on 15 March 2010
For anyone looking to collect every Columbo episode in one go this is great. Probably a bit annoying to those who have been buying the seasons one by one as this boxset is likely to be far cheaper in the long run.
The outer "cigar box" looks great although the tight lid may burst at the corners as mine did. However, upon opening it is a little disappointing that the exact same design has been used for every single DVD case, and on every DVD disc. Given the length of time Peter Falk played Columbo it would have been nice to have a large range of covers from different publicity shots or scenes. Possibly even the use of special guests to differentiate between seasons would have been nice.
Like Columbo himself, this is a very pragmatic display. Simple but as long as the DVDs play little else matters. The information booklet is quite interesting with some amusing anecdotes about production, Columbo and Peter Falk printed in the margins.
The DVD menus are very simple. Although I'm only up to season 3 at present, I notice they have gotten a little more adventurous per season, not always adopting the same look. The visual quality and sound are very good given the age of some of these episodes. Not sure if there has been any form of remastering or clean-up prior to going on DVD, but they look very clean for 70s recordings.
Overall a great set for any Columbo fan, or Peter Falk admirer. He certainly made a great character for us to enjoy. Even if 90% of the episodes follow the same methods, he never fails to provide amusement and an entertaining style of investigation.
RIP Peter. x
on 31 January 2015
I don't normally write reviews but I just had to for this item. I almost didn't purchase it because a few people were quite negative regarding the box not being well made and having to get all the DVDs out to view the one you wanted and so on... Well I can say for sure that the box is very well made and does exactly what it should do. It's very small really and it stores away easily. The DVDs inside are sat in order of series and are very easy to get in and out. The book is really great and so good to learn about the character as well as Peter Falk himself. The menus are simplistic but I mean that in a good way. They are just like any other box set I own to be honest. And it's cleaver how Columbo is facing different angles depending on where you have go in the menu itself. All in all I am so happy with this purchase, I have the entire collection and half the price of buying series individually. If you are a Columbo fan or the person you are buying for is, then you really won't go wrong with this. Love it!
R.I.P Peter Falk- you will be greatly missed x
on 21 November 2009
It's taken Universal quite a while to release the Complete Columbo collection in one DVD box set. This set has all 69 episodes including the two pilots "Ransom for a Dead Man" and "Prescription Murder". It also has 2 Random Bonus Episodes of Mrs Columbo. I find that a little odd as there were 13 Episodes produced.
In this set there are 35 DVDs in 18 Slim DVD cases. All the covers have the same artwork with basic episode details for each DVD. Most DVDs have 2 episodes on each. The way they have been numbered is not great and there is no overall index sheet. Instead there is an eight page booklet with some information on the seasons.
The DVDs are contained in packaging designed to look like a Cigar box. The problem with it is that you have to take out the entire contents unless you want one from the top. There is a ribbon to help with this.
The box is quite flimsy too. It would have been much better if the DVDs had been packaged vertically spine outwards. (The new 24 - Complete Season 1-7 (Plus 24 - Redemption) [DVD] is a good example of how this can be done.)
The DVDS have very basic menus which are not consistent and mainly consist of just episode selection with the option to turn on subtitles.
The audio and video quality is excellent even on the early episodes but you can obviously see a marked improvement on the newest ones.
Overall good to have the complete collection but falls short on presentation and special features.
on 28 November 2011
If you're looking at this, you have probably at least heard of Columbo, but for newcomers, the premise is remarkably simple: Lieutenant Combo is a scruffy cop with an air of bumbling that allows him to catch his criminal virtually every time. Each story begins with the viewer being witness to the crime and culprit, with the rest of the show being the cat and mouse game between them and Columbo.
Writing it down, the idea seems a little weak to have lasted thirty years, but it actually works very well; by keeping the seasons very short and the stories a little longer (each episode generally runs to around 75 minutes) you get an entertaining mini-movie that doesnt need to rush to a conclusion. The real satisfaction is seeing the 'underdog detective' outwit the generally over-confident culprit(s). The format is tinkered with occasionally, but the creativity of the denouement generally remains.
The final treat is the sheer number of famous faces that have graced the series, mostly best known from TV and films from the sixties to the eighties. I won't spoil them for you, but keep your eyes open for some unexpected names!
My only disappointment, which loses this one star, is that virtually no effort has been put into the release of this classic series. There are no extras to speak of (barring the odd Mrs Columbo episode!), which, given the cast and crew roster, is unforgivable. The fact that the first regular episode is directed by a then-unknown Steven Spielberg should at least have garnered SOMETHING, but no.
