Inspector Ike is a witty 2020 comedy spoof of 70’s TV movie mysteries from director Graham Mason. Set in NYC the story follows the clever Inspector Ike as he solves the murder of a theater actor at the hands of his understudy. This small budget feature dials in the details and delivers plenty of weird humor spoofing a Colombo-style detective episode. Factory 25 brings the film to Blu-ray with a solid A/V package and a batch of quirky bonus features. For those nostalgic about TV mysteries it's Worth a Look.
“We were supposed to meet for a chili date.”
In 2020 sourdough bread and old tv shows helped comfort people during the early days of the pandemic. Shows like Columbo came back into the mix thanks to viewers running out of new content to watch. Like sourdough bread, there is a patient resolve needed for TV mysteries to unfold with tensions gradually rising throughout the episode. Released in 2020 Inspector Ike spoofs those mystery shows by dropping us into a typical episode of the ace detective’s long-running series. A good comedy, like any sourdough bread, is difficult to get right on the first try.
Harry Newcombe (Matt Barats, Reveries) is the vain understudy of an avant-garde theater group who murders lead actor Chip (John Early, The Disaster Artist) hoping to gain instant stardom. To cover his tracks Harry takes his wife Jan (Grace Rex, Contagion) to an 8-hour production of “Al’s Pizza” during which she falls asleep. Harry runs out, murders Chip, and returns with plenty of time to seal his alibi before Jan wakes. Soon Inspector Ike (Ikechukwu Ufomadu, Judas and the Black Messiah) emerges from the shadows of the theater in silhouette before approaching Chip’s acting troupe. His cheery and odd demeanor undermines the Bond-esque entrance. In true Colombo style, the film details the entire murder plot before our eyes allowing us to follow our ace detective on his course to solving the crime. Can NYC’s greatest detective find the murderer or was this another case of suicidal performance anxiety?
In another time this detective spoof would be a goofy slapstick effort helmed by Leslie Nielsen. However, Ufomadu plays Ike straight with a comforting confidence that allows him access to his suspects' lives. When combined with a constant flow of mild-mannered deadpan, Ike can dissolve tense moments or strike fear into anyone. In this episode titled Audition for Death Ike’s oddball tactics to flush out the murderer clash with Harry’s anxious guilt providing plenty of amusing interactions. A game of cat-and-mouse is the core tenet of TV mysteries which allows the audience to wonder who will slip up first. Thankfully Harry can barely contain himself even in the presence of Ike making their scenes together golden.
Graham and Ufomadu use food gags as a hilarious through-line for Ike. For example, every time Ike eats it's an insane combination like a double cheeseburger sub with a taco or a giant cantaloupe filled with cottage cheese. The joke culminates when Ike prepares his “Chili con carne, a bowl of red”. The whodunnit narrative stops and becomes a gentle cooking show in which Ike guides us through the recipe, even prompting the audience to get their recipe card ready (one is included in the Blu-ray packaging). It’s an amusing departure that keys in on the idea that this is a regular feature on the show each week. I love all the details added to make this show seem real but it doesn’t quite go far enough to seal the deal for me. I’m reminded of how well Amazon Women on the Moon took the premise of a late-night movie and rolled with it using fake commercials, etc.
Performances are all committed to the premise with the cast of Brooklyn stand-up comedians imbued with an excellent sense of timing. Everyone understands the assignment in Inspector Ike which allows even the small roles to shine. Ikechukwu Ufomadu’s Ike is a memorable character for sure but other than his commitment to the jokes he isn’t holding my attention like Harry or even Jan. His suave friendliness is funny for a few scenes but even the witty material can’t save him from becoming tiresome between confrontational scenes with suspects.
Inspector Ike doubles down on the Colombo spoof idea with entertaining results. Graham and Ufomadu keep the proceedings low-key allowing their deadpan humor to sell the show which for some audiences could be taxing. However, seeing the lengths to which the cast and creators place you in this world you can’t help but chuckle a few times. Double feature this film with Shit and Champagne for a night of 70’s procedural spoofs.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Inspector Ike arrives on Blu-ray thanks to Factory 25. Housed in a transparent keepcase with reversible artwork, the All Region BD-25 disc is accompanied by an insert booklet and a handy recipe card. Loading the disc presents the Factory 25 logo before landing on the Main Menu screen with scenes from the film playing above typical navigation options.
This episode of Inspector Ike arrives with a sharp HD image in the film’s original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Primaries are vibrant with bright yellows and lush reds. Fine detail is evident in costuming textures and set particulars. Skin tones are even throughout the feature. Black levels are inky with contrast levels and color saturation on point translating a 70’s color palette nicely. The 1.33:1 aspect ratio here gives it that TV look with creative use of soft lensing and overexposure to add visual flourishes. Circular dissolves and red flashes add that 70’s tv touch, too.
Inspector Ike arrives on Blu-ray with a respectable Dolby Digital 2.0 mix that is period appropriate for the spoof flick. This audio track gives dialogue exchanges dominance within the while keeping light scoring and effects tucked in the texture. Breezy music and effects are clear without hiss or pop detected. English subtitles available.
Factory 25 provides plenty of oddball features for their Blu-ray of Inspector Ike. Start with the commentary track before moving through the two short films. Oh, and don’t forget that recipe card!
Inspector Ike is a fun spoof of 70’s TV movie mysteries in the tone of a Colombo episode. Featuring a committed cast and a likable lead character the film is packed with witty material worthy of a few chuckles. Avoiding slapstick and goofball antics the flick doubles down on dry humor and its tv-movie premise with moderate success. Factory 25 brings the film to Blu-ray with a solid A/V package and a batch of quirky bonus features suited for a film of this caliber. Inspector Ike isn’t the funniest spoof of tv movies but it is Worth a Look.