Armchair sleuths, get out your trenchcoats: Universal has released the sophomore season (1972-73) of the classic detective series Columbo
, starring Peter Falk
as the sage but rumpled police lieutenant. As with the first season, there's plenty of star power in front of and behind the camera to abet Falk in these eight 90- and 120-minute episodes: John Cassavetes stars in the season premiere, Etude in Black, as a philandering symphony conductor, with Blythe Danner and Hollywood legend Myrna Loy in support; Oscar winner Ray Milland is a scheming orchid grower in "The Greenhouse Jungle," co-starring Bradford Dillman and William Smith; Robert Culp and Dean Stockwell are a football team manager and owner, respectively, whose disagreements blossom into murder in "The Most Crucial Game"; and Jeanette Nolan offers stellar comic relief in "Double Shock," which features Martin Landau as identical twins--one of whom has murdered their uncle. Performances by Richard Basehart, Laurence Harvey, Leonard Nimoy, Anne Francis, Anne Baxter, and Mel Ferrer also highlight the season; direction by small-screen stalwarts like Boris Sagal, Jeremy Paul Kagan, and Nicholas Colasanto ("Coach" on Cheers
) and scripts by Stephen Bochco also bring quality and style to the proceedings. Sadly, no extras are available in this five-disc set, but the stellar image and sound quality (and lack of commercials) should appeal to series fans and newcomers alike. --Paul Gaita
Complete second series of the popular 1970s American detective drama, following the investigations of the deceptively disheveled cop Lt. Columbo (Peter Falk), who always asks 'just one more thing' before getting his man. In 'Etude in Black', John Cassavetes guest stars as a conductor who is about to be exposed by his mistress for all his extra-marital affairs. In 'The Greenhouse Jungle', a horticulturist comes up with a phoney kidnapping scheme to get his hands on his nephew's trust fund, but when his nephew turns up dead, the case becomes a murder investigation. In 'The Most Crucial Game', the owner of a professional football team turns up dead, and Columbo has to track down his killer. In 'Dagger of the Mind', Columbo travels to London to study different policing methods, and gets involved in a blackmail and murder case based around a theatre production of Macbeth. Honor Blackman guest stars. In 'Requiem For a Falling Star', Columbo investigates a fading movie star who attempts to kill her cheating husband, but ends up killing her assistant instead. 'A Stitch in Crime' sees Columbo investigating a ruthless doctor (played by Leonard Nimoy) who murders a colleague who was standing in the way of his medical research. In 'The Most Dangerous Match', a chess grandmaster survives an attempted murder on the eve of an important match. Finally, in 'Double Shock', Martin Landau stars in two roles as the ruthless twin nephews of a recently-murdered wealthy businessman. Columbo investigates and tries to determine which twin was responsible for the crime. Also stars Julie Newmar.