A Columbo fan account circulates some amazing doctored images inserting Peter Falk's iconic Frank Columbo into episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series.
Star Trek‘s first series had been off the air for two years by the time the beloved crime drama Columbo debuted on NBC in 1971, but someone found a way to bring the two iconic franchises together. The Twitter fan account Lieutenant Columbo shared four altered screenshots from Star Trek scenes with Falk’s signature sleuth inserted into the story, later discovering that the edits were from the @cursedtrekedits tumblr. Each shot is from a scene in which the heroes have discovered a body.
This image from the Season 3 Star Trek episode “Elaan of Troyius” wouldn’t leave Frank Columbo with much to do since, technically, it’s only an attempted murder. The green-skinned victim, Ambassador Petri (Jay Robinson), survives the attack by Elaan, an arrogant and powerful warrior who was arranged into a marriage in the hopes of creating peace between worlds. While he lives to see more diplomacy, after the attack Petri understandably abandons his mission to domesticate Elaan.
The image above is from a Star Trek episode that would provide a genuine murder mystery treat for Lieutenant Columbo. Most Trek fans will no doubt recognize it right away as coming from the Season 2 episode “Journey to Babel,” a story that presents a few firsts for the franchise. Along with being the first episode to feature all four of the Federation’s founding member species — Humans, Vulcans, Tellarites, and Andorians — it’s also the first appearance of Mark Lenard as Spock’s (Leonard Nimoy) father Sarek (though Lenard appears earlier as a Romulan in “Balance of Terror”).
The body which the assembled Star Trek legends, the redshirts, and Columbo gather over in the image above is of the Tellarite ambassador Gav (John Wheeler), and unlike in the cases of a lot of these doctored photos, the Enterprise crew actually could’ve used a detective’s help here. It isn’t until toward the end of the episode that it’s discovered that the murderer was an Orion — disguised as an Andorian — hoping to disrupt the negotiations the dignitaries were headed to.
It’s doubtful how much help to the Star Trek heroes Columbo would’ve been in “Operation — Annihilate!” When an entire planet full of people goes bonkers because of the influence of flying parasites, there isn’t a whole lot of whodunnit work to do so much as figuring out how to stop them. Still, he could’ve provided a few helpful crumbs of wisdom from his wife.
“The Galileo Seven” is the earliest of the stories presented in these wonderful recreations of classic Star Trek episodes, along with being the only one in which Columbo’s presence would’ve actually necessitated a change in the title. The story is named for the seven crew members trapped on a planet, and Columbo would make it the Galileo Eight. Nor would there be much mystery there for Falk’s hero to solve: the massive spear-wielding giants would’ve provided plenty of explanation for all the dead crew.