Fans of the enigmatic Lieutenant Columbo have every reason to celebrate the launch of this DVD, even if they already know every episode intimately.
A staple of weekend afternoon slots the world over, these are episodes you'll probably have seen a dozen times, but the crisp picture and sound quality of the DVD makes this an essential purchase for the serios Columbo fan.
Detractors of the crumpled detective will argue that every episode is the same. 'Seen one you've seen 'em all,' they moan, but the truth is that quite outside the formulaic approach of each episode, there are countless magical moments in each show that delight the watchful viewer.
Little things, like Columbo's hand movements, the twinkle in his eye when he's on to to his man (or woman) and the delightful interchanges between him and minor characters help make each viewing unique and rewarding.
Falk is magnificent in the role. Even in this, the first series, he plays the Columbo character like he was born to it, immediately achieving a standard of performance that endeared him to millions while never becoming tired, even after three decades in the role. The special guest stars, all certain they can bamboozle the seemingly bungling lieutenant, each add their own inimitable contrast to Falk's central figure and all obviously revel in the roles, mixing up snarling menace, frustration and over-enthusiastic support to their nemesis.
Every episode is a treat, and this DVD also includes both pilot episodes, the first of which features a rather different, and far more aggressive Columbo, but one that is no less enjoyable to watch. There are no extras, which will disappoint some, but for me just the opportunity to have such a collection on DVD is reward enough.
If you're a fan of Columbo, or you just think you might be, buy this, if only to ensure that they release the whole collection on DVD.