Mrs Columbo: It Goes with the Territory

What goes with the territory? For Kate, it’s danger, and that’s an element that differs very much from the parent show. Once again Jenny is imperilled as well, so having a daughter also adds to that element of risk. You start to wonder at this point how Kate can bring herself to do the job she’s doing, and the dangers are highlighted even more than usual this week, with one of Kate’s journalist colleagues murdered, while she was on the trail of a huge story.

We are very much led to believe that journalist Eileen is the victim of a mob kill, because she was poking her nose into a country club whose members are politicians who are financially beholden to the mob. Of course, when a crime drama is trying to persuade us to believe something, we should always look instead for the person in the victim’s life that the writer is working hard to make us think has an innocent connection to the victim, and for that reason I found the culprit very easy to guess. The big change from Season One to Two is how this show has stopped revealing the murderer at the start (like Columbo) and has instead become a series of whodunits. Based on the evidence so far, the whodunits are weak, but it’s never going to be easy to get that right within a 45 minute format. A writer simply can’t introduce sufficient red herrings within that timescale to throw the viewer off the scent.

Speaking of a change to the format, Kate once again introduces herself as Kate Callahan, but she’s clearly mouthing “Kate Columbo” and the line is overdubbed. The plot thickens. Presumably Callahan was chosen as her maiden name as it is sufficiently close to “Columbo” to aid the realism of overdubbing, but also this dubbing of a line in the second episode would tend to suggest that these were broadcast out of order, adding weight to the anecdotal evidence (in the absence of actual evidence) in some corners of the internet that this episode was broadcast originally under a different title to the rest of the season: Kate the Detective.

Either way, Kate’s newfound single status fits well with stories like this, as she has nobody to call on for help apart from Mike, her friend in the police, and her home life therefore feels dangerous and vulnerable, without the need to constantly explain why her husband isn’t there. There is a particularly creepy moment with a villain tampering with her car in the garage of her house while she sleeps.

Kate’s boss at the newspaper, Josh, gets a bigger role than usual, and it’s fun to see them trying to behave like undercover detectives at the country club for the super-rich, and their strategy going horribly wrong. I also enjoyed Kate’s brief foray into the very dangerous territory of an underworld gang leader, who is clearly beyond the reach of the law (well, Mike’s little corner of law enforcement, anyway), but is still concerned about avoiding having somebody else’s crimes blamed on his activities, and ends up as an unlikely ally when Kate and her daughter are nearly murdered.

The gotcha moment at the end is dramatic and entertaining, with the murderer unaware than the bomb in Kate’s car has been disabled. It’s a very clever set-up: disable his own car, place him in a position where he is forced to take a short car journey with Kate, and then get him to betray his knowledge of the bomb. It’s a satisfying win for Kate and Mike.

This new direction for the series is so far resulting in storylines that are a bit more grown-up but at the expense of the show’s original selling point. Based on the first two episodes, it’s a change for the better, but I’m not sure the format allows for anything more compelling than an average crime drama. If anyone can elevate these episodes to something greater than the sum of their parts, it’s Kate Mulgrew.   RP

About Roger Pocock

Co-writer on Author of Editor of
This entry was posted in Entertainment, Reviews, Spinoffs, Television and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Mrs Columbo: It Goes with the Territory

  1. scifimike70 says:

    Regular whodunnits in the Columbo universe are indeed new and, speaking from how much I can enjoy them more nowadays thanks to shows like Vera and Mare Of Easttown, perhaps this was the change that Mrs. Columbo needed to fully have her own series. I can agree that longer episodes in such a series are a better format. Thanks, RP, for your review.

    Liked by 1 person

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