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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.

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MC25583 Columbo: The Complete First Season DVD (1971/Peter Falk) $39.98 $35.99