Season 5 Episode 5

Now You See Him

Aired Unknown Feb 29, 1976 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (3)

out of 10
72 votes
  • Spoilers

    This episode of Columbo has a very strong whiff of cheese about it. Think of a really bad 1970's parady of a magician and you have The Great Santini. He murders his employer who has found some damning evidence against him. Columbo has to find out whodunnit. Santini has a cast iron alibi - he was doing his "piece de resistance" escaping from a box routine. The venue for his "World famous" tricks appears to be a recently vacated Indian restaurant. Wearing his velvet cape and huge bow tie, Jack Cassidy plays Santini with a camp aloofness that obviously had paid off with his part as gay Miles in The Eiger Sanction a year previously. All I can tell you is that if I had been one of the fortunate wealthy to have paid to see The Great Santini, I would have felt hard done by. Obviously constricted by the types of magic tricks they could blow the cover on, the producers of this episode had to stick with the "chained up in a box and trap-door" routine.

    Columbo takes a surprisingly long time to catch him out, naively believing a trick that isn't even worthy of Paul Daniels. The best bits involve the run up to the box trick, Santini doing a routine with a top hat and doves (yawn). Then, when he is in the box a woman in a leotard does a trick with a long tape on a stick (something I used to do quite well as a five old). In the background, to increase the tension (!) a percussionist does the Tss tss tsstss tss tsstss brrrrum tss tss, etc that always leads up to a finale and enthusiastic applause as Santini emerges unscathed. How did he do that? You will have to watch it and see, but I guarantee to those Columbo fans like myself that this is an entertaining yarn and in some instances downright amusing. Columbo's mannerisms are, as always, are at their usual eccentric best.
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