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Columbo - The Complete First Season

4.8 out of 5 stars 911 customer reviews

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(Sep 07, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

It's the landmark series that inspired an entire genre. Now, television's greatest detective, Columbo, comes to DVD for the first time in this deluxe collector's set. Starring Peter Falk in his 4-time Emmy-winning role as the cigar-chomping, trench coat-wearing police lieutenant, this 5-disc collection includes every fascinating episode from the series' first season. Also included are the two original Columbo movies: Prescription: Murder and Ransom for a Dead Man. Columbo's first season features legendary guest stars like Robert Culp, Ray Milland, Eddie Albert, Suzanne Pleshette, Don Ameche, Leslie Nielsen and Roddy McDowall. It's no mystery why Columbo: The Complete First Season is the DVD set crime fans have been waiting for!


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

Special Features

  • All 7 episodes from 1971-72 season plus the pilot and first TV movie
  • "Prescription: Murder"
  • Air Date: 2/20/68
  • "Ransom for a Dead Man"
  • Air Date: 3/1/71
  • "Murder by the Book"
  • Air Date: 9/15/71
  • "Death Lends a Hand"
  • Air Date: 10/6/71
  • "Dead Weight"
  • Air Date: 10/27/71
  • "Suitable for Framing"
  • Air Date: 11/17/71
  • "Lady in Waiting"
  • Air Date: 12/15/71
  • "Short Fuse"
  • Air Date: 1/19/72
  • "Blueprint for Murder"
  • Air Date: 2/9/72

Product Details

  • Actors: Peter Falk
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 5
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: September 7, 2004
  • Run Time: 725 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (911 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002COTDA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,469 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Columbo - The Complete First Season" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
I have never been a huge fan of murder mysteries, niether book, TV or movie form. I figure them out too soon or in the cases where I don't, the resolution is a severe let down. I'm not an amateur genius detective or anything, I just have a good memory and tend to keep certain aspects of the mystery catalogued as I watch. Columbo, however, is a murder mystery show of a different animal. Quite frankly, no show of its type has been more original in presentation, format or style before or after its initial launch in the 60's.

The reason for this bold claim? Peter Falk and the innovative idea to reveal the murderer at the start of the tale. The enjoyment, and I'm sure many of you have heard this time and time again, in watching a Columbo episode is; a. the interaction between Columbo and the suspect; b. the personal mannerisms of the Columbo character; c. following Columbo as he uncovers every facet of the crime committed and pieces them together and; d. the satisfaction of being in on the moment when the killer is exposed. Instead of being surprised like the killer is, you get the satisfaction of being a silent partner with Columbo as he brings the culprit to justice.

Few shows are based in total reality, and indeed, this show harkens back to a time when people weren't as savvy about every detail of crime solving as they are now what with constant airings of documentaries on A&E such as Cold Case Files and drama based modern shows like CSI on CBS. But what helps Columbo stand the test of time ultimately is the performance of Peter Falk in the role of Columbo and a sense of relief in not having to constantly try and figure out who the killer is throughout the episode.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Peter Falk's Columbo ranks as one of the greatest TV detective characters ever created. His ability to capture the kirky Los Angeles Lieutenant has captivated decades of viewers and is sure to also capture younger fans with this long-awaited DVD release.
Created by Richard Levinson and William Link, the series debuted in 1971 with "Murder by the Book," which was actually the third appearance of Falk's Columbo (there had been two previous two-hour NBC World Premiere Movies prior to the series launch.) Interestingly, "Murder by the Book" was directed by a then unknown talent: Steven Spielberg.
Columbo was unique in so many ways, the first was that the viewer learned the killer's identity in the first few minutes of every episode. Up until then, detective shows and mysteries had tried to keep the audience guessing "Who Done It?" until the very final scene. Levinson and Link turned that formula upside down, letting viewers in on the intracacies of the crime from the killer's viewpoint, their motivation, and what they did to cover their tracks to avoid discovery.
Often, Columbo was not even introduced until 20 minutes or more into the episodes (which ran a network 90 minutes with commercials instead of the usual 60 minutes for dramas.)
However, as soon as the audience caught a glimpse of the short, rumpled, cigar-smoking detective with the tan rain coat, they knew that they were watching something really special. Columbo feigned a scatter-brained approach, but it was soon obvious to viewers and the episode's killer that beneath his step-and-fetch-it manner lay the cooly brilliant mind of a master detective. And, it was the cat-and-mouse interplay and dialog between Columbo and the criminal that was at the heart of this brilliant series.
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Format: DVD
It's great to see Lt. Columbo is finally going to make it on DVD! For those familiar with the cigar-smoking detective in the rumpled raincoat only through the specials produced in the 90s, the originial 1970s episodes show Columbo in his prime.
Most people are familiar with the Columbo formula: guest star plots murder; guest star kills victim (a series trademark - we know all along who the killer is); Columbo appears on scene; Columbo investigates - "Ahh, just one more thing, maam/sir"; just as it looks like guest star will get away with it, Columbo discovers piece of evidence that seals the case; Columbo nails guest star with evidence; guest star is led away to jail. A formula, yes, but a formula that worked incredibly well for over 40 episodes in its original run.
The first season contains two of my favorites: "Death Lends a Hand" - Robert Culp plays a private investigator who kills a client's wife, then is hired by the unknowing client to help Columbo with the investigation; and "Suitable for Framing" - an art critic murders his uncle in order to obtain two priceless paintings...this episode has one of the best endings in the series. For the possible exception of "Lady in Waiting", the other five episodes from the first season are also very strong.
And while details of the DVD haven't been released yet, I only hope this will also include the two rarely seen T.V. movies, "Prescription Murder" and "Ransom For a Dead Man", that introduced Lt. Columbo before it was decided to include the character in a rotation of Sunday night detective series on NBC.
These are a must for fans of detective dramas. Thanks, Universal, for finally releasing these!
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