Another 6-episode season, though still longer than the next ones.
The season had several highlights, though a comparatively weak ending, but more on that later. The first episode was already something special since it ends without the arrest of the murderer.
Location-wise 2 episodes stand out: The second episode takes place in the suari embassy (and the police station) for the most part, highlighting diplomatic details and cultural differences. In the fourth episode, Columbo is in Mexico and a car crash prevents him from returning to the US, so a local police officer ropes him into helping him solve his newest case. Coincidentally, the killer in this episode is played by Ricardo Montalban – not exactly an unknown actor.
Jack Cassidy makes his third appearance as the bad guy in episode 5, this time as a magician/illusionist with a Nazi past who is being blackmailed. The episode has Columbo wearing a new rain coat, but he isn’t fond of it (he claims he can’t think in it) and tries to get rid of it multiple times throughout the episode (near the end of the episode, he returns to carrying his classic raincoat). Wilson, the younger colleague from an early episode in season 2 joins Columbo in the investigation. While his own investigations turn out mostly to be on the wrong track, he still proves to be important for the solution of the case. This is also the only episode where Columbo’s dog makes a short appearance this season.
So, about that last episode: Technically, it is a well made episode and I enjoyed it, BUT… it doesn’t really go well with the other Columbo episodes, the structure and way it is written is just too different. For one we don’t know the actual bad guy until he is revealed at the very end. What we see at the beginning is just a misdirect, compounded by the fact that the actor for the character we are supposed to think did the murder is played by the actor that also played the murderer in the cruise ship episode in season 4.
Overall I really liked the season, it has more than enough strong points to outweigh the shortcomings of the last episode.