"Hey Dr. Crane, just one more thing..."
October 18, 2022 1:23 PM   Subscribe

I HEAR THE BLUES A-KILLIN' (or: Frasier Meets Columbo), a 16-page comic by Joe Chouinard.
posted by Pope Guilty (18 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
I admire the dedication to not showing Maris' body.

Also, related: "Hi I wrote an episode of Frasier where he and Niles dabble in cannibalism. I talked to Kelsey Grammer and it’s canon now"
Not to mention, I still don’t know
what pairs best with human flesh. Red
or white?
We never should have been seduced by
the temptation of cannibalism!
            (A BEAT)
And the answer is red, obviously
posted by BungaDunga at 1:38 PM on October 18, 2022 [6 favorites]

This was an excellent diversion and felt 100% true to character and genre for both Frasier and Columbo. Thanks for the post!
posted by brainwane at 1:50 PM on October 18, 2022

I enjoyed this. The resolution was a little too obvious for a Columbo episode (because it's been done before) but it was 100% spot on for an episode of Frasier.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 1:55 PM on October 18, 2022 [2 favorites]

Technically it's also the finale of "Sideshow Bob Roberts" in which Bart and Lisa goad Bob into confessing by insisting he wasn't smart enough to have done it, leading to a similar meltdown, but in fairness Sideshow Bob was always basically Evil Frasier and it's the natural method to use on him.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:58 PM on October 18, 2022 [14 favorites]

My wife and I are doing a rewatch of Cheers and Frasier but only the episodes that feature Dr. Lilith Sternin* and it is really kind of shocking to my 2022 ears how often Frasier suggests violence against the women in his life so this all tracks.

* This is the correct way to watch Cheers and I will fight anyone who says otherwise.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 2:07 PM on October 18, 2022 [8 favorites]

Thank you for this post - it was satisfying in that it exactly scratched the twin itches presented by such a crossover, with some nice updated Frasier/Grammer digs (Washington Times, indeed).

I also wasn't 100% sure which show would "win" the crossover - if it's an episode of Columbo, then obviously the Crane brothers get caught. But if it's a very twisted episode of Frasier, it's possible that they get away with it, or something stranger happens... though perhaps that was me just trying to add some suspense to reading it, Columbo is obviously much more clever than those two narcissistic manchildren.

It does make me wonder if there are crossover episodes out there where the plot begins to hinge on which of the two audience-familiar shows is the ultimate "frame" ... like a cross between a procedural and an antihero dramedy, or some such.
posted by nightcoast at 2:09 PM on October 18, 2022 [3 favorites]

I want more crossovers.

What's a Belgian (or Poirot meets the Three Stooges)
Where's Eddie (or Leave it to Beaver meets Dexter)
Don't Stop Believin' (or The Sopranos meet Cop Rock)
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 2:23 PM on October 18, 2022 [3 favorites]

Very well done. The interplay of Frasier and Niles here was pretty spot-on, and made me think about just how nuts it is that Niles apparently won't be a part of the upcoming Frasier reboot even though David Hyde Pierce has made it clear he's standing by. If you don't include Niles, what are you even doing?

Did Columbo ever do the ending (SPOILER!) where the killer arrogantly confesses to a murder, only to learn that he's been on the radio the whole time? That bit sure seems familiar. The comic really captures Columbo's personality... but he looks a lot more stout than Peter Falk ever did, he really fills out that raincoat. I also wish there had been at least one panel where one of his eyes looks to the side while the other stares fixedly ahead.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:01 PM on October 18, 2022 [3 favorites]

This is so well done.

You can hear the characters voices.
posted by AlSweigart at 5:19 PM on October 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

It does feel like there must have been a Columbo ending that involved a broadcast setup. And if not, that just proves how well done this is.

One last thing though, how did Columbo end up in Seattle?
posted by drewbage1847 at 7:02 PM on October 18, 2022

In the comic, Lt. Columbo was a friend of their dad's. But I think it's more like Columbo is a spirit of justice that just manifests whenever there are murders.
posted by JHarris at 12:02 AM on October 19, 2022 [9 favorites]

I like this idea of Columbo as a schlubby supernatural vengeance demon who preys upon hubris. His only real power is that it's impossible to get rid of him, but other than that all he does is be methodical, inquisitive, and personable.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 6:10 AM on October 19, 2022 [2 favorites]

Schlubby supernatural vengeance angel, surely? I mean.
posted by Ipsifendus at 6:26 AM on October 19, 2022 [2 favorites]

His only real power is that it's impossible to get rid of him, but other than that all he does is be methodical, inquisitive, and personable.

