Double Shock

Episode 15 – Double Shock

The fifteenth episode of Columbo was titled Double Shock and was the eighth and final episode of the show’s second season. Motive and opportunity are the critical questions as Columbo tries to distinguish between a pair of identical suspects. In this podcast Gerry and Iain look at the detail of this case and consider how each of Season 2’s killers would fare at trial.

 

 

In the aftermath of an apparently natural death, Columbo is called out to give the scene a quick glance and rule out murder. His inquiries raise concerns and a murder investigation begins. Initially Martin Landau‘s Dexter Paris appears the only suspect with both motive and opportunity to commit the crime, but further investigations into his identical twin brother Norman (also expertly portrayed by Landau) raise the possibility that either or both could have been involved. Landau‘s acting career has spanned more than sixty years and he remains active today, perhaps best known for his Oscar winning performance opposite Johnny Depp in Tim Burton’s 1994 classic Ed Wood.

 

Working in concert, the Paris twins murder their uncle Clifford, briefly played by Paul Stewart, in the hopes of inheriting his fortune to share between them. Clifford’s attorney Michael Hatheway (Tim O’Connor) and fiancée Lisa Chambers (Julie Newmar) know that Chambers stands to inherit the estate regardless and a plan is hatched between Dexter, Norman and Hatheway to destroy all copies of that Will, leading to the murder of Chambers.

 

Two other supporting characters shone brightly in this episode: Jeanette Nolan was captivating as distressed housekeeper Mrs Peck, building a fascinating and entertaining relationship with Columbo in the process, while Dabney Coleman‘s Detective Murray was a competent, confident assistant to the Lieutenant. (That Coleman link pleasingly gives his luscious mustache credit for his long, successful career.)

 

Steven Bochco is credited with producing the teleplay for this episode from a story by Jackson Gillis, Richard Levinson and William Link. In Columbo terms this is a heavyweight team and this was borne out by a strong plot and a great script for Robert Butler‘s first time behind the camera on the show. Butler is perhaps best remembered in some circles for his work as director on Star Trek‘s pilot episode, The Cage.

 

During this episode we asked listeners to consider their verdicts for the killers in Season 2’s eight episodes. If you have thoughts on those issues or any other aspects of Double Shock then please feel free to comment below, or find us on Twitter at @columbopodcast.

 

The Columbo Podcast is widely available – on iTunes, Stitcher, tunein, Pocket Casts or pretty much wherever you choose to receive and manage your podcasts. If you enjoy the show it would be greatly appreciated if you consider leaving ratings and reviews on these sites – particularly iTunes – as that can make a big difference to growing the podcast’s audience.

 

Double Shock was released in 1973. It is 74 minutes long and originally aired on the NBC network. It can be viewed on Netflix in the United States and is available on DVD in other countries, including a comprehensive box set of all eleven seasons released by Universal.

 

The Columbo Podcast Team

The Columbo Podcast Team

The Columbo Podcast team develops, produces and promotes The Columbo Podcast.

  • Does anyone else miss Largo’s extended reminiscences of the episodes? Look forward to that every week!

    • CarlosMu

      i do!

    • Largo

      It’s nice to know that I’ve got at least a few fans of my occasional long-winded diatribes. The next time that a mediocre episode of Columbo makes me incandescent with rage and I’m inspired to write a lengthy rant, you guys will be the first to know, eh! 🙂

  • CarlosMu

    I’ll have to give this episode another look, I hear a number of people say they really like it so maybe I’ve been missing something.

    Up until now I didn’t realize Marc Singer and Mark Hamill are different people. I was listening to Gerry talk about Singer and I was wondering why he would mention “Beastmaster” but not “Star Wars”. Then I looked it up.

    • Gerry doesn’t know anything about Star Wars, so don’t read too much into it, but yes they’re different people!

  • Peter

    I must admit that I find nothing likeable about Mrs Peck, finding her rude and obnoxious. I wish I could find her entertaining or humorous as a cantankerous old woman, but I don’t.

    • digger01

      I agree that she’s not very likeable, but for me the humor comes in knowing how touchy she is, and watching Columbo try to tip-toe around her and still repeatedly setting her off.