Quality-wise, the mastering is good, if unspectacular, with every episode generally looking as you would expect, given the age of some of them. As the whole thing was done on film, it isn't actually a bad transfer, just unimpressive.
This version of the release comes completely repackaged, with a much simpler box than the previous one, which while looking like an over-sized cigar-box (presumably,one of Columbo's), had the issue that the ultra-slim cases sat very badly in it.
The discs are exactly the same as the previous set and single season releases, complete with virtually no extras(!). The bizarre season-numbering has also been kept, with several people asking about 'seasons 11 & 12'. All the episodes are here, just grouped together into varying 'seasons' without any obvious logic! They have reused the slimline boxes from the previous version, shrinking the large booklet from the original to a size that fits into the smaller box.
Given the increasing reports of damaged/broken boxes, I'm beginning to suspect the older set isn't so badly packaged after all. Also, with the new set now more expensive, I would have to say the older set provides marginally better value.
With thanks to R Buntin
on 23 October 2009
As a Columbo fan, when I received this I was in seventh heaven, it includes all the Columbo episodes (1971-2003), and a booklet with history of Peter Falk, detailed descriptions of each season, quick facts, the creation of Columbo, character profiles etc.
This even includes the two series pilots (however they aren't really considered as pilots), and 2 bonus episodes with Mrs Columbo (was a TV spin off, really terrible, just treat it as a joke).
All the covers of the DVDs each have the same picture of Columbo on them, but for this price I cannot complain, the box they come in isn't actually solid wood but sturdy all the same - I think it is meant to look like a cigar box.
A must have, a good deal, a classic.
Columbo never gets old.
on 14 December 2011
How one ranks this Columbo 35 DVD box set will probably depend greatly on how much it cost you to buy it! I paid just under £38 pounds, which for 35 dvd's is an absolute bargain. I noticed that just after I bought my set, the price rose steeply to £97 pounds, and to be honest, at that price you may find it a little disappointing. The reason I say that is because the only extras included in the set are two Mrs Columbo episodes. The lack of any 'real' extras is a shame, but at the price I paid, I can't really complain.
The box itself feels a little weak and won't take knocks gladly, but with careful use it should be ok (ish). The box has been designed to look like a cigar box which is a nice touch. Remove the lid and you are greeted with 18 very thin dvd cases which all have two discs in them except the last one. Each dvd case has the same print on the front of the dvd case, but at least the rear of the dvd case informs you of which columbo episodes are on the dvds themselves. Open the dvd cases and they are all black inside. The dvd discs themselves have a plain white background with the relevant information on them telling you which season and which disc number they are, but not the actual title of the episode you are watching.
Strangely disc one doesn't start with the pilot episode called 'prescription - murder' , that is found on disc 5. The second pilot episode 'Ransom for a dead man' is found on disc 6. Other than that, the set appears to be in a logical order. The set does include every single columbo episode, which kinda makes up for the lack of extras.
It is quite obvious that this dvd box set has been done without too much care and attention. The dvd menus are poor at best. The scene select feature only has a still picture with no text, and some of the dvd's only have as much as four scene selects! So locating your favourite scene will not be easy with this set. Picture quality isn't actually bad given the age of some of these films, there are places where the quality of the picture dips a little, but overall it's pretty good. Sound quality is good.
At least an 8 page booklet is provided with the set, although again, the quality of the paper is another example of cheapness. Taking that aside, the booklet includes interesting reading about the columbo props, episodes and Peter Falk himself.
As I mentioned at the start of this review, at the right price this set is a bargain with little to complain about. However, at a much higher price than I paid, you may feel a little disappointed.
on 3 December 2011
To answer several questions what's actually included, here is the list. For some reason the pilots are on disc 5 and 6 rather than at the beginning. There are no extra's other than two episodes of Mrs Columbo.
Bonus: Pilot 1 - Prescription: murder
Bonus: Pilot 2 - Ransom for a dead man
"Murder by the Book"
"Death Lends a Hand"
"Suitable for Framing"
"Lady in Waiting"
"Blueprint for Murder"
"Étude in Black"
"The Greenhouse Jungle"
"The Most Crucial Game"
"Dagger of the Mind"
"Requiem for a Falling Star"
"A Stitch in Crime"
"The Most Dangerous Match"
"Lovely But Lethal"
"Any Old Port in a Storm"
"Candidate for Crime"
"Publish or Perish"
"Mind Over Mayhem"
"A Friend in Deed"
"An Exercise in Fatality"
"By Dawn's Early Light"
"A Deadly State of Mind"
Bonus episode - A riddle for puppets (TV spin-off Mrs Columbo)
"A Case of Immunity"
"A Matter of Honor"
"Now You See Him..."
