Lauren Staton and Lisa Martin kill their two-timing lover Nick Franco. Lauren's the one who pulled the trigger and they've made it look like Franco was killed by a burglar in his apartment. They've prepared well with both having solid alibis. Lt. Columbo is in charge of the case and is very much attracted to the beautiful Lauren. She uses that to her advantage and is soon buying him gifts and giving him the odd kiss. Columbo is flattered but begins to see anomalies in some of the physical evidence. He becomes certain that Lauren is involved in Franco's death but realizes he will only be able to make an arrest if he gets a confession. He manages to get that but even he is surprised when learns of her true relationship to Lisa.Written by
Peter Falk, as the Executive Producer and the writer of "It's All in the Game" (#12.1), inserted the song 'Bye Bye Blackbird' into the party scene as Lauren (Faye Dunaway) returns from the murder. In the film "Anzio" (1968) Falk, as Cpl. Jack Rabinoff sings "Bye Bye Blackbird" See more »
Columbo is told by the telephone co. worker that all 12 calls from Lisa went to 818-555-7247. As he later watches Lisa exit her apt., he looks at the phone bill printout, on which appears to be written in big black ink, 818-565-7247. However, upon closer examination, the 'incorrect' digit is actually a five where the bottom loop has been drawn too far. See more »
"It's All In The Game" is another superior modern Columbo that easily ranks alongside the best 70s episodes. This is a timeless episode. All the elements of vintage Columbo are in place, with a few added twists.
The main attraction of this episode is the undercurrent between Columbo and murderess, played brilliantly by Faye Dunaway. As she says, you're never quite sure what Columbo is thinking. So you have conversations that work on different levels - superficially both Columbo and Dunawaye's character Lauren are flirting with each other and looking halfway to getting romantically involved, but under the surface they are basically just playing each other. That doesn't mean there isn't a genuine spark between the two, it's just a complicated mixture of head and heart. And with Columbo, his head always rules his heart - no matter how much he likes a murderer, he will never fail in his job to put them behind bars.
In this case the murderess has an accomplice, and Columbo goes so far as to spare her from arrest in return for Lauren's confession. The murder is a straightforward shooting, no trained dogs or magic markers balanced on record players. The relative simplicity of the case means that the episode can focus more on the dialogue and characterisation than an elaborate plot.
All in all this is a real classy episode that manages to be sophisticated and upmarket without ever becoming dreary in the process. The whole show was virtually single-handedly created by Peter Falk (well maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration) but it seems the more involvement he had in an episode, the better. He of all people knew how to get the best from Columbo.
Finally, no I don't think Columbo was ever remotely tempted to take his relationship with Lauren any further. The title explains everything: the flirting, the gentle frissons of romance are ultimately nothing more than Columbo's way of playing the game...
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