  • Another interesting and well done episode!

    You conjecture about the technology to portray twins–it was definitely extant. I think the standard was probably split screen (shows like Patty Duke with the “identical cousins” used that and that was a sitcom from a much earlier time). Soaps used it too and their budgets were traditionally not big.

  • Jenifesto

    Good show, guys! I really liked the gimmick of this one – it subverts the expectations of a Columbo episode in a really satisfying way. I think, looking back on the first two seasons, that “Murder by the Book” is still my favourite (spurred immensely by guest star Jack Cassidy, my most favourite recurring murderer of all), followed by maybe “Suitable for Framing” – love that long con and the classic ending. Looking forward to diving into season 3.

  • Ian Baxter

    Gave this episode the ultimate test and watched it with my kids! I wasn’t sure what they’d make of it as they are use to watching fast paced action packed movies. They loved it, several laugh out loud moments!

    There does seem to be an unusually strong supporting cast…
    Glad you highlighted Detective Murray, always liked him. I’m not overly drawn to Mrs Peck, but the impact she has on Columbo is very funny. Even the lawyer is given a decent time to develop. Struck me that there are a number of later scenes without Columbo.

    Our favourite moment was Columbo spotting the TV repair van and disposing of the cigar in the bushes

  • CarlosMu

    Tim O’Connor looked so convincing doing an inventory of antiques in this episode, they had him doing the same in the other episode he appears in, “Old fashioned murder”.

    Credit to whoever I heard this bizarre trivia from!

    • That’s a good one! By the way Carlos, sorry I didn’t name you when I referenced your comment on this week’s episode – the moment flew by!!

      • CarlosMu

        no problem! I’m just glad everyone was alive this time!

  • digger01

    I like to call this episode “Triple Shock”. The third is when Mrs. Peck’s shriek pins back your ears, vibrates through your bones, and zaps your solar plexus.

    The opening clip this week was my favorite line of the episode: Columbo telling Mrs. Peck “I’m extremely fond of health cookies”. His sincerity in telling that obvious lie is hilarious.

    The casting of this episode was just terrific. Martin Landau was excellent as the two unique but equally sinister brothers, Dabney Coleman as the deadpan Detective Murray, Julie Newmar as the flighty, “lights-are-on-but-nobody’s-home” Lisa, Tim O’Connor as the slimy lawyer, and Jeanette Nolan as the hollerin’ housekeeper with the heart of gold.

    For the most part I think I agree with Gerry and Iain’s verdicts on Season 2’s killers being prosecuted. Some were very shaky, others were pretty solid. I think maybe the weakest evidence was in “The Most Crucial Game” with Robert Culp. The clock not chiming was simply too easy to explain away, and the rest of the evidence wasn’t all that compelling either. But it was a very fun episode.

    The strongest evidence produced in the second season was probably against Jarvis Goodland in “The Greenhouse Jungle”. The bullet that killed Tony matched the bullet Jarvis admitted he fired into the dirt pile in his greenhouse. Oops.

    The evidence against Nora Chandler in “Requiem For A Falling Star” is pretty strong, too. The dead husband beneath the fountain is gonna be a little tough to explain.

    As a side note, I have to agree with Gerry that the movie “Rounders” is well worth checking out if you haven’t seen it. Matt Damon stars as a young law student who gets caught up in the dangers of New York City’s underground card clubs. Even if you don’t know a lot about poker (particularly Texas No-Limit Hold ‘Em) the movie does a great job of explaining the game as the story unfolds. Great performances by Damon, Edward Norton, Martin Landau, and John Malkovich.

    Thanks again for a great episode of the podcast. On to Season 3!

    • Thanks digger, I think we agree on most of these points!

    • Peter

      Great comments digger. I think season 3 perhaps strongest season without giving too much away to Iaian. Not sure where people see the heart of gold in Mrs Peck. Again, to me, she is an insensitive shrew. I will admit though that Jeanette Nolan plays the part well and Columbo is funny in his reactions to her.

