interrogating Katherine Justice, the lovely young psychiatric patient who is an accessory to Barry's crime. In most of the episodes to follow, Falk rarely lost his cool, disarming the killers with his friendly, often outwardly befuddled demeanor.

    "Death Lends a Hand," the first episode produced for the series but the second to air (network brass thought "Murder by the Book," a Steven Spielberg directed show, was stronger, but I disagree), finds Columbo fully formed. He amuses Robert Culp's private investigator who is unaware that the detective wants to read his palm only to see if he's wearing the kind of sharp ring that left a mark on the victim. Culp's amusement doesn't last long, though, as Columbo calmly and carefully sets the trap that will reveal his guilt. The contrast between Falk and Culp makes this one of the strongest episodes, and it's no surprise that the former star of "I Spy" would be invited back twice in the following seasons to match wits with the detective. Falk is calm, friendly, amusing, and disheveled. Culp is cool, even cold, condescending, and well-tailored.

    "Dead Weight," the first season's third episode, is less memorable, but goes down well due to the casting of Eddie Albert as a highly decorated general patterned on George Patton, the subject of a popular and Oscar winning movie the previous year. Albert cuts an impressive figure and is such a good actor that he easily shakes off memories of Oliver Douglas, the hapless hero of the long running sitcom "Green Acres." There's a glint in his eye that conveys as much menace as charm. Suzanne Pleshette is delightful as the uncertain witness to his crime. Even Timothy Carey, a frequent villain on the big screen, shows up as the proprietor of the diner where Columbo eats the first of many bowls of chili he would enjoy in the series.

    Other highlights include "Short Fuse" with Roddy McDowall, and "Suitable for Framing" with Ross Martin (Artemis Gordon from "The Wild, Wild West"), but each of the seven episodes (nine if you count the two pilots) are worthwhile and enjoyable. The only drawback to this set is the lack of any extras. A show as long-lived, as well as both critically and popularly acclaimed, deserves a documentary or two that provides background on the character and his development. For instance, is it true that the role of Columbo was first offered to Bing Crosby?

    Brian W. Fairbanks
    ...more info
  • Great stuff...but...
    Viewers should be aware that Columbo Season One features copy protection encoding, meaning that it cannot be copied to another DVD or VHS cassette for further viewing. This technology is very popular with the copyright holders of various entertainment media, desperate as they are to preserve their dwindling profits in a digital age where making copies of movies, music and other media properties is easier than ever. In effect, what these media companies are trying to tell us is that They, and They alone will set the conditions under which their product will be consumed. You will either purchase or rent this product in the format they provide or you will not partake of it at all. You will not make a copy to view at a later date or give to your neighbor. You will not transfer the media to a more desirable format. You will not edit any part of the program to suit your tastes.

    If you agree that consumers should only enjoy the world of art, music, news, history and cinema under the strict conditions set by media giants, then by all means, purchase this DVD. But be aware that, in doing so, you are supporting these media barons in their belief that the short-term profits of a corporation outweigh individual freedoms. You are agreeing with them that civilization's creative achievements are entirely Their property. Forever. And only they will decide what you will and will not do with your own purchases.

    Today they say you cannot make a personal copy. Tomorrow they will say you cannot have it at all.
    ...more info
    This box set is essential for all of us who grew up in the seventies with Columbo as TV companion. As this dramatic series is now part of our collective unconscious, it would also be a good idea for younger fans to take a look at some of Columbo episodes. They'll find here the following episodes :

    Columbo: Prescription for Murder : *** The first pilot aired in 1968. Not perfect but with sparkles that announce the grandness of the first episodes.

    Columbo Collector's Edition: Ransom For A Dead Man : ***** The second pilot is already a small masterpiece with the praiseworthy Lee Grant as the villain.

    Columbo: Murder By the Book : ***** Directed by Steven Spielberg who pays tribute to Alfred Hitchcock.

    Columbo Collector's Edition: Death Lends A Hand : ***** Directed by Bernard L. Kowalski who uses the split screen technique to perfection.

    DEAD WEIGHT : **** Directed by Jack Harper Smight. Columbo doesn't like speeding.

    Columbo Collector's Edition: Suitable For Framing : ***** One of the episodes that had stayed in my memory for more than thirty years. With Ross Martin as the villain.

    Columbo Collector's Edition (Lady in Waiting) : ***** Praiseworthy performance of Susan Clark, the second feminine murderer, after Lee Grant, encountered by Columbo during his TV career.

    SHORT FUSE : *** A little, but just a little weaker, than the other episodes. With Ida Lupino and Roddy McDowall.