Peter Falk said something once about how Columbo isn't particularly smart, he's just relentless. I think Falk was underestimating Columbo's intelligence a little (everybody underestimates Columbo, even the man who played him!) but I do think Columbo's successes were more about hard work than innate brilliance.

I'm not a fan of mysteries in general but I'll always have time for a Columbo because Falk made that character so compelling. Columbo is actually kind of the "bad guy" of the show, because we're forced into complicity with these killers and we feel some sympathy for them as Columbo gets closer and closer to the truth. At the same time, Columbo is the star, he's such a lovable guy, and the killers tend to be these sneery rich people who treat him like a fool, so our sympathies are ping-pong-ing all over the place. It's a long way from your typical cozy, dozy whodunits!

It's kind of surprising that Martin didn't play any role in this story. As a former cop and rather shrewd old guy himself, I think he probably would've figured out that his sons were trying to cover up a murder and he would've been forced to choose between his loyalty to his boys and his dedication to justice. But maybe there was no way to deal with that without it taking over the whole strip, so I can understand why the artist may have decided to sideline the character.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:00 PM on October 19, 2022 [5 favorites]

Definitely. One of my favorite parts of Columbo are those cheesy subplots where Columbo learns about something tangentially related to the murder. He'll go into a video editing booth or a bottling plant and just start asking whoever he can find how things work ("You mean, you can do that?") until he stumbles into his creak moment. It's all very Feynman-like. Columbo isn't some great thinker, he's just someone who's curious and unafraid of asking questions no matter how dumb they might be.

Also, by far the best bits are when Columbo actually gets mad.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 5:29 AM on October 20, 2022 [2 favorites]

Columbo chatting it up with Martin and Daphne (and having serious business with Eddie) would have been scenes in the 90-minute comic episode, but we clearly have a 60-minute episode here and it is absolutely fantastic.
posted by Spatch at 11:34 AM on October 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

I think that the "dim"-ness of Columbo—not that he's actually dim—is a part of why he's so appealing. I really enjoyed old Sherlock Holmes books when I was younger, and always found him a lot more likable there than in his film and TV adaptations, but even so, the appeal of Holmes (or Poirot) is hyperintelligence: someone who is so damn perceptive that what is hidden seems clear as day to them. In Holmes' case, a part of the charm is that he's a geek about solving crimes: it's not even about justice or injustice, it's about elevating sleuthing to an art form.

Whereas Columbo is fundamentally someone for whom catching criminals is his job, his middle-class occupation. He does it because he's the one whose job is to do it, and he takes it seriously. And his appeal is just that. These days, I find snooty intellectuals a lot less appealing than people who simply do the right thing, and keep at it until the thing is done.

Of course, that gives rise to the other part of the Columbo formula, which is that his antagonists aren't just rich, they're wannabe intellectuals themselves—and their arrogance is invariably what does them in. So Columbo, by not being Sherlock Holmes, is guaranteed to catch them so long as he just keeps it up—because he's more dedicated to catching the murderers than the murderers know how to dedicate themselves to evading his detection.

(It would be interesting to see Columbo go up against a Moriarty type, because it would take a Task-Oriented Crime Genius like Moriarty to subvert the formula... but part of the "idea" of Columbo is that there's no such thing as a Moriarty. Only people far too willing to abuse their power, and unable to accept that the power they wield is not in fact the byproduct of a superior or unbeatable mind.)

Anyway this is all to say that of course Columbo fits perfectly into the Frasier universe. How could he not? Now I want to see him show up on Curb.
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 12:13 PM on October 21, 2022 [3 favorites]

There is the occasional murderer who sees themselves as a Moriarty, seeking to commit the "perfect crime." There is an episode of Columbo that overturns the "howcatchem" formula, where the murder is not shown at the start and the audience is left as clueless as Columbo is through most of the story.
posted by JHarris at 10:54 PM on October 21, 2022 [2 favorites]

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