    • Largo

      Thank you for this most excellent post, digger! Of all of the early Columbo mystery movies, I feel that “Double Shock” had the strongest overall cast. I agree that Gerry and Iain were spot on with all of the verdicts on the suspects — and Robert Culp’s Paul Hanlon actually could have gone on to win three Super Bowls (it’s that burning ambition of Hanlon’s, ya know). And the Batman, Star Trek and James Bond Connections are still going strong within Gerry and Iain’s analysis of Columbo’s second season. I love these guys! Now on to the superb third season of Columbo — YES!!!

  • Gummo Marx

    Was a bit surprised by the love for Mrs. Peck, who to my eyes (and ears) seemed like one of the most disagreeable people on earth. But a great episode as everyone as said, a rare case where we learn the identity of a killer late in the episode. I have to ask, why would they try to frame the lawyer? Tha tdidn’t make sense. And also, didn’t Columbo merely prove that two people killed the guy? I don’t recall the evidence that tied the twins to the scene of the crime.

    • I think that’s a fair point, though neither did the twins offer much by way of an alibi!

      • digger01

        I think their lack of an alibi figured strongly in this one.

        When identifying suspects, we always hear about police looking at “means, opportunity, and motive”. The boys certainly had a motive, they had the opportunity (they couldn’t prove they were somewhere else at the time of the murder), and Columbo showed that the two of them together had the means to pull it off (replacing the fuse quickly, lifting the body out of the tub, etc.)

        I agree with Gummo that the murder of Lisa to try to frame the lawyer Hatheway was sort of half-baked. They would have been better off just trying to make her death look like a suicide of despondency. Hatheway had no reason to kill her.

        • Largo

          This is the one weakness of this otherwise superb episode. The only other negative point I can think of is the fact that this wasn’t one of the 90 minute Columbo mystery movies. I really wanted to spend some more time with this incredible cast. More Landau, more Coleman, more Nolan and Falk interplay and especially more of the most lovely Julie Newmar (the real Catwoman) doing yoga!!!

    • Zoe Bianchi

      Does anyone else think Jeanette Nolan’s acting was very bad? Is this a hangover from theatre that many of the women, especially, seem to overact in Columbo episodes? Also, why did Columbo immediately think a mixer could be the murder weapon, or at least coincidentally use it as an example? Was Lisa Chambers murdered because the brothers thought Hatheway’s ruse to hide the will was impractical, as she would later at least claim that it once existed?

  • Largo

    Thank you so much for another superb Columbo podcast, gentlemen! Listening to your analysis and comments concerning the episode, “Double Shock,” made me incandescent with joy on this Sunday afternoon. Wait a minute — that last bit of mine doesn’t sound quite right. Your podcast made me radiant with joy — that’s what I meant to say. Here we have a superb Columbo episode with an incredible cast and Gerry and Iain’s easygoing and witty banter about “Double Shock” — what a dynamic combination all around, eh! Great!!!

    Even though “Double Shock” is not on my top ten Columbo episodes of all time list, it is definitely one of the very best of the early Columbo mystery movies. For me personally, this second season of Columbo is a complete bust except for the following three episodes: “A Stitch in Crime,” “Double Shock” and “The Most Dangerous Match.” I was pleasantly surprised that Gerry has “Double Shock” in the number two spot on his own top ten Columbo episodes list, with “Murder By The Book” as his number one favorite. If I were to hazard a guess, I would suspect that “The Bye-Bye Sky High I.Q. Murder Case” is in the number three spot on Gerry’s top ten list. All three episodes are superb choices!

    Has Martin Landau ever given a poor performance? Well, aside from that rotten television series, Space: 1999, Landau’s acting has always been absolutely riveting for me personally. This is the main reason that I really wish that “Double Shock” was a 90 minute Columbo mystery movie: so we could see more of Martin Landau’s Dexter and Norman Paris — not to mention the rest of the superb supporting cast. There isn’t a false note at all in this entire cast, in my very humble opinion, and it’s a true shame that we can’t spend more time with all of them.

