I was watching an old episode of Columbo this afternoon. There were sixty-nine episodes altogether over ten seasons and it ran from 1968 to 2003. There were two pilot episodes in the first year, then in 1971 it took off properly with the seven episode series one. I remember when I first saw it at some point in the series, it seemed so original, especially as right from the beginning the audience knew ‘who-dunnit’. The character of Columbo seemed original too – he wasn’t dashing, he had no side-kicks, there was no love interest as he was safely married to the unseen Mrs Columbo. The show was first seen on NBC until it was cancelled in 1977, however it was revived by ABC and had another couple of seasons.
Columbo himself became a sort of icon for the unconventional detective and the character as we see him was very much the actor Peter Falk’s invention. Falk was not the original Columbo, but I’m sure most people only think of him as the detective. Falk wore his own clothes and very much made the character, adding in lots of little improvisations such as rummaging through his pockets, reading laundry and shopping lists, wandering around while he was supposed to be questioning the suspects, pretty much everything we identify as being Columbo!
Another aspect of the series, something which I think indicates the esteem it was held in, was the number of ‘famous’ actors who took part in the series – usually as the ‘baddie’! Here is just a brief selection of well-known actors:
Dick Van Dyke
Ed Begley Jr.
The programmes were of their time, and once I’ve got over chuckling at the hair styles and costumes, and the size of mobile phones, they still have quite a charm and are a harmless way to while away an hour and a half!