Columbo (1971)

9 mistakes in season 4

(34 votes)

Starring: Peter Falk

Genres: Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Troubled Waters - S4-E4

Factual error: In common with a number of characters in numerous episodes, Columbo hopelessly contaminates crucial evidence - at the end of the episode he handles the surgical gloves used by the killer with bare hands.


By Dawn's Early Light - S4-E3

Continuity mistake: Columbo is eating with the commandant of a military academy. Columbo has carrots on his plate, among other things. A few shots later, the carrots have been replaced with beans. The next time the plate is seen, it has carrots on it again. Later on in the same scene, the beans are back. Finally, at the end of the scene, there is a longer shot as the commandant is leaving the table, and where the vegetables were there is now something that looks like meat. (00:36:05 - 00:42:45)


A Deadly State of Mind - S4-E6

Other mistake: Right before Columbo tricks Doctor Collier into incriminating himself, he places Collier under arrest, even showing him the warrant. At no time does Columbo inform Collier of his Miranda Rights; meaning that Collier's self-incriminating statements would not be admissible in court. Although the series typically features Columbo cornering the culprit in a way that is unlikely to hold up in court; this particular example stands out as Columbo has torpedoed his own case. If he had not placed Collier under arrest and let him incriminate himself then the statements (in front of witnesses) would be admissible as evidence.

A Deadly State of Mind - S4-E6

Plot hole: (Spoiler) Mrs. Donner screams in fright just as she jumps to her death from her balcony. This seems unreasonable since she believes herself to be going for a swim (under post-hypnotic suggestion) The scream is heard by a later witness to help establish time of death. If she suddenly realized the deadliness of her act, why would she continue with it?

Negative Reaction - S4-E2

Plot hole: When Columbo presents the flipped photograph to Dick Van Dyke in the final scene, Columbo insists it is correct and proves DVD guilty. But Columbo already showed him the rejected fireplace photo, which shows the room arranged correctly. It also shows the victim's wedding ring, which would be on the wrong hand according to Columbo.

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Suggested correction: It's all part of Columbo's bluff: Galesko wants to get rid of Columbo as fast as possible and believes himself to be too smart, thus falls for it. Galesko might have forgotten about the fireplace photo or underestimated its importance. Even if Galesko points out the rejected photo: Columbo is already bluffing about the first photo, he can very well just claim the second photo never existed or is destroyed too, leaving Galesko in the same position as he is before he incriminates himself.

Troubled Waters - S4-E4

Factual error: Several times, the revolver used to murder the singer is referred to as a "Weatherby" or "British Weatherby." Weatherby is an American manufacturer of rifles and shotguns; they do not make handguns. The revolver used is a Webley, which is of British manufacture.


Troubled Waters - S4-E4

Other mistake: When Rosanna's body is brought to the ship's medical room, the doctor confirms that there are no bruises on the body, but she had been forcibly slapped in the face earlier that day by Mr Danzinger (Robert Vaughn). The slap was hard enough to knock her over therefore a bruise should be visible, even through make-up.

Troubled Waters - S4-E4

Plot hole: The cruise ship is sailing from LA to Mazatlan in Mexico. Looking at a map, the ship will hug the west coast on its journey therefore is never far away from land. The murder takes place on the first evening of the cruise only a few hours after setting sail by which time they won't be far from San Diego. Why didn't the captain order the ship into San Diego or another suitable harbour and let the police take over the investigation?

Columbo: Oh, I didn't come to ask any more questions. I came to arrest you.

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Show generally

Question: Why was Columbo never promoted, given that across the whole show he solves all the murders in such a spectacular fashion?

Answer: In the show, he was already a Lieutenant. A promotion would put him in the next rank up, which for the L.A.P.D. would be Captain. However, some of a Captain's duties would be overseeing other officers and ensuring they're compliant with policies, regulations, and standards. It would also most likely take him out of the field. This is something Columbo has no desire for as he rarely goes to police HQ's. Nor does he show interest in compliance and standards (for example, not going to his semi-annual evaluation at the firing range). However, he could still be assigned to a higher pay grade based on expertise, which is a form of promotion that does not include rank advancement. This would be going from Lieutenant I to Lieutenant II. I don't believe in the show it's ever started what his pay grade is. Although, in s02e01 (I believe) he mentions making $11K a year. Whether or not this was a true statement on his part, if you could find pay scale information for an LAPD Lieutenant in the 70's, it could give you an idea of his pay grade.


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