    Columbo Collector's Edition (Blueprint for Murder) : ***** In my humble opinion, the best episode of the first season. Directed by Peter Falk himself. It was also the first time that the viewer wasn't favored in relation to Columbo when the investigation starts.

    A DVD box set which should already be in your library....more info
  • Poor transfer / or DVD's
    I hate to give this a poor review, but I ordered the first season with full intention of eventually ordering all the Columbo seasons on DVD.
    But when I watched the 5 disc's from season 1, disc #2 and #5 would constantly freeze and pause and could not be watched. My DVD player is less than a year old and of very good quality, so I dont think it's the player causing the problem, plus I recently bought the entire Twilight Zone collection (28 dvd's with no viewing problems), Amazon was great in exchanging my Columbo DVD set with no questions or shipping charges and I got it ASAP. But sorry to say the second set had even more problems with freezing and pausing....more info
  • Just Wonderful!
    This is a great show. I was a kid when it was on and didn't see it often. (It was an "old" people's show.) I did have a thing for Stephen Spielberg at the time and saw the episode he directed many times throughout my life. Now I get to see that episode and many others made about that time. Peter Falk is wonderful in the role and I especially enjoyed discovering the early Columbo movies. The 60s setting to the first Columbo movie adds pizazz and spunk as well as a younger cuter Peter Falk. The Lee Grant 1971 movie is an opportunity for Peter Falk and Lee Grant to have a great time acting with one another. This movie has a lot of grit and acting bravado. The other episodes are just as good and I get to see my Stephen Spielberg episode once again - Murder by the Book. ...more info
  • Excuse me maam
    All I can say about this volume 1 dvd collection of Columbo is that I purchased it as a gift for my mother and she loves it. It has 9 episodes on there and each episode is 90 mins long. If you are a murder mystery lover and/or fan of Columbo then I highly urge you to purchase this set. There are 5 discs and the audio/video quality is also very good. As my final word,...I am already planning to purchase volume 2 and volume 3 in the near future!...more info
    Columbo fans will watch this collection over and over! For those of us who can't get enough of that lovable, indefatigable lieutenant, this is the best of the series. I thought I had seen them all but I was surprised to find one of the pilots that I had not seen before (RANSOM FOR A DEAD MAN), where LEE GRANT is in rare form as a stealthy spouse who does away with her hubby, only to square off with you-know-who. 7 episodes plus 2 pilots make this collection the one you just can't do without. Don't miss it!...more info
  • Columbo-mania
    A must for Columbo fans!! Can't wait to get the rest of the collection. Good value too....more info
  • Substance over style for this detective.
    We know who did it from the beginning but it's still interesting to see Detective Columbo of the LAPD track down the murderer. Columbo often works on hunches and by the end of each episode he has enough evidence for an arrest. It's not as flashy as any of today's criminal investigation shows but the characters and story lines are still great. What really adds to the entertainment value though is that this shabby (and sometimes dopey) looking detective's suspect is often someone who drives a fancy car and comes from the high end of society.

    In front of the camera, there are guest stars such as Leslie Nielsen and Robert Culp (who also appears in season 2), while behind the camera are legendary names such as Steven Spielberg and Steven Bochco. All of this adds up to a great first season with few weak moments. Must also add that the quality of the picture transfer to DVD is great. The early 70s colours are just fantastic.

    There are no special features included with this set but as I bought the region 4 edition of season one, I do get to see and hear the original Universal MCA-TV title at the end of the closing credits for each episode. I'm not sure why but this title is missing from most region 1 Universal TV releases (including my copy of Columbo season two).

    ...more info
  • One More Thing - Buy It!
    Columbo fans will love this First Season set. Peter Falk is the best!
    I did not experience freezing or skipping in this new purchase from Amazon....more info
  • Television drama at its best
    In a plea for the release on DVD of the Banacek series I wrote in an earlier review: "Over the years there have been a number of entertaining series on TV. But, as one looks back, it is clear that only a few TV series -- including Remington Steele and Columbo -- stood out sharply from the crowd as both unique in concept and very well done." Columbo was definitely unique in concept and went beyond very well done, it was outstanding. Peter Falk was superb as Columbo and deserved the Emmy awards he received for this role, but each episode was also very well written and directed and the guest stars were consistently outstanding. Quite simply, Columbo was TV drama at its best.

    I have all of the Remington Steele DVDs and still hope that the episodes of Banacek will be released soon. Until then there is still Columbo for those, including me, who want superb TV drama on DVD....more info
  • Love the series!
    A die hard Columbo fan and these are top quality programs.
    Looking foreward to getting them all! A must for fellow fans!...more info
  • Best box-set of the 3
    It's sad to see how cheap the manufacturing got after this
    box set was released. Season 2 is 'ok', but season 3 is horrendous.
    I guess it goes to show you how companies want to
    make their $$$$$.

