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Columbo - Series 1 DVD

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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

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The entire first series of investigations featuring Peter Falk's now-classic depiction of the trenchcoat-clad detective Columbo, who uses his humble ways and disingenuous demeanour to winkle out even the most well-concealed of crimes. In 'Murder by the Book', the talents of a bestselling writing duo are jeopardised when one tries to murder the other. In 'Death Lends a Hand', a top businessman hires a private detective to ascertain whether or not his wife is having an affair... but his plan backfires. In 'Dead Weight', a celebrated war hero becomes a murder suspect. 'Suitable for Framing' sees a multimillionaire art dealer cutting his art critic nephew out of his will - with deadly consequences. In 'Lady in Waiting', the younger sister of a rich corporation chairman loses her patience with him when he refuses to let her marry the man she loves. 'Short Fuse' sees a brilliant scientist plotting to murder his wayward uncle. Finally, in 'Blueprint for Murder', an architect hustles the wife of a rich Texan tycoon into funding an ambitious new multi-million dollar office complex - but when her husband returns, he is none too impressed...

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