The twenty-seventh episode of Columbo was titled Troubled Waters and was the fourth episode of the show’s fourth season. A cruise to Mexico is disrupted when a businessman kills his lover to escape her blackmail attempt. In this podcast Gerry and Iain look at the breaks and swells of a unique episode.
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This mystery takes place entirely on board a cruise ship headed for Mexico – with Columbo on board! The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Hustle star Robert Vaughn takes the lead antagonist role as killer Hayden Danzinger, a businessman determined not to be exposed by his blackmailing ex-lover Rosanna Wells (Poupée Bocar).
While British audiences might remember Vaughn’s memorable turns in Hustle and Coronation Street, it was as Napoleon Solo in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. that he made his biggest impact, later appearing in 52 episodes of The Protectors before this, the first of his two appearances on Columbo. Interestingly, Vaughn has portrayed both Presidents Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt on film, the latter on two separate occasions.
This was the second consecutive episode to be shot entirely on location – indeed the filming took place during an actual cruise to Mexico, necessitating strong sea-legs from the supporting cast. Jane Greer captivated as Hayden Danzinger’s wife, Sylvia while returning actors Dean Stockwell (as the victim’s bandmate – and initial suspect – Lloyd Harrington) and Bernard Fox (Purser Watkins) played pivotal roles. Patrick Macnee was suitable authoritative as Captain Gibbon, while Robert Douglas (Dr. Pierce) and Susan Damante (Nurse Melissa) made for an intriguing medical team (Douglas would return to the show in Season 6 as a director). Other cabaret performances came from Peter Maloney as band leader Artie Podell and from Curtis Credel as a magician that shared his real-life name! Columbo regular Mike Lally appeared, but was uncredited for his role as a waiter on the cruise.
Director Ben Gazzara returned after directing last season’s A Friend in Deed, for his final stint behind the Columbo camera.Writer William Driskill would go on to pen two further episodes – each in Season 5 – after this effort, on which he shared credit with long-time Columbo writer Jackson Gillis
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Troubled Waters was released in 1975. It is 98 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.