Literally the very first lines of this episode are Larry Storch, playing a fading nightclub comedian, delivering some awful old fortune cookie jokes in a me-so-solly accent. I was immediately reminded of that Simpsons where Krusty the Klown dusts off his old comedy club act for the first time in thirty years and everybody cringes. You have to forgive the past for being the past, and goofball voices and celebrity impersonations were Storch’s stock in trade. Reminding us just how huge Columbo was in the cultural landscape, Storch actually shows off the second Peter Falk impression in this program’s season, although time and editing robbed us of the second half of the act. Columbo was meant to be arresting a murderer played by Paul Lynde, but we didn’t get to see Storch do his Lynde voice.
Anyway, so last time, Nancy Drew was in LA-pretending-to-be-Vegas, and this time it’s Frank and Joe’s turn. The stakes are a little higher – Storch and his accomplices are setting off bombs in Vegas and extorting casinos to play off his debts – and there’s a bit more intrigue and action, so our son enjoyed this one much more.
My favorite part of the experience was something I noticed in the Nancy Drew story. The casinos are always paging guests. It’s part of the overall sound mix along with elevator music and the quiet ka-chings of slot machines, a constant voice saying “telephone for Mister Johnson… telephone for Mister Johnson…” I don’t think that casinos allow phones, and I’ve never been in one, so it may still be like that, but it certainly sounds strange to modern ears.