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Before returning to the television fold in the '80s with a string of successful TV movies, Peter Falk's Lt. Columbo concluded his network sleuthing with eight episodes that aired between 1976-1978; these final two seasons of the original Columbo series are packaged in this no-frills boxed set that should be a welcome addition to any armchair detective's collection. Quality-wise, the performances, writing, and direction in these eight episodes are as top notch as any that preceded it, with a host of terrific guest stars doing their best to match wits with the lieutenant in a string of complex mysteries. William Shatner gives a typically juicy turn as a demanding TV actor facing blackmail in the sixth season opener "Fade in to Murder"; Theodore Bikel and Sorrell Booke (The Dukes of Hazzard) are friends, business partners, and bitter rivals in "The Bye-Bye Sky High IQ Murder Case" (and watch for Jamie Lee Curtis in a bit role as a waitress); the great Ruth Gordon (Harold and Maude) shines as a wily mystery writer in the seventh season's "Try and Catch Me," while a host of fine character actors (including the late Mako, Richard Dysart and Michael V. Gazzo) have reasons for wanting food critic Louis Jourdan dead in "Murder Under Glass," and a very young Kim Cattrall helps Columbo unravel a mystery involving mind control and trained dogs in "How to Dial a Murder." The talent behind the camera in these episodes is equally impressive: Jonathan Demme helms "Murder Under Glass," while Leo Penn takes the final episode, "The Conspirators." As with all of the original Columbo shows (and many of the subsequent TV movies), the episodes presented here are smartly written, crisply acted by a quality cast, and anchored with sly charm and deceptive strength by Falk's Emmy-winning performance.

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MC32054 Columbo: The Complete Sixth and Seventh Seasons DVD (1976/Peter Falk) $39.98 $35.99