    I’m sorry to see that a few of you here didn’t enjoy Jeanette Nolan’s Mrs. Peck character and the comedic interplay between her and Columbo. I truly enjoy all of their scenes together and I find the comedy therein to be a whole lot of fun. Plus, I’m so glad that the Columbo series gave Jeanette Nolan a chance to play some superb characters in a real world context. Because I am so sick and tired of her same old-same old, been there and done that, witch characters from The Twilight Zone, Thriller and Night Gallery, just to name a few. Sheesh — Jeanette Nolan’s witch characters are truly annoying, eh!

    And now for something completely different: Julie Newmar! **SIGH!** Thank you for those statistics concerning Julie’s long legs, eh! **SIGH!** I first encountered Julie Newmar when I saw the musical film adaptation of Li’l Abner (1959) when it was re-released right before the Batman television series premiered on the ABC network. In Li’l Abner, Julie Newmar portrayed a character named Stupefyin’ Jones, a woman who could stun men with her overwhelming sexiness (golly-gee whiz, folks — I wonder why they cast her in this part?). And then the following year I encountered Julie Newmar as Catwoman on television and I’ve been doubly stupefied by her beauty ever since. Be seeing you!

    • digger01

      Great post, Largo! I just googled Julie Newmar in Lil Abner, and “golly gee whiz” is right!!

      • Largo

        Thank you, digger! I’ve been really busy at work and very occupied at home with various family obligations, so I didn’t get to this podcast until this afternoon (coincidentally, I’ve been wearing my Batman t-shirt as I wrote all of these posts of mine). “Golly gee-whiz!” or maybe “Good golly, Miss Molly!” apply to Julie Newmar on all counts, eh! And now for those of you who are too lazy to Google “Stupefyin’ Jones,” here ya go:

    • Just to clarify Largo, while this episode is in Gerry’s top 10 overall, it is only #2 out of the first two seasons. His full top 10 list is a little different!

      • Largo

        Blast! I thought I was on to something there. Well, I guess it’s back to the drawing board. I’ll work on my own Top 20 Columbo Episodes List so I can include a few more of the original run of the NBC series.

      • Largo

        Largo’s Top 20 Columbo Episodes List [Original NBC Series]

        1. Identity Crisis
        2. Murder By The Book
        3. Death Lends A Hand
        4. A Stitch In Crime
        5. The Bye-Bye Sky High I.Q. Murder Case
        6. Swan Song
        7. Any Old Port In A Storm
        8. Now You See Him
        9. A Friend In Deed
        10. Blueprint For Murder
        11. Double Shock
        12. Lady In Waiting
        13. Double Exposure
        14. An Exercise In Fatality
        15. Murder Under Glass
        16. The Most Dangerous Match
        17. Troubled Waters
        18. By Dawn’s Early Light
        19. Candidate For Crime
        20. The Conspirators

        • It’s interesting – I’m told often that the show picks up from Season 3 onward, but 7 of your 20 are from Seasons 1 and 2!

          • Largo

            But more importantly — five on my list are from season three alone, eh! 🙂

          • Peter

            I think season 3 is the strongest Columbo series. muder Under Glass with the recently deceased Louis Jourdan is in my top 5 as is Stitch in Time and Swan Song. Jourdan was fantastic and interplay with Columbo was gold, Largo, gold!

          • Largo

            Agreed – Louis Jourdan was superb here. It’s interesting that Jourdan made such a wonderful Columbo adversary, but he was one of the weakest Bond villains of all time in Octopussy (1983)! Speaking of Louis Jourdan, have you seen him as psychiatrist hero, David Sorell, in the made for television supernatural thrillers Fear No Evil (1969) and Ritual Of Evil (1970)?

          • Peter

            I have to check them out, especially since I love the genre. Are the available on Netflix?

          • Largo

            Alas, I’m afraid they’re not on Netflix. Both films used to be on YouTube, but Universal took down Fear No Evil some time ago. It’s sequel is still available on YT, but it is a rather inferior production, in my opinion.

        • Arabian Knights

          I differ, My favourites are

          1. Negative Exposure
          2. Murder By The Book
          3. Death Lends A Hand
          4. A Friend In Deed
          5. Swan Song
          6. By Dawn’s Early Light
          7. A Stitch In Crime (only because I really dislike Nimoy)
          8 Any Old Port In A Storm
          9. Now You See Him
          10. Troubled Waters
          11. Blueprint For Murder
          12. Lady In Waiting
          13. Double Exposure
          14. An Exercise In Fatality
          15. By Dawn’s Early Light
          16. Candidate For Crime
          17. The Conspirators;

          The others are fluff.

