23 January 2012 6:35 AM, PST | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

Peter Falk's dogged detective was an expert in the thing that matters: the human condition

The only way to start a blog about TV detectives is with Columbo. He remains the iconic police detective of the 20th century, and that's because of several important things. Firstly, Columbo retrieves the credibility of the police detective, after a spate of amateur detectives had rendered the police useless. Why do you need Japp when you have Poirot, or Lestrade when you have Holmes? For the paperwork, mainly.

But Columbo brings us back to the idea that the best person to solve a crime isn't a charming amateur, it's the detective in charge of the case. He plays low-status, even when he's up against a murderer. He wears a beaten-up raincoat, and under it, he's usually wearing a suit in a colour somewhere between brown and pink, which only existed in the 70s. »

- Natalie Haynes

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