12/16/1991 at 01:00 AM EST
ABC (Sun., Dec. 15, 9 P.M. ET)
ABC is billing the season's first Columbo outing as Peter Falk's 20th anniversary as the cagey, rumpled detective (see story on Falk, page 105). The network is conveniently overlooking Falk's debut as Columbo in the 1968 TV movie Prescription: Murder. But that was on NBC, so I suppose it doesn't count. By the way, Bing Crosby (see box) was originally offered the role of Columbo, and only after he turned it down, did Falk get the call.
This time the loopy-like-a-fox lieutenant is after a flawed jeweler (Rip Torn) who murdered his nephew (Gary Kroeger) for a $30 million winning lottery ticket. The setup is far too lengthy and the mood frivolous right down to Steve Dorff's cartoony score. And suddenly Columbo is an object of desire for every attractive younger woman he bumps into? Now, there's a real mystery. But even a goofy Columbo case like this is undeniably diverting, which may explain why Falk's cat-and-mouse game has enjoyed such remarkable longevity.