"Last Salute to the Commodore"
Bonus episode - Caniar with everything (TV spin-off Mrs Columbo)
"Fade in to Murder"
"Old Fashioned Murder"
"The Bye-Bye Sky High IQ Murder Case"
"Try and Catch Me"
"How to Dial a Murder"
"Murder Under Glass"
"Make Me a Perfect Murder"
"Columbo Goes to the Guillotine"
"Murder, Smoke, and Shadows"
"Sex and the Married Detective"
"Murder: A Self Portrait"
"Columbo Cries Wolf"
"Agenda for Murder"
"Rest in Peace, Mrs. Columbo"
"Uneasy Lies the Crown"
"Murder in Malibu"
"Columbo Goes to College"
"Caution: Murder Can Be Hazardous to Your Health"
"Columbo and the Murder of a Rock Star"
"Death Hits the Jackpot"
"No Time to Die"
"A Bird in the Hand..."
"It's All in the Game"
"Butterfly in Shades of Grey"
"A Trace of Murder - 25th Anniversary Movie"
"Ashes to Ashes"
"Murder With Too Many Notes"
"Columbo Likes the Nightlife"
Subtitles: all seasons have at least English SDH except season 3, which don't have any subtitle tracks at all.
on 19 February 2013
Like some other reviews, I would just like to redress the balance here, against some of the lower scoring reviews. The video quality is outstanding on all these DVDs, even on the oldest titles. Even on my 50" plasma TV, where I expected to see an inferior quality, the picture is absolutely fine. OK, not HD quality, but perfectly good enough, and way better than I expected. Menus are very basic, but what do you want ? For me, I want to choose between paying all the titles consecutively, or choosing a specific title from the disc, and this is standard functionality on all the discs. Each disc has the season and episode labelled on the disc cover, as well as a short overview of each episode on the back of the cover.
The disc cases are all presented within the box (great little cigar style box) with the disc spines clearly visible so it is actually very easy to pick and choose which season and episode you want, and easily remove and replace accordingly.
My only gripe is that the sound volume is very low and I find that I have to increase the TV volume a fair bit above and beyond that which I am used to.
All in all, this box set is well worth the money and I have absolutely no regrets buying this set. Super value for money.
on 5 July 2011
I'd been a fan of Columbo from a very young age, I remember sitting in front of the TV with my dad watching Columbo always outsmart the murderer. As a big fan I had seen most episodes or so I thought, when I started watching through the discs there were many episodes that I hadn't seen before or had forgotten.
Peter Falk had over 30 years to perfect the Columbo character, but if truth be told, he nailed the character almost from the very first pilot. He's very smart but wears an old stained trenchcoat, cigar constantly in hand, rusty old car that barely runs (he has two cars, his wife drives the other one. Nothing fancy, just for transportation), an old dog that seems just as dishevelled as he is and a bumbling manner similar to that of Inspector Clouseau at times. His clothes and sometimes awkward behaviour is often what catches the criminals out, they assume he's an idiot and let their guard down and get sloppy.
I've always enjoyed the fact that the opening 10-20 minutes of episodes doesn't have Columbo in it, the start of the episode shows us the killer commit the murder and normally their motivation for committing the crime. Unlike most other shows where it's a "whodunit", Columbo as the show's creator once referred is a "howdhecatchem". I love the fact he has many quirks that we see time and again, he never has a pen, he always comments on how nice peoples houses are, he always seems to eat chili, the pause as he walks away only to return with one more question.
The box set is fantastic, 18 slim DVD cases with 35 discs. All 69 episodes, for some reason there's also 2 episodes of the short lived Mrs. Columbo here as well. Every episode is on for between 70 and 100 minutes, so what we really have is 69 films. For the price I paid for this set, it works out at not even £1 per film, surely it would be hard to find better value anywhere. I've read that some people have complained that the box has burst or ripped, my box seems to fit the cases in perfectly and opens and shuts easily without force. It's designed to look like a cigar box, it looks fantastic and sits proudly on top of my DVD collection. There's a nice booklet inside with plenty of information, my only complaint is that all 18 cases and all the discs have the same artwork, but this is a very minor complaint and considering that there's nearly 3 and a half days worth of Columbo here, it can easily be ignored.