    Some of the best episodes in this box set. A true Columbo
    fan will NOT be dissapointed....more info
    What refreshing, sly and crafty humor! This Columbo series shows us why Columbo was nominated for four Emmy's and why he won those Emmy's. The writing is excellent and Peter Falk accepts this character as his own. Worth every penny......more info
  • Columbo enthusiasts should have the first season
    Having been given seasons two and three as a gift I had to buy season one. I will eventually buy them all. The quality of the DVD is excellent. I have watched them over and over on video and on TV but the detail is so much better on the DVD that I am amazed. It is also fun to pick out the character actors that re-appear on different episodes.

    ...more info
  • Finally available on DVD!
    It was a happy day when the Columbo series became available on disc. I am only waiting for the remainder of the series to be released so I can add this fabulous character to my video library. Thanks!...more info
  • good vintage columbo
    i had never seen the early episodes so i was expecting an older columbo from the later episodes that i remember. obviously early in the character's evolution, and the episodes seem to move pretty slow compared to today's fast-paced programming. but once you slow down and get used to it, it's more charming than boring. good stuff....more info
  • Still Finding The Right Formula
    When most people remember this television show, I would bet that the first image that comes to mind is of a disheveled, seemingly lost detective who tricks villains into taking him lightly, then nabs them in the end in fantastic fashion. For the most part, that is exactly how the episodes of "Columbo" transpired, but not entirely during the first season.

    During the pilot episode ("Prescription: Murder") of the show, Columbo can be seen yelling (which would be completely out of character in later seasons) and furious with rage. Though that part of the character was toned down in later episodes this first season, Season One still features a much more intense Columbo than any other. Instead of seemingly tripping over his own feet for most of the episode, Columbo is more hard-charging, making it obvious that the villains were in deep trouble (whereas often in later seasons it would look like the villain would get away scot-free until the final scene).

    However, the only bad thing about a more intense Columbo is that it doesn't provide as much drama as his later appearances, as it is a little hard to believe that the villains can't see exactly what Columbo is trying to do to them. That being said, though, the plots of the mysteries are still excellent in this first season, and the ways in which Columbo actually solves the crimes are some of the best of the entire show!

    Overall, if you buy this season expecting to see the bumbling, funny Columbo you remember, you may be surprised, as Columbo is much more intense than in any later episodes. However, the quality of the episodes is not diminished by much, and many viewers feel that the quality of the murder schemes this season were some of the best of the entire show!...more info
  • columbo series
    One can never get enough of the Columbo series. Love watching them again and again....even though you know the plot and the ending, you can still enjoy them. Timeless classics....more info
  • Watch Columbo Grow
    If you're a Columbo fan, you will love this collection. It starts from the beginning, where Columbo was just another character in the TV movies. You can see his character emerge and be refined as the season progresses. The scripts and directing are top quality as always, if you can get by the '70s cinematography style. Watch for Steven Spielberg's directing on Episode 3....more info
  • Columbo without the commercials !
    What more can you want? Columbo the perfect TV detective. No car chases, no gun fights, no clues added in the last five minutes of the show. Don't get me wrong I love gun fights and car chases but not in every show. Being a slob myself I love the show....more info
  • One More Thing
    I purchased this for my wife who is a big fan of Columbo, because she enjoyed the 3rd season so much. Like the 3rd season the quality of the 1st season DVD's is a major improvement over the picture quality you get when watching the show on cable in syndication. I also like that the 1st season DVD's are not double sided like the 3rd season, which seemed to be a cheap cost cutting technique. I am not going to go over each episode with you, I will leave that, to the other reviewers out there who are Columbo aficionados. I will say that this is an excellent season that will please die hard fans as well as newcomers alike....more info
  • Best detective ever!
    It depends on one's preferences, though. I grew up with Columbo, my whole family watched it, and still watches it. I've seen some of them 5 times. It's a classic, got its unique style, either you love it or you don't, I do....more info
  • A wonderful first season!!
    I loved each and every episode of the first seasaon especially the last episode. As much as I love Columbo sometimes I do think that in a court of law some of the people will get off with the evidense that he has but at other times theres no way they have a chance. I am in high anticipation of the third season....more info
  • Bought this for my Mother-in-law, great!
    Found some episodes she hadn't seen. Columbo in his early years.

    If you enjoy the shows at all, it is well worth buying to have them all in a preservable format....more info
  • Bad Disc for Columbo
    We were half way through our second disc last night when it froze & then filled half the screen with pink pixels. Guess we will see how to replace it. V. Van Ry ...more info