  • julie4183

    I am new to the columbo podcast and it is
    the show differently.

    Anyway, I had forgotten how much I loved Double Shock. Despite how abrasive Mrs. Peck was, you knew thag she was completely devoted to Mr. Paris and his nephews, to a fault, maybe.

    I think I agree that this is an episode where you start to see Columbo ‘ s true nature, the one we love so much. His haphazard mannerisms disarm and/or distract people from his real purpose, whether it is intentional or not.

    I am dying to know if the scene, where Columbo was asked to participate on the cooking show, is ad-libbed or not. Was it an accident that Martin Landau left the lid off to spray hollandaise sauce everywhere??
    Yes, I have a propensity to get caught up in details that have NOTHING to do with the show…

    The “reveal” at the end of this episode is one of my favorites. It has a Clue (the film) style quality to it, maybe with a little less chaos. And for some reason I feel empathetic towards Mrs. Peck in the end.

    As for the verdicts for season 2, I will do my best considering this is my first time participating.

    Etude to Black- not guilty based on lack of evidence. I mean the flower is about it. I do have to insert that at the end when Cassavetes whispers to Blyth Danner, it is kind of terrifying. I felt that his character was much darker and more sadistic at that moment. I hated that killer.

    Green House Jungle – guilty. The bullet is the clincher.

    Most Crucial Game- unfortunately not guilty based on lack of evidence. I will say that this is one of my favorite episodes and has my favorite murder weapon, the block of ice.

    Dagger of the Mind- manslaughter at the most. It wasn’t intentional, but I guess there was also tampering and not reporting a death.

    Requiem for a Falling Star – GUILTY. I am still confused as to whether she intentially killed her assistant or not…

    A Stitch in Crime- I can’t decide. There is a good bit of circumstantial evidence. But, not solid.

    Most Dangerous Match- not guilty lack of evidence.

    Double Shock- Not guilty. Although, wasn’t one of the brothers ( cant rember which) spilling the beans at the end and the other brither tells him to “shut up?” Wouldn’t that count as proof? And influence a guilty verdict?

    If you read this far, sorry for the long post. And thank you for the opportunity to talk about my favorite show.

    • Glad to have you on board, Julie. Thanks for your verdicts!

      I think in Requiem the suggestion is that she *did* deliberately target her assistant, who knew about the body under the fountain and was getting very close to the tabloidy writer for comfort.

      In relation to Double Shock, the confession likely would be persuasive, but we try to look at all of these cases as though there were no confessions – some of the suspects cave far too easily in certain episodes!!

    • digger01

      This is an awesome first post, Julie! Thanks for sharing your verdicts on each episode.

      • julie4183

        Thanks for letting me join the discussion! It is hard to find fellow Columbo-fanatics!

        I am listening to the podcasts relating to the 1st season as we speak!

  • Ian Baxter

    Quite tricky, but no less interesting/fun, with the whole guilty v not guilt verdicts. I’ve always seen the show as psychological battle of wits between Columbo and the murder; and if this is the case then surely it is difficult to exclude the confessions.

    However, as this is TV Land, I’m going to assume that some Perry Mason type lawyer will be handling the case and see that justice is done in the courtroom!

    • Yeah, the confessions would surely be used in an actual trial, but given how easily some of the suspects crumble it’s interesting to look at the cases without those statements!

      • Ian Baxter

        Fair enough… some of the murderers just need to know when to stop talking!

        • Largo

          Exactly! I still wish one of the writers had written a script where the murderer says and does everything just right [ like all of us would, right? 😉 ], but Columbo still nails him or her for the crime.