Columbo was a fantastic show that lasted 35 years, Peter Falk was faultless in his portrayal as one of the most likeable and well developed characters there's ever been, the box set looks great and the picture quality on most episodes is excellent. Sadly Peter Falk passed away recently, this box set is a brilliant tribute to the man's talent. If you're a fan of Columbo or Falk as an actor, this is an essential purchase. Fantastic.
on 14 December 2010
Most people's relationship with Lieutenant Columbo is relatively simple - he's the shabby detective that clogs up ITV on Sunday afternoons. But look closer, you're missing a genuine TV great.
Columbo was big in the seventies. Massive. It was one of the most popular programmes ever on US TV and travelled to over 40 countries worldwide. It's one of those shows that (Star Trek style) is on somewhere in the World every second of the day. The TV detective has always been a popular TV staple and there were many successful shows before Columbo, but the programme was a genuine game changer when it first appeared regularly in the late sixties. It transformed the genre with its inverted detective story style (whereby we know `whodunnit' and how right from the start) and all small screen crime shows since - from Morse to Cracker to the revamped Sherlock - show signs of the Columbo's influence.
Because the viewer knew the killer and had seen the crime up front the programme required skilled writing and indeed misdirection, obfuscation and other sleight of hand were all skilfully employed to move the story along and guarantee a genuinely unexpected twist toward the climax. But if you look at the overwhelming global success of the show you realise that even the best written and produced programme would ordinarily have been remade and recast to better suit the demands of the importing territory - it hasn't. It was sometimes dubbed and occasionally subtitled, but one irreplaceable element could never be duplicated - the towering central performance of Peter Falk. He is more responsible than anything else for the show's success and his skill in crafting a sublime character has been sadly underappreciated. He took a basic outline of an unorthodox detective and fleshed it onto a quite remarkable tour de force. In each and every episode he, at least, is absolutely perfect.
When he landed the role, Falk had enjoyed a lauded but only moderately successful career. He'd stood out in a few unremarkable films and TV shows (just so you don't underestimate his acting ability he spent the seventies alternating shifts as Columbo with making improvisational films with legendary indie auteur John Cassavetes). But when Columbo came along something about the character and Falk clicked and he very quickly took creative control of the leiutenant's development. He selected the clothes, the car and inserted the fumbling mannerisms and circumstantial speech that befuddled both fictional killers and the actors playing them. He would deliberately insert additional dialogue and conversational right angles into scenes to keep the cast on their toes and as a means of drawing the audience away from any plot devices he thought too obvious. Look at any part of any episode where Falk is onscreen and you'll see him working the scene, he takes the script and the set and uses them as simply the base from which he takes off. He moves at his own speed and circumnavigates the central thrust of the scene until he's wrung every nuance he can from the, sometimes hackneyed, lines. The other actors key off his performance and the pace and tone fall into place behind him.
The Lieutenant is always referred to in terms of his look but even this is superbly thought through. He's called shabby or shambolic or scruffy but it's more the case that his dress is memorable because in the gaudy LA sunshine Columbo exists within only a small sector of the visible spectrum. Falk carefully selected every aspect of the visual style so that the clothes, car and cigar meld into a green/ brown /cream smudge that seems classic and ageless amongst the outdated high waists, platform shoes and comb-overs of the supporting cast.
It can be difficult to fully appreciate the brilliance of Falk's performance as most of the episodes are now showing their age and while some of the guest star murderers overact gleefully, many are just bad (Billy Connolly's turn being both a nadir in Columbo's history and, amazingly, the worst performance in his already dire acting history). Falk, though, is always superb. He rarely shows up in the first half hour but once onscreen he provides a magnetic centre to proceedings, he steers all the movie length episodes with calm and grace and invites the viewers' trust rather than demanding it.
Most importantly Columbo is incredibly likable. He has many commendable and enviable character traits; he's determined, ingenious, charming and unfailingly polite - everyone is referred to as `sir' or `ma'am'. Again, it's Falk that makes all of this work, the same script delivered by any other actor (or without as much skill) would run the risk or appearing cheesy or patronising or, worst of all, betray too much of Columbo's thinking too early in the show. Falk underplays, knows when to step back, knows when to play for laughs, never misses a beat - it's as good as TV acting gets and better than most in film.
With dementia reportedly responsible for a swift, terminal decline in Falk's health the planned valedictory episode, Columbo's Last Case, will never be made and while the 69 episodes in existence may seem too many for most they stand up to much repeated viewing. When the inevitable happens and Falk slips into the hereafter it seems certain that there will follow lazy, under-appreciative obituaries focussing on the tics and catchphrases that have been made over-familiar by poor impressionists. What they should focus on is the way Peter Falk designed and played far and away the greatest TV detective and probably the most distinctive, intelligent and simply enjoyable character in the history of the medium.