ABC (Wed., Feb. 20, 9 P.M. ET)
The season’s second Columbo movie opens with the expected murder. Only this time it’s part of a show within a show.
George (Godfather III) Hamilton is the host of a felon-hunting network program, like America’s Most Wanted. His sudden ascent to notoriety provokes a blackmailer to approach him, and Hamilton decides he would rather kill than pay. That brings in Columbo (Peter Falk), the master of detection by indirection.
There’s one twist: When Falk’s inquiries take him to the red-light district, his rumpled raincoat leads many people to misinterpret his intentions. But there’s no mystery involved. We know who the guilty party is. Falk apparently does too. He spends most of this lazy but likable film just toying with Hamilton.
Good casting, that. Who would you rather see the screws turned on than the toothy tan-man?