  • Kieran Wright

    Martin Landau is such a great actor. In fact I grew up watching his portrayal of Commander John Koenig in Space 1999. He was also very sinister in Hitchcock’s ‘North By Northwest’. I have to agree with you on the fact that the comedy element between Columbo and Mrs. Peck was very effective. I have been working through every episode from season 1 (including the pilot film) and so listening to these podcasts is really a lot of fun for me. Double Shock was definitely a memorable episode, but then again each episode has something special really. So far – and I’m only up to ‘Any Old Port in a Storm’, my top three are ‘A Stitch in Crime’, notable as being the only episode in which Columbo actually showed any anger, Any Old Port in a Storm’ [Donald Pleasance – such presence] but the one that wins by a country mile is ‘Etude in Black’, purely because of the presence that was John Cassavetes. By the way, JC was a great pioneering director and I’m currently working my way through a selection of his films, some of which – such as ‘Husbands’ – featured Peter Falk and JC himself.

    • Those are definitely some of our favourites so far – though I’m surprised you don’t have Murder by the Book on your wee list!

      • I did enjoy ‘Murder by the Book’, but it’s not in my top list. Incidentally, Jack Cassidy (father of David) – in a twist almost worthy of a Columbo episode – had a very sad demise just 5 years later, falling asleep with a lit cigarette and burning to death, only identifiable by his dental records and signet ring. He was actually a very interesting and complex guy – as are so many of the leading actors – and worthy of investigation.

        • Absolutely – we touched on that a little in Episode 1 and no doubt will have another chance when he returns to the show!

  • Johnny

    I am a bit late to the party, but I feel like you guys missed a trick not pointing out the Mission Impossible Rollin Hand/The Great Paris Columbo connection.

    Enjoying the podcast so far though. Almost caught up!

    • Thanks Johnny. I’m (Iain) not wholly familiar with Mission Impossible, but appreciate the additional trivia!

      • Largo

        Mission: Impossible was only just one of the greatest secret agent shows to grace the small screen (on the CBS network), albeit only for the first few seasons. Martin Landau and his wife , Barbara Bain, were both on the show for just the first three seasons. Landau never signed a multi-year contract and would just negotiate a salary with Herb Solow (the head of production for Desilu Studios) at the start of each new season.

        Once Paramount bought out Desilu in 1968, everything changed and Herb Solow was out. Paramount didn’t want to deal with Landau on a year-to-year basis and let him go. Well, next thing you know, Barbara Bain suddenly announces on the Emmy Awards show (telecast in early 1969) that she’s leaving the series (after winning her third consecutive Emmy for portraying Cinnamon Carter on Mission: Impossible).

        Needless to say, the CBS network became enraged that they could possibly lose Bain and put pressure on Paramount, who in turn put pressure on Bain who was still standing by her man. To make a long story short, both actors were out, Leonard Nimoy was in and the M:I show went through several actresses for the next four seasons and there was never a true replacement for Barbara Bain. Bain’s career never fully recovered but Landau’s career eventually did regain momentum — but the couple were soon divorced. And now you know the rest of the story. Be seeing you!

  • Arabian Knights

    I absolutely loathed Mrs Peck, wanted to give her a smart slap, stuff a gag in her mouth and tell her to remember her place.

    You pointed out many roles for Dabney Coleman, but not the one for which I most fondly remember him, i.e. Nine to Five in about 1982. He played the sexist egotistical boss to perfection. Perhaps it wasn’t as widely released in the UK? Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton starred and were quite good.

  • Abigail

    Thanks for another great podcast guys. I really like this episode – the cast is incredible and there’s some brilliant dialogue. But I can’t help but find the dénouement a little disappointing. It feels rushed and, as others have said, I don’t feel that Columbo proves that the brothers did it, just that two people were working together. Also, the repeated food mixer references were a little crazy when Columbo really had no reason at all to think this particular appliance was the cause of the electrocution. It felt like an example of what I call (in my head) the Columbo mind-reading phenomenon where his train of thought just doesn’t make any logical sense to the viewer at all. Slightly lazy/rushed writing, perhaps. This episode could definitely have done with being 90 minutes.

    On another note, the start of this episode features a strange technique that seems to crop up in quite a few Columbo episodes where the footage seems to have been sped up (to cut down the running time, I assume) and it looks a little peculiar. I’m not describing it very well but hopefully you know what I mean. In this episode, it’s the bit where Martin Landau is tampering with the food mixer at the very beginning.