Monday, October 23, 2023

The Strange Case of Columbo on Blu-Ray

The good news is, the original 1970s Columbo episodes are coming to Blu-Ray in November from Kino Lorber, and it's safe to assume they will be remastered, unedited, and will look great. Once upon a time, that would be enough. Maybe it still is!

The bad news is, when Kino announced it had the rights to the show, it also announced a slate of special features that included audio commentaries on every episode from a variety of authors and experts. hardcore Columbo fans were thrilled! However, when it came time to set a release date, things had changed. Kino reported that all the new extras were gone, including the commentaries--no, especially the commentaries, most would say.

Yet now, a couple months later, the official listing says the Music and Effects tracks are still available on the set, and the commentaries are not listed. What is going on here? No one knows. Kino doesn't "owe" anyone an explanation, and in fact it lowered the MSRP by about 20 bucks to compensate for the alteration of the set. 

We don't know what happened, but we do know that all the extra material was already recorded. It sure doesn't make sense for Kino to yank this unless it was told to by some other entity. Would it be licensor Universal? No one knows, and licensee Kino is being a good partner by not saying anything else.

Of course this invites speculation. Some said the writers' strike was involved. Some said the Peter Falk estate must have objected. There is the matter of this recent settlement:

All we can do is guess. For now it seems that the episodes will come without the commentaries, and this is disappointing, but if you just want the show in HD, this is still a great set. If they had never announced the extras, maybe there wouldn't be any big deal (though Kino's loaded Night Gallery releases would make people wonder why they couldn't do the same for Columbo). The real mystery here is, what happened? 

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