Picks and Pans Review: Columbo: Strange Bedfellows

updated 05/08/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/08/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

ABC (Mon., May 8, 9 p.m. ET)

B+

Sometimes old formulas still click, as with this engaging outing for Peter Falk and his halting alter ego, Lieutenant Columbo. George Wendt plays the co-owner of a thoroughbred stable who devises a byzantine plot to do away with his wastrel brother (Jeff Yagher). Wendt then commits another crime to cover his trail.

It seems like the perfect crime. Enter Columbo. The usually rumpled cop really looks especially bad as the case begins (apparently he ate some bad clams). But by the end of the movie, Columbo is spinning out his trademark detection-by-misdirection with near-operatic brio. A certain amount of flamboyance is required just to keep up with Rod Steiger, who is over-the-top as an old-fashioned Mafia boss.

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